Joe Meek – Pioneering Music Producer



Joe Meek (born Robert George Meek; 5 April 1929 Newent, Gloucestershire — d. 3 February 1967 in London) was a pioneering English record producer and songwriter. His work and popular success in the music field is more remarkable since it is known he was tone deaf and could not recognise pitches properly.

His most famous work was The Tornados’ hit “Telstar” (1962) , which became the first record by a British group to hit #1 in the US Hot 100. It also spent five weeks atop the UK singles chart, with Meek receiving an Ivor Novello Award for this production as the “Best-Selling A-Side” of 1962.

Despite not being able to play a musical instrument or write notation, Meek displayed a remarkable facility for writing and producing successful commercial recordings. In writing songs he was reliant on musicians such as Dave Adams, Geoff Goddard or Charles Blackwell to transcribe melodies from his vocal “demos”. He worked on 245 singles, of which 45 were major hits (top fifty).

He pioneered studio tools such as multiple over-dubbing on one- and two-track machines, close miking, direct input of bass guitars, the compressor, and effects like echo and reverb, as well as sampling. Unlike other producers, his search was for the ‘right’ sound rather than for a catchy musical tune, and throughout his brief career he single-mindedly followed his quest to create a unique “sonic signature” for every record he produced.

At a time when many studio engineers were still wearing white coats and assiduously trying to maintain clarity and fidelity, Meek, the maverick, was producing everything on the three floors of his “home” studio and was never afraid to distort or manipulate the sound if it created the effect he was seeking.

Meek was one of the first producers to grasp and fully exploit the possibilities of the modern recording studio. His innovative techniques—physically separating instruments, treating instruments and voices with echo and reverb, processing the sound through his fabled home-made electronic devices, the combining of separately-recorded performances and segments into a painstakingly constructed composite recording—comprised a major breakthrough in sound production. Up to that time, the standard technique for pop, jazz and classical recordings alike was to record all the performers in one studio, playing together in real time, a legacy of the days before magnetic tape, when performances were literally cut live, directly onto disc.

Meek’s style was also substantially different from that of his contemporary Phil Spector, who typically created his famous “Wall of sound” productions by making live recordings of large ensembles that used multiples of major instruments like bass, guitar and piano to create the complex sonic backgrounds for his singers.

In 1995, the American company PMI Audio Group introduced a line of audio equipment named after Joe Meek, due to his influence in the early stages of audio compression. This product line includes a microphone series called “Telstar”, named after Joe Meek’s most famous work.

Meek’s reputation for experimention and innovation in recording music was acknowledged by The Music Producers Guild who created The Joe Meek Award for Innovation in Production in 2009. MPG chairman Mike Howlett said the award was “paying homage to this remarkable producer’s pioneering spirit”. The winner of the inaugural award in 2009 was producer and musician Brian Eno.


From: Ubu: Lonely Joe is a tribute to 1960s record producer Joe Meek who operated from his home studio in a flat above a leather store in Holloway Road, London N1. This single by obscure singer Robb Shenton is curious because Shenton was the name of Joe’s landlady who he shot in 1967 after a row before taking his own life. Were they related?

The Strange Story of Joe Meek Part 1

Bug Bytes-Insect Sound Library & Database

Need a recording of a Reticulitermes flavipes (Eastern subterranean termite) and can’t find it?  Notice item D. “Termite head-banging” Maybe they hit heavy metal.

Press Here To Enter The Site

A. Stored product insect movement and feeding sounds
B. Movement and feeding sounds of soil invertebrates
C. Defensive stridulation by soil insects (dung beetles)
D. Movement and feeding sounds of insects in wood.  Termite head-banging
E. Movement and feeding sounds of insects in plants
F. Buzzing of fruit flies, butterflies, moths, and mosquitoes
G. Fire ants, phorid flies, and their interactions
H. Cricket, katydid, and cicada sounds
I. Examples to distinguish insect sounds from background noise
More sounds: Iowa State Entomology Index,

Ives: The Unanswered Question

Ives: The Unanswered Question (Dudamel, La Scala)


