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The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music

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The evolution of the record producer from technician to auteur, from Phil Spector and George Martin to the rise of hip-hop and remixing. In the 1960s, rock and pop music recording questioned the convention that recordings should recreate the illusion of a concert hall setting. The Wall of Sound that Phil Spector built behind various artists and the intricate eclecticism of The evolution of the record producer from technician to auteur, from Phil Spector and George Martin to the rise of hip-hop and remixing. In the 1960s, rock and pop music recording questioned the convention that recordings should recreate the illusion of a concert hall setting. The Wall of Sound that Phil Spector built behind various artists and the intricate eclecticism of George Martin's recordings of the Beatles did not resemble live performances - in the Albert Hall or elsewhere - but instead created a new sonic world. The role of the record producer, writes Virgil Moorefield in The Producer as Composer, was evolving from that of technician to auteur; band members became actors in what Frank Zappa called a movie for your ears. In rock and pop, in the absence of a notated score, the recorded version of a song - created by the producer in collaboration with the musicians - became the definitive version.


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The evolution of the record producer from technician to auteur, from Phil Spector and George Martin to the rise of hip-hop and remixing. In the 1960s, rock and pop music recording questioned the convention that recordings should recreate the illusion of a concert hall setting. The Wall of Sound that Phil Spector built behind various artists and the intricate eclecticism of The evolution of the record producer from technician to auteur, from Phil Spector and George Martin to the rise of hip-hop and remixing. In the 1960s, rock and pop music recording questioned the convention that recordings should recreate the illusion of a concert hall setting. The Wall of Sound that Phil Spector built behind various artists and the intricate eclecticism of George Martin's recordings of the Beatles did not resemble live performances - in the Albert Hall or elsewhere - but instead created a new sonic world. The role of the record producer, writes Virgil Moorefield in The Producer as Composer, was evolving from that of technician to auteur; band members became actors in what Frank Zappa called a movie for your ears. In rock and pop, in the absence of a notated score, the recorded version of a song - created by the producer in collaboration with the musicians - became the definitive version.

30 review for The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I first heard of Virgil Moorefield through his music. He had a CD out called 'Distractions On The Way To The King's Party' back in the early 2000s. A while back, I saw a reference to this book and I decided to give it a read. I'm glad I did. The thesis of the book is that as recording technology has progressed, producers have become artists in a very literal sense. He walks through the history of recording and makes note of some greats along the way: Berry Gordy, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, Trent Re I first heard of Virgil Moorefield through his music. He had a CD out called 'Distractions On The Way To The King's Party' back in the early 2000s. A while back, I saw a reference to this book and I decided to give it a read. I'm glad I did. The thesis of the book is that as recording technology has progressed, producers have become artists in a very literal sense. He walks through the history of recording and makes note of some greats along the way: Berry Gordy, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, Trent Reznor, Quincy Jones, and the Chemical Brothers etc. The anecdotes and analysis are on target. This is an incredibly well researched and well written book. If I have any complaint at all it is that he repeats his points a bit too often, but that is a minor nit. The analysis sections of various tracks are wonderful, by the way. I had no idea how much intricacy many of those tracks contained in terms of production. Moorefield's ear as a musician, experience and knowledge of theory make the entire thing a very enjoyable read. I only wish his analysis included some of the current performer/producers who have surfaced as one-man bands since the book's publication in 2005. They seem to the the culmination of the trend.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A short history of the evolution of the role of music producer in popular music. The author takes a look at successful music producers and their evolving techniques since the 50's, and especially how new technologies have driven a shift in the role of producer in the studio, culminating in the current state of the art where the job of studio engineer, composer, producer, and performer are sometimes rolled all into one person. There are interesting case studies presented here of some well known s A short history of the evolution of the role of music producer in popular music. The author takes a look at successful music producers and their evolving techniques since the 50's, and especially how new technologies have driven a shift in the role of producer in the studio, culminating in the current state of the art where the job of studio engineer, composer, producer, and performer are sometimes rolled all into one person. There are interesting case studies presented here of some well known songs, where the author breaks down the song structure, arrangement, and production techniques to illustrate the ways that music production has evolved. This isn't a book to learn how to produce music (although there is something to be gained from it in that respect), but it gives context for the different ways to approach music production that have arisen over the years as new technologies became available.

  3. 5 out of 5

    J.

    Short essay on what modern listeners knew intuitively for years: that recorded music for the last half-century has always been an elaborate sonic construction, not just a musical composition or performance per se. More to come at konichiwa witches, http://home.earthlink.net/~cumulo-nim... Short essay on what modern listeners knew intuitively for years: that recorded music for the last half-century has always been an elaborate sonic construction, not just a musical composition or performance per se. More to come at konichiwa witches, http://home.earthlink.net/~cumulo-nim...

  4. 4 out of 5

    allison

    A really informative look at exactly what a producer does in the studio. Takes a brief tour through the history of rock music (the usual suspects: Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, George Martin, Frank Zappa, even Trent Reznor) and takes apart a key, representative track for each. Recommended for the geeks!

  5. 4 out of 5

    alexhhhh

    yikes

  6. 4 out of 5

    George Jr.

    Interesting but underdone. Has little actual analysis of compositional thinking.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barefoot Danger

    Wish there was more of a philosophical investigation into what it means for the producer to be a composer, but as it is, this is still a very good monograph.

  8. 4 out of 5

    C. J.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  11. 4 out of 5

    Maarten

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ben Lowe

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allan Watson

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim Schafer

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gerben Kruijswijk

  16. 4 out of 5

    Philip Elliott

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dana Devlieger

  18. 4 out of 5

    Namrael

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rowan Spencer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Massimo Spiga

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  22. 4 out of 5

    zip zap

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tuomas Auvinen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vince

  25. 4 out of 5

    OTIS

  26. 5 out of 5

    D.A.Calf

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric Eleazer

  28. 4 out of 5

    Colin

  29. 5 out of 5

    Geraint

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo

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