Recording technology in music

There have been dramatic advances in music technology; this has led to the use of technology in music being far greater and wider spread. There has been a dramatic impact on musicianship. The music recording process is defined as the act of composing, rehearsing the piece and physically making the recording, through to doing final editing and mastering to perfect the recording.The first music recording was made by Emile Berliner in 1884, this was recorded on a tin foil coated cylinder,but since then recording technology has vastly improved and editing techniques have became easier and more advanced. Through the transition from recording on wax cylinder, analogue tape, compact disc and digital download. These developments have had many effects, both positive and negative. There has been a lot of debate related to these developments.

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One of the main areas in which recording technology has affected musicianship is that advances in recording technology, thus the music that the end listener hears is hardy ever what the musician originally played, as recording and editing technology advances, this is becoming more apparent, and edited songs are drifting further away from what the musician had performed. This idea has created a lot of controversy with the listener, as they are unsure of what the artist is capable of, and what parts of the music have been manufactured artificially during the editing stage. Some people argue that these advances are an advantage as it means that the music that they listen to is of a higher quality, and has a higher musical accuracy and is free of performance errors, this is due to advances in technologies such as pitch correction, which allows for sections in the performance that are out of tune to be corrected, it also allows for new sections of a song to be written by adjusting the pitch of a single note, to give samples of a range of other notes that can then be arranged to construct new melodies for the piece. In a similar faction sections of music can now be speeded up, slowed down and moved through time in order to allow a artists performance to be corrected if he or she falls out of time during there performance. Both of these techniques are product of improved recording technology, and a lot of listener’s appreciate that music is of a higher quality and more enjoyable to listen to.
In the contrary there is a group of people that think these improvements in technology are a disadvantage, due to the fact that the final edited version of a piece of music that the listener hears is often extremely different to the original recording that the musician actually performed. It is also criticized that how anyone can become a pop star due to the increased use of technology, which means that you don’t have to have any musical knowledge or talent as any errors that are made can now be corrected. These opinions are reflected by Neko Case who says:
I’m not a perfect note hitter either but I’m not going to cover it up with auto tune. Everybody uses it, too. I once asked a studio guy in Toronto, “How many people don’t use auto tune?” and he said, “You and Nelly Furtado are the only two people who’ve never used it in here.”
This shows that despite people like Neko’s protest against the use of these editing techniques they are used in almost every piece of music nevertheless. These technologies have also given way to new genres of computer based music.
Developments in recording technology, recording moving on to computer based systems has also largely effected musicianship, as now that most recording systems are computer based a lot of editing techniques are far simpler, and no edit or process is final, as all processes can be undone with the press of a button, where as in more traditional tape based recording systems undoing processes required a lot of manual work, or may even be unachievable. An advantage of this development is that music producers are able to experiment with different edits and processes, in order to find an outcome that they are satisfied with, if they try any processes that they are not happy with the piece can easily be reverted to its former state. When traditional tape recording methods where used editing involved cutting the tape up, then sticking it back together again, this means that it requires far more skill than using a modern computer systems. When using a traditional tape system undoing edits is far more difficult, so producers may be discouraged from experimenting with edits as it would require more work. In the other hand the same factors have disadvantages, such as the fact that producers may make edits on a traditional system that do not sound quite right, but it may be impossible or ineffective to rectify this, these small flaws would add character to the piece, which would not happen when using a modern computer systems, as any small imperfections can easily be removed without any bother. These facts about how recording and editing require far less skill is explained by David Wiliams and Peter Webster:
When computers where large and delicate and required trained system operators, and when the first sound devices relied on complicated procedures to connect one element to another, you needed to know a great deal about technical things. This has all changed.
This has given way to home recording which has enabled a lot more musicians to be able to produce there own pieces and become well known as home recording equipment is readily available.
As recording technology has developed sound quality of recordings has improved dramatically. The initial recordings that where made on wax cylinders had a lot of hiss and crackling in the recording, a low signal to noise ratio, this made the music in the recording very hard to make out and the recording unpleasant to listen to, where as in modern recordings these noises have almost been eliminated. An example of this improvement in sound qualities is shown in this news article regarding new microphone technology: ‘new high-performance MEMS microphones enable dramatic advancements in sound quality.’This has made listening to music far more pleasant. Which has improved musicianship as it has made it easier for musicians to listen to others performances and use them as inspirations for there own pieces. This has also allowed backing tracks to be produced to help musicians learn pieces which they can use to make there performances sound more realistic when they are playing solo or in small groups.
As recording technology has developed and new distribution mediums have became available, music has became more portable, more widely available, and in general a higher quality. This has improved musicianship, as it has made it easier for musicians to listen to others performances, and use them to motivate and inspire themselves. In general this has improved musicianship but it has also had some detrimental effects such as sound quality being lost, particularly when music became digital in 1982 with the release of the compact discthat would replace the vinyl record. Many people argued that the use of digital data to represent audio led to a severe loss of quality in the music, as some of the sound is lost due to compression and digital sampling, which can give digital recordings a dull tone compared to the brighter tone or analogue recordings, one person that says this is Wayne Ellis Lee who says that: ‘vinyl has a warmer, fuller sound while CD has a digital, mechanical sound.’In the contrary a digital compact disc recording can be played an infinite number of times without a loss in quality, but with an analogue recording some of the quality is lost, and you get a noticeable hiss if it is played repeatedly.
Modern mp3 technology and internet downloading of music also has both positive and negative effects on musicianship. An negative effect is that due to internet downloading and peer to peer networks, it has became a lot easier for individuals to obtain free copies of an artists music illegally, this is expanded by Mark Katz who says: ‘While there is nothing illegal about MP3 and P2P technology per se, it is illegal to download or distribute digital files of copyrighted recordings with-out the permission of the copyright holder.’These illegal downloads mean that the artist is not getting the royalties for there song that they deserve, and may be discouraged from producing there own music because it is not financially feasible for them.
When music was distributed on a physical medium it was more difficult for listeners to obtain illegal copies of a recording. Consumers where also encouraged to purchase an artists product due to the fact that they where obtaining a physical copy of the song. Where with modern music downloading the listener gets a virtual file containing the music performance, the fact that the music is not in a physical form is also an advantage, as musicians and listeners are now able to have much larger music collections. The music retailers can offer a wider selection as they are not limited by the physical space needed to store the music.
In conclusion there have been many advances in recording technology that have affected musicianship, most of these developments have made in easier for musicians to record, market and improve there performances, but these developments have also produced many disadvantages for both the musician and the listener.
 

