Audio Recording = Architecture
To me, making a record with an artist can be similarly equated to building a house, apartment, condo, office building, etc...., it takes time, planning, the right people, money, drive, and perseverance.
Allow me to preface that I grew up in a household where my father was a journeyman carpenter for 18 years, he built two houses that my family lived in, and my brother became an architect. An architect is a person who plans, designs and might even oversee the construction of buildings. I will use the example of building a house to compare alongside the building of a recording project.
When an architect builds a structure (house, apartment complex, condominiums, store, skyscrapers, etc...), there are many stages to get to the end result. Same with creating a song and an album. You have a foundation to which you build up the project.
1. In this case, think of the architect as the musical artist. They create the songs.
2. Next would be the materials contractor, or in music, the producer. Together, the artist and the producer orchestrate and arrange the songs.
3. Then you have the laymen and framing carpenters (or builders), which can be compared to the recording engineer.. They create the foundation that everything else is built upon.
4. Next the producer continues to guide the artist throughout the project. Trying different tempos, key signatures, harmonic approaches, adding and/or subtracting auxiliary sounds. Examples:
5. During the song's evolution, the mixing engineer is there to make it all fit together, much like a finishing carpenter. Mixing engineer adjusts the levels of the instruments using:
Other techniques to make sure the song is sounding just the way the client wants.
Once the songs are as great as can be in the hands of a mixing engineer, It’s off to the mastering engineer. They can be compared to an interior designer and/or a landscape architect. Mastering engineers take the final mixes and they do subtle, but necessary, adjustments - using the same type of effects as the mixing engineer to make sure that each song works great from one to the next on the album, the frequencies are sitting just right, the volume levels are at their peak performance, and it has all the right processes to fit on your medium of choice (CD, streaming, vinyl, cassette)
Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are on this.
Thanks and have a great week. Check out the blog every Friday.
-Zach T Fell