The Unanswered Question is a work by American composer Charles Ives. It was originally the first of “Two Contemplations” composed in 1906, paired with another piece called Central Park in the Dark. As with many of Ives’ works, it was largely unknown until much later in his life, being first published in 1940. Today the two pieces are commonly treated as distinct works, and may be performed either separately or together.Contents [hide]
1 Composition
3 Notes
4 References
5 External links

The full title Ives originally gave the piece was “A Contemplation of a Serious Matter” or “The Unanswered Perennial Question”. His biographer Jan Swafford called it “a kind of collage in three distinct layers, roughly coordinated.”[1] The three layers involve the scoring for a string quartet, woodwind quartet, and solo trumpet. Each layer has its own tempo and key. Ives himself described the work as a “cosmic landscape” in which the strings represent “the Silences of the Druids—who Know, See and Hear Nothing.” The trumpet then asks “The Perennial Question of Existence” and the woodwinds seek “The Invisible Answer”, but abandon it in frustration, so that ultimately the question is answered only by the “Silences”.
Ives polished the score in 1908, then from 1930-1935 he worked on a version of The Unanswered Question for orchestra. The premiere performance of this version occurred on May 11, 1946, played by a chamber orchestra of graduate students at the Juilliard School and conducted by Theodore Bloomfield. The same concert featured the premieres of Central Park in the Dark and String Quartet No. 2. The original version of the work was not premiered until March 1984, when Dennis Russell Davies and the American Composers Orchestra performed it in New York City.

The World’s First Drum Machine-The Rhythmicon 1931


From Wiki:In 1930, the avant-garde American composer and musical theorist Henry Cowell commissioned Russian inventor Léon Theremin to create the remarkably innovative Rhythmicon. Cowell wanted an instrument with which to play compositions involving multiple rhythmic patterns impossible for one person to perform simultaneously on acoustic keyboard or percussion instruments. The invention, completed by Theremin in 1931, can produce up to sixteen different rhythms—a periodic base rhythm on a selected fundamental pitch and fifteen progressively more rapid rhythms, each associated with one of the ascending notes of the fundamental pitch’s overtone series. Like the overtone series itself, the rhythms follow an arithmetic progression, so that for every single beat of the fundamental, the first overtone (if played) beats twice, the second overtone beats three times, and so forth. Using the device’s keyboard, each of the sixteen rhythms can be produced individually or in any combination. A seventeenth key permits optional syncopation. The instrument produces its percussion-like sound using a system, proposed by Cowell, that involves light being passed through radially indexed holes in a series of spinning ‘cogwheel’ discs before arriving at electric photoreceptors.

Press Here To Play The OnLine Rhythmicom



Press Here:  To Listen To The Actual Sounds Of The Rhythmicon As Mentioned Below

In the course of research for an article published in Organized Sound, Margaret Schedel recorded the rhythmicon housed in the Smithsonian. The sound is surprisingly percussive, almost drum-like. The pitch is unclear in the recording she sent me and she, too, remarked on this fact. The samples have been used in John P. Young’s work, “Ars Algorhythmica,” a piece for didgeridoo and electronics performed at the SEAMUS 2005 conference in Muncie, Indiana.

The Music Notation Project


The Music Notation Project explores alternative music notation systems that seek to improve upon traditional music notation in order to make reading, writing, and playing music more enjoyable and easier to learn.

Press Here To Go To The Music Notation Web Site

The mission of the Music Notation Project is to raise awareness of the disadvantages of traditional music notation, to explore alternative music notation systems, and to provide resources for the wider consideration and use of these alternatives.

We believe that traditional western music notation has some unfortunate aspects that can be improved upon, aspects that make reading and learning to play music much more difficult than it needs to be. We hope that our efforts will help make reading, writing, and playing music more enjoyable and easier to learn.

The Music Notation Project was established in January of 2008 to carry on the work begun by its predecessor, the Music Notation Modernization Association. Our five-person governing board is Kevin Dalley, Michael Johnston, Doug Keislar, John Keller, Paul Morris. We are a not-for-profit entity, but we have not yet incorporated (and do not yet have 501(3)(c) status).