Processes and Components of a Studio Recording

Introduction
In order to create to record any form of music, it is important to understand step by step how to get from the planning, and playing of a track, to the end result of a completed recording.
In contemporary music production, it is much easier than ever to make your own studio recording, though there options to be considered when setting out to record contemporary audio, it’s important to know what you would like to create, in order to find the most suitable hardware.
By the end of this guide, you should be armed more with knowledge on the following topics.

Microphones: The Ins and Outs
Polar Patterns
The Mixing Desk

Microphones: The Ins and Outs
Microphones record an audio signal using sound pressure, which generates an electrically charged signal, this signal is then converted into digital so that it can be interpreted by a computer, a process known as Analogue to Digital Conversion (ADC), which is then converted into sound that can playback through the speakers of your computer using Digital to Analogue Conversion (DAC).
Examples of Microphones
Condenser microphones store energy in the form of an electrostatic field, which uses a capacitor to convert analogue energy, and stores it as digital energy (capacitance). In the image below, you can see the cross section of the inside of a condenser mic.
On the front we have two plates, the front plate (or ‘diaphragm’) and the back plate. The diaphragm vibrates in response to sound waves, changing the distance between the two plates. The closer the diaphragm is to the back plate, the higher the capacitance, creating a charge which is passed through and amplified.
Due to the diaphragm, condenser mics are more sensitive to higher frequencies. Known to be great for recording vocals.

Dynamic microphones are an all-round choice suited for most purposes. Simple in structure, and resilient to rough treatment and for handling high levels of volume. A charge is generated via kinetic movement between the coil and magnet.     
What are the key differences between these two microphones?

Condenser microphones tend to be more sensitive, better at recording high frequencies, whereas dynamic microphones not normally have the same flat frequency response, and tend to be purpose made for certain applications.
Condenser microphones generate electrical output around changing the capacitance of the transducer, whereas dynamic mics use a coil in a magnetic field
Dynamic mics are durable and cheaper, condenser mics tend to be more expensive, much less durable.

Polar Patterns
A microphones polar pattern is the space surrounding the outside of the microphone that picks up audio. Some microphones have several in one mic, one such example being Blue Microphone’s “Yeti” . The polar pattern can determine the feel, ambience, and colour of the recorded audio.

The most common microphone pattern is the cardioid mic. These typically have a 120 degree range to pick up audio. Good for speech for podcasts with a rich, full-bodied sound. Cardioid mics are good for rejecting sounds from other sources/directions.

