The Technological Changes of Music Production

As the world becomes more technologically advanced, we see can observe many changes that have taken place. Music production is an area where this is just as apparent. If we look back just 100 years, more technologically advanced countries are almost unrecognizable from their dated counterpart. Music has almost fundamentally changed over the years. But, how has ever-advancing technology changed the core of music production? This paper sets out to observe the recording process to collaboration and the changes that have taken place as technology has advanced, beginning with the recording process.

One of the first and most fundamental changes that has taken place in music production is the recording process. When music was first being recorded and produced, the musicians all had to get together in one room and record their song until they all played their parts perfectly and with minimal error. The song structure was strictly limited to what the band had decided on, before any recording took place. The sound of the instruments and vocals were also pre-determined. A lot of thought and effort went into writing and practicing this so that their song would sound exactly as they had planned. The effort was all in the pre-recording phase. Today, most of the effort goes into editing in the post-recording process.

Unlike music that was recorded in the past, song structure and overall sound is developed after the recording has taken place. The pre-recording process still requires a certain amount of preparation and planning. However, the majority of the work takes place after the recording is finished. The artist is no longer limited by what the instrument or vocals sound like as they are being recorded. Any recording can be tweaked and altered to fit whatever sound they desire. If the artist or producer prefers a higher octave or a different note in the recorded vocals, they can simply edit it without needing the vocalist to come back in and re-record it. This opens up incredible possibilities of song structure and sound that can have an intense effect of the mood of the listener.

When thinking about how the song is to be structured and what mood the listener should feel, the artist is open to a wide variety of possibilities. In electronic dance music (EDM), the song’s structure plays a huge roll in the effect the song has on the listeners. There are many different techniques that are used in EDM specifically used to hype the crowd up. The techniques are used to give the listener to feeling of being lifted off of the ground, filled with anticipation, and then dropped back down to the ground. These techniques are analyzed and explained in an article called “Waiting for the bass to drop” by Ragnhild Torvanger Solberg. Solberg used commonly used terms such as “build up”, “drop”, and “uplifters” to describe the production techniques that are used. He also introduces a new term, which he calls the “drum roll effect(Solberg). The “Build up” refers to the part of the song that gives the listener an increased feeling of being lifted. “Uplifters” refer to the kinds of effects the artist will use to enhance a “build up” section. The “drop” is the part of the song, at the end of a “build up”, where the listener gets the sensation of being dropped back down to the ground after the feeling of being lifted. He describes the “drum roll effect” as “a frequently used technique in newer EDM where the prominent rhythmical pattern, often the snare drum, becomes increasingly divided until the return of the core, starting out with quarter notes and culminating in a drum roll right before the bass drops and the bass drum returns.”(Solberg) Solberg’s article goes onto explain the effects by using a spectrogram of a song’s (“Icarus” by ‘Madeon’) wavelengths to provide a visual of the production that takes place.

music

You can see from the image that the song’s frequencies show a clearly visual increase as it approaches the drop and into the core section of the song. These production techniques create an unmatchable mood shift that can only be achieved through modern, post-recorded editing techniques. This fundamental change in technology opens the artist up to be able to alter the sound bytes to intensify the emotion desired. This technology allows artists to move away from the idea of writing a song and recording the “one perfect take” to more compositional piece in which the artist has total control. This opens the floor up for an even greater element of creativity: collaboration.

With each artist’s album release, each album gets better, or more complex. This complexity can be viewed as the artist growing and mastering his or her craft. This is without a doubt a factor in the evolution of all artists during their careers. However, one big reason that the music becomes more complex and involved is the new people and technology that they are introduced to through the technology of music production and producers.

