Gatherings Graphic

The Gatherings Concert Series

presents a

Basic Studio Recording Workshop

with Art Cohen

Saturday 11 June 2005 8:00pm

St. Mary's Hamilton Village
Philadelphia, PA

Art Cohen to Lead Recording Studio Workshop at The Gatherings

Art Cohen On Saturday 11 June 2005 at 8:00pm The Gatherings Concert Series will present a Basic Recording Studio Workshop at St. Mary's Hamilton Village. This workshop is open to anyone interested in learning more about the concepts upon which home recording is based. If you have ever listened to music and become curious about how the studio functions and is used to create music or are interested in starting up your own home studio, then this workshop is for you!

The Studio workshop at The Gatherings will be headed by veteran musician/engineer Art Cohen, a noted figure in the field of studio recording as well as in music performance with the Philadelphia-based Spacemusic duo The Ministry of Inside Things.

The primary educational goal of this workshop is to teach to the novice the creative operation of professional audio recording equipment. This workshop will cover the essentials a first-time recording engineer needs to know about setting up and operating a home or project recording studio. Concepts to be covered include: the microphone, mixing board, signal processing, monitor speakers, current popular recording devices and insight into how these components may be integrated to form a system with which to realize musical productions.


Brian Eno Recording Overview

The first thing about recording is that it makes repeatable what was otherwise transient and ephemeral. Music, until about 1900, was an event that was perceived in a particular situation, and that disappeared when it was finished. There was no way of actually hearing that piece again, identically, and there was no way of knowing whether your perception was telling you it was different or whether it was different the second time you heard it. The piece disappeared when it was finished, so it was something that only existed in time.

The effect of recording is that it takes music out of the time dimension and puts it in the space dimension. As soon as you do that, you're in a position of being able to listen again and again to a performance, to become familiar with details you most certainly had missed the first time through, and to become very fond of details that weren't intended by the composer or the musicians.

The effect of this on the composer is that he can think in terms of supplying material that would actually be too subtle for a first listening. Around about the 1920s - or maybe that's too early, perhaps around the '30s - composers started thinking that their work was recordable, and they started making use of the special liberty of being recorded.

Notes From The Studio as Compositional Tool by Brian Eno

Workshop Outline:
  1. There are different types of Microphones because there are so many types of musical sounds: vocals, electric guitar, clarinet, drums, keyboards, violin... all generating different frequencies or combinations of frequencies. The major differences between microphones are the transducer type and the pickup pattern. The transducer is the element inside a mic that converts sound waves to electrical impulses. The pickup pattern is the area around the mic where sound can actually be sensed by the microphone.

    Microphones are an essential piece of the overall sound puzzle. This section of the workshop will cover the basics of microphones and their usage and will provide the attendee with the skills to choose the correct microphone and use it properly to obtain the best possible sound.

  2. mixerMixing Boards are used to combine sound sources (audio sources) into an output signal, usually stereo (2 channels, left and right). Mixing involves many things, the most important being the creation of a good balance of volume among each of the individual sources (instruments). Another important aspect of mixing is creating a sense of space, done by panning each musician/instrument to its appropriate location in the stereo field.

    Mixing requires a skill that will take some time to develop. Workshop attendees will receive guidelines helpful in creating a demo CD.

  3. Monitor Speakers In many cases the control room of a small home studio is a converted bedroom. For the small control room, Near-Field Studio Monitor Speakers are recommended. Near-field monitors are mounted close to the listener, usually about 3 feet. They should be placed so that the monitors and listener create an equilateral triangle. Using good studio monitors will likely produce a mix which will sound good when played back on other common systems such as home stereos, boom boxes or car stereos.

    Although the monitoring system does not form part of the direct recording chain, it certainly does influence the end product, because any deficiencies in the monitors will affect the recording and mixing. This section of the workshop will cover the basic concepts of near-field monitoring.

  4. Synthesizer In 1983, several synthesizer manufacturers agreed on a communications protocol that would allow electronic music synthesizer keyboards to control each other. The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) specification defines both the organization of the information transmitted and the circuitry used to connect systems together. MIDI was soon picked up for computer applications and today we have a mix and match situation, where (provided you have the proper software) any of several computers can be connected to one or more synthesizers. This interface has provided an impetus for the development of software, lowered the costs of computer assisted music and attracted many new musicians into the field.

    This part of the workshop provides basic insight into the practical applications of this technology.

  5. Signal Processors Delay is defined as the splitting of an audio signal into separate components, the slowing of one of these split signals and subsequent re-introduction into the original signal. Echo is defined as a delay in which the regenerations are evenly spaced and in which the release portion of the sound envelope is even as well. Reverb is defined as a delay in which the regenerations are randomly dispersed and in which the release portion of the sound envelope is random as well.

    The afore-mentioned signal processing effects can bring an interesting depth, color and space to home studio projects. This part of the workshop will touch on the essential ideas and hardware involved in home recording.

  6. Recording Several methods of Audio Recording exist. This section will cover magnetic tape, digital recording, multi-track recording as well as the respective various software and hardware used. This technology surrounds us and touches our lives. Even if you are not a home recorder, gaining insight into this process should be rewarding.

  7. Mastering Studio Mastering is the last creative step before a recording project reaches completion. It encompasses all the final tuning before a project goes to press, including: transfer final stereo mixes to computer, sequence and edit the tracks, adjust levels and equalization and produce a final master for replication. The objective is to make the enduser's encounter with the media an enjoyable and seamless experience.

