Toby Seay (Drexel University, USA) Daniel Pratt (University of West London, UK)


In this paper, we frame the record producer as a “nexus facilitator” of musical communication (Howlett, 2009). We examine how producers insert themselves into creative teams in unfamiliar settings using Sawyer’s (2007) group flow theory, and Weick’s (1995) sensemaking theory. To test the role of the producer in new recording environments, we adopt an ethnographic observational methodology and participate in two transnational recording experiments. Different recording situations offer the opportunity to observe producers adapting their recording approach in unfamiliar socio-cultural spaces. To conduct this research, Toby Seay travels from America to Cuba to record an ensemble that he has never met in a four-hour recording session. Daniel Pratt travels from Australia to India to record six musical groups over a period of three days using a mobile recording system. We aim to observe and document the negotiation of the unfamiliar recording setting while facilitating the musical conversation that occurs during the two recording sessions. We compare our approaches between the two exemplars to understand how the recording process changes when producers are thrust into new technical and socio-cultural spaces with limited time to generate new music. We thematically analyse our musical, technical, and personal interactions using three properties developed in Weick’s (1996) sensemaking theory. These three properties are identity, social, and sensible environment. This approach to analysing our work offers the opportunity to understand how we operate and define ourselves as producers when we construct environments, respond to identity questions and interact as social organisers within unusual recording spaces. Ultimately, we examine how these new environmental experiences change our view of record production from our previous learned approaches.