The average person does not give much thought into the amount of production and collaboration that goes into making this new album what it is, which is mostly done by relatively anonymous producers. In some cases, the original artist has little to do with the overall sound of the album. The record company will generally hire experienced producers and engineers to master and re-master the song ideas. The artist may have originally written the song on an acoustic guitar to plan out what chords, timing, and vocal melody he or she wants the song to incorporate. Then, the artist will sit down with a producer and begin to record. The producer, depending on the artist’s contract with the record company, has the final say in what chords to actually use and what lyrics to sing whether the artist wants this or not. Typically, it’s, economically, for the better, because the producer has a better feel for what demographic the particular artist is appealing to. Max Martin is a famed record producer with over 17 #1 hits that he either co-wrote and/or produced. Including: Katy Perry featuring Kanye West, “E.T.” 2011, Maroon 5, “One More Night,” 2012, and Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” 2012(Billboard). “He ranks behind only Paul McCartney, with 32, and John Lennon with 26(Billboard). This is an amazing feat in the field of music writing. That being said, it’s astounding to think that he is still relatively unknown to the average person. These top artists owe a huge debt to Martin for his expertise in writing and mastering their songs. His skill in appealing to the masses and, particularly, to the artist’s target demographic. In an interview, Martin said this, “I think the ‘target market’ and ‘audience’ tends to come with the artist. If I’m doing something with a young pop artist I may not choose to have a brass section in a song, for example. Sometimes you have to think about what the artist already is”(Ask Billboard). Although these producers work behind the scenes, popular music today would not be the same or, arguably, as good without their expertise and the technology they use to master the tracks. Technological changes and the exploitation of collaboration have no doubt changed the direction, style and execution of music. But, there is some controversy surrounding one element of collaboration. Often times, a less consensual form of execution. This is called sampling.

As one listens to popular music, whether it is on the radio or in one’s own personal collection, one cannot help but to hear a piece of another artist’s music embedded within. This can be subtle to the point that it goes unnoticed by the average person. It could be in the vocals, a guitar lick, or something as small as the drum kick that only comes in once every 3 bars of music. But it is, in essence, a rip off of the original artist. This technique is called sampling. The perspective of the original artist varies case by case. Some are ok with the idea of hearing their voice or drum beat incorporated into other songs. Others are furious that their work has been copied and pasted into someone else’s work for their own benefit.

There is a lot of gray area to this issue. There are laws in place to help rectify the matter. But, is this enough to keep all parties happy? Even in the event that strict permission is given, there have been parties that have felt wronged. An article by Molly Mcgraw helps shed some light onto this issue. She tells the story of David Johnson and Jan Hammer. “David Earl Johnson who allowed computer-keyboardist Jan Hammer to sample his drum sounds on rare, eighty-year-old Nigerian conga drums. Later, after Johnson recognized his drum sounds running through the entire Miami Vice soundtrack, he sought payment for what he perceived to be his contribution to the composition. He was told by Hammer’s manager that he wanted ‘money for doing nothing’ and the American Federation of Musicians refused to take his case.”(law.berkeley.edu) In this case, there was arguably nothing done wrong by Hammer. He asked for permission to use Johnson’s drums sample and Johnson gave it. Johnson could have been more specific about the limit of usage of these. But even the legal system has no test case that a court can use in a copyright case. Each lawsuit must be individually decided on a case-by-case basis based on whether the sample used is original to the plaintiff. The law states that “Originality denotes only enough definite expression so that one may distinguish authorship, i.e., there must be an identifiable element of personality.” (law.berkeley.edu) So, with these safeguards in place, it makes it easier for artists to win in a lawsuit against copyright infringement. However, the problem lies in whether or not the original artist’s music can be discernable on the track. Frank Zappa was the first to fully protect a full album from copyright infringement from sampling down to the wave pattern level. It requires more effort and money to get this type of protection than what is provided at default from simply recording and distributing an album. Should the law be changed to protect the artist further by default? This issue definitely deserves some more legal attention to decide what the limits should be in regards to sampling. However, this advance in technology has the ability to enhance the effectiveness that music has on mood the listener.

As music becomes more digital and become stored into massive databases online, it creates an incredible archive in which one can pick just the right elements to create a composition of emotion and intensity. In a book by Ann Cvetkovich called An Archive of Feelings she talks about an “archive in which my own feelings are deposited”(Cvetkovich) that the artist Le Tigre created with the songs they played at a live concert. This same concept can be applied to the archive of recorded music available online. Through the advances in technology, an artist can select and modify any one sample of another artist’s work and, with permission, can create an emotional masterpiece for the world to become engulfed by. This level of depth could not be achieved without the more recent advances in technology. And it is exciting to see what the future holds for musical technology and production.

Works Cited

“Ask Billboard: Max Martin Notches Another No. 1.” Billboard. N.p., n.d. Web.<http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/chart-beat/6327746/ask-billboard-max-martin-notches-another-no-1&gt;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. Archive of Feelings. N.p., n.d. Print.

“Max Martin Interview – Popjustice.” Popjustice RSS. N.p., 27 Apr. 2009. Web.<http://www.popjustice.com/interviewsandfeatures/max-martin-interview/49884/&gt;.

“SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT.” SOUND SAMPLING PROTECTION AND INFRINGEMENT. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015. <http://www.law.berkeley.edu/journals/btlj/articles/vol4/McGraw/HTML/text.html&gt;.

