Posts Tagged ‘George Martin’

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Delia Derbyshire: Early Electro Artist

February 11, 2009

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Delia Derbyshire was born in Coventry, England, in 1937. Educated at Coventry Grammar School and Girton College, Cambridge, where she was awarded a degree in mathematics and music.

In 1959, on approaching Decca records, Delia was told that the company DID NOT employ women in their recording studios, so she went to work for the UN in Geneva before returning to London to work for music publishers Boosey & Hawkes.

Derbyshire was born in Coventry, UK. Educated at Barr’s Hill School, Derbyshire then completed a degree in mathematics and music at Girton College, Cambridge.In 1959 she applied for a position at Decca Records only to be told that the company did not employ women in their recording studios.Instead she took a position at the UN in Geneva, soon returning to London to work for music publishers Boosey & Hawkes.

Some of her most acclaimed work was done in the 1960s in collaboration with the British artist and playwright Barry Bermange, for the Third Programme (the radio station which later evolved into BBC Radio 3). Besides the Doctor Who theme, Derbyshire also composed and produced scores, incidental pieces and themes for nearly 200 BBC Radio and BBC TV programmes. A selection of some of her best 1960s electronic music creations for the BBC can be found on the album BBC Radiophonic Music (BBC Records), which was re-released on CD in 2002. Several of the smaller pieces that Derbyshire created at the Radiophonic Workshop were used for many years as incidental music by the BBC and other broadcasters, including the ABC

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In 1963, Ron Grainer was asked to compose the theme tune to the Doctor Who series that began late in that year. As part of the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop, Derbyshire developed his written notes into the version that was then used on the original show.

Ron Grainer was so amazed by her rendition of his notes that he attempted to get her a co-composer credit, but this was prevented by BBC bureaucracy, who preferred to keep the members of the Workshop anonymous. Derbyshire’s interpretation of Grainer’s theme used electronic oscillators and magnetic audio tape editing (including tape loops and reverse tape effects) to create an eerie and unearthly sound that was quite unlike anything that had been heard before. Derbyshire’s original Doctor Who theme is one of the first television themes to be created and produced by entirely electronic means.

In 1960 Delia joined the BBC as a trainee studio manager. She excelled in this field, but when it became apparent that the fledgling Radiophonic Workshop was under the same operational umbrella, she asked for an attachment there – an unheard of request, but one which was, nonetheless,granted. Delia remained ‘temporarily attached’ for years, regularly deputising for the Head, and influencing many of her trainee colleagues.

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This excerpt from an interview, originally conducted in December 1999, first appeared in Surface magazine in May 2000.

What was your route into music? Did you study music at school?

Delia Derbyshire: No, but I studied piano to performer level outside school. I went to Cambridge University to read mathematics, which was quite something for a working-class girl from Coventry, because Cambridge was at the time, and probably still is, the best place for mathematics in the country, if not the world. Tell that to the Americans! I managed to persuade the authorities to allow me to change to music, much against their judgement. After my degree I went to the careers office. I said I was interested in sound, music and acoustics, to which they recommended a career in either deaf aids or depth sounding. So I applied for a job at Decca Records. The boss was at Lords watching cricket the day I had my appointment, but his deputy told me they didn’t employ women in the recording studio.

This is the guy who turned down The Beatles, no doubt.

No doubt. I knew the BBC had a Research Department, and I knew that there was such a thing as the Radiophonic Workshop, that was credited with doing fantastic sounds for broadcast programs. People weren’t generally allowed to work at the Workshop for more than three months at a time. They thought it would send people crazy.

To begin with Delia thought she had found her own private paradise where she could combine her interests in the theory and perception of sound; modes and tunings, and the communication of moods using purely electronic sources. Within a matter of months she had created her recording of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme, one of the most famous and instantly recognisable TV themes ever. On first hearing it Grainer was tickled pink: “Did I really write this?” he asked. “Most of it,” replied Derbyshire.

