Cultural commentator Paul Morley explores a history of popular music through some of the iconic recording studios in which classic albums were created.
Without them music as we know it would simply not exist. There’d be no technology to capture the sounds envisaged by the musicians and created and enhanced by the engineers and producers… and there’d be no music for the record companies to market and distribute. But more than that, the studios actually played a crucial part in the structure and fabric of the music recorded there – the sounds enhanced by the studio space itself… the potential and shortcomings of the equipment and technology housed in the cubicles… and the ability and ‘vision’ of the engineers and producers operating it all to find the new sound that makes the recordings sound different and fresh.
Today he visits the world’s first purpose built recording studio, and possibly the most famous: the one at No 3, Abbey Road, a stone’s throw from a much photographed zebra crossing in London’s St John’s Wood. Opened by Sir Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a recording of “Land Of Hope And Glory”, the studios went on to record everyone from Adam Ant, The Bolshoi and Nick Cave… to XTC, Diana Yakawa and the Zombies – to say nothing of Pink Floyd and the Beatles.
But that’s not what’s drawn Paul Morley to these historic recording rooms – it’s the continuing work in capturing the sound of orchestras that is put under the spotlight in this programme. With the help of engineers and producers, composers and those that keep the studios running on a day to day basis, Paul explores how the relationship classical music has with the recording studio differs from the one that pop music enjoys.
Producer: Paul Kobrak.
Listen to the BBC Radio 4 programme here