Audio-Technica, the Recording, Radio and Film Connection (RRFC), a network of unique educational, instructional and mentorship programs developed for aspiring media professionals; and Clyne Media, one of the nation’s premier specialized marketing/public relations agencies, recently hosted the third annual Csaba Petocz Master Class Scholarship at Peter Frampton’s Studio Phenix in the Berry Hill district in Nashville.
The scholarship, which has become an annual audio education event created to honor the legacy of the beloved producer/engineer, was held on November 2, and the lucky scholarship winners were selected by the Recording Connection to attend this advanced audio workshop conducted by four-time Grammy Award-winning mix engineer Chuck Ainlay (Mark Knopfler, Peter Frampton, George Strait, Miranda Lambert). Frampton donated the use of his studio for the day, and four students attended the all-day session.
A three-time Grammy nominee with 37 number-one record credits and 32 platinum or multi-platinum albums, Csaba was one of the greats, living and recording in Los Angeles and Nashville while working closely with the top names in the industry, from Metallica to Larry Carlton, John Michael Montgomery to Alanis Morissette, Aretha Franklin to Elvis Costello, Morrissey, Al Stewart and more.
The workshop, which was open to advanced audio engineering and music production students, had Ainlay focusing on the essentials of being an engineer/producer, with special emphasis on mixing, production and gear, along with the relationship between artist and engineer and how to get the best performance out of an artist.
The day began with Frank Wells, a past president of the Audio Engineering Society and the former chief of technical services for Glenn Meadows’ Masterfonics Studios who worked with Petocz regularly, addressing the students about who Csaba was, his work ethic, his dry sense of humor, his quest for perfection in his work, his ability to choose the right tools/equipment for the job, and how his vision to contribute to a project made him a great engineer and an important collaborator with each artist he worked with.
The sessions then began with Ainlay, along with assistant engineer Todd Tidwell, taking the students into the control room to do a dissection of The Peter Frampton Band’s recent release of the Willie Dixon-penned blues classic “I Just Wanna Make Love to You,” on which Ainlay was credited as co-producer and mixing engineer. The session broke for lunch, followed by a continuation of the “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” dissection, where the students each got a chance to sit at the console and do their own mix. The session wrapped up around 5 p.m. with parting gifts from Audio-Technica and the Recording Connection, followed by dinner at a nearby eatery.
“Csaba was a dear friend of mine, and I feel honored to have been chosen to teach this masterclass and help keep his legacy alive,” states Chuck Ainlay. “I spent a good deal of time talking to the students and trying to emphasize the importance of interaction with the artist – a quality that Csaba always brought to his projects. I also want to thank Peter [Frampton] for donating the use of his studio for this worthwhile event and thank Audio-Technica and Recording Connection for putting this together.”
Roxanne Ricks, Audio-Technica artist relations manager, states, “We are once again honored to hold this annual event that celebrates and furthers the legacy of Csaba Petocz. When I think of Csaba, I always think of his eagerness to help students and young engineers with advice and encouragement, so this event is a testament to his spirit.”
Student/scholarship recipient Alec Wingfield remarks, “Getting to spend time with an engineer of such high reputation as Chuck Ainlay was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of: getting to pick his brain and understand how he uses his gear and the musical touch he adds to the projects. I think it will help me forge my own identity and vision as an engineer moving forward.”
Jones Nelson, another student and scholarship recipient, added, “It’s an incredible experience to come here and get to see how Chuck does things behind the scenes. It was great to see how he’s able to go through and fatten up vocals and piano and guitar tracks. He gave me a lot to think about, and I’ll be deconstructing a lot of the work I’ve done up to this point and re-thinking some of my habits.”
“I learned a lot about how to interact with the musical elements in the engineering process,” states student/scholarship recipient Anthony Vaticalos. “Chuck gave us a lot to consider in what to expect in certain scenarios, different techniques to employ, and how to be a great engineer overall. I especially enjoyed getting some hands-on time on the SSL board.”
Brian Kraft, chief academic officer/COO of Recording Radio Film Connection & Casa Schools, states, “We here at the Recording Connection Audio School are thrilled to be co-sponsors of this event. For three years straight we have been honoring Csaba and we look forward to doing this again and again and again. Our goal is to continue to help the next generation of engineers and producers. It is all about working to your capacity and about bringing your unique gift to the recording studio, as a professional. Just like Csaba did daily.”