George Massenburg is a legend in the recording industry. His innovations include the introduction of the parametric equalizer in 1972, and his work on preamplifier design, dynamic range controllers, and other engineering equipment has also led the field for years. His contributions to audio engineering go beyond mere tools: as recording engineer, mixing engineer, and as a producer, his name is on some of the most important records ever made. And he has the Grammy Awards to prove it.
A new discussion thread on the gearslutz.com bulletin board tells us that George is continuing to work well outside the box, by capturing a live studio performance as a performance. What’s most exciting to me is that it sounds very much like what I’ve been writing about co-production at The Miraverse…
According to the thread, when George visited Munich in May 2007, he talked about
- his amazing new studio at Blackbird (Studio C)
- an amazing new artist he was working with (Dawn Langstroth)
- a new internet promotion / distribution concept for young artists
This has now culminated in both a YouTube video that takes one into the studio, showing the complete integration of studio, engineer, and artists in the performance and production process. Neat!
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ymg5rG16Tns" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Moreover, and this was wholly unexpected and totally awesome, two mixes are available (on iTunes, the song is “Elevator Music”). Imagine you were living in 15th century Italy and needed a fresco for your new dining room. Then imagine that both Michelangelo and Leonardo DaVinci showed up, eager to each give their best. This might be what its like to be able to choose between the George Massenburg mix and the Al Schmitt mix.
This fits perfectly with my premise, which is that we no longer need to live in a creative regime that imagines that there is only and ever one right way to record, mix, and master an album. It should be possible for many interpretations to exist side-by-side, just as there are many ways one can make a fine bottle of Pinot Noir from the Pinot Noir grape. (Of course there are many bad ways to do so, too…best to avoid those sour grapes 😉 With Creative Commons licensing, this could become standard in the industry.
George Massenburg has always been an open-minded guy, at least as far as the future is concerned. His willingness to move beyond the conventional production constraints, especially the constraint of a singular for-all-time mix format to one that permits manifold recordings is great encouragement for my endeavor!