TORVANGER SOLBERG, RAGNHILD. “Waiting For The Bass To Drop”: Correlations Between Intense Emotional Experiences And Production Techniques In Build-Up And Drop Sections Of Electronic Dance Music.” Dancecult: Journal Of Electronic Dance Music Culture 6.1 (2014): 61-82. Academic Search Complete. Web.

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Our Blog as an Archive

When starting this class, I was both captivated and a little skeptical of using this blog site. I have never used something of the sort for a class before so I did not really know what to expect. I also struggle very badly in terms of new types of technology (funny considering this class topic) and do not always grasp certain things, like tagging, easily. After getting going with the blog, I noticed how laid back and easy to use it is. I really do think it is the best way to structure this class with our writings, topics, and opinions. In terms of the final assignment, I have noticed some trends amongst our classmates. Since we are able to create our paper entirely off of a topic we choose to write about, there are many topics that relate to things typical to be interested in by college students: gaming, music, cell phones, sports, etc. Although seemingly typical, the people writing about such topics are exploring something very broad and creating pieces of writing that intrigue to reader since most of us have similar interests in today’s society.

I was also very intrigued by some of the topics that I did not expect to see. For example, I did not necessarily picture someone to write about honey bees, solar panels, or neuroprosthetics.  Topics such as these differ from the ones I shared before because they are topics it typically thought about or expressed. I am very excited to read about these topics because they are all things that I did not have much knowledge about previously.

I have seen how these blog posts have developed in their depth over this semester and how topics have come about. I know personally that I would start with a topic and then find myself exploring a different branch of it than I expected. I really enjoy the limitlessness of this blog and how open ended it can be. It is rare to have a class where you can write about definite things that are of interest to you and put a spark in your mind. I love being able to navigate through this blog and wonder what sparked someone to write about their topic of choice. It not only allows us as students to express ourselves through our writing, but also to relate to others and find a new relatability to some of our classmates.

I think many of us in this class could say that this was one of the classes where you did not have to know everyone’s names or speak outside of class, but that you felt comfortable to talk and express your ideas in the classroom. I believe the blog is a big part of this and became an archive of all of our personalities coming together.  I am very excited to see what everyone has to offer in their final papers because I think we can all learn a lot about ourselves from each other’s posts and could spark future ideas of our own. I know that after getting in our small groups and discussing our topics with some classmates, I became very intrigued by the topics and could see myself exploring some of them in future works of my own.

Class Archive

Taking a look back at the numerous blogs posted over the course of the semester there was one simple thing that really caught my eye, and that thing was the length and contents of the list of tags. I noticed the list at the beginning of the semester, but I never paid too much attention to it as the class progressed. When I finally took another look at it, I realized how much it had grown and how diversified it has become. The most commonly used tags are the largest, and most of those are the general topics we were given for writing our blogs. However, the smaller, less commonly used tags are where the spirit of this specific class is shown.

We were all given the same assignment and the same basic topic on which to compose our blogs, but we each explored our own ideas that we felt connected to the basic topic in one way or another. One of the most interesting aspects of this class is seeing our discussion topics from multiple different points of view. Admittedly, I am sometimes a stubborn person when it comes to changing my view on something. However, reading some of the blogs posted throughout the semester were able to accomplish just that. Not only were the postings interesting and thought provoking, but the atmosphere of the class as a whole, I believe, helped form a more relaxed and natural feeling. For example, being able to write in a way that is not completely formal, in my mind, makes it easier to get a point across. Combining with the more relaxed style of writing is the fact that I conducted most of my class work while I was comfortable in my room. Reading others’ blogs was a way to get my mind off all the stresses of other classes.

A good example of the positive structure of the blog posts was one of the first blogs I read, and it was a post about rock climbing. The subject was something I knew nothing about, but it made me think about the effects the sport has. If it wasn’t for the author posting something they enjoyed writing about, I doubt I would have had the same connection to the post. I was opened up to a new topic I would have most likely never covered if I didn’t read that specific blog post. It was also easy to connect to the thoughts and ideas of the author thanks to the relaxed nature of the text.

