1.1 Recording roles
So what did all the people working on A Venetian Coronation 1595 actually do? In the model of recording western art music that held for large projects in 1990, and still holds in some cases today, the producers, who are responsible for bringing a recording such as this to the marketplace, take on two specific tasks. First comes the creative activity of selecting the music, choosing arrangements, getting the desired sound, planning the cover and insert notes, etc. Then there are several administrative tasks to be undertaken, i.e. booking the musicians, agreeing the recording venue, selecting the support staff, balancing budgets and preparing reports. Producers are supported by the people who sign the artists to record labels and oversee the projects.
Next, the budget for the production must be agreed, performers and engineers booked, and a suitable venue, or venues, secured along with all the necessary support services.
The musical director may have done some homework on stylistic questions of the performance which may be shared and rehearsed by the musicians as the recording engineer works on the recording set-up, trying microphones (and perhaps the musicians themselves) in various locations. Once everything is in place several recordings, or takes, will be made and carefully documented. Nothing is discarded. During the session the producer, engineer and performers may listen back to sections of the recording, but the final editing will be left to a later time. At this later date the producer and engineers will edit the various takes in order to produce a master copy which is usually signed-off by the Director.
Towards the end of the process a master recording is taken and adapted to the chosen distribution medium, offering a final opportunity for limited changes to be made before distribution. A decision may be taken by the marketing department to put an extra track onto the recording to make it more attractive to the public. This track may be from a completely different source with a quite different sound, in which case the mastering engineer would have to adjust the sound to make it compatible with the existing material. In other scenarios an album may be compiled from many separate recordings. As you will see from this, the producer, recording engineers, musicians and other personnel change from track to track on Adele’s 2015 album 25, whose 11 songs were recorded with 11 different producers in 11 different studios (in some cases, single songs were recorded in more than one location). The mastering process in this instance must have been extremely complex.
Data specific to the medium is also added at the post-production stage. For a CD or download this would include information about track separation, track numbers and the length of each track. Once all the digital audio and associated data is finalised, the master recording is stored. At the same time as all this is going on, any accompanying text and artwork is finalised and, if necessary, printed. Distribution follows.