Postproduction – University of Copenhagen

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Sound Research > Seminars > Postproduction

26-27 March, 2009: Rethinking the postproduction of sound

The reproducibility of sound as phonograms has also made it possible to treat sound as editable material. Sound can be sampled and montaged, distorted and processed, equalized and spatialized. The seminar will discuss the aesthetics of sonic postproduction in music, radio/podcast, sound art and related phenomena. Among possible topics will be: Montage and sampling aesthetics; the postproduction of environmental sounds; loudspeakers and spatial postproduction; the history of musical postproduction.



13.00 - 13.15 Welcome and short presentation of network members and guests.

13.15 - 14.15 Guest: Jesper Olsson (Stockholm University): Détourage, Diversion, Manipulation: The Tape Recorder and Editorial Aesthetics.

14.45 - 15.25 Torben Sangild: Virtual Space and Atmosphere. A text will be mailed in advance. Participants are expected to read it and prepare for discussion 35 minutes discussion.

15.25 - 16.05 Morten Breinbjerg: Poesis of Machines - From Remediation to Human Computer Interaction.
In my talk I will discuss contemporary approaches to music composition and performance rooted in a poesis of human-computer interaction. This will be a poesis which neither belongs to man nor nature alone as the classical understanding of poesis as either techne of physis imply.

16.20 - 17.20 Guests: Stephen Schwartz and Torben Brandt: Radio Montage: "The Mind's Eye".
"The Mind´s Eye" - about a musician who suffered a blood clot in the brain, is recorded in Kunstkopf (binaural stereo)- producing a special stereo effect if heard with headphones. Only with headphone on, the sounds you hear seem to come from inside your head. And the program is about what is going on in the musician´s head. So listen with headphones, to a head in a head.

17.20 - 17.25 Round Up


09.00 - 10.00 Guest: Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, TVU): The Postproduction of Performance.
Evan Eisenberg, in his book The Recording Angel, has described how "one of the paradoxes of the recording situation, namely that the audience is not there ... (is) the flip side of the fact that, for the listener, the performer is not there" (The Recording Angel. New York. McGraw Hill. 1987 (2nd Edition 2005): 157). One of the many developing themes in the history of recorded music is the story of how this temporal schism between performers and audience has been exploited in the creative process of recording. From the very beginning of recording when performers could have several ‘tries' at getting it right to contemporary non-linear recording and editing techniques, the concept of a single, linear performance has been subverted and manipulated. In the current world of ‘cut and paste' recording technology it's not uncommon for classical recordings to involve an average of an edit point every couple of seconds and most ‘improvised' guitar solos on rock recordings are edited together from several takes.
     This presentation examines the notion of agency in the performance of recorded music. Aside from the performer, the final decision about editing will usually reside with the producer and yet the practicalities of ‘performing' the edit (usually by an engineer) - of offering a multiple choice of possibilities to the producer - can be hugely important in determining the precise microtiming and phrasing of the recorded output. How do these negotiated decisions get made? How much does the technology itself influence the editing process? How do these forms of practice vary across styles and between different musical communities? How do the participants and their audiences view these issues of agency and creative control?

10.20 - 11.00 Mads Krogh: Making Beats: Sound, Mediation, and the Production of Hip Hop Culture.
Hip hop deejays use pre-produced sounds as a material for making beats. However, the selection and treatment of these sounds implies a variety of auditive practises - along with the actual production and live performance of beats (scratching, beat-juggling etc.) one might mention ‘digging' for and the everyday playing of records along with other media, not to mention living in and working with (especially) big city soundscapes. Drawing on French sociologist Bruno Latour's notion of actor-networks I discuss how the variety of auditive practises imply different mediations of sound and music, and how in turn beat production relies on and extends these mediations enabling broader notions of hip hop culture.

11.00 - 11.40 Ulrik Schmidt: Music and Design - Phil Spector and the Massification of Sound. In the early 1960s the music producer Phil Spector developed his famous 'wall of sound' production technique that played back well on the jukeboxes and AM radios popular at that time. The ‘wall of sound' technique is characterized by the use of large orchestras, excessive layering of instruments and a heavy use of reverberation to create a dense 'mass' of sound.
With hits like He's a Rebel (1962), Da Doo Ron Ron (1963) and Be My Baby (1963) as paradigmatic examples of Spector's wall of sound, I will look into the main principles behind this highly influential production technique and discuss its central aesthetic elements. I will argue that Spector's ideal of sound massification manifested a new understanding of technologically reproduced sound that is still prevalent today not only in music production but in sound design in general.

11.50 - 12.50 Guest: Andreas Engström: Postproduction in Sound Installations - Seize the Unique Moment.
The paper will discuss the issue of postproduction in relation to the specifics of sound art in the narrow sense: the sound installation and sculpture. The sounding elements of these manifestations have through its history evolved in close connection to electronic music, its aesthetics and its technology. The process of postproduction consequently plays an important role in these artistic manifestations. The sound installation as a genre is partly defined in terms of its site specificity and physical material for sound generation/reproduction. Consequently, postproduction may take various forms and involve unique processes depending on a given situation. Postproduction thus involves artistic considerations in relation to the installation as a "total configuration", considering the unique acoustics and architecture of the place, the place's physical materials, the resonating/sound reproducing material and mechanical devices. By discussing the handling of the sonic material after erecting the sound installations - the last stages of completing the installation - I intend to give an idea about the different processes of postproduction in sound installations, examplified with works by Robin Minard, Bernhard Leitner, Arno Fabre, Joanna Dudley, etc.

13.40 - 14.20 Tania Ørum: The Tape Recorder as Instrument.
In the 1960s composers as well as writers and visual artists in Denmark used the tape recorder as an instrument to be played on instead of more conventional instruments. The tape recorder was also used for text-sound-composition to enable more complex layering of levels of sound and reality, as well as to incorporate the impact of new media on human perception and social reality. Examples will be drawn from Danish music, radio and performance in the 1960s.

14.20 - 15.00 Erik Granly Jensen: Postperformance and the Splice-Conscious Listener: A Late Review of Glenn Gould's "The Prospects of Recording" (1966).
When, in 1964 at the age of 32, the Canadian celebrity pianist Glenn Gould announced his retirement from public performance, it was partly to escape the voyeuristic audience of his time and partly to focus entirely on studio recordings. Gould's retirement from public performance was, however, at the same time the beginning of his career as a composer, not of music in the traditional sense, but of radio documentaries among other things; the most important of these productions being the so called Solitude trilogy, consisting of The Idea of North (1967), The Latecomers (1969) and The Quiet in the Land (1977). In the early stages of the production of The Idea of North Gould wrote the essay "The Prospects of Recording" (1966). Here Gould discusses for the first time his new approach to art and technology, the cornerstone of the essay being the notion of post performance and the so-called slice-conscious listener. My paper will discuss these two concepts as Gould's early attempt to formulate a notion of postproduction as artistic practice.

15.20 - 16.20 Guest: Peter Albrechtsen: When Sounds From the Outside Become Sounds of the Inside.
On the basis of his work in the feature film Day and Night, Peter Albrechtsen will discuss how he uses enviromental sounds to portray the insides of a character and how the postproduction sound process can be fully integrated into a movie's story, structure and even acting style.
Peter Albrechtsen is a sound designer and sound re-recording mixer. He teaches at The National Film School of Denmark.

16.20 - 17.00 Round up followed by an informal meeting among the network members.