Being able to write on ideas conceived in your own mind is much easier than having to follow strict guidelines, and I think that is evident in the blogs posted. This led to the expansive list of tags that now exists on our site. If an outsider looked at two of the posts that stemmed from the same assignment, they might not think they have any relation to one another. The topics were stretched and used as each of the authors saw fit, and I think that is a good representation of what the class was intended to do. Reading others informal thoughts on subjects that are more important today than ever before makes it nearly impossible to keep a closed mind and remain stubborn in your own ideas. Science and technology is involved in every aspect of our lives, even in ways one may have never realized without reading what others wrote. Being the first discussion class I enrolled in here, I was looking forward to this class. My expectations were exceeded due to the structure of the class and the blog posts that I took the time to read. The blog posts present ways of how science and technology consist of much, much more than the robots and smart phones that many think of when they hear the words science and technology.

Class Archive

As I was looking through some of the previous blog posts, and remembering others throughout the year, one thing I noticed, and realized a few others also noticed, was the great variety of topics that we as a class have covered.  Blog posts have ranged from Egyptian funerary practices to sports technology to digital aspirin.  With our class wrapping up, and all of us exploring incredibly diverse topics for our final papers, I wanted to look back on one of the first topics we were all charged to write about—artifact politics—, and analyze how we all took a very different perspective on how to write about this topic.  I also wanted to look at one of the topics a classmate has chosen for his/her final paper—cinema.

Earlier in the year, we discussed how an artifact can have a certain political dimension after reading the work by Langdon Winner, and tasked with choosing an artifact and writing about its political dimensions.  I remember that I chose a gun, partly because I felt that it could have both democratic and authoritarian aspects when put into specific hands.  When going through all of the other posts about artifact politics, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the astounding diversity of topics we as a class chose.  Two posts that specifically interested me were about GPS and the pen.  The post about GPS really interested me because I had never fully realized all of the information wireless service providers, and even the government, had on us, which I believe to be an invasion of privacy.  The post about the pen also interested me because I never really thought about how influential, yet simple, an object a pen is.  I guess the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword” really is true.

Now to talk about one specific topic, which is cinema.  One student is choosing to write about cinema for his/her final paper, and this caught my eye because I have always had a special interest in movies.  I even considered writing about movies for my final paper, but ultimately  I have always been fascinated by the fact that two hours of film has the ability to change a person’s life.  Take The Wolf of Wall Street for example, a movie about a big-time executive on Wall Street during the 1980’s named Jordan Belfort.  After this movie hit theaters, many teenagers and college kids decided they wanted to major in business or finance so they could live the wild lifestyle shown in the movie.  One thing I enjoyed about this student’s post was how he/she evaluated the history of cinema, starting with a photograph and now today having CGI effects.  We discussed cinema in my communications class, and this student was basically spot-on when describing the history of movies.  I also like how the student described the evolution of film as an art form, from realism to surrealism.  One thing I would have liked for this student to include in his/her post is an analysis on the social impact cinema has had on society, particularly the United States.

In conclusion, I believe that we as a class have really developed a great blog site that analyzes various technologies and their different functions.  I hope that students in the future will look at this site and perhaps use it as a resource, or simply inspiration, for their own work.

Class Archive

When looking at the archive that this class has created throughout the semester, what really strikes me is that even though we have all received the same assignments the whole year, the range of topics that were chosen for each assignment could not have been more different from each other. For example, for the final project alone, one person is talking about bees, another is talking about hip hop, and another is writing their paper on concussions. Those topics could not be more different, yet they still explore a common theme: technological progress and its impact on how we live our lives.

This common thread is what amazes me the most about our archive – it’s incredible how many different perspectives can be used to illuminate the issues we face today. One assignment that I appreciated reading different opinions on was the one that focused on the Digital Self. It was a relatively narrow topic, which is why the different perspectives really were useful for me – they forced me to reconsider my views, and expand them. Specifically within that topic, the focus on the readings from “alone together” that some people had was something that I enjoyed reading about, mostly because it’s a common feeling sometimes (the feeling of being so connected yet so disconnected at the same time), and it was nice to see that there are common experiences between all of us, even though we do all have our own opinions and perspectives and ideas. For example, the post about the differing perspectives between cultures in respect to connection really made me think. As an American, I have pretty much come to accept that my parents want me to be continually available. I don’t speak to them every day, or even every week sometimes, but if I can’t get in contact with them for some reason or another, they tend to get very worried. However, the connection between parent and child through different cultures can be very different. In the blog post that I’m referring to, the Chinese norm was addressed. It makes me wonder if I would be different in terms of my independence if my parents were less concerned about connection. As it is, I tend to do what I feel is best, regardless of their input, but I wonder what extremes my current independence (my mother might say strong-willed bullheadedness) could reach if I had even less obligation.

