London College of Music

Record production

LCM is a world leader in research into record production. Further details can also be found in the sections on 'Musicology' and in the 'Current research projects' section, but we also have cutting edge research being conducted into recording and mixing practice, and expert systems, audio engineering and mixing.

Recording and mixing practice

Justin Paterson has published a number of papers on technical aspects of music production, including: audio quantisation, artefacts induced by dynamic range compression, de-reverberation, transient enhancement, and activity flow. Yong Ju Lee’s PhD is concerned with understanding the cognitive and communicative processes involved in mixing practice. Jonas Ritter’s PhD is studying the cultural and creative reasons for the decrease in dynamic range in recent popular music (the 'Loudness War'). Pip Williams is engaged in an ongoing study of transient response in microphones and studio loudspeakers, and how this can effect both the sonic characteristics of source recordings, as well as the approach to mixing.

Staff in LCM have been instrumental in developing and leading the international research culture that is growing around record production and recording. This includes both the technicalities of recording, processing and mixing and the over-arching creative process of production. One key feature of this is the number of LCM staff who have developed extensive careers in production into areas of practice as research through conference presentations, articles and other forms of output.

Paul Borg, senior lecturer in music technology at LCM, is currently building upon his industry practice as world music producer with an extensive research project into studio practice and cross-cultural musical mediation. Paul has recently presented a paper in Denmark broadly outlining his field of research and is a PhD candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). 

Justin Paterson has delivered master classes to peers on the topic of drum programming at the Audio Engineering Society Conventions, three times in North America and twice in mainland Europe. 

Pip Williams is actively researching the integration of symphonic orchestras and choirs with non-classical genres. Anthony Meynell, Yong Ju Lee and Tyrian Purple, all current PhD students, are using practice as research to study aspects of record production.

Expert systems, audio engineering and mixing

Justin Paterson developed the world's first multi-touch interface for manipulation of mac-based audio via interaction with a visualisation of its waveform, and has co-authored analysis of harmonic and intermodulation distortion of mixed signals under dynamic range compression.

Nino Auricchio and Sam Proctor have co-authored two papers on using case-based-reasoning as an approach to aid in the application equalisation in the mixing process. The aim is to map descriptive adjectives to musical timbre and then to exploit this knowledge by creating potential workflows for mix engineers. The papers describe an approach to externalisation of the tacit knowledge used by experienced audio engineers to effectively describe emotions evoked by a sound or piece of music.

The main issues are the vagueness of emotions and the variation in the emotions the same sound can trigger in different people. Similarity knowledge was used to process fuzzy and incomplete queries to emulate the vagueness and differentiation associated with the emotions triggered by a sound. The experience of audio engineers was captured by mapping the formalised vocabulary of timbre-describing adjectives to their workflows, which describe the actions to change the spectral shaping of a sound and its emotional effect.