Ecological-Studios:

First steps in a users primer for reconstructing the recording studio's around green design and architectural practice

I) some background - so where exactly does eco-architecture, design and the music business meet?


Perhaps it is naive to dream of an alternative to conspicuous consumption, but if everything is to be remade sustainable andeco-friendly this includes the music business, a notorious agent of eco complacency and profligate energy use. If this is the case any possible eco-music sphere will need to face up to a remaking of music activity which constitutes a revolution in the myriad processes of its livilihood.

Still in the space between the music and the green world there's various strands representing the beginnings of a dialogue between each. One specific consequence of the technologisation of the practise of music has been the considerable increase in energy required. Electricity is used for the running of studio's recording music, for the equipment of the performance and concerts, and for the interlinked world servicing the music industry, from CD factories and the printer's of record sleeves, to the makers of recording equipment. Energy, although only one of a series of points the green world is concerned with, is the primary focus here.

It is contendable that the energies which generated the green movements of the last forty years or so are partially entwined with the waves of creative energy which has brought each generation its musical innovation and experimentation. Many have seen the musical ferment of the sixties and since, the 'return of nature' as parallel, cousin paths, the one mutually supporting the other. Similarly there is a crossover between the music buying public and the supporters of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the like. The longevity of the idea of the outdoor festival, closer to and ideally in partial celebration of nature, is symbolised by the Glastonbury Festival, where the two fuse most visibly. Indeed for a while the one-time futurism of music and hi-fi technology was linked, in perception at least, to the faltering steps of the seventies Radical Technology movement which fed and allied itself with the greens and other related communities. If there is an inextricable interwining between the green community and the commercial consumption of a hi-energy music infrastructure the notion that the future will resolve itself without electrically resourced music technology, in all the spheres, and all that involves seems unlikely.

There are of course other possibilities, a 'partial greening' of the music business. There's the sustainable business-as-usual techno-fix that the industry, if pushed into a corner about requirements to be greener, will most likely choose. In all likelihood an essentially industrial-urban and technical ethos will be maintained.

Such probable dabbling moves would be graphic reflections of the degree to which the mainstream is going to take on board, (or not) the more thoroughgoing approaches of a green outlook. Within this, is the 'star' system about anything other than consumption? And if so is the 'star' system which the music, and all the entertainment businesses need for their efficient running, ecologically ruiness? The distance between the green and music business worlds beg such questions, as do the problems incurred by possible hybrids any form of meeting might generate.

Where will the 'energy', so to speak and the will to effect a transformatiom originate from? The music community could do much if it was interested. The music business could explore the variety of green initiatives in Industry to green aspects of the business. This piece is primarly focussed on the fringes of the music world, the grass roots of the music scene - where the energies of do-it-ourselves are most fertile. Indeed do-it-yourself energies could radically remake the nature of not only this element of the music world, but could well feed into the mainstream of the business.

The rest of these connected pieces thus picks up and extends where the 'Indie' labels intuitively caught the 'small is beautiful' green ethos, though making of it something rather different to what the balanced buddhist and ecological economics have envisaged developing. In the Indie music world there's a spectrum of practise from relatively thorough-going ecologically conscientious business through to the status quo of hip capitalism epitimised by Virgin.

It's easy to imagine design and technology practise being utilised across the board in buildings in which the making of music happens. Budgets, of course, are often limited, so buildings, including studio's don't get the energy attentions which could make the difference.

Although the research examples below are not conclusive we haven't come across any studio which is publicising itself as using in part a green remit. However the high visibility example of Real World offers the beginnings of a path into the greening of the big time recording studio, and by implication many other elements of the musicing process.

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