Author: Greg

Project Proposal Meetings

Below is a proposed schedule for our one-on-one meetings to discuss your final project proposals. The schedule is based on your availability from the survey you completed last week in class; if you are not available at the time I have scheduled you, please let me know and we will arrange another time.

Wednesday, April 6


Thursday, April 7


Friday, April 8

2:30—Emma Rose

Final Project

For your final project in the course, you will develop an extensive project related to some aspect of sound and music recording. The form of your project is for you to determine. A research paper is a standard and entirely acceptable project, although I am also very open to projects that use an alternate format (creation of a webpage, say) or projects that incorporate a creative element. I am particularly happy to help you develop ethnographic research projects, if this interests you. The only requirements are that the project engage with some aspect of music recording and that it is rigorous. The project should be approximately 10 pages (typed and double-spaced) or the equivalent amount of work, if using another format.

Your project is due by 8:40am on Friday, May 6 (the beginning of final exam period).

If you choose to write a research paper, you are required to go well beyond the material we have covered in class. You can draw on our class materials, of course, but you will be expected to conduct substantial independent research. Some ideas for research papers might include (but are certainly not limited to): a paper about the recording techniques or procedures of a particular musician, producer, engineer, or studio; an exploration of some particular theory of concern to recording (such as “aura,” “fidelity,” “liveness,” or any number of others); a study of how recording(s) are central to a particular scene or subculture. If you have personal experience with recording—as a musician, engineer, or whatever—you can write about that experience, although you should ground your interpretation of your experiences through independent research. If you want to produce a recording (and have the means to do so—remember, this is not a “hands-on” class!), you should also write a commentary accompanying and interpreting your production.

These are only a small number of the many, many possibilities for what you can do for your project. Be creative; think outside the box. And please feel free to talk to me at any point in the process, if you’d like some suggestions or want to talk through ideas!


The first stage in the project is a proposal. This will be due online (instructions to be provided) by Wednesday, March 30 (the first day back from Easter Break). Your proposal should be a short discussion of what you want to do for your project: describe your proposed topic, explain its importance, discuss challenges you expect to face and how you plan to complete the project. You should also include a brief discussion of sources you plan to consult, explaining their relevance to your project. Include a short bibliography (maybe 5–7 sources) that indicate the direction you wish to take. (If you are proposing a non-research-based project, you may omit this part of the proposal.) After you submit your proposals, I will arrange times to meet with you one-on-one to discuss your plans for the project.

Hyper Production Conference Online

For anyone interested in record production and/or classical music, there’s currently an online conference happening. It is the Classical Music Hyper Production and Practice-As-Research Conference. This conference is the culmination of a year-long research group in the U.K. that was investigating the possibilities for alternative and experimental production techniques in the realm of classical music recording. You can find the conference at: You’ll see that there are a number of “panels” (on Performance, Production, Musicology, etc.), and there will soon be some performance videos and other resources. There are some really fascinating conversations happening there, and you should certainly check it out!

Creating your Record Page

This post is intended to give you some of the basics about creating the web page for the record you research. The directions here are not exhaustive, though, so please let me know if you want to do something and can’t figure out how.

The first step is to create a new page, which you do by clicking “Pages” in the left hand menu of the dashboard Continue reading

Two Interesting Films

First, here is the film we began to watch about how records were produced at the RCA Victor plant in the early 1940s:

Also, here is a short film you might enjoy about what happens when a recording medium (an LP, a CD) is read (by a stylus, or a laser). (You can also read the short accompanying article here.):

Record Presentations: Guidelines and Assignments


You are responsible for researching a particular record or album, presenting it to the class, and creating a page for it on our course website. There are not separate instructions for the content of the website (although I have posted some specific technical instructions); the page you create should reflect the research you do for your presentation. (Do note, though, that you must also work on the Timeline for the website during the unit in which you present; instructions are in the post about curating the website.)

You should think of your research as a cultural and musical history of the record/album. This can mean many things:

  • You can investigate the particulars of the recording process: who is represented on the recording? Who produced and engineered the recording? What interesting or innovative techniques were deployed in making the recording?
  • You can investigate the recording’s life as a commodity: How was the recording sold or distributed? Who was its audience?
  • You can look into the recording’s musical identity as part of a particular musical culture: What musical genre or style is represented on the recording? How does the music of the recording fit with other records or musical performances?
  • Does the recording represent a specific event? If so, what is the nature of that event, and how was it translated to the recording medium?

This list is not inclusive, and should only be taken as a starting point for your research. Further, you’ll need to tailor your research and your presentation to the particulars of your record/album. Not all these issues and questions are equally suitable for all of the recordings! Finally, make sure that your research and presentation are centered on the album. You might want to give us some information about the biography of the artist or the producer, but you should do so in a focused way that is clearly relevant to understanding the recording. (For instance, don’t tell us all about the lives of the Beatles before Revolver; just tell us what they were doing at the time in a way that helps to explain something about Revolver.) You might think of this as being somewhat along the lines of the 33-1/3 series of books.

