Coursework Example: Phil Spector's Original Sound and Recording Style

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Wesleyan University
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Course work
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In the 1960s, the record producer became more important than the singer. This is contrary to the early 1950s when the artists had almost absolute control over the recording process. However in the late 1950s, the approach changed since this was the time when the artist and repertoire (A&R) took over the process of making and recording music. However, the A&R ware replaced by the record producer in the 1960s who specialized in creating a records sound.

It was during this period that Phil Spector came into limelight as a record producer, musician, and a songwriter. Spector is regarded as the first auteur among musical artists for not only acting as a producer, but also a creative director and a mastermind in all phases of the recording processes (May,2013). Spector particularly was keen on innovative studio techniques. His recordings featured triple rhythm sections which consisted of; three base players, pianos, and drummers. Also, there were some guitars and scores of wind instruments, and he used to arrange his singers into sizeable space to enhance each instrument to be heard in the immediate and adjacent microphones. During production, musicians and other players were required to stay for long hours in the studio.

Furthermore, Spector, incorporated doubling in which two different instruments play the same line. This enhanced thickening of the sound while also creating several interesting, different sound combinations. According to him, hearing the collective enormity of the ensemble was important than individual instruments. He mostly recorded the instrumental track before hiring singers and at the same time combined all of the recordings into what he regarded as the wall of sound. Wall of sound involved use of a kit of drums, around three pianos and others. The process involved layering, echo, and spilling(May,2013).

Phil Spector featured the Ronettes in the song Be My Baby. The Ronettes consisted of a group of African American girls, and it is the classic example of Spectors wall of sound style. The song was elaborately layered in its recording in what can be considered as the ultimate embodiment of the wall of sound production. The song is introduced by a reverbing beat of drums that indicate the enormity of the recording studio when the song was set. Every section of the song is introduced at a time. The first two lines of the first verse feature only Bennetts lead as she sang the opening section rhythm. The chorus that follows seems to add a layer of sound that creates an interesting ending that includes the ensemble. The techniques were well manifested throughout the song (May,2013).

In his other song He Kissed Me featuring the group The Crystals, an African-American group, he used the wall of sound technique. The musicians spent long hours in the studio with little breaks with the songs La La Brooks as the lead singer. The most important decisions during the recording sessions were done by the record producer and not by the singers. The producers importance was seen in the Crystals where the entire group could be eliminated and replaced with the new group of musicians. The singers were considered just another layer of sound that producers were creating and not musical innovators! (May,2013).

Phil Spector Spectors formula wall of sound brought a lot of influence to rock and roll music. He is among the most celebrated producers of rock and roll music.



May, A. (2013). Phil Spector and the New Movie Soundtrack. Media International Australia, 148(1), 127-134.


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