Research Proposal

What I want to study

I want to study exhaust notes of performance cars to see if the sound is a massive factor when it comes to wanting to own and drive one. What sound of a car would give the most satisfaction?

Why I want to study it

Does the exhaust note make the listener decide between performance cars and non performance cars?

If the sound is a massive factor in a performance car how would this work with an electric car?  Would adding a false exhaust note to an electric car give the same effects as having a real exhaust note. Could synthesized exhaust notes be the future in car sound?

Formula one vs Formula e exhaust sound

If we look at extreme performance cars as an example. Using the sound difference between an f1 car and a fe car. With the difference of sound the f1 car is more exciting, interesting and greater performance sound than the electric versions sound.

Mercedes AMG exhaust note design

A brief insight into the design of AMG’s exhaust note. The do’s and don’ts of designing a exhausts note. Lion roar, Water fall, Jumbo Jet these are all sounds that give a feeling something strong powerful.

The video suggests that the sound has to reflect the image of the car. A supper car needs to be seen and sounds like it is strong and powerful machine.

Exhaust Mechanical Design

This video is an insight into the mechanical design of an exhaust system. It also goes on to look at the tuning of an exhaust note for desired sounds.

Synthesized Exhaust Notes

In this demonstration video the company have designed technology that can replicate other car exhaust noise to be played in the cabin when driving around. They replicate supper cars, American v8 and modern import car sounds. The sound matches the revs of your engine through been plugged into the cigarette lighter, as it is able to read the electronic signal from the alternator through it.

This invention seems to be a great idea but in my project I would like to see if this technology could be brought into electric cars. I would like to test to see if this would make a car enthusiast be more open to the idea of an electric car. This would become a test to see whether sound of the exhaust is a massive factor in deciding what car to buy.

This brings up a few issues:

-I will have to create an audio tool that is capable of recreating a desirable car exhaust note to be able to test this idea out.

-Testing for the project could be difficult, as I would either have to test the idea through video clips or a real car.

-I would have to be able to understand the in depth mathematics surrounding the design and tuning of an exhaust note.

Change of Question

After a mentoring meeting, I have decided that this project will create to many issues for myself and could be potentially impossible to complete. As I have never designed an audio tool before or have a great understanding of mathematics.

I have decided to change the project to an area of study I have some background knowledge in and I am passionate about. As a DJ and promoter I run events that are based around house and techno music. I enjoy this music on the level where I listen to it and play it out to people but I have never had the opportunity to investigate house music.

 Rough Idea

Areas I could to study

  • What makes “underground music” so appealing to the people. With the rise of deep house music in the uk charts in the last two years. How did this happen? What is it about house and techno music plus sub genres being acceptable to play in both underground clubs and pop clubs . How does this music have this effect on people to make them dance ? (Drums, Bassline, Synth, Vocals.)
  • Is the rise in the scene down to bedroom producer being able to get producing records for the clubs in the comfort of the own home?
  • Has electronic music gone full circle and back to its rawest form? Of drums baselines vocals and synth.
  • What creates the euphoric nature of house and techno music?
  • How has this had an effect on the music scene? Is this a reason why vinyl sales have risen back from the dead? Has this increased record sales and purchasing of music? Nightclub sales? Club nights? Festival sales? Has this caused the increase of sound system culture? Is this a way of life which is stress free?
  • Is it all about the partying or is it more than that? Is the new culture of house and disco created a place where everyone is welcome, everyone is equal. Is it an escape from reality where the people are ruled by systems. Social class, work,
  • Has the boom of electronic music increased the sales of home studio equipment and has this then increased the amount of producers in the scene?
  • Is this the fall of the mainstream club with its dress codes, table service and high prices

Areas to look at inside house music

  • Background of electronic music
  • The art of playing to a crowd
  • Where the UK deep house movement began
  • Construction of tracks where and how
  • The way the music is played. DJ’s style and techniques
  • Where the music is played. Club/ festival/ anywhere with a system brought in
  • The culture that has been created
  • Musical analysis
  • Test popular house tracks against underground house tracks ie. Duke Dumont vs Dodd terry

Draft Question

After my meeting with my supervisor, I have no managed to pin point my question to look at a specific area of study and not try and cover most of my ideas.

I plan to study the rise of the UK house music and what the effects are on the underground scene.

Question refinement

What effect has the rise of house music in the mainstream scene had on the underground house scene?

