eliot bates: Anatolian music, oud, audio engineering, digital music cultures


dissertation abstract

Bates, Eliot. 2008. Social Interactions, Musical Arrangement, and the Production of Digital Audio in Istanbul Recording Studios. Ph.D. Dissertation (Ethnomusicology), University of California at Berkeley.

Dissertation committee: Benjamin Brinner (Chair), Jocelyne Guilbault, Charles Hirschkind, Paul Theberge

This ethnography of recording studio work shows both the importance of the non-musical in shaping systems of musical practice, and the extent to which traditional music practices (including Anatolian ethnic, Turkish folk, Karadeniz, and Ottoman art musics) now exist within and are created through a cutting-edge digital audio production system. I examine social interactions, which include both the macro-scale social networks and institutional culture of record labels, studios and temporary production networks; and the micro-scale interactions between arrangers, audio engineers, and studio musicians that comprise most of the work of recording production. I connect social interactions with musical arrangement and engineering, which concern not only the orchestration techniques of professional arrangers and editing and mixing work of engineers, but more broadly a century-long history of collecting and adapting folkloric resources towards the creation of new works with specific cultural and aesthetic meanings.

Post-2000 Istanbul studios are primarily engaged with the production of digital audio. Although much of production work draws on musical knowledges and techniques, similar practices are used for creating arranged sounds without a musical value (such as film sound), and therefore a cross-pollination between musical and non-musical sound production has emerged. I also emphasize the digital aspect of recording to show the similarity, in terms of the software interface and the nature of the final deliverable product, to other kinds of digital content authoring, as digital workflows have come to have considerable implications for contemporary conceptualizations and productions of traditional musics.

After analyzing specific case studies drawn from ethnographic research conducted in 2004-2007 in the Turkish recording industry, I suggest a general theory for the study of recording production practice. This comprises four key components: interrogating the relation between digital audio and music in specific production contexts, considering multitrack production work with regard to newly emergent kinds of sensory configurations, investigating the uses of technology towards particular goals while continuously linking technological manipulations with musical practice and social forces, and using unique kinds of data such as DAW session files for analytical work.

Updated August 14, 2008

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