    This segment of the workshop will explain the significance of an evaluation by an audio professional with no connection to your project.

Recommended Workshop Resources:

(the following resource links, while not essential, could help provide background knowledge which would enable attendees to get more out of the Studio workshop)

  • Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies:

    This guide covers the essentials a first-time recording engineer needs to know about setting up and operating a home or project recording studio. Topics include choosing the proper devices for your project, building a studio space, operating recording equipment, using MIDI technology, choosing and using the right microphones, getting great sounds on the recording, editing, mixing, adding sound effects, and sharing it with others via CD or the Internet.

    Home Recording for Musicians for Dummies by Jeff Strong


  • Audio Tutorial:

    This beginner-level tutorial covers the basics of audio production. It is suitable for anyone wanting to learn more about working with sound, in either amateur or professional situations.

    Introduction to Audio - Media College


  • Online Recording Workshop:

    Written to cut through the fluff and get the beginner recording, this ongoing series covers basic concepts and avoids deep technical explanations of technologies. Parts 1 - 11.

    Basic Home Recording by Jim Goodman


  • Recording Technology History:

    An overview of recording history from the Edison tinfoil recorder to the Ipod shuffle.

    Recording Technology History by Steve Schoenherr


  • The History of Sound Recording Technology:

    The Sound Recording Technology History Site explores the history and impact of the inventions that changed the way we listen. Includes details about the economic history of sound recording, the nature of recorded culture and the hardware itself.

    The History of Sound Recording Technology by David Morton


  • The Musician's Guide to Home Recording:

    This webpage provides insight for those wanting to make music demo recordings at home. The author describes how this can be done with just a personal computer, a few reasonably priced software applications and some carefully chosen budget sound equipment or with a combination digital mixer/hard disk recorder.

    The Musician's Guide to Home Recording by Ron Gonzalez


  • A Primer on Microphones:

    Capturing sound is the function of the microphone. This device is at the input end of a sound system as it changes air motion into a corresponding electrical pattern. This webpage provides insight into the different kinds of microphones and how they work as well as their significance in a sound system.

    A Primer on Microphones by Thomas J. Corbett


  • Microphones:

    A microphone is an example of a transducer, a device that changes information from one form to another. Sound information exists as patterns of air pressure; the microphone changes this information into patterns of electric current. The recording engineer is interested in the accuracy of this transformation, a concept he thinks of as fidelity. This webpage covers basic aspects of the Microphone including: the basic types, how they work, placement, etc.

    Microphones by Peter Elsea


  • Basics of Digital Recording:

    In a digital recording system, sound is stored and manipulated as a stream of discrete numbers, each number representing the air pressure at a particular time. The aspect of digital sound that is most exciting to the electronic musician is that any numbers can be converted into sound, whether they originated at a microphone or not. This opens up the possibility of creating sounds that have never existed before and of controlling those sounds with a precision that is simply not possible with any other technique. This webpage covers basic aspects of Digital Recording including: components of a digital system, sample rates, etc.

    Basics of Digital Recording by Peter Elsea


  • MIDI:

    In 1983, several synthesizer manufacturers agreed on a communications protocol that would allow keyboard synthesizers to control each other (MIDI). This was very quickly picked up for computer applications and today we have a situation, where any of several computers can be connected to one or more synthesizers, provided you have the proper software. MIDI has provided an impetus for the development of software, has lowered the costs of computer assisted music and has attracted many new musicians into the field.

    MIDI by Peter Elsea


  • The Studio as Compositional Tool:

    Brian Eno delivered a lecture during "New Music New York", the first New Music America Festival sponsored in 1979 by The Kitchen. His remarks were amplified by demonstrations from his own recordings. Text of the lecture appeared in an issue of Downbeat Magazine. This webpage attempts to excerpt the general sense of his more specific points.

    The Studio as Compositional Tool at Hyperreal


  • Choosing a Mixer:

    The main themes of these webpages are: explaining the differences between analog and digital mixers and their features, the types of mixers and which is most appropriate for different recording situations.

    Choosing a Mixer by Tweak


  • Into Gear - Equipping a Home Studio (Sound on Sound Magazine):

    In this four part article, the author gives his personal slant on creating a home project studio that will stay with you as your recording skills and budget improve.

    The Basics Part 1 by David Mellor

    The Computer Part 2 by David Mellor

    Essential Components Part 3 by David Mellor

    Mastering Part 4 by David Mellor


  • What is Mastering?:

    The mastering engineer's job begins with listening to each mixed song individually and making adjustments. The introductions and outros are addressed, incidental noises cleaned up and the fades at the end of a song are made to sound more natural. Musical edits can be performed on each track - sound pops or slight distortions can be fixed and slight level drops in your mix can be boosted to make the song consistent. Sections of the song can be improved or replaced. Each track is individually equalized and compressed and its level adjusted relative to the other tracks, giving your CD a consistent and finished feel.

    What is Mastering? Northeastern Digital

The Gatherings Concert Series hosts the Studio Recording Workshop with Art Cohen on Saturday 11 June 2005 at 8:00pm (doors open at 7:30pm) in the parish hall of St. Mary's Hamilton Village 3916 Locust Walk (just east of 40th & Locust) on the Penn campus in West Philadelphia. Requested Donation: $5 - $10 at the door. All ages welcome. No previous knowledge of music or technology needed.

For more about Art Cohen, please access the:

The Gatherings Concert Series is presented by the all-volunteer staff of The Corporation for Innovative Music and Arts of Pennsylvania