Erlanger Programm: Small but Important Steps

I can’t say I really completed or achieved something – as in completing a formal milestone or quality gate.

Yet, since today, Erlanger Programm suddenly feels that it has taken a big step towards that release date somewhere in Q1/2016.

Accomplishments

After I hadn’t done anything worthwhile with regard to this project for a few months following the move to MSS 4, this last week was productive again, to say the least.

First of all, I have finally completed editing the acoustic and electric recordings done in September at MSS 3. This includes the bass guitars for parts B and D, and the melodica for D and a’ – both of them being tricky ones: while in part D, the part is very challenging (meaning a lot of takes), part a’ has an unisono of two different melodicas which in the mix are treated to first sound as one instrument, and later on play a call-and-response arrangement, not considered in the original composition.

There were lots of tasks regarding the mix as well, and some of the already tracked MIDI parts saw some embellishments.

I also did a sketch of the booklet to go with the album, and liked what I saw.

And finally, of the total of 105 items in the action item list, only seven remain as not completed.

According to my status list, there’s a total of roughly 36 hours to go until mix completes – but those 36 hours do not include mastering or cover design.

Challenges

Looking at the a little more than two and a half months to go until the latest possible release date (following my target of Q1/16), this is realistic, but far from an easy job.

There’s still sound design to do. A lot. And while the DMU sounds I have implemented for now are far from unacceptable, I want this album to be more than acceptable. I want it to be great. So there’s that.

Mastering will also be a tricky one, not only from a technical standpoint: this is a continuous work of 44 minutes, moving through some very diverse styles. Making them work together musically is a composer’s task – but making them work together sonically comes down to mastering.

There’s a lot of dynamic range, and it’s gotta be that way. There’s truly quiet passages, and there’s really in-your-face ones, making for a hot-to-quiet ratio of more than 30 (!). Will that even work? And what about the vast diversity of instrumentation – even though most of the instruments are electronic? If there ever was a challenge, it’s this.

And looking at it from a different point entirely, how to do that technology-wise? The workflow for audio mastering, be it with an analogue mastering chain, a DAW, or ca combination of both, typically is on a per-track basis, with only minimum changes required within one track. Here, everything is one track, so if I want different treatment for different sections – how to move from one setup to the next? This will also be an area of research for me, if only for the best workflow.

Path Forward

With editing completed and mixing now limited to some details and fixes, the next big task will be sound design. I’ll be starting to define the mastering concept, and cover design will see some activity as well.

So here’s the plan from now on:

  • have an idea what needs to be done in sound design (and have started on it) before end of January.
  • have a mastering concept defined by mid-February.
  • have sound design and mix completed by end of February.
  • have the cover art completed by end of February.

With that, I have one full month for mastering and preparing for release, and will be able to confirm a release date no later than end of February.

 

I’m really looking forward to this!

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