Investigating performance in the recording studio

The School of Music recording studio
Monday 17 September 2018

A new research initiative by the ANU School of Music will offer the public a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process.

Performance in the Studio, overseen by Music Technology Convenor Associate Professor Samantha Bennett, will see a series of performances held and recorded in the School’s state of the art studio and admit a small audience for each.

“You don’t usually get to watch a recording process,” she says. “The audience will get to see a recording session unfold, and witness all the communication between the performers and engineers.”

The series, Associate Professor Bennett says, is a School of Music faculty research project designed to investigate the links between performance practice in the recording studio environment.

The recording studio is a unique environment unlike a rehearsal space or concert hall or venue, she says. “It has particular acoustic treatments, there’s the presence of engineers and recording personnel. And the presence of technologies there that are usually more concealed in a venue environment.” 

In addition to investigating the links between performance and recording, the project will also examine the tensions that exist within a recording environment – such as ‘red light fever’, in which a musician’s performance is affected by the awareness or pressure of being recorded.  

“There’s been a lot of research in terms of the studio as a workspace and a workplace,” Associate Professor Bennett says. 

“Additionally, there’s a lot of research on the potential of the recording studio in terms of its use in composition, and on the mythology of the recording studio – which derives from it being a historically very private space and something that’s concealed from the public. However the specific addressing of the recording studio as a site of performance is understudied.”

The recordist for the series will be the School’s 2018 HC Coombs Fellow, renowned music engineer Mark Opitz.

“Performance in the Studio is part of ANU School of Music’s multi-genre approach to 21st Century research and education,” Mark says. 

“This is a collective approach to both performance and recording that will only enhance the School’s reputation both here and overseas."

“It’s quite ambitious in its scope because it’s attempting to blend research, performance, recording, creative practice, community participation and a HC Coombs Fellowship activity,” adds Associate Professor Bennett.

The project will span a variety of the music genres taught and researched at the School. The jazz faculty will perform at the inaugural Performance in the Studio. Classical will follow on 15 October, and then Indigenous, and contemporary.

“The whole series is both a research project and a way of including performance faculty – using the recording studio as a nexus between the amazing faculty performance staff we have here, the studio environment itself, our HC Coombs Fellow, and allowing the public to come and spend some time in our fantastic facility,” Associate Professor Bennett says.

Each performance will be written up as a chapter which will go into an edited collection on performance in the recording studio, accompanied by the recordings. The totality will be released by the new ANU Press Music

The first in the Performance in the Studio series kicks off on 17 September, with places limited to 25.

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Updated:  17 September 2018/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications