October 2015: Sheer folly to excavate near Air Studios
Composer and Conductor Gavin Greenaway writes in the Camden New Journal:
Further to the ill-informed letter from Simon Neave and Bill Ohm – [here is] a point by point rebuttal concerning work being undertaken in the premises next to Air Studios, Belsize Park.
1. False analogy: “The BBC… recorded thousands of beautiful programmes…” Portland Place has not had a dedicated orchestral studio for at least 20 years. The requirements for recording a 100-piece orchestra are very different from those of recording a radio show in a sound booth. The acceptable noise floor for a CD-quality recording is much lower than for a TV show.
2. Outright conjecture: I’m sure the BBC “production department” did object when contractor noise intruded on recordings. It is simply not possible to build without making noise. Drilling less than 10 metres from any studio will cause problems. In any case, the BBC was refurbishing its own building not being disrupted by some outside agency.
3. Faulty logic: The rumble from a bus or a tube train (not a “few feet away”, a minimum 20 metres in Air’s case), is not the same as the percussive impact of mechanical tools into the ground. Standing 10 metres from a jack-hammer will cause your feet (and ears) to vibrate strongly in a way a tube train 20 metres below you does not.
4. Intentional inverse error: Their argument – a decent studio is robustly sound-proof; Air is susceptible to outside noise, therefore, it is not a decent studio. When the church was being converted, English Heritage would not allow any substantial visual alteration to the hall, so it was not possible to build a room-in-a-room with floating floor.
In any case, this would have diminished or destroyed the complex reverb the space imparts on recordings. There’s a good reason why instruments sound good in churches, and they sound particularly good at Air.
5. There’s no need to spend any more money on expert opinion.
There is another even more compelling reason why the application must be denied. Unless the applicants can guarantee that there is absolutely no chance of damaging the church’s foundations when excavating to within a few metres of its walls, it would be sheer folly to grant permission.
Gavin Greenaway, Weybridge, Surrey
Conductor of hundreds of orchestra recording sessions at Air Studios
Source: Camden New Journal 22 October 2015
Read Air Studios December 2015 News