Talking about limited resources, I think one thing that appeals to us both about Peter Zinovieff‘s EMS VCS3 machine is that it’s really quite a limited selection of resources, but it’s got infinite possibilities of interconnection and patching.

Peter Zinovieff was doing the most interesting things. He didn’t claim to be a musician, he didn’t claim to be a composer. But imagine one of these beautiful London townhouses… the drawing room on the first floor was totally crammed with telephone relay equipment, where he was working on his random sequencers.
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Probabilistic stuff.

And I thought, golly, this is the way things should go. And, I think, it was my belief in Peter that encouraged Victoria [Zinovieff] to really believe in him. Because he was Russian aristocracy, and the circle in which he mingled regarded him as a dilettante. That was a beautifully interesting time, everything was mechanical. This was before voltage control. So we worked together for a couple of years.

Yes, as Unit Delta Plus?

Yes.

You set up the organisation to bring electronic music more to the fore in advertising and TV and film music?

We wanted to bring it to the public, yes.

How about these ‘happenings’ you were involved with? I know there was an event in 1966 at the Chalk Farm Roundhouse called Rave or Rave On, and Paul McCartney was top of the bill…

Oh yes, there were two of the Beatles there, Paul and George. It was basically a concert of pre-recorded electronic music.

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Thus began what is still referred to as the Golden Age of the Radiophonic Workshop. Initially set up as a service department for Radio Drama, it had always been run by someone with a drama background. Derbyshire was the first person there with any higher music qualifications, but as she wasn’t supposed to be doing music, much of her early work remained anonymous under the umbrella credit ‘special sound by BBC Radiophonic Workshop’.

Before long the Workshop’s TV output had overtaken work produced specifically for radio broadcast. Derbyshire was called upon to do music for drama and documentary programmes set in the distant past, the unseen future or deep in the human psyche – in fact any area where an orchestra would be out of place. Science, arts and educational programmes also benefited from her abstract style. Her work with Barry Bermange on the four Inventions for Radio is perhaps the best illustration of Delia’s intuitive way with soundscaping.

Derbyshire soon gained a reputation for successfully tackling the impossible. When asked to “make some TV title music using only animal sounds” – much thought and ingenuity resulted in Great Zoos of the World. Delia always managed to soften her purist mathematical approach with a sensitive interpretative touch – ‘very sexy’ said Michael Bakewell on first hearing her electronic music for Cyprian Queen.

Derbyshire also worked with the composers Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Roberto Gerhard (on his 1965 Prix Italia winning ‘Anger of Achilles’), and Ianni Christou, doing sound treatments of their orchestral music. She was also assistant to Luciano Berio at the 1962 Dartington summer school.

On being told at the Workshop that her music was ‘too lascivious for 11 year olds’ and ‘too sophisticated for the BBC2 audience’, Delia found other fields where the directors were less inhibited – film, theatre, ‘happenings’ and original electronic music events, as well as pop music and avant garde psychedelia. To do this she encouraged the establishment of Unit Delta Plus, Kaleidophon and Electrophon, private electronic music studios where she worked with Peter Zinovieff [composer and inventor], David Vorhaus and Brian Hodgson.

Delia’s works from the 60s and 70s continue to be used on radio and TV some 30 years later, and her music has given her legendary status with releases in Sweden and Japan. She is also constantly mentioned, credited and covered by bands from Add n to (x) and Sonic Boom to Aphex Twin and The Chemical Brothers.

A recent Guardian article called her ‘the unsung heroine of British electronic music’, probably because of the way her infectious enthusiasm subtly cross-pollinated the minds of many creative people. She had exploratory encounters with Paul McCartney, Karlheinz Stockhausen, George Martin, Pink Floyd, Brian Jones, Anthony Newley, Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson.

