The Large-Scale Studio in 21st Century Recording Practice and Pedagogy: The Case of the ANU School of Music Recording Studios

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This paper makes a case for the large format studio in 21st Century recording practice and pedagogy. The refurbishment of the ANU School of Music recording studio facilities, the site of ongoing research projects, creative practice and pedagogy, is situated here as a case study through which we can (re)evaluate the place of the large scale recording studio. What is the relevance and value of such facilities today? To what extent is the studio a necessary site of creative practice? How does the studio facilitate and intersect historical, hauntological, social and cultural practice(s) and discussions? How does the studio act as a nexus in a School with diverse practice-led research interests? What are the technological considerations and how do they complement and synergise with lab-based, software-oriented and ‘in-the-box’ music technology pedagogies? Drawing on studies in record production, science and technology studies and geography, this paper will first consider the role of recording studios today. Lastly, with reference to a growing body of scholarship in recording studio and audio engineering pedagogical research, the paper will focus on the aims and purpose behind the design and refurbishment of the School of Music recording studios at the Australian National University in 2017.


Samantha Bennett is a sound recordist, guitarist and academic from London, UK, and Professor of Music at the Australian National University. Her research is focused on sound recording, music technology, the recording workplace, recordist agency and the technological aesthetics of popular music. She is the author of two monographs, Modern Records, Maverick Methods: Technology and Process in Popular Music Record Production 1978-2000 (Bloomsbury Academic) and Peepshow, a 33 1/3 series edition on the album by Siouxsie and the Banshees (Bloomsbury Academic). She is also a co-editor of Critical Approaches to the Production of Music and Sound (with Dr Eliot Bates, Bloomsbury Academic) and Popular Music, Stars and Stardom (with Dr Stephen Loy and Dr Julie Rickwood, ANU Press). She has published numerous book chapters on the technological, sound recording and production aesthetics of recorded popular music, her journal articles are published in Popular MusicPopular Music and SocietyThe Journal of Popular Music Studies and IASPM@journal and her technical papers are published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society. She has hosted 2 conferences at the School of Music, ANU: ‘Popular Music, Stars and Stardom’ (IASPM-ANZ, 2015); and, ‘Turns and Revolutions in Popular Music’ (XX International IASPM, 2019). In 2014, Samantha gave the biannual American Musicological Society Lecture at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Library and Archives where she also held a research fellowship in 2015. As an AHRC Doctoral scholar, she completed her PhD in popular music recording techniques and analysis at the University of Surrey under renowned musicologist Prof. Allan Moore. Samantha is a board member of the Australasian Sound Recordings Association and currently sits on the advisory board of Bloomsbury Academic’s 33 1/3 series. Prior to her work in academia, Samantha worked extensively as an audio engineer in multiple London recording studios and is a former Director of the UK’s Music Producer’s Guild.

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