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In memoriam – Walter Sear

Walter E. Sear (1930-2010) was a celebrated inventor and synth pioneer who also bequeathed one of the world's most enduring recording studios in the form of NYC facility Sear Studios, which has paid host to artists as diverse as Bob Dylan and Philip Glass.

The death has been announced of recording engineer, inventor and studio owner Walter E. Sear (1930-2010), reports PSN-e. Having begun his career as a classical tuba player in ensembles based in Philadelphia and New York, Sear made the move into importing and selling the instrument during the late 1950s.

Manufactured to his own specifications, the tubas incorporated metallurgical processes created by Sear himself, reflecting his educational background in chemistry.

Around the same time, he became friends with Robert Moog and ultimately became his sales agent and business partner. As the ’60s progressed, he also became a renowned performer and composer on the Moog synth, contributing to the soundtracks of several major films, including John Schlesinger’s 1969 classic, Midnight Cowboy.

Increasingly positioned at the cutting edge of the music recording world, Sear constructed his first studio, located in New York, in 1963. Still going strong nearly 47 years later, Sear Sound has a prodigious reputation for combining the best of new and vintage studio equipment, and has played host to sessions by artists including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Philip Glass, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Steely Dan and Wilco.

The inspiration inherent in a great live performance and the role of well-trained engineers in capturing these all-important moments were enduring emphases of Sear’s career, reflected in the statement of ‘philosophy’ to be found on the Sear Sound homepage. “Our primary goal is to capture that spark that occurs in live performance and to transfer this to the recording medium,” he wrote. “The ambience, the ‘feel’ of the studio is the most critical element. […] Sound recording is a blend of technology and art.”

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