Interview with Alan Lorber, March 5, 1999

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Overview of career

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Partial Transcript: --nineteen ninety nine, I'm speaking with Albin--Al, Alan Lorber in New York.

Segment Synopsis: Lorber provides an overview of his career as a music producer and discusses some of the musical artists with whom he works. He then asks the interviewer what brought her to be interested in researching the history of sound engineering and exactly what she means by the culture of audio engineering.

Keywords: A&R Recording Studio; Abbey Road; Arrangers; Audio engineering; Bell Sound Studios; Berklee College of Music; Budapest (Hungary); Capitol Records; Case Western Reserve University; Chicago, (Illinois); Cleveland (Ohio); Cleveland Recording; Columbia Records, Inc.; Culture; Culture of audio recording; Culture of music business; England; Fox, Ted; Francis, Connie (Artist); Hammond, John; History of Science; History of Technology; History, environmental; In the Groove (Book); Lorber, Alan; Los Angeles (Calif.); Mirror Sound Studios; Music business; Music producers; Nashville (Tenn.); National Science Foundation (NSF); New York (N.Y.); Olympic Studios; Pitney, Gene (Artist); Purcell, Carroll; Putnam, Bill; RCA Records; Record companies; Recording business; Recording studios; Recording, direct to disc; Recording, disc; Rogers, Niles; Santa Barbara (Calif.); Science; Sedaka, Neil (Artist); Shirelles, the (Artist); Technology; University of California Santa Barbara; Z Records

Subjects: Abbey Road Studios (London, England); Berklee College of Music; Budapest (Hungary); Capitol Records, Inc.; Case Western Reserve University; Chicago (Ill.); Cleveland (Ohio); Columbia Records, Inc.; England.; Fox, Ted; Francis, Connie; Hammond, John; History of science and technology; Lorber, Alan; Los Angeles (Calif.); Music; Nashville (Tenn.); National Science Foundation (U.S.); New York (N.Y.); Pitney, Gene; Putnam, Bill; RCA Records; Record labels.; Santa Barbara (Calif.); Sedaka, Neil; Shirelles (Musical group); Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; University of California, Santa Barbara

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:10:32 - The importance of arrangers

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Partial Transcript: Well you're, you, you're speaking, uh, about producers--

Segment Synopsis: Lorber talks about the importance of the arranger to sound recording and talks about Sigma Studios in Philadelphia (Pa.).

Keywords: Arrangers; Big Band music; Big Bands; Chess Records; Clark, Dick; Creative process; Gamble, Kenneth; Genres; Huff, Leon; Lorber, Alan; Memphis (Tenn.); Musical genres; Philadelphia (Pa.); Phillips, Sam; Recording; Recording studios; Recording, live; Sigma Sound; Sinatra, Frank (Artist); Society of Professional Audio Recording Services (SPARS); Technology

Subjects: Big band music.; Clark, Dick; Clark, Dick, 1928-; Clark, Dick, 1929-2012; Gamble, Kenneth C.; History of science and technology; Huff, Leon, 1912-1952; Lorber, Alan; Memphis (Tenn.); Music; Philadelphia (Pa.); Phillips, Sam, 1923-2003.; Record labels.; Sinatra, Frank, 1907-; Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Memphis (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 35.117365, -89.971068
00:15:55 - Music arranging in New York (N.Y.) in the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: But anyway, w--you know, what you were saying about, uh, the, the sort of line up in the studios at the time, I do think that depending on the genre, um, it may have been slightly different from, you know, from the New York model, shall we say?

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses recording in studios in New York (N.Y.) in the 1960s, including aspects of time management and studio expectations. He also talks about his unique ability to meld African American musical traditions with the mainstream music of the 1960s.

Keywords: A&R (artist and repertoire); A&R department; African Americans; Arrangers; Bacharach, Burt; Back to Mono (Album); Bell Sound studios; Budget; Classical music; Demonstrations; Demos; Dixon, Luther (Artist); Every Breath I Take (Song); Francis, Connie (Artist); Hit records; Hunt, Tommy (Artist); Jackson, Chuck (Artist); King, Carole; Lorber, Alan; Mama Said (Song); Music producers; Music publishers; Musical genres; Musicians, African American; New York (N.Y.); Orchestras; Pianos; Pitney, Gene; Record companies; Record labels; Recorders, Wollensak; Recorders, tape; Recording, reel to reel; Rhythm and blues (R&B); Scepter Records; Sedaka, Neil (Artist); Shirelles, the (Artist); Singles; Songwriters; Songwriting; Spector, Phil; Strings; Unions; Vocalists (singers); Wilson, Jackie (Artist)

Subjects: African American; Bacharach, Burt; Dixon, Luther, 1931-2009; Francis, Connie; History of science and technology; Hunt, Tommy, 1933-; Johnson, Chuck (Vocalist); King, Carole; King, Carole, 1942-; Lorber, Alan; Music; New York (N.Y.); Orchestra; Piano; Pitney, Gene; Record labels.; Rhythm and blues music.; Sedaka, Neil; Shirelles (Musical group); Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Spector, Phil; Spector, Phil, 1939-; Wilson, Jackie

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:27:35 - Work at Bell Sound Studios with Phil Spector / training

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Partial Transcript: Why do you think they--it got more sophisticated?

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses the groups with whom he worked at Bell Sound, such as Gene Pitney and Neil Sedaka. He then discusses the training he underwent to become a music producer. Finally, he talks about his collaborations with fellow music producer Phil Spector.

Keywords: A&R Recording; Aldon Music; American Federation of Musicians (AFM); Apollo Theater; Arrangers; Audio engineers, freelance; Audio engineers, independent; Bell Sound Studios; Brandenburg Concerto (Song); Breaking up Is Hard to Do (Song); Cellos; Classical piano music; Dance music; Donner, Ral (Artist); Doo-wop music; Every Breath I take (song); Five Satins, the (Artist); Goffin, Gerry; Greenfield, Howard; Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen (Song); Harps; Heartbreak Hotel (Song); In the Still of the Night (Artist); King, Carole; Kirshner, Don; Living Right Next Door to an Angel (Song); Lyrics; Mann, Barry; Mixing; Multi-tracking; Music directors; Music producers; Nevins and Kirshner; Nevins, Al; Oboes; Orlando, Tony (Artist); Pianos; Pitney, Gene (Artist); Popular music; Presley, Elvis (Artist); Radio; Recording; Recording business; Recording, mono; Rhythm; Sedaka, Neil (Song); Seer Sound; Songs; Songwriters; Songwriting; Speakers; Spector, Phil; Violas; Wall of Sound; Weil, Cynthia; multi-track

Subjects: Apollo Theater (New York, N.Y. : 125th Street); Bell (Sound recording label); Cello; Dance music.; Donner, Ral; Doo-wop (Music); Doo-wop.; Five Satins (Musical group); Goffin, Gerry; Harp; History of science and technology; King, Carole; King, Carole, 1942-; Kirshner, Don; Lorber, Alan; Mann, Barry; Music; Nevins, Al; Nevins, Albert J., 1915-1997; Oboe; Orlando, Tony; Piano.; Pitney, Gene; Presley, Elvis, 1935-1977.; Radio; Record labels.; Rhythm.; Sedaka, Neil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Spector, Phil; Spector, Phil, 1939-; Viola; Weil, Cynthia

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:38:30 - High fidelity recording

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Partial Transcript: Now, at this point, wh--did you ever record with the thought of an album in mind or was the album basically a compilation of hits, or some hits and other--

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses the advent of high fidelity recording and the ways in which the development of that technology shaped music production.

Keywords: Albums; Arrangers; Audiophiles; Classical music; Columbia Records, Inc.; FFRR London; FM radio; Full Frequency Range Recording; High fidelity; London FFRR; Lorber, Alan; RCA Records; Record companies; Record speed; Recorders, tape; Recording; Recording, full frequency range; Recording, mono; Recording, stereo; Singles; War of the speeds

Subjects: Columbia Records, Inc.; FM radio; High-fidelity sound systems.; History of science and technology; Lorber, Alan; Music; RCA Records; Radio; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Stereophonic sound systems.

00:42:45 - Arranging Neil Sedaka with multi-track recording

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Partial Transcript: That's okay.

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses the advent of multitrack tape recording and describes arranging material for Neil Sedaka specifically for this recording technology.

Keywords: Abramson, Herb; Ampex Electric corporation; Arrangers; Atlantic Records; Balance; Balancing; Boston Sound; Breaking Up is Hard to Do (Song); Carroll, Jimmy; Chorus; Cleveland (Ohio); Counter lines; Dowd, Tom; Echoes; Equalizers; Ertegun, Ahmet; Flanging; Ford, Mary; Guitars; Hall, Ray; Hammond organs; Harmonies; Harmonizing; Hollywood, (Calif.); Hooks; Lorber, Alan; Miller, Mitch; Moog synthesizers; Moog, Robert; Multi-tracking; Musicians, studio; New Jersey; New York (N.Y.); Orchestras; Orpheus (Artist); Overdubbing; Paul, Les; Percussion; Pianos; RCA; RCA Records; Recorders, tape (models): Ampex 8-track; Recording, multi-track; Rhythm; Sedaka, Neil (Artist); Sel-sync (selective synchronization); Speakers, Leslie; Strings; Synthesizers; The Mansion on the Hill (Album); Tracks, vocal; Ultimate Spinach, the (Artist); Vocalists (singers); Vocals; Vocals, background; Wexler, Gerald

Subjects: Abramson, Herbert; Ampex corporation.; Audio equipment industry; Carroll, Jimmy; Cleveland (Ohio); Dowd, Tom; Ertegun, Ahmet M.; Ford, Mary, 1924-1977; Hammond organ; Harmony; History of science and technology; Hollywood (Calif.); Lorber, Alan; Miller, Mitch; Moog, Robert S.; Music; New Jersey; New York (N.Y.); Orchestra; Paul, Les; Record labels.; Sedaka, Neil; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Synthesizer music.; Wexler, Jerry

GPS: New York (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.7128, -74.0059
00:59:56 - Background singers and self-contained music groups

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Partial Transcript: And speaking of the word sound, let me go back to the early sixties, and to the, to the beginning.

Segment Synopsis: Lorber begins by relating that different studios produced different recording sounds. Lorber then discusses the advent of self-contained groups with the ability to play their own instruments. Additionally, he discusses utilizing background singers in multi-track recording.

Keywords: Angels, the (Artist); Annie, Mannie, and Frannie; Arrangers; Audio devices; Audio engineering; Baffles; Bass; Bass, electric; Beach Boys, the (Artist); Bell Sound Studios; Boston sound; Cohen, Ellen Naomi "Cass Elliot"; Consoles (recording); Control rooms; Do You Believe in Magic (Album); Doherty, Dennis (Artist); Drummers; Drums; Echoes; Effects, electric; Eliot, Cass "Mama Cass" (Artist); England; French horns; Gobbels; Goldie and the Gingerbreads (Artist); Gospel; Gospel music; Guitars; Guitars, electric; Jacobsen, Erik; Lorber, Alan; Lovin Spoonful, the (Artist); Mamas and the Papas, the (Artist); Miller, Leslie; Mugwumps, the (Artist); Multi-tracking; Music producers; Music producing; Musical groups, self-contained; Orpheus (Artist); Percussion; Performances; Phillips, Anne; Pianos; Recording studios; Recording studios, design; Recording, multi-track; Rehearsals; Sebastian, John; Simpson, Valerie; Sitars; Smith, Eddie; Stewart, Aretha (Artist); Strings; Stuart, Aretha (Artist); Technology; Theremins; Ultimate Spinach, the (Artist); Vocalists (singers); Vocalists, background; Wilson, Jackie (Artist); Wine, Toni; Yanovsky, Zal (Artist)

Subjects: Audio equipment industry; Beach Boys.; Bell (Sound recording label); Doherty, Dennis; Doherty, Dennis, 1941-; Electric guitar.; England; Gospel music.; Guitar; History of science and technology; Jacobsen, Erik; Lorber, Alan; Lovin' Spoonful (Musical group); Mamas and the Papas (Musical group); Mugwumps (Musical group); Music; Percussion; Piano; Record labels.; Sebastian, John; Sebastian, John, 1944-; Sitar; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Theremin.; Ultimate Spinach (Musical group); Yanovsky, Zal

01:10:56 - Recording studio sounds / echo

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Partial Transcript: But you were primarily a producer then?

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses how different studios produced different sounds. He then talks about the use of echo and reverberation in music producing.

Keywords: A&R Recording; Arthur, Brooks; Baffles; Bell Sound Studios; Bennett, Tony (Artist); Brunswick Records; Churches; Columbia Records, Inc.; Decca Records; EMT plates; EMT reverb chambers; Echo (reverberation) chambers; Echo, delayed; Echoes; Eddy, Duane; Elektromesstecknik; Fine, Bob; Great Northern Hotel; Halo; Horowitz, Vladimir (Artist); Hotel America; It's a Good Day (Song); Lee, Peggy; Macy, Phil; Mastering; Mastering studio; Mayfair Recording; Microphones; Miller, Mitch; Mirror Sound; Mirror Sound Studios; Page, Patti (Artist); Ramone, Phil; Recording studios, Capitol Records; Recording studios, Columbia Records, Inc.; Recording studios, RCA Records; Reverberation; Sinatra, Frank (Artist); Smith, Eddie; Speakers; Tanks; Wilson, Jackie (Artist)

Subjects: Arthur, Brooks; Audio equipment industry; Bell (Sound recording label); Bennett, Tony; Bennett, Tony, 1926-; Capitol Records, Inc.; Columbia Records, Inc.; Decca Records (Firm); Eddy, Duane; Fine, Bob; Great Northern Hotel (New York, N.Y.); History of science and technology; Horowitz, Vladimir, 1903-1989; Lee, Peggy; Lee, Peggy, 1920-2002.; Lorber, Alan; Macy, Philip; Microphone; Miller, Mitch; Music; Page, Patti; RCA Records; Ramone, Phil; Record labels.; Sinatra, Frank, 1907-; Sinatra, Frank, 1915-1998.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History; Wilson, Jackie

01:22:59 - Work in Nashville (Tenn.)

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Partial Transcript: But everyone, you know, had a different sound.

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses his collaboration with music producers and artists based in Nashville (Tenn.).

Keywords: A&R Recording; Bell Sound Studios; Bradley, Owen; Bradley’s Barn; Brewer, Teresa; Capitol Records; Columbia Records, Inc.; Fine Recording; Fine, Bob; Gore, Leslie (Artist); Mercury Records; Mirror Sound; Nashville (Tenn.); Nashville Rhythm Section (Artist); New York (N.Y.); Pianos; Quonset Hut Studio; RCA Records; Snoddy, Glen; Strings; Young Love (Song)

Subjects: Audio equipment industry; Bradley, Owen; Brewer, Teresa; Fine, Bob.; Gore, Leslie; History of science and technology; Lorber, Alan; Music; Nashville (Tenn.); Nashville (Tenn.)Sound--Recording and reproducing; Nashville Rhythm Section; New York (N.Y.); Piano; Record labels.; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History

GPS: Nashville (Tenn.)
Map Coordinates: 36.1627, -86.7816
01:25:50 - Bell Sound Studios

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Partial Transcript: But the people, but the people that were recording at Bell, then, primarily, they weren't signed to those labels? Or was there--were they using--

Segment Synopsis: Lorber discusses working at Bell Sound Studios.

Keywords: A&R (artist and repertoire); A&R department; Arthur, Brooks; Associated Recording Studios; Bell Sound Studios; Classical music; Columbia Records, Inc.; Dick Charles Studios; Discographies; Fine, Wilma Cozart; Gabriel, Ethel; Kirshner, Don; Mastering; Mirror Sound; Music producers; Music producers, independent; Nevins and Kirshner; Nevins. Al; Phillips, Anne; RCA Records; Recording studios, demo; Recording studios, demonstration; Schaff, Larry; Schatz, Warren; Women; Women audio engineers; Women in audio engineering; Women in sound engineering; Women sound engineers

Subjects: Arthur, Brooks; Bell (Sound recording label); Columbia Records, Inc.; History of science and technology; Kirshner, Don; Lorber, Alan; Music; Nevins, Al; Phillips, Anne; RCA Records; Record labels.; Schatz, Warren; Sound recording industry; Sound recording industry--History; Sound recordings; Sound--Recording and reproducing; Sound--Recording and reproducing--History