Similar to the cardioid microphone, the Hypercardioid has a tight pick-up range of 100 degrees, they are better at rejecting sounds from the sides, though pick-up a little bit of sound from the rear.
Due to the design of these microphones, feedback is reduced, making them a good choice for recording quieter vocalists.

Figure of Eight (or bi-directional) microphone. These are used to record a more natural sound quality, product of it having pick-up from both the front and rear, rejecting audio from the sides. It doesn’t respond to sound pressure, only the change in pressure between the front and back. A common use for bi-direction mics is for interviewing, or for radio.
The Mixing Desk
The mixing desk is a device for combining several sound source, while being able to interact with them individually. A mixers main task is to mix down several tracks into a stereo track, combining sound from several sources to produce an acceptable balance and quality track.

On the back of the desk, we have the inputs, where you would connect your microphone. Microphones connect to the desk using an XLR cable, if you are using an external sound card you might be more likely to use a line-in port.
In order for sound to be stored onto a computer, that analogue energy generated from a microphone needs to be converted into digital using an ADC such as an audio adapter, or sound card, then converted back to analogue using DAC via a sound card for example, which then plays back through the speakers, allowing you to hear changes made via the mixing desk, and hear that in real time. A pre-amp may also be used to boost the signal strength without degrading the quality to noise (hissing) ratio much.
Channel inputs receive this audio, which is manipulated via the desk, or DAW. The channel faders are used to change audio levels, mute cuts the audio from being received from a channel, pan changes how far to the left, or right a channel’s output audio plays back, there is also equalisation (EQ), which involves diminishing and boosting certain frequencies.
There are many other ways to manipulate audio, though what’s important is that you understand how audio is recorded, and the components involved.
Conclusion
Now that we have gone into detail about various microphones, features and how to connect that up to record audio, you should be armed with a better understanding what to look for when planning your first music production project. Please look into the sources below as well for further insight.
Sources:   
http://shure.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/742/~/difference-between-a-dynamic-and-condenser-microphone
http://www.dawsons.co.uk/blog/the-mixer-and-its-feature
http://www.mediacollege.com/audio/microphones/condenser.html
http://blog.shure.com/multi-pattern-microphones-what-where-and-how/
http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/how-to-record-a-song/
http://www.bluemic.com/products/yeti/

