Book Reviews

Chasing Sound: Technology, Culture, and the Art of Studio Recording from Edison to the LP

As the title suggests, this book covers a lot of turf—encompassing the relationship of technology, culture and aesthetics to the practice of studio recording. It limits its range historically by stopping at the LP, which in practical terms takes it up to the early 1970s. The book is meticulously researched and is rich in anecdotes and individual narratives along with relevant names, dates, facts and figures. The stories and attention to detail are critical in helping sustain interest, as much of the broader technological and cultural sweeps will be familiar territory for most researchers in this field.

Mic It! Microphones, Microphone Techniques, and their Impact on the Final Mix

The practical task of sound recording incorporates many distinct activities. Microphone choice and placement, audio editing and effects processing, mixing, mastering, and the preparation of various different types of physical and online distribution media, are all topics that might fall under this heading, as are planning and running recording sessions, and successfully negotiating interpersonal relations between musicians, engineers, and producers. Add to this the broad range of theoretical knowledge required—on the premises of analogue and digital audio, on acoustics and sound propagation, on stereo imaging, on the physiological and psychological bases of sound perception—and it can readily be seen that the task of addressing the subject of ‘sound recording’ in a book must necessarily involve strict decisions about the range of topics to be covered. Such decisions will invariably involve a trade-off between breadth and detail.

Mixing and Mastering in the Box: The Guide to Making Great Mixes & Final Masters on Your Computer

Steve Savage’s latest book Mixing and Mastering in the Box: The Guide to Making Great Mixes & Final Masters on Your Computer is a companion to his 2011 work, The Art of Digital Audio Recording (reviewed in JARP #5) and is intended for a variety of audiences. Not only envisioned as a primary text for students enrolled in recording programs (whether trade, technical, conservatory, or liberal arts based), it would it would also prove to be quite useful for the home recording enthusiast, or musicians hoping to improve their self-recording and mixing chops.

The Art of Music Production: The Theory and Practice (Fourth Edition)

Addressing production in book-length form parallels confronting the multiple options provided by a large multitrack recording console or digital audio workstation. Determining which elements should assume priority in the final mix, and how the primary components can best be integrated to achieve a satisfactory overall result poses enormous challenges for which no uniformly stable template exists. Now in its fourth incarnation, The Art of Music Production by hit producer Richard James Burgess attempts to pinpoint “the essence of music production” (Burgess: 2013, pxi), providing factual and conceptual illumination of an area often shrouded with mystique from the general public’s perspective.

EpiK DrumS – A Ken Scott Collection

EpiK DrumS from Sonic Reality is a 130 gigabyte collection of royalty free multitrack drum kit samples, loops and full tracks recorded by British recording engineer and producer Ken Scott. Among others, Scott recorded The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Supertramp, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Billy Cobham, Duran Duran, Dixie Dregs, Missing Persons, […]

EpiK DrumS EDU

EpiK DrumS EDU is a separate two DVD set, priced at $29.99, published by Alfred which features instructional material from  Scott’s recording sessions for the Sonic Reality set. The videos are fascinating on a number of levels. For aspiring producers and engineers who do not have any or much experience in recording drums the information […]

Song Means: analysing and interpreting recorded popular song

“Who are you? How do you define yourself, your identity?” With these words Allan Moore opens his exhaustive new work proposing a more comprehensive approach to the musicological analysis of popular song. The last three decades have seen a huge expansion of the anthology of the sociological and cultural meanings of pop, but Moore’s book is not another exploration of this field, although some of these ideas are incorporated in this work. Rather, he addresses the limitations of conventional musicology when dealing particularly with songs: “I address popular song rather than popular music. The defining feature of popular song lies in the interaction of everyday words and music… it is how they interact that produces significance in the experience of song”.

Max/MSP/Jitter for Music: A Practical Guide to Developing Interactive Music Systems for Education and more

V. J. Manzo delivers a definitive primer for audio artists wishing to harness the power of this versatile software suite. If you are a novice who wants to learn Max quickly and develop a solid foundation before striking out in your own direction, this book will provide it. If you are a teacher who is new to teaching Max, or has been thinking about starting a Max class for beginners, I think this would be a worthy choice as a textbook for your class or as a reference when putting together your class.

The Art of Digital Audio Production

…one of the better and most accessible overviews of the music production process that we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s refreshing to find an author in the recording industry that continually keeps the focus on the major priorities and gives a solid presentation of how a student should begin developing their paradigm of audio recording.

PWL From The Factory Floor: Expanded Edition

PWL From The Factory Floor: Expanded Edition takes an already admirable book and turns it into a truly useful text for a variety of audiences. It works as a research reference, as a potential text for college courses (one can envision a popular music course that examines the record “factories” from the 20th century, such as PWL, Motown, Stax, etc, for which this would be a great resource) and finally, as an entertaining read about a fascinating era in pop music.

Revolution In The Head: The Beatles Records And The Sixties (Third Revised Edition)

Taken as a whole, MacDonald’s examination of the Beatles’ recorded work and what it represented in its own time remains one of the most cohesive and coherent critiques of their oeuvre in pop music literature. Making clear what he regards as the bands strengths and weaknesses as well as the triumphs and foibles of the era in which they were created, MacDonald provides a first rate understanding of what the Beatles did along with why and how they did it. And it makes for a revealing, vibrant, and fascinating (if occasionally infuriating) read as well. Highly recommended.