Your presentation should be roughly 10 minutes in length, and you are encouraged to use any media that will help you to make an insightful point about the recording (playing music, of course, but also PowerPoint or other presentation software, film, etc.). You don’t need to turn in anything along with your presentation, but you’ll need to include citations when you create the webpage for the recording. Please feel free to contact me if you need help finding resources for your research; I have many suggestions!


Here are the record/album assignments and presentation dates:

The Beatles, Revolver—Peter Hillinck (February 2)
Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet—Ellis Coan (February 4)
The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds—Matt Walker (February 11)
Wendy Carlos, Switched-On Bach—Jim Hurson (February 16)
Enrico Caruso, “Vesti la giubba”—Charlotte Scott (February 23)
Louis Armstrong, Hot 5s and 7s—Kevin Enderby (March 8)
Augustus Pablo and King Tubby, “King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown”—Alec Custer (March 17)
Glenn Gould, Goldberg Variations (1981)—Tyler Caruso (March 22)
Morton Subotnik, Silver Apples of the Moon—Natalie Kucher (March 31)
Danger Mouse, The Grey Album—Evan Stack (April 5)
Cher, “Believe”—Maddie Fisher (April 7)
Solomon Linda, “Mbube”—Ian Hicks (April 19)
Francis Densmore, Songs of the Seminole Indians of Florida—Emma Rose Parker (April 26)

Website Guidelines

There are a couple of areas of the course website that you will need to add to during the semester. This post will give you instructions on what to do, both in terms of content and the use of WordPress.

1. Timeline

Note: The timeline is NOT intended to be a repository of chronological information about your record. In fact, the timeline is not intended to be about the albums at all. Rather, you are to gather information from the unit of the course in which you presented and add that information into the timeline. You should draw from assigned readings and class discussions. You may include one or two items about the album you researched, but no more than that. The timeline should ultimately reflect the range of ideas and events we have explored in this course!

Throughout the semester, we will construct a timeline of the history of music recording. The timeline can contain important events, people, recordings, etc. The information of the timeline is hosted not on the site, but on a spreadsheet saved in my Google Docs. This file is linked from within the “Readings” section of the site (so that it is protected by the password and not available to the public).  In order to add items to the timeline, follow the link to the spreadsheet. Once there, you enter any relevant information. Please note that dates must be entered in numerical form and individual boxes can only contain one number.  So if something happened on, say, August 12, 1877 (that date should eventually mean something to you!), you must enter 1877 as the year, 8 as the month, and 12 as the day. You don’t have to enter all of the information, though; you can enter only a year, if that’s the only information you have. You can also enter a date range by entering an end date in the same format and in the appropriate columns. Finally, you have the option to specify a particular date to be displayed (such as January – February).

Once you have input the date(s) for your entry, you can add content. Put a short headline in the “Headline” column, and then add content (maybe a short paragraph) in the “Text” column. In the final set of columns, you can enter links to media. In the “Media” column, you can provide a link to an image, a video (i.e., from YouTube), a song (i.e., from SoundCloud), a tweet, etc. That column must contain a URL; you cannot upload files of any sort to the spreadsheet. In subsequent columns, you can enter a caption and an attribution for the media.

2. Records 

In this portion of the website, you will create a page about the record/album that you research and present to the class. It is up to you to determine what your page should look like, and I encourage you to experiment with the various tools on the site. You can also ask me if you have a vision for the page that you are not sure how to execute; if I don’t know the answer, I can find it out for you. You are also encouraged to integrate media (images, sound and video files, etc.), but take note: do not upload copyrighted media to the site! You can link to anything you like; for instance, when you embed a YouTube file (by simply copying the video URL into the page text), you are not placing content on the website, but rather, you are creating a link from the site to YouTube. In this case copyright issues are handled by YouTube. However, if you upload an image to the site, you are creating a new copy of it, and if the image is copyrighted, then you might be exposing our site to a copyright violation claim. To avoid this, try to use links, or use the Creative Commons search engine. This search tool returns only items that are licensed under a creative commons license, which means that you are permitted to reuse them (with proper credit). Your page should include proper citations for a blog format (i.e., hyperlinked text, which you can create using the link symbol above the text box) and a bibliography of sources pertaining to your record/album.


You are responsible for curating the website during the thematic unit in which you present on your record. During that unit, you must add items to the timeline and create the page for your record. Your contributions are due at the end of the unit or a week after your in-class presentation, whichever is later.

Video Game Music Conference

This weekend (January 16 and 17), Davidson College will be hosting the annual North American Conference on Video Game Music. The Conference features presentations by scholars working in this emerging field, and you are invited to attend some or all of the conference. All sessions take place in Tyler-Tallman Hall on the second floor of Sloan Music Center. You can view the conference schedule (with presentation titles) here. Please consider attending some of what is sure to be a great conference!