GUS DUDGEON FOUNDATION
+ JAMES SUMMER SCHOOL 2022
Following the two-year COVID 'break', Leeds Beckett University are hosting this year's Summer School which began on Monday 25 July.
Working with industry professionals, this course offers selected students from JAMES accredited university courses the opportunity to experience the recording and mixing process in a real-life situation. The real bonus this year is that legendary producer Ken Scott (The Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Duran Duran…) is leading the week's event.
© GDF JAMES 2022 and music by Flashcards (usage granted by the band).
This year's lucky students (and Leeds team) at the 2022 Summer School.
The four young fellows on the front row are 'Flashcards', whose track Hear It From You was recorded during the week.
Patron: Sir Elton John
JAMES SUMMER SCHOOL 2019
Click above to read the full feature as published in Resolution magazine.
DAN SPOONER FROM UNIVERSITY OF HULL
1. SSL Fusion plugins plus SSL Channel Strip and Bus Compressor
2. A week's work experience with Cenzo Townsend at Decoy Studios (wow!)
3. JAMES has donated Amazon vouchers
Plus, all the students received SSL Channel Strip 2 plugin software. Well done Dan and everyone!
Once again, huge thanks to Mike Banks and SSL for their on-going Summer School support.
The day started with Ken talking about his story in the music industry, including how he got started as well as playing and talking through some multi tracks of some songs he has produced which included Elton John and David Bowie. This was a fascinating insight into how these songs were made as well as stories in the studio about why certain things in the songs are the way they are.
Ken spoke a lot about how in music production in the present day producers and engineers rely a lot on technology when the music should have the emphasis and attention. Spending time getting things right in the recording stage should always be important instead of relying on the idea of “fixing it in the mix”.
The afternoon was spent on pre-production with the band such as getting the correct song structure, deciding on microphone choices and also drum tuning considerations.
Day two in the studio started with tuning the drums. We were introduced to Rob Toulson’s drum tuning app iDrum Tune Pro. This was quite an interesting part of the day as I hadn’t had a lot of experience of tuning drums to get the best sound out of them. The morning was spent recording drums and tweaking some drum arrangements in order to get the best sound. After this, time was spent on recording the bass and ended up in recording a few bass tracks using two different basses. This worked quite well for the song as the different basses had characteristics which worked better for different aspects of the bass parts.
Addition from Scott Mahoney, University of South Wales -
Tracking began today, with Ken guiding the band through their performances and adjusting the. It was inspiring to see Ken’s level of attention to detail and his techniques to capture a great performance from the artist.
The day started with finishing off a few bass parts on yet another bass guitar in order to get the correct sound that Ken was looking for. After this, most of the day was spent on working with the guitarists. There were a few issues again with getting the correct sound that Ken was looking for. Quite a bit of time was spent on experimenting with different guitar amps which included Fender and Vox amps. Though these amps sounded great in the room, there was difficulty with capturing the tone and so a different approach was adopted in the end which was to use a DI and use the SansAmp plugin within Pro Tools. Though this clearly wasn’t the most desirable option for Ken, this seemed to give the best results.
Once the majority of the guitar parts were recorded, we moved onto recording the piano. Ken chose 2 Neumann U87’s and a Neumann KM184. He spoke about the fact the second U87 doesn’t add a lot in terms of sound, however the main purpose of it is the correct and polarity issues. The piano parts were recorded with relative ease and this is where the day ended.
We continued the recording by working on some guitars including a few rhythm guitar parts. Ken wished to experiment further with a few different types of guitar, including a Les Paul and a Stratocaster and also experimentation with a Wah pedal. He used the pedal in order to create the correct tone for the guitar as opposed just for a wah effect. After these guitar parts were completed, the band decided to focus on laying down some synth parts. They experimented on two different types of synthesiser including a modern Moog and after much experimentation they decided on a sound that worked for the song.
Moving on from the synths, the next instrument to be tracked were the vocals. Five microphones were auditioned with various different properties and included the Neumann U87 and M147 and the AKG C414. After a lot of careful listening to each microphone, Ken chose the M147 as it had the best characteristics to match the song. A few vocal takes were recorded and Ken put the best parts together into one track.
The week finished by polishing up final parts including a midi synth part, a few bits of guitar and also backing vocals. The backing vocals were recorded in a more traditional way with the 3 singers crowding around one Neumann M147, the same mic used for the lead vocals. After this, Ken told us some more stories from his past, including a touching story about the importance of mental health when working in the music industry.
We had a final listen to the recording and talked a bit about the mixing side of things. This perfectly rounded off an incredible week working with the incredibly talented musicians from the band 'Flashcards' and also the amazing production talent of Ken Scott. It's an experience which will stay with all of us for many many years to follow.
Dr. Phil Harding, JAMES Co-Chair adds:
JAMES representative Allan Keane had been attending the sessions for the last two days, filming progress, conducting interviews with the individuals involved including producer Ken Scott, GDF co-founder Murray Dudgeon (Gus Dudgeon's brother) and some of the attending students. This footage will appear on the JAMES website soon. As Co-Chair of JAMES I felt this was a good day for me to visit as we were awarding student prizes kindly donated by our sponsors, SSL.
