“The Sound of Music”
by Duncan Geddes
As a leading producer of acoustic foam, we are driven by our passion for music and helping to produce great sound. This passion is something we looked to capture in the production of the “Sound of Music” infographic below.
The recording studio offers a freedom of expression and collaboration away from the public eye that live performance cannot always imitate. On stage, inspiration might result in special moments, but they are gone in a flash. Within the safe confines of a studio, artists do not need to bottle lightning as they are free to cultivate and refine their ideas until they match their vision.
Of course, it is not always that easy. A recording session might begin with a rough demo track and end with upturned bins used for percussion, microphones taped to the floor, or drums set up in the stairwell. This is a space for experimentation in search of the “perfect sound”.
The search for this elusive “perfect sound” seldom means a clean recording. After days, weeks, or even months of work, it is just as likely to be a misheard lyric, a mistake, or a strange sound on the recording that will be remembered as much as the song itself.
The Van Halen instrumental “Eruption” is a great example as it wasn’t planned. Eddie was simply rehearsing for a live performance and the producer chose to record him. The track is widely regarded as one of the greatest solos of all time, but a mistake at the start of the track annoys Eddie to this day.
For the purist, the recording studio experience is about fine-tuning the syncopation between sound and message to build a resonant atmosphere on the finished track… but sometimes the producer might just ask the vocalist to sing through a cardboard tube! Bruce Swedien, a producer famous for his work with Quincy Jones, did exactly that to Michael Jackson. The result? The “don’t think twice” vocal sections in the song “Billie Jean.”
Whether the session is in a traditional studio, on a living room floor, or in the middle of a field, the primary aim is to capture the creativity of the performers. To do this effectively it is important to have the right equipment. This doesn’t necessarily mean spending thousands, but it does demand high quality materials, from acoustic foam to cables, as even the finest instruments will only sound as good as the equipment they are used with.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” is famous for being a home recording. The pair of microphones he used were low budget, but certainly not lacking in quality, as the master cassette (yes, a standard blank cassette) of the record would have been unusable without them.
For all the craft and creativity, one of the greatest joys of recording music is when an unintended sound results in an incredible moment. The unmistakable swelling feedback at the beginning of The Beatles’ “I feel fine” is a perfect example of an accident that became iconic, but also that artistic awareness is still required to commit to an unusual sound, rather than simply re-recording the section.
As the infographic demonstrates, whether deliberate or accidental, the task of capturing the best sound is nothing new. From Elvis to Queen, the greatest artists of all time have taken on this challenge, and it is a task that future generations will continue to tackle with creativity, innovation and, sometimes, a little bit of good fortune.
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Feel free to share this infographic on social and drop us a line if you’d like to find out more about our acoustic foams and how we can help your studio create the perfect environment for capturing sound. If we did it for the Kremlin – yes, the one in Russia – we can do it for you!