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Full-Text Articles in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies

Reimagining The Collective: Black Popular Music And Recording Studio Innovation, 1970-1990, Will Fulton Jun 2017

Reimagining The Collective: Black Popular Music And Recording Studio Innovation, 1970-1990, Will Fulton

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This dissertation examines developments in the production practices of black popular music in the recording studio from 1970 to 1990. The year 1970 marked a transition in the recording practice of popular music that had a distinct impact on styles marketed as R&B, soul, and funk. Multitracking in the 1950s and 1960s had paved the way for a transformed production process, one initiated by Les Paul’s and Sidney Bechet’s overdubbing experiments in the 1940s. The collective sound of instrumentalists and vocalists heard on records no longer resulted from live-to-tape recordings of group performances, but was increasingly the product of constructed representations, as separate layered events were cut to multitrack tape.

When mixed together, these overdubbed tracks presented the listener with the impression of collective, interactive performances. Features central to the ethos of R&B music making – vocals in call and response, instruments in apparent rhythmic dialogues, and funky syncopation usually resulting from interactive group dynamism – were increasingly the product of the technologically mediated process of overdubbing, and performed often by one musician singing all of the parts or layering several instruments. By 1990, in part due to the popularity of newly developed drum machines, MIDI sequencers, samplers, and digital synthesizers, to record collectively in R&B-based black popular music was the exception rather than the norm.

This study considers new practices of record production that developed in this era of multitrack recording and electronic experimentation through an examination of four case studies: Stevie Wonder’s recordings in the early 1970s; Prince’s recordings from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s; Michael Jackson’s composition and recording process from this same period; and the mid-to-late 1980s sampling and sequencing processes of Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad production collective. The producers of these recordings, well aware of the collective ethos of earlier black music styles, conceived imaginative ways ...


The Mad Science Of Hip-Hop: History, Technology, And Poetics Of Hip-Hop's Music, 1975-1991, Patrick Rivers Oct 2014

The Mad Science Of Hip-Hop: History, Technology, And Poetics Of Hip-Hop's Music, 1975-1991, Patrick Rivers

All Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

In 1979, the first commercial recordings of hip-hop music were released. The music's transition from the parks and clubs of the Bronx to recorded media resulted in hip-hop music being crafted and mediated in a recording studio before reaching the ears of listeners. In this dissertation I present a comprehensive investigation into the history of the instrumental component of hip-hop music heard on recordings, commonly referred to as beats. My historical narrative is formed by: the practices involved in the creation of hip-hop beats; the technologies that facilitated and defined those practices; and the debates around these two aspects ...