Professional recording engineer Dean Baskerville '84 gives WP students an insider's look at how great audio recording is done.
To record a live audio performance at a professional level, recording engineers face a host of technological and artistic challenges. When soundwaves leave a mi- crophone, they travel a veritable gauntlet of cables, converters, and “preamplifiers,” all of which influence the quality of sound that emerges on the other end.
Understanding how to control these vari- ables is the focus of a new course at Warner Pacific taught by Dean Baskerville ’84, a Portland-based recording engineer who has worked with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Ever- clear and Pink Martini, in addition to other artists. Baskerville wants to give students a thorough introduction to sound recording using a mixture of physics, professional editing software, and tricks of the trade.
“I tell the students that we have to learn the “Bach” before we rock,’”said Baskerville. “We have to learn some basic principles, ...[from] pre-production, to recording, to overdubbing, to mixing, to mastering, and then to actually manufacturing the product at the end or get- ting it ready for digital download.”
The class became a necessity after the college installed a long-awaited recording studio directly beneath McGuire Auditorium in late 2009. WP music department chair Jennifer Cameron approached Basker ville about teaching a class to train student on how to use the equipment. It was an easy yes for Baskervile,who also teaches recording techniques at Clackamas Community College
“They wanted somebody who was from the field to come in and give a real world perspective of the industry,” said Baskerville, who records both from his home studio in Oregon City, Ore., as well as a number of high-end recording studios around Portland. Basker ville got into recording when he was a student at Warner Pacific in the early 1980’s, going so far as building a small analog recording studio in the basement of one of the former houses on campus. He also participated in recording sessions as a member of the band Rushing Wind, which was comprised of a number of WP alumni. Baskerville’s first professional recording job came in 1986 do- ing bass overdubs at a local recording studio. He’s been at it ever since.
Students say they have great respect for Basker ville’s credentials, but also appreciate how down-to-earth he is.
“Given that Dean has so much experience n the industry, every little detail is something that I can learn from,” said Dean Ober ’13, a dual worship arts leadership and music theory composi- tion major. “There is all the little nuance that separates the amateurs from the pros.”
Baskerville would eventually like to create a second, more advanced course at the college in which students would record a professional demo with a local artist that they recruit and manage. In the meantime, he is enjoying the task of giving students a fun and purposeful introduction to recording.
“It is more than just understanding where to put the key into the ignition,” Baskerville said. “They actually know a little bit about what’s under the hood.”