Tuesday, February 09, 2010


'Great drum sound! Totally boxy!'
Studio jargon, couldn't understand a word of it.
I used to take the words home with me in my head after a session, and roll them around this way and that to try to make sense of them.
I don't like feeling stupid, I don't like being made to feel stupid, and I wasn't brave enough to say that I didn't understand, because a lot of what I learned was through quietly observing what was going on and listening to the results.
But some of it just left me shaking my head in bewilderment.

Special terminology is the way some people form exclusive communities (or even gangs in some circumstances).
If you don't understand the lingo, you can't be part of it.
Offsprog Two and her friends have teenager ganguage: 'butters' means great, 'buff' means sexy and a 'beef' is a fight, for instance.
Knowing all the micro-names for different forms of hip hop music is the way some teenage men make space for themselves. It happens by accident too; people in the South thought it was hilarious that Geordies talk about 'bubbling' (crying) and 'getting wrong' (being scolded) when I first moved darn sarf, without noticing their own propensity for rhyming slang.
But studio-speak is like the aural equivalent of the snotty chaps in the musical instrument shops who are so busy being busy that even guys feel intimidated by them; it's designed as a filter to keep the inexperienced in their place, that is, permanently inexperienced.
I was really lucky, because one day I came across an engineer (his name was Simon Tassano) who talked me through all those little buttons on the mixing desk and told me what they all did, without making me feel like a fool for not knowing. A rare man indeed, to demystify the role of the studio engineer in such a way.
Big round of applause for sharing knowledge!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hear hear for him! Though I do find jargon fascinating if difficult. I am constantly trying to catch up with all the acronyms in teaching and the way they keep changing. Also annoying little buzzwords-my most hated being 'quality first' teaching. I have never had that one properly explained to me-and it annoys me as it is ungrammatical and seems insulting-as if I am going to try to do rubbish first teaching. What does boxy mean anyway-does it mean something good, or that things sound as if they were coming from a box? I would like to know!