The sessions were behind schedule and instead of heading towards a rough mix of the week's work, backing vocals were still being recorded and some final keyboards and guitars were then added to complete the day's work. Also a 'telephone voice' was recorded for a special fx line at the end of the song using an old telephone modded by student Dan Spooner (see picture). The final mix will be tackled by Ken Scott at a later date and the students were also given permission by the band to receive copies of the Pro-Tools session to experiment with their own mixes for potential use by the band for the commercial release.
The team leading the weeks sessions - Ken Scott (Producer) / Barkley Mckay (Engineer) / Alex Stephenson (session coordinator & Pro-Tools operator) - voted Dan Spooner for the University of Hull as the 'Student of The Week' and the obligatory 'team photos' were taken to mark the end of a fantastic week for everybody. A huge thanks goes out to Mike Banks of SSL for sponsorship, also to Rita Campbell of JAMES and Alex Stephenson of Leeds Beckett University for coordinating and hosting. Finally a massive thanks to Murray Dudgeon of the Gus Dudgeon Foundation for their continued support of this inspirational and educational week for everyone involved.
Elysha's Programme Leader said,
"Elysha has been a highly committed and thoroughly engaged student during her time at Leeds Conservatoire on the BA (hons) Music Production programme. She has served as the student rep for the programme and as an ambassador for the institution.
Elysha has also developed her studio recording and production skills to a high standard and worked with a variety of other artists and students as part of her degree. As one of a small number of female students in a male dominated subject area Elysha’s work ethic, professionalism and reliability has set her aside from many of her peers. We would therefore like to nominate her for this opportunity. "
Phoebe's Programme Leader said,
"Phoebe has been a consummate professional during her time at BNU. Not only has her attendance been exemplary, but she has excelled in seeking extracurricular opportunities, including setting up and running the BNU radio department. She was recently nominated for an SU Award, which is in recognition of her hard work throughout the past year. The results have not yet been ratified, but she is in line to get the top degree results amongst her graduating cohort."
Ben's Programme Leader said,
"Ben’s work ethic is superb. He is a very talented technologist and producer. Ben demonstrates very high levels of professionalism, dedication, and enthusiasm, and has excelled in many areas of our course this year, including his final major project which was graded as ‘outstanding’ by the assessors. He is, in my opinion, an ideal candidate for the GDF week."
Brad's Programme Leader said,
"Continued impressive contributions to the course and extracurricular activities. An incredibly enthusiastic approach to production and a wealth of knowledge of popular music production for more traditional styles. Exemplary production work for his own work as well as when working with others. Approaches production in a very traditional/old school way of thinking."
Callum's Course Director said,
"Callum deserved his place in the school as he attained the highest mark of all students in our Level 6 elective ‘Creative Studio Practice’ module.."
Dan's Programme Director said,
"Dan has been an outstanding student at Hull, demonstrating not only a developed talent for song-writing and composing, but a genuinely sharp ear for production technique and aesthetic. Dan exploited his time at University fantastically, involving himself in everything on offer with excellent commitment and professional ethic. He is a trustworthy and capable individual who will not only take an awful lot from the experience, but will also contribute a great deal to the summer school."
James' Programme Director said,
"James is an academically strong student. He is dedicated to the programme and serious about developing a career in the industry. Since arriving at City, he has always committed to extra-curricular activities, such as volunteer shadowing for concert set-ups - in order to gain as much experience as possible. On his application form, he also wrote some compelling comments, all of which leant themselves towards his attendance on this course."
Jose's Deputy Head of School said,
"Jose has been one of the top performing students in ARU Audio and Music Technology. He strives to be the best in every new skill he learns from placing a microphone for recording an instrument to placing a sound in a virtual game environment. Despite the challenges of learning a practical subject during the pandemic lockdowns, Jose viewed Covid-19 as another challenge to overcome and did not let it dissuade him from his career as a student of audio technology."
Marco's Senior Lecturer said,
"I nominated Marco because he clearly has an aptitude for recording and production. He has demonstrated his abilities in the many projects he has accomplished during his time at UWE. His dedication is also shown by the fact that he is an overseas student, which presents significant extra hurdles to a student."
Scott's Course Leader said,
"Scott is a dedicated, skilful sound engineer and producer."
Spike's Programme Leader said,
"Spike Turner joined Glasgow Caledonian University in 2020 and will be graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in Audio Technology. His work throughout his degree has been exemplary and has been keen to volunteer for various live events throughout the campus gaining experience in live sound. He has been class rep for the 4th year cohort and has been an effective communicator in this role. He has a strong interest in both live and studio sound so is keen to further develop his skills in these areas before pursuing a career in audio. To that end, the programme team feel that Spike will be an excellent representative from GCU and will make a valuable attendee at the Gus Dudgeon/JAMES Summer School through his contribution and enthusiasm for the subject area."
Joe's Head of Department said,
"Joe has been a dedicated student throughout the course and has always attended events and gone above and beyond to network and support other students. He embraced the need to explore all avenues of the industry to secure a position at Britannia Row the week he submitted his dissertation, which included an article printed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra."