Recording industry legends Chuck Ainlay and George Massenburg will make use of Ball State’s 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art recording facilities, recording and producing a song written and performed by Ball State faculty. Topics of the workshop will include microphone placement and production techniques. The METAlliance co-founders will take turns producing and engineering to give participants a unique insight into workflow and technique.

We  interviewed Dr. Christoph Thompson, co-director of the Music Media Production program, and Dr. Scott Routenberg, assistant professor of music performance (jazz piano), about the upcoming event.

How did this collaboration come to life? 

CT: As a recording program it is incredibly important to frequently bring in top-tier industry professionals. It keeps the program relevant since we can get input from the industry and other professionals on what the latest trends are as well as their experiences and opinions.It also keeps the professional faculty on their toes, since a recording program with world class facilities will be expected to have faculty that lives up to that environment. Most importantly, we must always provide an authentic learning experience to our students and enhance their studies through workshops with inspiring world class artists. Bringing in world famous recording engineers is really the equivalent of having a virtuoso give a masterclass to instrumentalists.  

This specific collaboration, no doubt exceptional in its quality, is one of many workshops and masterclasses that I have established for the MMP program. We have on average four workshops per semester, with one major event annually. Bringing George Massenburg and Chuck Ainlay to campus was always a goal since both of them are not only amazing engineers but most of all excellent educators and lecturers. 

SR: Christoph Thompson informed me of the opportunity to record a single produced by industry legends George Massenburg and Chuck Ainlay; he arranged the event and will be coordinating all details. I hired Dr. Thompson to record, mix and master my last two jazz piano trio albums on Summit Records, “Every End is a Beginning” (2017) and “Supermoon” (2018). We have been open to cross-departmental collaboration opportunities since.   

What is your connection to George Massenburg and Chuck Ainlay? 

CT: Apart from the fact that everyone in pro audio knows who George Massenburg is, I have worked with George before when he did a guest lecture in 2016 for our MMP students. He was an amazing presenter and the students really connected with him. Ever since then I planned to bring him on campus for a longer workshop. I worked with Chuck last summer during our Music Production Boot Camp. He drove up from Nashville and we spent a day tracking a group in our studios and teaching recording techniques. The chemistry was great so we stayed in touch and figured out a way to make this workshop happen. George and Chuck are both part of the METAlliance which is a group of world famous recording engineers who have dedicated themselves to education and to maintaining high standards in audio.  

What else will they be involved in besides the recording session with Dr. Routenberg? 

CT: There will be a Keynote address that is open to the public on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Other than the workshop there will be plenty of interaction with the students, Q&A as well as getting feedback for the faculty. George Massenburg is known for being at the cutting edge of not only technology but also audio education. This workshop will be a learning experience for faculty as well. 

What is the significance of recording with George Massenburg and Chuck Ainlay? 

CT: George and Chuck between the two of them have recorded the who is who of the music industry. They will give the students a unique insight into their workflow, their individual approaches to recording and microphone technique. It is important to note that this will be as much of a musical process as it is a technical one. George and Chuck will produce the song, which means that they will actively shape what is happening musically. The MMP students will see a song take shape and go through different sounds and arrangements, all in real time.

What are you recording during this session? 

SR: We will be recording an original R&B composition of mine that I wrote and produced in 2004 titled “Through Your Eyes,” for which I also wrote the lyrics.  The composition won The Heineken Music Initiative/The ASCAP Foundation R&B Grant Program for the city of Miami in 2004.  I will be recording the piece with my trio, which features my jazz colleagues Nick Tucker on bass and Cassius Goens III on drums, and we will feature my Jazz Piano Concentration Major Tommy Schilb (sophomore) on lead vocals.  There might be some other guest musicians on backup horns and vocals…

What are you looking forward to during this recording session? 

SR: I am looking forward to seeing how these well known recording engineers and producers shape my composition to bring the most out of the players and the final product. 

Will the recording be available to the public or find its way onto an album? 

CT: The recording will likely be available to our students to learn from and study. Depending on what Scott wants to do with the song, it is possible to release it on a label. 

SR: It is a bit soon to say if this recording will someday be part of an album…perhaps it could be released as a single.  At any rate, it should certainly be released to the public so that everyone can hear the incredible quality of music that can be recorded and produced in Ball State’s MMP Studios!