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Title: Strawberry Recording Studios and the development of recording studios in Britain c.1967-93
Author: Wadsworth, Peter James
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis studies the development of the British recording studio from the mid-1960s to the early-1990s. Although there are now a growing number of academic studies of popular music they have, so far, largely failed to study the evolving process by which artists were able to reproduce their music for mass distribution. Consequently, this dissertation investigates the image portrayed of the studio and its utilisation and representation by a combination of human, technological and locational factors. The first part of the thesis constructs an overview of the recording studio industry, as based on contemporary trade journals, in order to produce a traditional historical narrative, so far absent from music’s historiography, which provides the framework in which to place more detailed research. The prominence given by the industry to the ‘progress of technology’ is then compared to the public perception of the recording studio, as shown by the extent and content of its inclusion in the popular culture media of the period, both print and film based. How far the process of producing recorded music managed to permeate through the presentation of a music industry that was becoming increasingly reliant on the image and personality of the artists themselves is then analysed. The second part of the thesis is based on Latour’s concept of actor-networks and deconstructs the recording studio into three main components; technology, architecture and the human element within it. Using one particular studio (Strawberry Recording Studios in Stockport) as being representative of the increasing proportion of small independents in the industry, the further deconstruction of these three components into their constitutional networks, provides the key theme of the dissertation. Consequently, studio technology can be viewed not simply in terms of functional machinery in the studio setting (of Latourian ‘black boxes’) but more as a confusing and intrusive element that was developed, shaped and created by the requirements of those in the studio. And, whilst contemporary society has always elevated the status of the performer in the music industry, the human element in the studio can also be shown to comprise the industrial and social interaction between a wide range of support staff, whose roles and importance altered over time, and the artists themselves. Finally, studio buildings were not just backdrops to the work taking place in them but were seen to extend their boundaries and influence beyond their immediate location through their architecture, interior design and geography. In other words, the recording studio might be seen as the combination of a number of fluctuating networks rather than just as a passive element in the production of recorded music. As a result of the content of the subject being studied, this thesis utilises a number of sources that, in Samuel’s terminology, moves the study away from a ‘fetishization’ of the traditional historical archive towards those of ‘unofficial learning’. Given the immediacy of the period being studied, the personal accounts of those involved in the studio, mainly through the use of oral history, form a major part of the research material.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Recording Studios ; Stockport ; Popular Music