Here in the Music Department, we serve every type of person related to music: aspiring jazz singers, community newspaper music critics, authors penning books on SWP hip-hop, K-Pop purists, and more.
The home recorder—one dedicated by choice or necessity to recording outside of a traditional studio—is one of this librarian’s favorites. That’s why we’re thrilled to continue hosting a series of free, open-to-all workshops with the DIY Recording Meetup.
The brainchild of Common Room Studios, the DIY Recording Meetup has been hosting free audio-recording workshops in the Parkway Central Library's Room 405 since October. Common Room builds fulfilling free lessons with local partners and walk you through the ins and outs of recording your own music.
You can view a recent recap with pictures to see what a workshop is like and fine out more info about upcoming sessions below:
Recently, the Free Library got a chance to interview the founder of DIY Recording, Michael Pechter. We touched on music, the state of making it, and the recording community in Philadelphia:
Free Library: Tell us how you got started with DIY Recording and what are its goals?
Michael Pechter: I got started with our DIY Recording group for a few reasons. Just over a year ago, I came up with an idea for a recording makerspace, a place where people could come and use recording equipment as if they were using a gym. The cost of the gear and space could be spread across many people, instead of everyone just building studios in their basement. I envisioned a community of musicians collaborating and inspiring each other, so I thought a good first step would be to build that community.
While this studio idea is still in my mind, I'm more focused on the community for its own sake right now. I enjoy helping people through the discomfort of starting something new, so this has become my main goal.
Free Library: Why did you decide to hook up with the Parkway Central Library and how has the experience been so far?
MP: Last summer, we had a venue crisis. Our venue, until then, was rather unreliable and I'd exhausted my list of potential new homes. Someone in our group put me in touch with the Library's Music Department and they jumped on it. I was surprised, but glad to see our mission and work resonate with them. So far, it has been seamless. The Library has provided us with an excellent home and we have seen our attendance numbers steadily increase since transplanting there.
Free Library: Tell us about some of your other musical projects.
MP: I've been working on my own music for a long time with a group called Snagwing. Much of the stuff we've done in the past was recorded by me, but (with a heavy heart) we went into Miner Street Recordings in November and recorded an EP, "Triangle."
Free Library: What interested you in recording and recording tech?
MP: When I left college a few years ago, I was in a bit of an identity crisis. I had been a drumset player for years, but now I found myself living with my parents, far from any other musicians to play with. Similar stories abound. I had been teaching myself guitar and piano for a while, so my thought was that I would just mangle together my weird ideas on my laptop. So recording started as a creative tool for me. I didn't realize that production would interest me so much, and the technical side of things gave it a nice analytic/creative symbiosis.
Free Library: As a musician, where do you see Philadelphia’s place in the global (or Saturnalian, in Sun Ra’s case) musical map? Or—what’s so special about music in Philadelphia?
MP: Philadelphia is going through seismic shifts these days, it seems. Demographic changes, gentrification, "up-and-coming" neighborhoods: I think we all know this story. I'm definitely a part of it, too, and I think my motivation is no different. I wanted an exciting life when I moved here and I continue to want a purposeful life. These changes affect everything in the city and one of the most obvious musical changes is the springing-up of so many excellent venues. We have fantastic artists who are doing their work here, but my cynical side rushes to say that this doesn't make us special: It makes us on par with everybody else.
What makes us special is the people. I work with or have worked with Brian McTear of Weathervane Music, Stanford Thompson of Play On, Philly!, and Jessica Craft of Rock to the Future. Besides just making music, these people are investing their hearts in the community.
What could really put us over the edge, though, is lifting the need for a permit on music with vocals in bars and restaurants. Dude with a guitar needs a permit to sing in a bar? What's up with that?
The DIY Recording Meetup occurs mostly monthly at the Parkway Central Library. Don’t miss the next round of free recording workshops on March 31, April 28 in Room 108 and May 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Room 405. And don't forget to visit the Music Department as well for our collection of books about recording, building a home studio, MIDI making, and more!