career of longtime Chicago area audio engineer and notable Chess Records
session recorder Malcolm Chisholm (1929-2003) serves as a window for assessing
the stakes of technological and cultural developments around the birth of Rock
& Roll. Chisholm stands within the traditional art-versus-commerce debate
as an example of the post-World War II craftsman ethos marginalized by an
incoming, corporate-determined paradigm. Contextual maps locate Chisholm’s
style and environment of audio production as well as his impact within the
rebranding of electrified Blues music into mainstream genres like Rock music.
Interviews of former students and professional associates provide first-hand
accounts of core philosophies, approaches, and equipment preferences. Opposing recording
techniques including isolation versus ambience, live recording versus
overdubbing, and the overall tolerance of imperfection distinguish the modern
and traditional approaches.
Keywords: Malcolm Chisholm, Chess Records, recording industry, analog recording, audio production, recording techniques
Linden, Paul. “Malcolm Chisholm: An
Evaluation of Traditional Audio Engineering.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 13, no. 1 (2013): 75-96. https://doi.org/10.25101/13.5