A complete list of her works has yet to be compiled, but amongst other things she has mentioned doing: Special works and soundtracks for the Brighton Festival, the City of London Festival, Yoko Ono’s “Wrapping Event”, the award winning “Circle of Light”, music for Peter Hall’s “Work is a 4 Letter Word” starring Cilla Black, The White Noise LP “An Electric Storm”, special sound and music for plays at the RSC Stratford, Greenwich Theatre, Hampstead Theatre and the Chalk Farm Roundhouse.

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White Noise - A must own

Derbyshire was also involved in several of the earliest electronic music events in England, including shows at the Watermill Theatre, Nr Newbury, the Chalk Farm Roundhouse [with Paul McCartney], The Royal Festival Hall and the first electronic music fashion show!

Work from Delia’s engagement at the BBC has also been published on numerous Radiophonic Workshop and Doctor Who LPs and CDs.

By the mid 1970s Derbyshire was disillusioned by the apparent future of electronic music and withdrew from the medium. In the musical dark ages to follow, she worked in a bookshop, an art gallery and a museum. In the mid 90s she noticed a change in the air and became aware of a return to the musical values she held so dear.

Delia passed away in Northampton, England, on July 3rd 2001.

Shortly before Delia died, she wrote the following: “Working with people like Sonic Boom on pure electronic music has re-invigorated me. He is from a later generation but has always had an affinity with the music of the 60s. One of our first points of contact – the visionary work of Peter Zinovieff, has touched us both, and has been an inspiration. Now without the constraints of doing ‘applied music’, my mind can fly free and pick-up where I left off.”

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So you wanna carrer as a record producer ??

January 23, 2009

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Often glamorised,  seldon understood. The modern day music producer can be a man/woman wearing  many hats, most of which usually not music! The great Quincy Jones was a said to be on the phone more than on the console!

In the music industry, a record producer has many roles, among them controlling the recording sessions, coaching and guiding the musicians, organizing and scheduling production budget and resources, and supervising the recording, mixing and mastering processes. This has been a major function of producers since the inception of sound recording, but in the later half of the 20th century producers also took on a wider entrepreneurial role.

The music producer could, in some cases, be compared to the film director in that the producer’s job is to create, shape and mold a piece of music in accordance with their vision for the album. Unlike in film, the music producer is seldom responsible for raising the funds to create the record – more like the film director, the record producer is hired by those who have already obtained funding (typically record or publishing companies, though occasionally the artists themselves).

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Producers now typically carried out most or all of these various tasks themselves, including selecting and arranging songs, overseeing sessions (and often engineering the recordings) and even writing the material. Independent music production companies rapidly gained a significant foothold in popular music and soon became the main intermediary between artist and record label, signing new artists to production contracts, producing the recordings and then licensing the finished product to record labels for pressing, promotion and sale. (This was a novel innovation in the popular music field, although a broadly similar system had long been in place in many countries for the production of content for broadcast radio.) The classic example of this transition is renowned British producer George Martin, who worked as a staff producer and A&R manager at EMI for many years, before branching out on his own and becoming a highly successful independent producer.

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As a result of these changes, record producers began to exert a strong influence, not only on individual careers, but on the course of popular music. A key example of this is of Phil Spector who defined the gap between Elvis and the Beatles (1958–1964) with such acts as The Ronettes, The Crystals, Darlene Love, The Righteous Brothers and The Paris Sisters. Spector’s Wall of Sound production technique also persisted after that time with his select recordings of The Beatles, The Ramones, Leonard Cohen, George Harrison, Dion and Ike and Tina Turner.

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Modern Day Production

In modern digital music, it is possible for the producer to be the only person involved in the creation of a musical recording. The said producer is entirely responsible for writing, performing, recording and arranging the material. The existence of such producers is, in some ways, challenging the role of the traditional recording studio in that feasibly, an entire album can be created and recorded from the producers home studio. .This change has been partially due to the increase of inexpensive yet powerful music production software (such as Ableton Live, ProTools, Digital Performer, Logic, Cubase and Sonar), which allows for entire tracks to be composed, arranged and recorded on a single computer, allowing the roles traditionally carried out by a team of people to be performed by one individual. With the advent of portable recording equipment, live album production has become much more cost-effective than in the past. Also with the new innovation with MIDI technology the world isn’t so bland after all. This has resulted in countless live music recordings.