Another thing that I find interesting about our archive is not even the depth or breadth overall, it’s the depth that can be found with just one post. For example, the post on mummification that was read aloud gave us a huge amount of knowledge on a topic that most of us (I assume) are not familiar with – I know that I’m not. This access to new knowledge is something that I feel is prevalent throughout our archive. There are so many different topics and different passions that we have somehow come up with a fairly comprehensive look at technology throughout time and throughout society. Considering this, I kind of wonder what would happen if we had another semester to write even more.

CS 2367 as an Archive

This comparative studies class has worked as an archive by simply archiving the ideas of society. The blog contains a wide range of posts written by students talking about various social and technological topics that range from bitcoins to MRI technology to online relationships. The class contains the views of the younger generation and the older generation where we evaluate articles of technology that have very much affected society.

The class is given an article to read pertaining to We have progressed through a range of blog posts. We re-defined the idea of technology beginning with important pieces of “technology” that we cannot live without and leads up to our main project papers. We defined an archive in class as an extension of ourselves. Each of the student’s posts has to do with their interests and their opinion, which makes writing more fun and anyone can read it. Overall, the blog idea was a much more entertaining idea than writing short responses for a basic English class. It allows the class to be closer together and share more than we would share in class. Blog posts can be casual and it can be fun to read the ideas and interests of the other students in the class, it is also fun to comment on other posts and share interests on other posts. I liked this class and the layout of the class. The blog post was definitely the best idea yet for students to record and share their work, definitely keep it around!

One of the most influential articles we had read is by Marshal McLuhan. In Marshal McLuhan’s book The Medium is the Massage, he described a variety of items that were an extension of the body. “The wheel is the extension of the foot, the book is the extension of the eye, clothes is the extension of the body, and electricity is an extension of the central nervous system.” In class, a big topic that we talked about is the many ways the technology we have works as an archive, like Facebook and music. How Facebook archives our pictures and our memories, how music archives our feelings, how our phones archive our lifestyle.

This class works as an extension of our lives (insert intense music). The main purpose of a blog is to record feelings and journal about events in our lives. Journals can come in many forms and originally they were in the form of books to record in and can now be in the form of a digital website. We as students are writing about the big events that are happening in the world now, like genetic engineering or change in social norms. The blog archives and preserves what is happening right now in our lives as Ohio State students and what we love. Ten years down the road if we happen to stumble upon this website, it will be a reminder of how we lived. Maybe after we have passed and life is different, people will find it and it will somehow help make an impact or an important record on their society.

Our Class Archive

At this point in time, the class has created an archive of blog posts full of many different ideas, ranging from the effects of music to robots. As a whole, these blog posts all relate to one specific topic: technology. Having a topic chosen but also having a lot of free space to write gives the student guidance while still giving them the ability to write about what they’re interested in.

This same idea pertains to when the blog must relate to an essay read previously; everyone has a general topic to write about (like “the self”) but everyone approaches this topic in a different way. This is what makes the blog posts as a whole interesting and enjoyable to read. It groups them together in one way but also allows for individuality as everyone has their own opinions and thoughts about certain concepts. As a fellow student, I enjoyed looking through all the blog posts because I got to pick up ideas that I didn’t think of before.

The best way to describe a lot of the blog posts is passionate. Especially when it comes to the blog posts pertaining to the final paper (in which people chose their own topics that they are interested in), they show passion and excitement about a topic (because of the leniency of the paper). To be able to see this on a massive scale while scrolling through the blog is inspiring.

Our class’ compilation of blog posts serves as a mix of ideas. This can be seen through the ability to write comments. One person may write a post expanding on a thought, while a few people might comment and include their own thoughts on the same topic. The same goes for the option to tag something. This gives a reader or fellow blogger the ability to look up a topic and find slightly different ideas about the same thing.

As the archive continues to grow every week with each person’s new blog post, more ideas are developed that otherwise would not have been. Before the blog posts, there were certain topics I hadn’t thought about, or certain thoughts I haven’t shared with anybody. With the posts, I received the ability to do both of these.

Even as the semester ends and everyone in the class moves on with different plans, we are all still interconnected through the blog. Every one of us can go back onto it and read through our old posts along with others’ posts. As we continue to gain more knowledge on different topics, our views may expand or change. This means they might be different from what we wrote on the blog. However, it is still good to know that the blog posts are available to see and it is interesting to think that we can look back and see how our views have changed. Maybe we will even rediscover an idea we forgot about that can inspire us in the future. Either way, the blog isn’t just a technology that aids us in the past and until the end of the semester. It can affect us far into the future if we let it.