50 students studying our music, music performance and music technology courses recently visited the world famous Abbey Road Studios in London. After weeks of rehearsal, they recorded their version of Paramore’s 2013 hit ‘Ain’t It Fun’, gaining first-hand experience of how recording sessions take place within a professional studio, whilst using the latest and most advanced digital equipment, alongside the timeless analogue kit which has helped shape popular music history.
Originally owned by EMI and converted into studios in 1931, Abbey Road established itself as the largest purpose-built recording studio in the world. The studio has seen many famous artists record within its walls including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, U2, Robbie Williams, Tom Jones, The Killers and Radiohead. Students were exhilarated to discover that they were using microphones used by The Beatles, as well as Paul McCartney’s piano which was used in the majority of The Beatles’ recordings.
The recording on the day was directed by Subject Leader for music performance, Caroline Hordley and the Senior Engineer was Andrew Dudman, known for his work on films such as Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Gravity. During the recording, students used a microphone made in 1931, designed by the inventor of stereo, Alan Blumlein, and one of the world’s very first echo chambers.
The group were treated to a tour of Studio One which was first used by Sir Edward Elgar to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and has since produced countless blockbuster film scores including Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T.- the Extra-Terrestrial, the Bond films, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series. They visited Studio Three, the studio behind Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ and they were given exclusive access to Abbey Road’s most innovative project to date - the Dolby Atmos Premier Studio. Amazingly, they found Greg Penny inside who is record producer and mixing engineer for Elton John and he kindly gave students an impromptu masterclass! They also got a glimpse into the future of the music industry by experiencing fully immersive, spatial audio.
The day culminated in a final mix of the track being played in Studio Two for all to hear, ending what was a truly once in a lifetime experience.
Matt Prudente-Poulton, Curriculum Manager for music technology and music performance commented, “Every time we visit Abbey Road I wonder how it can possibly be better than the previous trip. This one did just that and was undoubtedly the best yet - from masterclasses with renowned professional engineers and producers, to tours around every studio in the building. It is a trip that everyone will remember for the rest of their lives. Long may our relationship with Abbey Road Studios continue!”