Engineering and Recording

This project is concerned with the people who undertake the wide range of activities that fall under the umbrella category of ‘music production’, and how they affect the outcomes of those activities. The roles of the recording engineer and producer have changed over the century and half in which humans have had the capability of reproducing sound. What are the skills of these people? Are they artists, crafts people, technologists, engineers, scientists or all of those things? Is there one single, optimal way of making a recording or is there cultural and individual variation that impart a sense of style and genre that can be traced from place to place and from time to time? How do recordings, edits, mixes etc. happen? Are there clear, understood, linear and justifiable procedures or are the routes to the finished result nebulous, iterative and ritualistic? How can we best observe, capture and understand what happens in the recording studio? How can we better train future industry professionals so that they have long-lasting technical and expressive skills in a workplace that can seem to change at a dizzying speed?

This research strand was supported by a Royal Academy of Engineering Public Engagement Fellowship entitled ‘Is Recording Engineering?’ that Dr Wells undertook in 2011-12 with assistance from Dr David Beer in the University’s Department of Sociology. The project continues, with the most recent interview being conducted in December 2018 and a book chapter on this topic was published in the book Audio Education - Theory, Culture and Practice, published in July 2020. A series of interviews with engineers active during the Culshaw era of opera recording is being planned for 2021.

If you would be interested contributing to this project please contact Jez Wells.