Draft Aim and Objectives


  • The main aim of this research project is to highlight the fact that mainstream house music has had a transformational effect on the underground house music scene
  • Another aim is to research production methods from the rise of house music and compare and contrast them with the methods used in modern day.
  • A secondary aim is to understand if underground house music has completed a full circle back to its roots before mainstream music was seen to have an effect on it


  • To develop an understanding of the characteristics of present day mainstream house music, to gain knowledge on the type of sound that is created by this genre.
  • To Research the characteristics of present day underground house music to gain knowledge on the type of sound that is created in this genre.
  • To compare and contract present day mainstream and underground house music in order to see the differences and similarities to show that the rise of mainstream house music has had an effect on underground house music.
  • Understand the production methods of present day underground house music to gain an understanding of the style and techniques used, using digital equipment to make this type of music.
  • Understand the production methods of underground house music when it was original created during the 1980s and 1990s to gain an understanding of how they were put together using analog methods
  • To compare and contrast the production methods of underground house music from the 1980s and 1990s to present day to show that they methods have changed but the style of music has not.

Project Aim Final

After another meeting with my supervisor, I have went away and worked on the aim for my project so that a project and dissertation can be created from the one aim. This was a useful task to allow to me to see what I want to study and receive from completing the project and dissertation.

The aim of this project is to investigate the development of house music as a style from its roots in soul and disco to its emergence as a modern style.

  • Research the sounds, musical structures and production methods that define the (classic and contemporary) house style?
  • Analyze a range of style-defining house tracks and use the results to record and produce 4 house tracks, 1 in a ‘classic 80s’ house style, and 1 in a ‘contemporary’  style

Research Proposal

Research into House Music

The documentary “Pump Up The Volume” is where I started to look at the history of house music. After watching this full documentary, it has encouraged me to complete this project. It has all got me thinking about house music more than a just a style of track.

The documentary is of a high standard and features the ideas and opinions of legends in the house music scene. This documentary however doesn’t fuller answer my dissertation question, as it doesn’t look at the modern house sound or compare the two. Following this a literacy research document will be created surrounding the history of house music.

History of House Contextual Review

Contextual review

After spending a couple of weeks reading on the history of house, this contextual review was written for the submission in the research proposal

In this contextual review it will look at the history of house, the production methods and musical structure of classic and modern day house music. The review will highlight areas where there is a lot of information about musical structures and how the authors all compliment each other’s books or journals. The review will also highlight the areas of the projects that there is a lack written work of a high standard to support ideas and arguments brought up by forums and videos. The review will begin with the history of the house music genre then move on to the musical structures and production techniques for creating house music

Snoman (2009) states “That the term “house music” is thought to have originated as a reference to a Chicago nightclub called The Warehouse, which existed from 1977 to 1983” (Snoman, 2009)

Borden (1992) House music was firstly created in Chicago in the 1980’s is was a hiybrid of disco features an “infectious syncopated sound” that had a bpm of around 125 (Borden, 1992)

Kyles(2011) agrees with Borden and Snoman but states that house music “flourished” as it  was built from danceable disco classics (Kyles,2011)

Brewster (2000) interviewed Frankie Knuckles about the begging of house music. Between 1977 and 1981 that the words house music didn’t mean a genre it was an attitude. The music and parties between these periods were intense but the people and the events were very pure. The nightclubs at this time were spiritual and a sanctuary for the people. For the early years house music was a feeling and a rebellious taste of music compared to the chart music of the time. If a song was labelled with the title of house music this meant it was cool, underground and definitely something you’d never here on the radio. As house music grew the distinctive sounds of house was the Rolland 909 drum machine. Brewster (2000) states that the 909 became the standard component of a house record. (Brewster, 2000)

To carry on from where Brewster left off All Music had written an article about house music and its structure. House music is a danced based music which has a four on the floor bass drum pattern with the time signature of 4/4 meaning four beats per bar with the beats being the kick drum. On top of the kick drum off beat hi hats and off beat baselines. All of the above have similar characteristics to early disco music. House music today still uses the four on the floor bass drum and the offbeat hi hats as a fundamental part of house music. (All Music)

Church (2010) also states what All Music stated about house music production but Church (2010) also adds on this structure by talking about that house sound growing when the Roland TB-303 bass synthesizer started to be used in early house music along with the Roland TR-808 and the TR-909 drum machines, this started of as house music but soon created sub genres of the house music genre. The sound of the TB-303 soon became the iconic sound of acid house. (Church, 2010) As Brewster (2000) said these instruments became the distinctive sound for house music.

Hawkens (2003) also agrees with Church and Brewster but builds upon their ideas on musical structure and production methods. Hawkins article is about the pace of house music 125 bpm which transports “you to a destination far removed from the grim realities of everyday life” it then goes on to talk about musical structure of a break, build up and drop from view of a clubber listening to the tracks in a night club.  The vocals come in slowly getting layered up to a point where the vocals hit a “plateau” then the bass drum, hi hats and percussion drop from the track along with the bass line. Leaving the vocal on its own for a section then the beat and the bass line comes pounding back through then all the section play together creating a euphoric atmosphere. (Hawkens, 2003)  

The point for the research in the house music genre and musical structure is to build a firm understanding of where the genre evolved.  It is also to highlight the key musical structures like the 4/4 bass drums and the offbeat hi hats, which give the rhythmic sound of the house genre. It also highlights the original instruments that were used to create the sound like the Roland 808 and 909 drum machines. These are the machines that give house music it classic sound. Using the above information from the review, this will help create the basses for new research on the classic house sound and modern day house music sound. So that the two classic house tracks and two modern house can be created and tested to see if the sounds, musical structures and production methods can be identified for both styles. This research also highlighted that there is a lot of literature on the history of house and the classic music template but little information on the more modern day house sound. The rational behind this research project is to define what are the sounds, musical structures and production methods that define the classic and modern house style? The reasoning for this is to show the development of the genre and production methods from the 1980s.


