Acclaimed producer/engineer Phil Harding is to lead a seven-day music production course for music technology students at the University of Glamorgan from 10-16 July, writes David Davies.
Between six and eight top music students approaching the end of their graduation year in JAMES-accredited university programmes will have the opportunity to take part.
Students – who will be selected by JAMES (Joint Audio Media Education Support)-accredited university course leaders – will have all costs paid, while successful completion of the seven-day programme will be valued at ten credits at Masters level. In addition, each student will receive a JAMES certification signed by Harding.
The summer course is the brainchild of JAMES and the Gus Dudgeon Foundation for Recording Arts. Established shortly after Dudgeon’s untimely death in 2002, the Foundation aims to promote the commitment to excellence in studio techniques exemplified by the producer himself during a 40-year career that entailed work with acts including Joan Armatrading, Chris Rea, Elkie Brooks, the Bonzo Dog Band, XTC and, most famously, Sir Elton John (who is the Foundation’s patron).
A recording suite named in memory of Dudgeon (pictured here with Elton in the 1970s) was opened at the University of Glamorgan in 2009, during the Art of Recording Production Conference. Indeed, it was during the opening event that JAMES and the Foundation – which is run by Chris Hook – first began to discuss the possibility of a joint summer school that would make use of Dudgeon’s own restored MCI equipment.
Now, two years on, the idea is to become reality with a seven-day course at the university from 10-16 July. Beginning with the scheduling of a recording, students will proceed to work on a backing track with professional musicians, add vocals and overdubs, record strings and brass, and then mix. On the final day, they will reflect on the week’s events and critique the finished recording.
“Gus was a wonderful producer who never compromised for the sake of ‘the performance’ and production perfection. We will strive to achieve exactly that across the week,” course leader Phil Harding tells PSNE. “We hope that a specialist engineer on the MCI J-500 console will be joining us and that a specialist string/orchestral engineer will run an orchestral overdub session during the week. On this first occasion we will be recording a wonderful Welsh band called The Thieving Beggars who have their own brass section within the band, so this will be an interesting element.”
All being well, this will be the start of an annual event for the JAMES-accredited courses. “The hope is that we will go some way to preserving the wonderful 1970s recording techniques for future generations of music engineers and producers,” says Harding, who is currently mixing a new Cliff Richard album in Los Angeles with legendary producer/songwriter Lamont Dozier.