Recording arts brings out musicians’ best

When we think of our favorite songs, or our favorite scores, we think of the melody. The musician. The way it makes us feel. But often we forget the amount of work that went into creating that masterpiece. We don’t recognize the faces of the people plugging in the chords and putting in the work to produce music that, in its final form, seems so effortless and otherworldly. We do not see them, but they are there, the producers and audio recorders who help musicians create their sound around the world and on our very own campus.

Many musical artists operate out of the limelight, through multiple layers of production, to ultimately create those final cuts. Such is the nature of the musical arts industry, an increasingly diverse field that relies as much on technological savvy as it does artistic talent.

Kyle Bailey crouches over cords to set up audio equipment

Kyle Bailey sets up the audio for Cole Richards’ performance on a grand piano in the Harlen Adams theater. The technical “behind-the-scenes” nature of Bailey’s work often goes unheralded, but is vital to the final product.

Alum Kyle Bailey, a fall 2017 graduate who earned his music major with a recording arts option, has taken on the mission of creating music for the world to experience and appreciate. His ability to capture music in its purest form has elevated his own pursuits, as well as the pursuits of fellow artists who also seek to add color to the world through their art.

“My love of music drew me to choose my path,” Bailey said. “Now, instead of focusing on my own music, I can help people achieve new heights with their own.”

Already into his budding career, the prodigy has previously worked behind the scenes on hundreds of projects, assisting in production of songs by big-name artists such as Macklemore, Frank Ocean, Mariah Carey, and the Seattle Symphony. After graduation, Bailey began his journey toward becoming a full-fledged recording engineer at Westlake Recording Studios in Hollywood, a hub of the music world.

After playing violin for more than 13 years, Bailey’s love for both music and technology led him to pursue a career in the recording arts, where he saw an opportunity to create sound for fellow artists in a constructive way. His support of other musicians encourages collaboration and peer mentorship in a highly competitive field.

In the project “The Piano Piece,” Bailey, along with University Photographer Jason Halley, compiled sound and images to create a fully immersive musical experience.

Cole Richards playing the piano.

Cole Richards performs on a grand piano in the Harlen Adams theater.

A prime example of Bailey’s supporting role in maximizing recording clarity is exhibited in the project. Bailey used a shotgun microphone with a small diaphragm directed at the sound board of a grand piano to eliminate excessive peripheral noise. The result? A rich, open piano sound.

“If one of those areas, either audio or track recordings, is lacking,” he said, “the entire piece will suffer.”

The product speaks for itself.  But what truly drives Bailey to excel is the satisfaction of the final cut, and the artist’s appreciation for his work.

“There is no better feeling than hearing someone say, ‘I had no idea I could sound like that’ following a recording session,” Bailey said. “Being able to show someone a finished product and seeing their face when they hear it for the first time, all the hard work and detail you put into the project was worth it.”

He emphasized that music and creative expression benefit students and the greater community in ways we don’t always acknowledge or understand: as relievers of stress, depression, and anxiety, as well as aiding in personal development.

“The sheer power that art can communicate is unparalleled by anything in the world,” Bailey said. “It is the true expression of the human condition from the deepest caverns of the heart.”

View the final product of the “The Piano Song” featuring audio recording by Bailey and videograpy by Halley.