For decades, The studio can be seen as a place of experimentation, trial and error, and it can also be the space where artists experience their “breakthrough” moment. For many artists, creating the “right sound” is crucial, and some have been known to go to extreme lengths to achieve this.
Inspired by the new “Sound of Music” infographic created by Technical Foam Services, discover the strange, fascinating, and bizarre ways that iconic artists like Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson have used the technology of the studio to create their unique and legendary music.
A thousand voices
While 1975 saw Queen highly praised for using a vocal layering technique to create the iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody” backing vocals, 10cc took the idea and turned it into a completely new instrument.
Ever keen to experiment, 10cc struck gold with their hit single “I’m not in love” and the tracks unique, flowing soundscape. This dreamlike effect was created entirely from the band’s vocals. For three weeks, the group’s members were recorded singing “ahhh” in a variety of different keys. Eventually, all 256 voices were loaded into the studio’s 16 track mixing desk. The result was essentially a brand-new instrument, a unique voice synthesizer that could be played along with the song.
One man band
Today, the idea of a home studio is very achievable for anyone with a laptop and a microphone, but even with modern innovation it is unlikely that many people have tricked a record label into thinking they were a whole group. In 1976, Tom Scholz was signed under the false impression that Boston was a band, rather than a solo artist.
Little did his label know, Scholz did not have a band and had not been recording at the LA studio they had booked for him. Instead, Boston’s self-titled album including the huge hit single “More than a feeling”, was completed by Scholz alone in his basement studio.
Keeping it simple
For all the technology at the disposal of producers sometime the best option is creativity. When people think of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” era, Quincy Jones is widely praised for the iconic album’s slick and groundbreaking production. It might come a surprise to discover that one of the most creative solutions found on the record came from audio engineer Bruce Swedien – a cardboard tube.
That unique vocal effect, which can be heard on the “don’t think twice” lyric towards the end of “Billie Jean” was achieved simply by getting Michael Jackson to sing through a five-foot cardboard tube, which prove that innovation and artistry is just as vital to creating great music as the technology itself.
The album that wasn’t
Despite its commercial and critical success, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” was never recorded. The album that was released is actually the demo cassette tape which was recorded using a portable TASCAM tape recorder and mixed on an old cassette player that survived falling in a lake.
The saving grace was that Springsteen recorded with a pair of quality microphones which, despite being of professional level, are worth less than $100 each. He liked the resulting sound so much that despite trying to record the songs with his band, Springsteen was unable to capture the atmosphere he found on that cassette.
Great songs will always be great and while high quality equipment is valuable, you don’t need a studio, or even a band, to create something great.