3rd Edition

Understanding and Crafting the Mix The Art of Recording

By William Moylan Copyright 2015
    518 Pages
    by Routledge

    518 Pages
    by Routledge

    Understanding and Crafting the Mix, 3rd edition provides the framework to identify, evaluate, and shape your recordings with clear and systematic methods. Featuring numerous exercises, this third edition allows you to develop critical listening and analytical skills to gain greater control over the quality of your recordings. Sample production sequences and descriptions of the recording engineer’s role as composer, conductor, and performer provide you with a clear view of the entire recording process.

    Dr. William Moylan takes an inside look into a range of iconic popular music, thus offering insights into making meaningful sound judgments during recording. His unique focus on the aesthetic of recording and mixing will allow you to immediately and artfully apply his expertise while at the mixing desk. A companion website features recorded tracks to use in exercises, reference materials, additional examples of mixes and sound qualities, and mixed tracks.

    List of Figures

    List of Exercises to Develop Listening, Evaluation and Production Skills

    Foreword by Rupert Neve




    Overview of Organization and Materials

    Establishing an Accurate Playback of Recordings

    Part One.

    Defining the Art of Recording: The Sound Characteristics and the Aesthetic Qualities of Audio Recordings

    Chapter 1. The Elements of Sound and Audio Recording

    The States of Sound

    Physical Dimensions of Sound

    Perceived Parameters of Sound


    Chapter 2. The Aesthetic and Artistic Elements of Sound in Audio Recordings

    The States of Sound and the Aesthetic/Artistic Elements

    Pitch Levels and Relationships

    Dynamic Levels and Relationships

    Rhythmic Patterns and Rates of Activities

    Sound Sources and Sound Quality

    Spatial Properties: Stereo and Surround


    Chapter 3. The Musical Message and the Listener

    The Musical Message

    Musical Form and Structure

    Musical Materials

    The Relationships of Artistic Elements and Musical Materials

    Equivalence and the Expression of Musical Ideas

    Text as Song Lyrics

    The Listener


    Part Two.

    Learning to Listen, Beginning to Hear: Acquiring Fundamental Listening Skills and Establishing an Effective Approach to Listening

    Chapter 4. Listening and Evaluating Sound for the Aspiring Audio Professional

    Why Audio Professionals Need to Evaluate Sound

    Talking About Sound

    The Listening Process

    Personal Development for Listening and Sound Evaluation


    Chapter 5. Fundamental Listening Skills


    Background Knowledge and Preparation

    Self Discovery and Realization: "What is Sound to You?"

    Beginning to Hear the Relationships and Qualities of the Mix

    Hearing Subtle Qualities



    Chapter 6. A System for Evaluating Sound

    System Overview

    Sound Evaluation Sequence

    Graphing the States and Activity of Sound Components

    Plotting Sources Against a Time Line



    Part Three.

    Understanding the Mix: Developing Listening and Sound Evaluation Skills

    Chapter 7. Evaluating Pitch in Audio and Music Recordings

    Analytical Systems

    Melodic Contour

    Pitch Area and Frequency Band Recognition


    Chapter 8. Evaluating Loudness in Audio and Music Recordings

    Reference Levels and the Hierarchy of Dynamics

    Program Dynamic Contour

    Musical Balance

    Performance Intensity versus Musical Balance


    Chapter 9. Evaluating Sound Quality

    Sound Quality in Critical Listening Contexts

    Sound Quality in Analytical Listening Contexts

    Sound Quality and Perspective

    Evaluating the Characteristics of Sound Quality and Timbre



    Chapter 10. Evaluating the Spatial Elements of Two Channel Sound

    Understanding Space as an Artistic Element

    Stereo Sound Location

    Distance Localization

    Environmental Characteristics

    Space Within Space


    Chapter 11. Evaluating the Spatial Elements of Surround Sound

    Format Considerations

    Surround’s Sound Stage and the Listener

    Sound Location and Imaging

    Evaluating Location in Surround Sound

    Distance Localization

    Sound Sources and their Environments


    Chapter 12. Complete Evaluations and Understanding Observations

    Pitch Density and Timbral Balance

    The Overall Texture

    Relationships of the Individual Sound Sources and the Overall Texture

    The Complete Evaluation

    Using Graphs for Making Evaluations in Production Work



    Part Four.

    Crafting the Mix: Shaping Music and Sound, and Controlling the Recording Process

    Chapter 13. The Roles of the Recordist and the Aesthetics of Recording Production

    The Functional Roles of the Recordist

    The Artistic Roles of the Recordist

    The Recording and Reality: Shaping the Recording Aesthetic

    The Recording Aesthetic in Relation to the Performance Event

    Altered Realities of Music Performance


    Chapter 14. The Sounds of Recordings: Shaping Musical Ideas and Musical Expression

    The Artistic Elements of Sound as Musical Materials

    Sound Qualities

    Timbral Balance and the Mix

    Sound Stage


    Noises, Distortions and Unwanted Sounds

    Musical Balance

    Chapter 15. Preproduction and Preliminary Stages: Embracing Reality and Defining the Materials of the Project

    Sound Sources as Artistic Resources, and the Choice of Timbres

    Microphones: The Aesthetic Decisions of Capturing Timbres

    Equipment Selection: Application of Inherent Sound Quality

    Monitoring: The Sound Quality of Playback



    Chapter 16. Recording and Tracking: Capturing and Shaping the Performance

    Approaching the Recording: Tracking and Recording Sessions

    In Session: Shifting Focus and Perspective

    An Overview of Two Production Sequences

    Editing: Rearranging and Suspending Time

    Signal Processing: Refining Sounds and Music

    Preparing for the Mix


    Chapter 17. Crafting the Mix, and Finalizing the Production

    Mixing to Support the Music and the Text

    The Mix: Composing and Performing the Recording

    Mastering: The Final Artistic Decisions

    The Listener’s Alterations to the Recording

    Concluding Remarks







    Dr. William Moylan has worked with leading artists across the full spectrum of jazz, popular, and classical genres. His recordings have been released by major and independent record labels, resulting in wide recognition, including several GRAMMY award nominations. A leading educator and an active recording engineer and producer for over 30 years, he is a Professor and Coordinator of Sound Recording Technology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.