[PlanetCCRMA] Tom Dowd and The Language of Music

Brad Stafford brad@archone.tamu.edu
Mon Apr 5 21:38:01 2004

I'm still in the process of putting my Linux PC together with the RH 9
Planet CCRMA distro. Thanks to everyone for the great info on software,
you're fantastic!

I hope you don't mind if I go off topic in this forum but I recently saw a
movie that I recommend every musician and recording engineer should see.
It's called Tom Dowd and The Language of Music. Here is a link for more


I'm sending this because this is an obscure film that is debuting this
spring in a very limited distribution. It ran one day only here in Austin,
Tx during the annual South By Southwest Film Festival. My wife encouraged me
to go because she (being the musician) was under the impression the movie
was going to be about "how listening to Mozart makes a person smarter".

But the movie had nothing to do with that. It was a chronology of recording
studios from the
early forties to today. It was fantastic to see how a band in the early
forties sat in a circle around one mic playing, Tom Dowd at the controls of
a MONO board and a blank vinyl disk being "CUT" while the band played. The
recording engineer had to read the music several measures ahead of the band
and anticipate a loud passage in order to turn down the gain. Otherwise he
took the risk of the cutting needle jumping into the adjacent track and
ruining the album.

The evolution of the recording equipment from mono vinyl to stereo vinyl,
the introduction of stereo tape, four track, eight track, 16 track.... to
the digital age of today. was fantastic. The movie shows the early multi
track console with large 3 inch round dials for fader controls and how Tom
took one apart and  replaced them with the sliders/faders we know today.

The film shows Tom recording the likes of Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Eric
Otis Redding, John Coltrane, The Allman Brothers Band, Tito Puente, Dizzy
Bob Marley, Thelonius Monk, Cream, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Booker T.
& the MGs.
Then in the early 60's he's asked to go to England to help out this new band
called The Beatles.

Now the disclaimer: I am in to way associated with this movie other than
being a movie goer.

Keep your eyes and ears open to see if this film is showing in your area.
You'll be happy you saw it!


P.S. My apologies Fernando if I've broken a rule with the posting. I promise
not to do it again.