The Recording of Lets Dance By David Bowie Essay

He produced it and plays all rhythm guitar sections. Stevie Ray Vaughn recorded the guitar solo. He said in an interview that he sat in a corner and waited for his cue then added an improvised Albert King style solo. All in one take. This song’s lyrical message is simple but David usually has a more complex character and this song seems to be a bit out of his style. That is why the song is not appreciated by a lot of Bowie’s fans. I see it as Bowie’s way of getting out of his skin,»¿ letting his spirit run free forgetting all that holds up back to thinking with clarity. Bowie said that it was one of his lowest periods as an artist, although Stevie Ray Vaughn was credited on the album he wasn’t still that famous and after that he became internationally famous with his own album. Bowie admits that this wasn’t his best period creative wise but great at the time. Reinventing himself as an 80’s pop icon was the kiss of death on his imitators such as David Sylvian, yet in truth the 2 became even more alike. It was almost like Bowie was playing him at his own game.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let%27s_Dance_(David_Bowie_album)Dance was released as the first single from the album with the same title in 1983, and become one of his most successful records during that underrated part of his creative work. Bowie’s approach to the song and lyrics seems different compared to previous albums. The song is simple, but polished not neccesarily following the true image of Bowie in the seventies.
“The single was the fastest selling in Bowie’s career. It entered the UK single charts at number five and two weeks later the song stayed in top of the charts for a period of three weeks. That was Bowie’s only song to reach number one on the two sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It narrowly missed topping the australian charts, peaking at number two. Let’s dance was the fourth best selling single in 1983.
“Let’s Dance” helped Bowie to find a new younger audiences, unaware of his past career in the 1970s. The piece was one of the most played on the “Serious Moonlight Tour” (the name came in from the lyrics in “let’s dance”
I have been using the studio version for the analysis which is approximately seven minutes and thirty eight seconds. There is an edit of that version for the single release of the track, which is shorter in length 4:10.
The song was recorded and produced by Nile Rodgers. He had a strong influence on the song and was working with his band Chic at that time.
“Let’s Dance” was the most commercial product in the album according to Bowie. That’s why it was also chosen for title of the album. It represents his best work from that time. Almost like it was written to remind the public that he’s still writing quality, in fashion music. He wanted to be famous and he achieved it once again. The song was designed to appeal to young generations at the time, but still he managed to combine the disco with his own style and that makes it harder. Nowadays the typical mainstream artists such as Lady GaGa appear to be a bit monotonous compared to Bowie’s work. All of her songs that are mostly played by drum machine and a single DJ. The usage of a DJ limits the improvisation in a piece, because that way you have everything controlled by a single person that has to do all the work. There’s a strong element of electronic instruments and sequencers involved in the production. Even on her live performances she’s doesn’t use real musicians and the music is played by a single DJ usually. It feels like it’s missing the human feel compared to Bowie’s art. Lady gaga’s music seems a bit narrow in terms of improvisations and experimenting with harmonies and melodies. She also tried to use the same dance cliché with a song with the title “Just Dance.” In an interview she admits that she was influenced by Bowie who spent the majority of his early career pretending that he came to this planet from outer space. Gaga has been sporting a collection of shiny suits made popular by Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust. Gaga once said ‘Fashion is everything to me’ in contrast with her Bowie oversaw the downsides and benefits of using digital instruments, but he remained true in his nature. He changed, but while listening is easy to distinguish his version of Let’s Dance to the one by Lady Gaga which is not that unique. They are both similar in the whole dance approach to the piece, but musically Bowie’s delivers a lot more musical content with regards to the solo of Steve Ray Voughn who’s still a legend today. Bowie’s art is evergreen it should last for a long time and it’s not just the music that makes it. It’s the whole approach to it, the makeup and the drama he makes. Twenty years later his music is still relevant to what’s going on nowadays. As in the music video there are still many third world poor people. And the dance music still dictates the commercial industries. The Disco became mainstream or popular in 1978-80 It’s roots are coming from the jazz, classical and soul music. At first the music was in support of the rights movements and homosexual people. There was major revolution in a musical cultural and ethical form in that pre nineteen eighties pop. One of the first underground dance genres was strongly influenced by chic. Similar to the way that Blues, Jazz and Soul were used as a platform for a cultural revolution the disco was mainly exploited by black people in the beginning until it became popular. Chic dominated the charts for several years with a series of carefully crafted songs, including “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” Before long, other artists were turning to Rodgers and Edwards for their production, arranging, and songwriting skills, resulting in massive hits like Sister Sledge’s “We are Family.” In 1979, Rodgers brought his magic touch to David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and a few years later he hit solid gold, producing Madonna’s landmark singles “Like a Virgin” and “Material Girl.” He later continued to work with a diverse crop of famous artists, including Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Duran Duran, David Lee Roth, INXS, Grace Jones, and even jazz legend Al Jarreau. Nowadays Rodgers heads up his own label and production company, as well as “Sumthing Distribution”, a national record distribution company.
The song was produced mimic early dance production in the eighties, although recorded with acoustic instruments the gated drums and the delay effect on almost everything suggest that song was intended to recreate the atmosphere of the new decade. Nile Rodgers is known to use drum machines in most of his productions, even though the groove of the band is more important to him as a producer. The groove has to be right before the start of overdubbing. He never used a metronome in Chic’s records even thou they were supposed to be a dance band. Years later he developed that technique.
