A basement of sound at Pfoho

by Josh McTaggart

A music revolution is gaining pace in the basement at Pforzheimer House. Down a dark and winding hallway, behind a locked door, a small collection of rooms are waiting to be radically transformed this summer.

Standing in the middle of one of those spaces -- a dilapidated recording studio -- sophomore Matt Sheets explains that over the decades, the space has been run into the ground. For the past few years the recording studio has been out of action. Last year, when Sheets joined Quad Sound Studios, the organization that is in charge of the space, the mixing desk stood on a wooden board supported by some concrete blocks, and shelves were filled with equipment that could be classified as antiques. The young musician quickly decided something had to change if the recording studio were to be saved.

Sheets believes that having a student-run recording facility that also trains students to serve as engineers for the facility would be an asset to student musicians. Sophomore Ben Nuzzo, who is a composer, agrees. "The idea of having Quad Sound Studios would be an ideal way to get the music that I write actually recorded," he adds.

"We hope to provide a full service recording studio," Sheets explains, "where musicians can come in and focus on their music instead of having to worry about the equipment."

To provide this recording service, which Sheets says will be free to all Harvard students, Quad Sound Systems is in the process of raising $20,000. The group has undertaken serious fundraising and gained corporate sponsorship this semester, and with a final push this summer they hope to reach their goal by the start of the fall term.

According to sophomore Mark Grozen-Smith, this high-end investment in a recording studio would spur on exciting and new musical collaborations across campus. "I think a studio could motivate original music a lot more," says Grozen-Smith, who himself is the lead singer of a yet-to-be-named band. According to the frontman, his band is left to record their songs on an iPhone in the hope of assessing the music they’re making. "A recording studio would motivate us to write a few original songs," he says, while adding that it would help a wider range of bands to have an acknowledgeable presence on campus.

If Quad Sound Studios can reach its fundraising target over the summer, Sheets is hopeful that he and his team can cultivate a place for high quality musical collaboration on campus. "Our studio won’t be genre specific," he says, "and everybody and anybody can come through to use the space." With musicians on campus in need of greater technical support in their recording endeavours, it seems Sheets and his team has found a niche in the Harvard arts world.

Fundamentally, the group is committed to promoting and celebrating student-created music at the university. With a burst of enthusiasm, Sheets says with a smile, "Our goal is to facilitate the growth of Harvard’s music community via a recording studio."