One of the things about being retired is that you don't always know what day it is. I have been buried in the studio since Monday morning mastering "Songs From the Heart" by Joyce Groom. Trying new software really slowed me down, especially when I had to start over because I wasn't pleased with the results. I finally got it uploaded to the disc manufacturer/printer at about 5:00 this evening. Then we went to see the grandchildren for a couple of hours. When we got home I thought I had better get started on tomorrow's blog. That's when Kathy reminded me that it was already Thursday night. Sigh... Time really does fly when you are having fun. I don't think I work much less than when I was gainfully employed, it just that now I get to work on things that I want to do. Except for Kathy, I'm my own boss.
Anyway... back to the mastering story. After a song is recorded, it is edited, mixed, and then mastered. For those of you who don't know what mastering is, it's the final phase of the recording process before a collection of songs is sent in for CD replication or released on line. The first thing you do is make sure all of the endings are cleaned up, take care of fade-outs, and set the spacing before and after each song. I like to have one second before the song starts and two seconds after, so there are a total of three seconds between songs.
The next step is to achieve a tonal balance between songs. You don't want one song to be really bright compared to all the rest, nor do you want any songs to sound like they have no high end frequencies. This is where the real mastering work comes in, and the part that takes the most time. I won't bore you with techno babble and try to explain it, but we use a lot of really amazing software tools to get the job done. (When all is said and done, the best mastering tools in the world still need the human ear to really get it right.) After achieving tonal balance, we balance the loudness of each song with the rest of the songs in the collection.
Occasionally while we are doing this we burn a CD. Not because we are finished, but because we like to check out how it sounds in multiple listening environments. It's good to listen to it at home, on your computer, on your phone, and in your vehicle. Once a CD passes the "car test" you're just a couple of tweaks away from completion.
For the last few years we have relied on our daughter, also named Kathy, for printer-ready CD artwork when we did a recording project. For Joyce's CD, I decided to get some design software and try my hand at preparing artwork for a CD. I really enjoyed it, but I couldn't have done it without YouTube. There are lots of awesome instruction videos for my software, Corel Draw. Here is a link to a 360 degree rendering of the CD art I created--with some solid creative advice from my daughter, Kathy.
Next weekend we will be doing the music for the Christian Motorcyclists Association Wisconsin State Rally. Kathy and I have been CMA members for over ten years. It's an awesome ministry. Hopefully, we'll have some pics and/or videos from the 3-day event to show you next time.