With the advent of the computer web applications like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, record producers can now serve in very non-traditional roles, using “social networking.” They can produce music via the internet by having their clients email .mp3 or .wav files to them. In this way the producer can be located in a different geographic location and still accomplish their goal.

Producer  can be classed into  several catogories:

• MUSICIAN PRODUCER
As long as you can communicate effectively and have a basic awareness of what the studio equipment can do, you don’t actually need any technical knowledge at all to produce a record. This point is more easily understood if you think of the director of a TV commercial. He will be very visually aware, and will know what can be achieved with telecine and digital video effects. He cannot be expected to be a technical expert, but as long as he can communicate clearly with the telecine operator and digital artists, the result can be visually amazing. So, the musician producer needs to know what can be achieved in the studio, but someone else will be pushing the faders. A musician is obviously in a much better position than an engineer to know how to put together a piece of music for a recording from scratch, but the one thing that successful producers from either field have in common is that they have a clear image in their mind of the importance of the final product.

• EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
As well as the engineer producer and musician producer there is a third type, which I shall call the executive producer. The executive producer doesn’t know anything about engineering or about music, but knows the right people with the necessary technical and musical skills to handle all the elements of production, and most importantly, knows when something sounds right. Executive producers don’t need to be present all the time in the studio, they just need to hear work in progress occasionally. Their instinct will tell them whether the product is marketable or not. DJ’s often find their way into production along this route as they are in an ideal position to know what will, or will not please an audience. The difference between something that sells and something that ends up on a cut price market stall may be incredibly small, but the DJ will usually be able to tell.

• FREELANCE PRODUCER
Any type of producer may work as a freelance producer. In this situation, a record company might have signed a band or act and be scouting round for someone to co-ordinate them in the studio. Obviously, all the producers know the record company A&R people, and the A&R people know who the key producers are. Matching an act with a producer is an important A&R skill. Sometimes the decision will be made on a ‘flavour of the month’ basis. If a producer has had a series of successful records, then he may be seen as being on a roll and the next production will be a big seller too. The act and the producer must also be compatible in some way, though. Perhaps they will share the same musical vision and have a deep understanding of the style of music in which they work. They may get along well together because they are musically in tune, or the band could be wilful and potentially difficult to work with. The producer must be capable of exercising a degree of control to shape the band into something that will work on CD as well as it does on stage. Maybe an older and more experienced producer will have more respect in the band’s eyes, or maybe they need someone who is able to share their vision and will simply smooth over the rough edges. The freelance producer will be paid by the record company (who will get that money back from the band’s share of the eventual profits), and he is then free to go on to work for another record company.

• ENTREPRENEUR PRODUCER
‘Entrepreneur producer’ is a title I have invented to cover the type of producer who initiates a project and then sells it to a record company in the form of an act with writing, recording and management already in place, or as a partly developed idea working towards the same end. Either way, the producer will be at the top of the food chain and will receive the lion’s share of the rewards. The project could be a band in which the producer takes the roles of songwriter and musician, with a front man or woman to handle the vocals and provide a focus for the marketing machine to work on. Alternatively, the producer might be an engineer or musician who takes on the role of A&R scout and looks for a band or singer to work with. There will probably be a certain amount of investment involved, since the band will need studio time and promotional material. The entrepreneur producer will need to be able to promise the band or singer the earth, and give the impression that he is capable of delivering it. A track record of success will of course help! One of the advantages of working in this way is in the payoff. Not only is the entrepreneur producer entitled to a larger slice of the financial cake, he is also in control of an ongoing project, rather than staggering from one to another.

