ISBN-10:
0262134578
ISBN-13:
9780262134576
Pub. Date:
12/01/2005
Publisher:
MIT Press
The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music / Edition 1

The Producer as Composer: Shaping the Sounds of Popular Music / Edition 1

by Virgil Moorefield
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Overview

The evolution of the record producer from organizer 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 organizer 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. Moorefield, a musician and producer himself, traces this evolution with detailed discussions of works by producers and producer-musicians including Spector and Martin, Brian Eno, Bill Laswell, Trent Reznor, Quincy Jones, and the Chemical Brothers. Underlying the transformation, Moorefield writes, is technological development: new techniques—tape editing, overdubbing, compression—and, in the last ten years, inexpensive digital recording equipment that allows artists to become their own producers. What began when rock and pop producers reinvented themselves in the 1960s has continued; Moorefield describes the importance of disco, hip-hop, remixing, and other forms of electronic music production in shaping the sound of contemporary pop. He discusses the making of Pet Sounds and the production of tracks by Public Enemy with equal discernment, drawing on his own years of studio experience. Much has been written about rock and pop in the last 35 years, but hardly any of it deals with what is actually heard in a given pop song. The Producer as Composer tries to unravel the mystery of good pop: why does it sound the way it does?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262134576
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 12/01/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 168
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Virgil Moorefield is a composer, producer, and sound artist. He is Associate Professor of Music at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he teaches composition and new media.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Chapter 1 From Mirror to Beacon 1

Beginnings 1

The Brill Building Songwriters 5

Phil Spector's Wall of Sound 9

"Be My Baby" 12

Brian Wilson 16

"Good Vibrations" 19

Hits Off the Assembly Line: Motown 21

"I Heard It through the Grapevine" 24

George Martin and the Beatles 26

"Tomorrow Never Knows" 29

"A Day in the Life" 32

Frank Zappa 35

"Flower Punk" 38

The Situation at the End of the Sixties 40

Chapter 2 The Studio as Musical Instrument 43

Sixteen Tracks and More 43

Dark Side of the Moon 44

Tony Visconti 51

Brian Eno 52

Music for Airports: "2/1" 56

My Life in the Bush of Ghosts 59

Bill Laswell 62

The Making of Swans' The Burning World 64

Trent Reznor 70

"Mr. Self Destruct" v. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" 74

Chapter 3 The Producer Takes Center Stage 79

The Discothèque and Musique Concrète 79

Disco: "The Producer's Genre" 80

"I Feel Love" 81

Michael Jackson's Work with Quincy Jones 83

"Billie Jean" 85

Kraftwerk and Conny Plank 89

Hip-Hop and the Rise of Sampling 90

Hip-Hop in the Late Eighties 93

"Bring the Noise" 93

The Hip-Hop Producer Today 95

Electronica 97

Remix 103

"Break on Through" (The Doors; BT Remix) 106

Re-editing Updated: Mash-Ups 108

The Contemporary Situation: Is the Producer Obsolete? 109

Glossary 113

Recordings Cited 119

Bibliography 125

Index 131

What People are Saying About This

Endorsement

Virgil Moorefield has his finger on the pulse of a very interesting and exciting new development in popular music today: the convergence of the roles of producer and composer. He brings a unique expertise to the study, melding the insights of an insider with the objectivity of a scholar and provides a perspective that is dynamic, useful, challenging, and quite new.

Paul Lansky, Composer and Professor of Music, Princeton University

From the Publisher

Virgil Moorefield has given us a first-rate inside view of how gifted producers have changed the way we create and consume music. This book is essential for anyone who cares about how music has changed in the last 30 years.

Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid , author of Rhythm Science

Virgil Moorefield has his finger on the pulse of a very interesting and exciting new development in popular music today: the convergence of the roles of producer and composer. He brings a unique expertise to the study, melding the insights of an insider with the objectivity of a scholar and provides a perspective that is dynamic, useful, challenging, and quite new.

Paul Lansky , Composer and Professor of Music, Princeton University

Paul Lansky

Virgil Moorefield has his finger on the pulse of a very interesting and exciting new development in popular music today: the convergence of the roles of producer and composer. He brings a unique expertise to the study, melding the insights of an insider with the objectivity of a scholar and provides a perspective that is dynamic, useful, challenging, and quite new.

Paul D. Miller aka Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid

Virgil Moorefield has given us a first-rate inside view of how gifted producers have changed the way we create and consume music. This book is essential for anyone who cares about how music has changed in the last 30 years.

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