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Volume 2, Number 9, October/November (AES) 2004
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Analog Ears: Bruce Swedien's Autobiography 'Make Mine Music'

We have changed the names of Marsha Vdovin's two interview columns from 'Analog Dialog' and 'Digital Discourse' to the much more palatable 'Analog Ears' and 'Digital Minds', which sounds nicer and creates a clever tie to Universal Audio's slogan. This month, however, Analog Ears is an excerpt from a new autobiography from Bruce Swedien. Mr. Swedien, engineer extraordinaire and M.T. "Bill" Putnam protégé, just finished his new book 'Make Mine Music' distributed by Hal Leonard. 'Make Mine Music' details Bruce's long and fruitful career in the recording business, including his days under Bill Putnam. Universal Audio will be holding a giveaway of ten copies of Bruce's biography. Here is an excerpt: [-Ed.]

Bruce Swedien's new autobiography, 'Make Mine Music'
"Early in my career, one of my recording industry idols was Milton T., or "Bill," Putnam. He founded Universal Recording Studios in Chicago. Later, Bill moved to California and founded U.R.E.I., United Recording Electronics Industries. (a leading recording electronics manufacturing company). Bill designed some of the greatest, most innovative equipment that we had at the time, but he was also a marvelous recording engineer. He was a pioneer. Many of the techniques we use to this day were invented by Bill Putnam - for instance, the way we use reverb or echo in modern recording desks is, in essence, a Bill Putnam brainchild.

"Many of Bill's accomplishments eventually became standard, common practice in the music recording industry."

Bill Putnam was the father of using tape repeat, the first vocal booth, the first multiple -voice recording, the first 8-track recording trials, experiments with half-speed disc mastering, the design of modern recording desks, the way components are laid out and the way they function, console design, cue sends, echo returns, and multi-track switching.

In 1957, stereo was taking off, and Bill was determined to incorporate many technological innovations into construction on new studios. The United Western studios, still in existence today as both Cello Studios and Allen Sides' Ocean Way Recording, are still considered to be some of the best-sounding rooms ever built.

The location and application of the echo "send" and "return" controls was first conceived in his fertile imagination. That system has remained almost unchanged from Bill's first rather small recording consoles to the incredibly powerful mixing desks of today. Many of Bill's accomplishments eventually became standard, common practice in the music recording industry.

Truly an innovator, Bill Putnam was one of a kind - a bona-fide original. He had a unique perspective on music recording, and he is someone about whom you can rightfully say that he was the first. If you have ever listed to pop music or tried your hand at recording music, Milton T. "Bill" Putnam has touched your life!

Bill Putnam is the man who one could easily refer to as the "Father of Music Recording," as we know it today. At the core of Bill's work was professionalism that is unsurpassed. Also, at the center of Bill's personality was a graciousness that few people exhibit. Another fantastic facet of his character was a not-so-normal sense of humor! I loved him dearly for that!

All I talked about as a kid was Bill Putnam this and Bill Putnam that. Little did I know that one day Bill Putnam would have a lasting impact not only on my career, but on my life, as well. Here's the story of how I met my mentor, in my early years. This little anecdote also demonstrates how intent my mom and dad were in helping me get where I wanted to be in music recording."

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