Re: Mastering EA was French Touch

Subject: Re: Mastering EA was French Touch
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Sun Oct 30 2005 - 05:03:53 EST

At 02:58 30/10/2005, you wrote:
>This is part of a discussion that has taken place in many arts.
>If one writes a book, there will be an editor, but imagine an editor for a
>composer ... "Dear Harry. Your Symphonic Dance Sketches is good, but needs
>some work. The third dance is clearly too long and the contra-bassoon part
>may be better put into the tuba and two soli double-basses."

That's because composers traditionally have much bigger egos than writers. :-)

Or at the risk of being tedious and referring yet again to the narrative
conversation, editorship works for writing because it's much easier to see
what a writer is trying to say and how successfully they're trying to say
it. And also which words can be removed, because most people over-write and
the finished book object needs to fit a word count.

Because music lacks that semantic precision, there's a lot more hand-waving
involved and it's usually assumed - not always correctly - that the
composer knows best.

Oddly enough in pop it's standard practice for a CD to feature a cast of
thousands, from session musicians who will usually offer some creative
input, to producers who are very approximately equivalent to editors, to
mixing, recording and mastering engineers. Similarly large-scale film music
will feature arrangers, orchestrators, and other subcontractors who again
add a creative contribution.

It's only really art music where the artist is expected to do almost
everything themselves.

>Color correction in printing is a standard technique and I have seen
>articles where colors have been shifted far away from the originals, as
>they look "better" that way.

That would be poor colour correction, unless there was an obvious colour
cast - e.g. from tungsten lighting - in the original. Professionals work
with calibrated equipment which should guarantee that what appears on a
monitor appears on the page.

It wouldn't be impossible to set up an equivalent standard for audio, but
it would require top-of-the-line monitoring and acoustic treatment, which
would make it an impossibly expensive minority interest. And it would also
mean developing international standards for equipment and monitoring
accuracy, which would be an interesting challenge.

>I think there are also a couple of discussions going on here, and the
>topic under discussion may not apply to works which are digital in
>synthesis, although Dominique may disagree.

>What if there is a (say) DX-7 piece that used the sounds directly from the
>DX-7 without any spectral processing or reverb, or an analog piece devoid
>of processing, does the 'mastering' process improve the signals that have
>come straight from the tone generators?

Showcasing Synthesis Method X direct to digital is a small subset of
possible recordings. The issue is intent - aesthetic or technical.

Do classical recordings avoid mastering just because someone is playing a
violin piece?


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