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Lockdown! Recording a song using household objects and a cellphone

Show simple item record Jeffery, Christopher Derek 2022-07-02T13:38:14Z 2022-07-02T13:38:14Z 2020-04-30
dc.description.abstract Overview and problem statement Music production fetishizes expensive hardware and software solutions, implying that effective music creation is an exercise in commercial consumerism. The ubiquity of images of well-appointed music studios suggests such an environment is mandatory for recording. Yet equipment is dependent on its controller, and much can be achieved in a home environment. Music production has become much more accessible over the last twenty years, with many aspiring artists developing basic but functional home studio configurations. A perceived correlation remains, however, between resource access and competency, which this project set out to critique. Key research questions 1. Can a contribution be made to a postcolonial model of sound production through creation of an expressively effective song with no financial outlay and no digital or formal acoustic instruments? 2. What are the implications of bypassing the consumer model of production through promotion of localized sonic sources? Objectives 1. The project was created during hard lockdown in April 2020, when entertainment was limited to home-based activity. It aimed to provide entertainment, inspiration and motivation, whether through passive consumption or active engagement in making one’s own music. 2. The project had an educational objective for my own music technology students, who are required to create soundscape/musique concrète projects using “found” sounds. 3. The video critiques the ethics of sound quality, specifically perceived correlation between resource access and competency. 4. The project has implications for sonic ecology through preferencing localized sounds specific and relevant to its creator’s environment over generic, pre-existing sounds such as sample libraries and synthesizers. Methodology The song was created with zero music production-specific financial outlay, and developed a unique local sonic ecology by using only original recorded sounds, no MIDI and no formal instruments. The output itself integrates a further discussion and demonstration of the project’s methodology. Location within discipline and contribution to new knowledge Two domains of contribution to new knowledge will be discussed here: 1. Ethics of sound quality 2. Legitimization of local sonic ecologies 1: Production competency is evaluated through visual as well as aural stimuli. An extensively fitted studio connotatively signifies the authority and expertise of those associated with it, from producer to artist. This forges a direct link between resource access and perceived quality. Capitalistic consumerism thereby interferes with the creative process. Expensive equipment is more accessible in developed nations, resulting in a neo-colonial feedback loop associating quality and ability with these countries, which in turn positions these nations to set the agenda regarding what should be consumed. This conceptual link between resource access, perceived quality, and consumerism makes a postcolonial reading of the economic politics of music studios overdue. Recording spaces may function as colonial power structures, just as the built environment of colonial architecture connotatively signified power and authority to the colonized. Just as third cinema (see Solanas and Getino, 1970) aimed to reconceptualize cinematic production processes to meaningfully express localized concerns, a “third audio” is possible for music creation and sound production. Here local artefacts and sonic spaces inform the production, replacing the generic studio environment that aims to make recording spaces and the music they produce sonically and geographically uniform, as part of the larger process of homogenization through globalization driven by consumerism. 2: The approach aims to extend existing sonic ecology. Finneas O’Connell, Billie Eilish’s brother/producer, has explained why their music often incorporates “found” sounds: rather than working from the same “toolbox” as every other producer, he explores unique sounds that set their music apart (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 2020: 2:25). This approach is followed in my own project, where the sounds sourced are unique in a music production context. Some real-instrument emulation occurs, but the sonic result remains referential and idiosyncratic. This results in the legitimization of new, localized sonic ecologies rather than reuse of elements in the existing production sonic ecology such as synthesizer plugins, commercial sample sets, or familiar acoustic instruments such as guitar, bass and drums. References Solanas, F. and Getino, O. (1970) ‘Towards a Third Cinema’, Cinéaste. Detroit, MI., 4(3), pp. 1–10. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (2020) Finneas Reveals Everyday Sounds Hidden in ‘Bury a Friend’ and ‘Bad Guy’, YouTube. Available at: (Accessed: 7 January 2022). en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Music, Music Technology, Music Production, Found Sounds en
dc.title Lockdown! Recording a song using household objects and a cellphone en
dc.type Musical Composition en
dc.description.department Art and Music en

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