There’s a melody in the bass that was performed by Carmine Rojas who is known for working for Rod Stewart as a bass player and also a music director. During his time with David Bowie he was one of the most respected bass players in the industry. He was introduced to Bowie by drummer Tony Thompson. Carmine and Tony knew met when they were playing together in Labelle.
In 1986 Carmine worked as a studio musician on a song recording for Alphaville’s album Afternoons in Utopia.
The bass seems to be a bit artificial like it was double tracked with a synthesizer. Thumping the bass in that way gives it more character to sustain the beats typical for many records in that era.
There’s also a guitar in these first eight bars that was performed by the producer Nile Rodgers. He was a producer and a guitar player at the same time. He first began his career as a session musician living in New York he had the opportunity to play at the famous Apollo theater on one stage with the likes of “Screaming Jay Hawkins, Maxine Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Betty Wright, Earl Lewis and the Channels, Parliament Funkadelic”. Later in the seventies he met bassist Bernard Edwards. Together they formed a band called the big apple band. They made a huge success with a single hit, which allowed them to tour and even an opening for the Jackson five on their first tour in 1973. The band was disbanded after the second album failed to reach enough popularity to provoke enough sales, but Rodgers and Edward didn’t give up and joined the drummer Tony Thompson. With his influence in the band they recorded as a Funk-Rock band called “The Boys”, which played many gigs on the East Coast. Despite the huge interest from the labels to sign them they didn’t have any luck just because they were black. There was a concern that the black artists were too hard to promote. The band was playing at the local pubs at that time. Another New York artist, Walter Murphy, had a band also called “The Big Apple Band” and Rodgers and Edwards were decided to change the band name to avoid confusion in the public. In 1977 the band changed their name to Chic. They begun recording material with back vocalist Luther Vandross mainly disco tracks. Their success later helped the disco become popular, two of their most popular songs were called “Everybody Dance” and “Dance, Dance, Dance” I think David Bowie thought of the song as a cliché to what became popular since his last album. Compared to his old songs such as “Space oddity”
(1969) “Life on mars” (1973) that changed people’s lives and influenced revolutions. Althought David Bowie’s frequent changes of image, direction and carrer have been written about and discussed to the point of saturation, his songs are often overlooked. For instance Space Odity, released in 1969 to coincide with the US landing on the moon was his first major hit. Bowie’s fascination with space figures frequently in his early carreer. After abouncing he was gay, he reinvented himself from hippy singer-songwriter into Ziggy Stardust – full on glam rocker from another planet. With the same unusual combinations he used “Let’s Dance” as a cliché for that period of time and how the trends were changed. He wanted that to work with musicians of Chic’s class, because they were the godfathers of the disco that was pretty popular at the time. Most of their records have a similar feel of the bass line being chopped to eights and sixteenths in 4/4 in tempo. Although the line is in short rhythmical durations still there’s a pulsing downbeat every crotchet, just like on modern underground dance music. The music tended to layer soaring, often-reverberated vocals, which are often doubled by synthesizers. The use of wah pedaled effects that sounds like metallic scratches in short durations. Peculiar backing keyboard instruments such string synthesizers and electro acoustic keyboards such as the Fender Rhodes piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and Hohner Clavinet. Synthesizers are also fairly common in disco, especially in the late 1970s. The rhythm was usually played by spectacular, syncopated basslines (with common use of octaves) played on a bass guitar double tracked with synthesizers. The drum part was played on acoustic drum kit, African/Latin percussion or electronic drum machines such as the Simmons and Roland drum modules. Although some of James Brown’s songs are strongly influenced by black people the disco it still remains heavily improvised on stage, but with the disco there was a new way to improvise live with the recently invented digital and analog pads and samplers implemented in the recent technology development. A shift in the audience from younger generations introduced the disco as a new type of funk mixed with analog synthesizers that could hold a sustained and controlled downbeat and without the need of a real drummer. The fixed beat technology developed enough with the help of drum machines to ease the process of live production holding a fixed tempo without a need of a drummer and at the same time sacrificing the musical content in it. The role of Nile Rodgers was to balance these two aspects.
The song begins with a voice intro performed by Bowie which reminds of something from the sixties called layered seventh. In the first bar there is only one vocal which is the first tone in Eflat major, then in every new bar there is a new vocal layered, the third and the fifth until reaching the dominant seventh major and resolving to first at the fifth bar (0:09)That’s where the basics of the pre-verse are formed.
After the intro the chord verse structure is changed with a tonal centre of Bflat7sus . Followed by a Eflatseventh in the second bar. Fsharp in a six chord in the third bar and Bflat minor sixth in the fourth.
In instrumental intro which consists of eight bars trumpet solo in the beginning performed by Mac Gollehon. It can be characterized as a jazz improvisation.
Bowie’s voice enters the verse, which consists of sixteen bars. There’s a wooden block played percussion instrument played in sixteenths, a stereo delay is also applied. Splitting the signal into a dry sound, which is panned to the right and the delayed sound is panned to the left.
There’s a short saxophone melody played by Bowie at the end of every eight bars in the first verse.
A big amount of delay was used on the lead voice; it bounces in far left and right. The rhythm guitar and snare seem to use the same technique with using a long delay time.
And then it goes to the chorus section with the lyrical content:
With the harmony change in A flat in the first bar that goes to C sharp major and Eflat major on the phrase “run with you” and it’s repeated again by the guitar and bass. The whole melody line is repeated once again. And then on “my love” it goes from Aflat major through F minor, C sharp and E flat. The end part of the chorus from “and tremble like a flower” Is in Eflat major seventh followed by a Bflat7suspended4, eflat major again Fsharp major six chord and the whole chorus ends on Bflat minor sixth.
ABBA – Dancing Queen (1976)
Andy Gibb – Shadow dancing 1978, (B)Anita Ward – Ring my bell 1979, Barry White»¿ – You’re The First, The Last, My Everything (1974), Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing (I Believe in Miracles) (1975), Lipps Inc – Funky Town (1980), Sister Sledge – We are family (1979)