Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Love Symphony Lumbers Towards Completion

More work on the music today and yes I have a first draft!

For ages I wondered if there was too much bass on the opening track, it was louder than on the others. I examined other music in my CD collection and found a wide variation. The "loudness war" might not be something you've heard of before but it's a real phenomenon in which music has been getting "louder" as it's put on to CD. In practise this is a product of marketing and technology; the latter allowing loudness without obvious distortion. In effect though, the loudness is just reducing dynamics, the difference between the loudest and quietest bits of a piece of music. This kills drama, and it's one reason why modern music sounds the same. It's a constant volume and constant pace.

My old Karajan Beethoven CD, one of the first pressed to the new format in the 1980's is wonderful. In the whole 76 mins, only ONE single sample touches peak, a perfect peak. It's a perfect recording. Everyone knows that anyway; it's got a five star review on Amazon and every review is rightfully glowing. It was downhill from there regarding recording quality. The 1986 Kate Bush Wuthering Heights is still very dynamic, but less than Karajan. Things got gradually worse, and the 2010 Vintage by Jean-Michel Jarre looks like a breeze-block of distortion.

All of that made be rebel somewhat and I seriously considered copying the Karajan model, however my music is so well put together in terms of production that less than 1000 samples peak throughout the whole ablum, despite a good volume. Remember, there are 44,100 per second of those!

In terms of equalisation I decided to boost the frequencies over 4khz by 4dB. I rarely do things like that. In fact I don't think I've equalised anything since The Spiral Staircase re-recording in 2008, but I thought I would because the upper frequencies are always a little absent unless you push them. This was visible in my spectrum analyser. I prefer to balance by ear when composing, then by visual spectrum analyser. I have good accurate studio "monitors" (Resolv 65s) but a visual bobbing spectrum and looking at the waveform is on balance a better guide.

The best tip for that sort of balancing I can give is to avoid filters in the song itself. If your bass instrument needs more oomph you might be tempted to apply a low shelf filter, tweak the bass knob on an equaliser, but that's a bad idea because it'll make lower notes get louder than high ones, then you'll have to apply a compressor to set the volume back to "equal" and you've lost quality and resolution, and added complexity, and in practice it never works unless you distort everything. The best way to do it would be to add a sine wave to the instrument itself, tune it down an octave or two, and voila, more bass. I avoid filters of any sort if possible, and anything complex like a "sweeping" lead creates it's own problems for all of the same reasons outlined. Keep things simple and mixing isn't usually needed, no matter how many layers you add.

My main task of the day was finalising the artwork, so here's the rear. I wondered whether I should make the text white or black. I liked black best in the end. Also I couldn't decided between "Love Symphony" or "The Love Symphony". It was always "The" while I was working on it but I dropped it to fit bigger writing on the cover. In the end though it needed the "The" so I put it back in a flash of shame.

I must get this done. Next task; silver soldering for my reliquary, then publishing my poetry book. Tick tick. This must be my best year. Better than five of the great William Blake!


1 comment :

jill said...

You are very talented, Having so many creative ventures, that you also seem very successful at, Don't worry about not visiting my blog so often, we get busy and I haven't done too much blog hopping recently.