The Studio in North West London
Over Summer 50 students across the Music, Music Performance and Music Technology courses ventured into London to visit the most famous recording studio in the world; Abbey Road Studios. The students took part in recording a cover of Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’, recording with both the most contemporary and advanced digital equipment, as well as using classic analogue hardware which has shaped popular-music culture and history. All students obtained real-life and first-hand experience of how recording sessions operate within a professional studio environment.
Once converted into studios in 1931 by the Gramophone Company (predecessor of EMI), Abbey Road established itself as the largest purpose-built recording studio in the world and the best equipped. The studio’s walls have seen many a-famous face record in session over the years, including but not limited to - The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Kate Bush, The Killers, Adele and Oasis. Students were elated to discover that they were standing in the same control room as John Lennon, and were using the same microphones and gear once used by The Beatles’; including Paul McCartney’s piano which was used in the majority of The Beatles’ recordings.
The students had rehearsed for many weeks prior to the session and the recording on the day was directed by Caroline Hordley, Curriculum Manager of Music Technology and Music Performance. The Senior Engineer was Paul Pritchard, known for his work with such artists as Stormzy, Biffy Clyro and Elton John. Paul was assisted by two upcoming engineers, Sarah Meyz and Neil Dawes. A surreal experience for members of staff, as Neil is a Music Technology alumni, having studied the course at here just 10 years ago and previously taking part in the same trip when he was a student at the College. He has since worked with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift and Michael Buble at Abbey Road.
The student band began tracking mid-morning, followed by a choir of 55 strong student and staff members being directed by Andre Da Silva, Music Enrichment Lead. After pausing for a quick break for lunch, where The Rolling Stones were spotted strolling through the corridors, the students were inspired by working with Neil and Paul in the control room, having the opportunity to ask many questions on mixing and were also given a tour of one of the world’s first echo chambers in Studio Two.
The day concluded with the final mix of the track being played through the speakers in Studio Two for all to hear, ending what was truly a unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience for all involved. Caroline Hordley, Curriculum Manager for Music Technology and Music Performance commented, “This was the first time we’ve been able to return to Abbey Road since Covid and the day did not disappoint! Not only could our students see first hand where their college courses could take them (with an alumni from the department assisting the recording process) but they got to experience recording using the same mics as The Beatles and listening to our mix on the same monitors used to mix The Dark Side of the Moon. What an experience, and one that will be remembered by all who went for the rest of their lives. Long may our link with Abbey Road Studios continue!”