Source:

http://www.audiomasterclass.com/arc.cfm?a=what-is-a-record-producer-do-you-really-want-to-become-one

http://www.soundonsound.com

ref:

Hewitt, Michael. Music Theory for Computer Musicians.
Moorefield, Virgil (2005). The Producer as Composer .Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music

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The Beatles gone soft….

November 5, 2008

Some of the most recognizable songs of our generation have been made by the same band, made with the same instruments and even in the same room!
The legacy George Martin and The Beatles left musically is so heavily documented and is almost intangible to admit the breakthroughs these people made in the field  of pop ‘songs’ and modern music production.

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Much has been said about EastWest’s ambitious Fab Four virtual instrument/soundbank, due in part to the fact that it focuses on The Beatles, probably the most permeating and influential pop music group ever. But it’s also because the 13 GB worth of sounds are themselves so convincing and because of the pedigree of the package’s creators and sound sources. Long in the making and finally delivered well past its initial ship date, much has been made about how impressively accurate the sounds are to the original song layers they re-create. My goal, however, was to discover whether Fab Four’s sounds could really hold their weight in a more modern-styled production session; sure, they work great for making Beatles-y tracks, but will they work for anything else?

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For those who haven’t seen or heard about Fab Four since its introduction way back at the 2007 Winter NAMM show, this high-profile (and not officially Beatles-endorsed) soundbank focuses on re-creating some of the most classic setups achieved by The Beatles and their producer/engineers, rather than just the instruments themselves. Sparing no expense to find just the right pieces, dedicated project producer Doug Rogers began by gathering and restoring not only the original drums, basses, keyboards and guitars (some of them costing more than $200,000 supplied from private collectors), but also the original period amplifiers (Fender, Vox), rare microphones (Neumann, AKG, Cole, STC), preamps and unique compressors/limiters (Fairchild, EMI modded Altec) and even the same Studer tape machine and EMI Redd tube mixing desk used in making the original songs. To step up the credibility notch even further, Rogers enlisted the help of Ken Scott, the legendary Beatles engineer who worked on “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help” and “Rubber Soul” and was main engineer for Magical Mystery Tour and The Beatles (White Album), among many other amazing credits. Then, to help play the instruments he had gathered, Rogers brought in drummer Danny Seiwell and guitarist Laurence Juber, both longtime members of Paul McCartney and Wings. Once everything was painstakingly sampled and organized, they added a powerful new GUI with a graceful articulation-control solution and a killer implementation of the Beatles’ legendary ADT technique (artificial double tracking).
The cumulative result of this labor of love is a virtual instrument that has proved to be sonically true to the original, yet completely 21st-century in usability. Fab Four also includes EastWest’s recent 64-bit (and 32-bit-compatible) Play Advanced Sample Engine, which streams from disk very capably with no voice stealing and impressively high polyphony. Using Legato Detection, Play is able to sense smoothly phrased or repetitive playing and respond dynamically, alternating samples or adjusting articulations. For many of the patches, Play uses a small group of MIDI notes as “switches,” making it easy to move between chains of samples on the fly with one hand while playing with the other.

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The convolution-based emulations of Abbey Road’s many reverbs (both physical and electromechanical), ADSR envelopes, detailed Delay section, incredibly useful Stereo Spread control, Pan, Mono/Stereo settings like L/R Swap and Mono Sum and extensive MIDI input filtering all offer extended flexibility to the patches, some of which are already highly processed. Play can load multiple sounds into its chooser simultaneously for quick switching, and the slick Browser window helps you quickly find the sounds you’re after. As a powerful bonus, the awesome built-in Network Control functionality allows you to load instruments on extra computers and control them from the master computer without KVM switching and without needing to purchase extra licenses. And don’t forget the truly impressive ADT, which pairs a very short delay with a slightly moving phase shift that I swear makes just about anything sound better (especially guitars).

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