Environmental Staging: A Practice-Based Exploration of Recording Locations in Contemporary Rock Production

Author: Holland, Michael Edward

Date: 2018

Publisher: University of Otago

Type: Thesis

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/8178

University of Otago


This project (comprised of this exegesis, and the accompanying recordings) explores the role of recording environments in the production of pop and rock records in an independent music scene, located in Dunedin, New Zealand. Through a combination of theoretical inquiry and practice-as-research, it explores the potential inherent in viewing and utilising recording studios as more than static, standardised technologies in music production practices. Rather than understanding recording locations as fixed structures, or “container technologies” for other, implicitly more significant tools and practices, this project suggests that we should instead view these environments in the same way as we view musical instruments or sounds: as manipulable, interchangeable, and, most importantly, as capable of having a profound effect on both the performers and producers who work within them. In order to interrogate this theory, I offer a neologism: “environmental staging”, which is both the title of this project, and a term that I broadly define as meaning: the selection and reconfiguration of the spaces in which music is recorded, in order to evoke meaningful changes in performance and production practices, thus adding meaning for the production team, and hence (at times) the listener. I suggest that in exploring this concept, we should not only interrogate the relationship between acoustic space and meaning in music production processes, but also the role of physical, social, and cultural spaces and processes in and around recording environments. These factors have important implications and potentialities when explored from the perspective of the participants, and this project focuses primarily on the ways in which musical performers interact with conventional and non-studio recording locations. The recordings submitted here thus contain passages tracked in church cathedrals, abandoned mental asylums, water closets, and professional and educational studio facilities in New Zealand and Australia. Through the creation and contextualisation of these recordings, the project argues that contemporary studies of music production must take account of the diversity and manipulability of recording environments currently available to producers and musicians. Furthermore, it offers a window into the creative potential offered by an active engagement with these technologies, as valuable tools in the practice of record making.

Subjects: Music Production, Recording, Audio Engineering, Staging, Dunedin Music, Recording Studios

Citation: ["Holland, M. E. (2018). Environmental Staging: A Practice-Based Exploration of Recording Locations in Contemporary Rock Production (Thesis, Doctor of Musical Arts). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/8178"]

Copyright: All items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.