Making A Brilliant Record Is Really Hard, Unless…

Mastering a finished album of songs is really difficult.  There are books written about it.  People pay mastering experts loads of money to do a good job of it.  It takes hours of painstaking work.  You have to have critical listening skills and lots of patience to show every song at its best, while making sure the entire album sounds like a single artistic statement.  It’s really difficult, unless…

The songs are already in an artistically satisfying order, with sensible transitions, that gives the album a holistic flow and the individual tracks are well-engineered and sensitively mixed.

Mixing tracks is really hard.  Getting the track to sound good as an ensemble is a dark art and practitioners skilled in it command high rates.  It can take hours of trial and error to get a good mix, even if you have read all the books and spent time working out how to emulate other good mixes.  It’s really difficult, unless…

The individual tracks are recorded well, with good microphone placement, great, passionate performances and the song has a fantastic arrangement.  It gets even easier if the mixing engineer is adept at using just the right balance, pan, effects and dynamics to make each individual part stand out cleanly in the mix, without becoming lost in the mud.  The arrangement simplifies the flow and helps the mixing engineer bring out the emotion and dynamic impact of the song.  A good arrangement is really crucial.

Arranging is really hard.  Getting each musical part to flow together with the others, in a coherent way, without jarring the listener, is difficult.  Knowing which instruments to put where, which timbres to choose, how to make them sound dynamic, what to feature and how to make the verse and chorus stand their ground, in the song, takes real skill.  It’s hard to do, unless…

The song is really well written, with a good structure, recorded by artists that are well-rehearsed and skilled on their respective instruments, with a creative direction lead by somebody passionate about the message of the music.  Each artist’s sound is recorded with ideal microphone placement and it picks up on every nuance of their soulful and immersive performance.  Getting a great recording of a superb performance is super difficult, unless…

The musicians really care about the song they are recording.  They have their chops together and know how to create deftly and innovate with their instruments.  They put their heart and soul into the song they are creating.  They could sound good on anything, but have spent care and attention in developing a signature sound that is all their own.  Getting a bunch of musicians to care about the song they are singing and playing is exceedingly difficult, unless…

The songwriter has written from the heart, having taken the time to observe humanity and write, in a few succinct words and musical bars, what everybody else is thinking, but bringing it to affective emotional life in a way that only the right melody, harmony and rhythm can.  The songwriter has perfected his song writing craft through years of practice and study.  Nobody can say quite as well, in music, what he says, the way he says it.  People connect with his music and his message.  Writing a really good song is so very difficult, unless…

The songwriter loves humanity enough to even try.

Actually, the entire process is fuelled by nothing more than love.  Love and gratitude.  George Martin and the Beatles were right.  If you can love life, humanity and music; if you can be sincerely grateful for the opportunity, your gifts and the contributions of those willing to help bring the song to life; you can make a brilliant record.  It’s not that hard after all.

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About tropicaltheartist

You can find out more about me here: https://michaeltopic.wordpress.com/. There aren’t many people that exist in that conjunction of art, design, science and engineering, but this is where I live. I am an artist, a musician, a designer, a creator, a scientist, a technologist, an innovator and an engineer and I have a genuine, deep passion for each field. Most importantly, I am able to see the connections and similarities between each field of intellectual endeavour and apply the lessons I learn in one discipline to my other disciplines. To me, they are all part of the same continuum of creativity. I write about what I know, through my blogs, in the hope that something I write will resonate with a reader and help them enjoy their own creative life more fully. I am, in summary, a highly creative individual, but with the ability to get things done efficiently. Not all of these skills are valued by the world at large, but I am who I am and this is me. The opinions stated here are my own and not necessarily the opinion or position of my employer.
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