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The conceptualization of sound within a studio environment

The third workshop of the research network took place in London, and it was the final and third venue in an art university: the London College of Music. We started on friday with two public lectures on the question of realism in studio production. Simon Zagorski-Thomas presented his notion of sonic cartoon with reference to the use of exaggerating and enhancing effects in the post-production of e.g. Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Lively Up Yourself. Paul Théberge then introduced us to aspects of film sound that stress the tactility, the immersiveness and the hyperrealist or even hallucinatory nature of film sound (with examples from the movies Amadeus, Inception and The last Mimzy.)

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On saturday the closed workshop session took place. Under the basic titel of Sound in Media Culture we did start in the morning with our regular series of 6 brief 10-minute-presentations; the network-members and guests Simon Zagorski-Thomas, Paul Théberge, Franco Fabbri, Maria Hanáček, Golo Föllmer and Carlo Nardi explored the following aspects of mediation and culturality of sound: How can we understand studio production in terms of an enhancing of auditory aspects, cartoon-like? In what way does sound (e.g. in anime-movies) substitute what is not real and present? How do we speak about sound in different native languages? How do narrations about famous studio buildings shape the common notion of the popluar music produced therein? What indicators or dimensions can be found to outline the material and empirical aesthetic of a radio station? How can we construct a theoretical approach to sound that integrates and pays respect to the genuine practical aspects of working with sound as well?

The afternoon was devoted to practical working group sessions in three studios by applying practice-based, artistic as well as design-related methods of research: one group explored the theory and learned also the practical aspects and results of the studio technique of worldizing a recorded sound by playing it back and recording it again in a public, non-studio environment; another group discussed and explored the dialectic between mediation and construction in media artifacts of popular music (as in tracks by Eric Prydz, Massive Attack/Mad Professor et.al.); and a third group explored the benefits and deficiencies of an empirical method to research the individual effects of different vocal styles and the Stimmschlüssel of speakers in different radio stations.

In the final plenary discussion the next steps of our work on the handbook and the production of an accompanying CD were discussed and structured for the remaining three workshops in Berlin, Lüneburg and Torino.

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On the morning of the last day, sunday, a discussion for the first of a series of three radio features (under the headline of Adventures in Sound: Explorations to Artists, Designers, Musicians & Researchers) was recorded in the rooms of the MA Record Production. Participants were, according to their research focuses, Maria Hanáček, Holger Schulze, Paul Théberge and Simon Zagorski-Thomas as well as our special guest David Toop; Toop brought to our discussion inspiring and provocating new aspects of the limited historical and cultural reach and predominance of the concept of the studio as an important technological dispositive for audio production. The radio feature will be aired in the programme of Deutschlandradio Kultur Berlin on July 8, 2011, starting from 0:05 (Berlin time).

It was also David Toop who pointed us to this incredible track with all what is at stake right now in sound production – concerning non-gestural texture, physical gesture as well as the use of a dynamic time-structure on the one hand and a spatial amalgamation to dismantle a whole genre on the other hand: DJ Rashad & Add-2: Ghetto Tekz Runnin It (Ghettophiles! Chigaco 2011)

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