Music analysis and the challenges presented by music production

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Hill, M 2005, 'Music analysis and the challenges presented by music production', Proceedings of the 2005 Art of Record Production Conference, London, UK, 17-18 September, The Art of Record Production.


The advent of recording technology has presented challenges to traditional musical analytical methodologies. Numerous analytical methods have been developed in order to address the inadequacies of score-based methods. Such methods have illuminated various aspects surrounding the reception of musical works in particular genres. Musicologists working in the fields of electronic, electroacoustic, rock and electronic dance music have addressed such aspects such as timbre, spatialisation, meaning, and affect. To varying degrees, the recording plays a central role as the object of analysis, however existing methodologies rarely focus on the processes involved in the production of the recording, i.e., the level of creation. Thus a key question emerges; what has been the impact of recording technology on the creative process, from the perspectives of the performer, composer, producer and engineer?

This paper is an account of practice-based research currently being conducted at James Cook University (QLD, Australia) as part of a doctoral study designed to address this question. As a musician and producer himself, the researcher seeks to extend Middleton’s (2000) recommendation of the participant analyst, to that of a participant/analyst/creator. The deficiencies of existing analytical methodologies will be discussed with particular reference to emergent technologies, music creation, recording practice, and interdisciplinary theoretical issues. This paper will discuss the application of a new analytical method to various historical and emergent musical genres and discuss the potential for this knowledge to be applied in the fields of music technology, education and musicology, and examines the nature and authority of such knowledge.