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The construction of liveness in rock recordings

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posted on 2022-09-08, 03:34 authored by Dylan Cassidy Wheeler

The Construction of Liveness in Rock Recording explores the concept of liveness from the perspective of record production. What does it mean for a recording to ‘sound live,’ and how can artists and producers use the technologies and techniques of record production to create this sense of liveness? The thesis uses critical analysis of academic literature, industry sources, and recordings alongside experimentation with record production to deepen understanding of liveness in rock recordings at a conceptual level and in practice.

Building on existing scholarly discussion, the thesis considers liveness as a potential property of recordings which manifests as an affective experience for listeners. The thesis proposes a taxonomy of common recording and performance situations in rock, considering them in terms of co-presence and co-temporality between performers and audience, as well as degrees and types of mediation. In some cases, such as recordings of concert performances, a sense of liveness may be present by default. Significant production qualities which are present in live recordings but absent from typical non-live studio recordings are identified in the thesis. It is hypothesised that these qualities are important drivers in imbuing recordings with the property of liveness.  

The thesis argues that there is a genre-specific link between liveness and authenticity in rock music, and that authenticity is highly valued by rock fans. Therefore, in the context of rock, there is value in exploring music production practices which can create or enhance a sense of liveness in recordings which do not feature this property as a matter of course. Practical experimentation with production techniques both facilitated the discovery of insights not available from the analysis of finished recordings and tested interventions intended to increase the sense of liveness of non-live recordings.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. What is live? -- 3. The virtual performance space -- 4. Performance live and in-studio -- 5. Constructing liveness in asynchronously performed recordings -- 6. Conclusion -- References -- Appendices


Thesis submitted on 10/11/2020 for the degree of Master of Research

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Thesis (MRes), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communications and Cultural Studies (MMCCS), 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communications and Cultural Studies (MMCCS)

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Julian Knowles


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80 pages

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