All Music. (). House : Significant Albums, Artists and Songs, Most Viewed. Available: Last accessed 14 Nov 2014

BORDEN, J., 1992. The New Chicago Sound: House Music Labels Spin Around the Globe. Crain’s Chicago Business, 15(50), pp. 15.

Brewster, Bill, & Frank Broughton 2000 Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey, Grove Press. ISBN 0-8021-3688-5 and in UK: 1999 / 2006, Headline.

Church, Terry (2010-02-09). “Black History Month: Jesse Saunders and house music”. BeatPortal. Retrieved 2014-11-3.

KYLES, K., 2011, Jul 07. Party, people. Chicago Tribune, 26. ISSN 10856706.

Snoman, Rick (2009). The Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques — Second Edition. Oxford, UK: Elsevier Press. p.23

STAN HAWKINS . ( 2003). Analyzing Popular Music. Feel the beat come down: house music as rhetoric. (5), 80-102

Project Methodology

After completing the contextual review on the history of house music. The methodology for the project was researched and written up for submission in for the research proposal hand in.

The methodology for the project will use qualitative methods to research and to gain data. The project will use creative processes on production methods and musical structures. It will then use focus groups, case studies and contextual analysis to gather data.

The focus group will listen and discuss house music as a genre. It will then look at evolution form the classic 1980’s to 2014. The participants will be a mixture of DJ’s, sound engineers and music lovers to get the opinion from professionals and music lovers with a good knowledge of house music. A focus group will be conducted, as this will help illustrated genre defying moments in the house music scene. It will also allow data to be gathered on production methods and musical structures of house tracks. The data will then be analysed and evaluated so it can be used in contracting a strategy guide for building house tracks. (Stokes, (2002).

A contextual analysis will be created to support project question. It will look history of house music and the growth of house music from the 1980’s to the modern day. It will also build an understanding of theoretical concepts and terminology by look at the musical structures and production skills of the classic house music and the modern day house music equivalent. The data will be analysed and evaluated so it can highlight area areas where there will be an information gap. The contextual analysis will be carried out to gather data for the strategy guide. (Rowley, (2004)

There will then be intrinsic media case studies to understand the case of genre deifying house tracks to show the growth in the genre. Media case studies will be done on genre defying tracks to understand what makes a house record. The case studies will look musical structures, timbre and production skills. The case studies will be detailed as the will be in depth about how the classic house and modern house tracks are produced. The research data from the case studies will then be analysed and evaluated and gathered into a strategy guide so house tracks can be created. (Cousin, (2005).

Then there will be the creation of sample audio testing out the research data to create audio research in terms of musical structure and production techniques to see if the research for the strategy guide works in making house music.


Glynis Cousin. (2005). Journal of Geography in Higher Education. . 29

Jane Stokes (2002). How to do media & cultural studies. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Jennifer Rowley Frances Slack, (2004),“Conducting a literature review”, Management Research News, Vol. 27 Iss 6 pp. 31 -39

Research Proposal Hand In

The research proposal has been handed in and I am now awaiting feedback on the document. When writing the proposal I found it challenging as I was unsure if what I had been working on was correct, so this left me with low confidence on my efforts. I was on sure about the project methodology section as it was unclear on how many and what types of methodological approaches your project could take. After speaking with other students on other courses I was unsure about this issue.

I am now awaiting results to see what changes have to be made to my project so that I can start the second semester positively.

Received Feedback.

After receiving the feedback, I have to get fix my objectives for the project so I have a clear view on what I am going to do. I also need to work on the methodology for the project. I need to make it more concise and not trying to complete to many methodological approaches. I will be meeting my mentor next week so will ensure I speak to them about this and how to move forward. Edits of the methodology for the project and the literature review will be uploaded after this.


The research proposal section proved to be difficult at first as I struggled to get a set question for a couple of months as I was unsure if I even wanted to study my original idea of synthesized car exhaust notes. I think changing my project to looking at the evolution of house music was beneficial for me on a personal level as well as for the project. Learning about house music and its growth was very interesting.

At first finding research was a struggle but after watching the documentary “Pump up the volume” it gave me a more search terms. This helped me to build the foundation for my research proposal and project.


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