With Lauren away for a couple of weeks, my focus turned to getting a rough mix of all the pieces, to then send it to the relevant composers. This will help me understand how the composer wants their piece realised on the final CD.
As most of the processing for all of the compositions has already been completed (general EQing, de-noising and mixing) the final process I had to go through was to run all the pieces through a combination of Izotopes RX3 and audio analysis programme Spear to completely remove, or at very least attenuate, any audience noises such as coughs, sneezes or movements.
The techniques I used to do this mainly involved using Izotope RX3 to manually go through each recording and find any noises that occur, then remove them with its inbuilt functions such as the ‘Spectral Repair’, ‘Remove Hum’ and ‘Denoise’ tools. Which tool I used depended on the type of sound that occurred. Unfortunately in some cases these processes would leave unusual artefacts within the audio, so with this I had to experiment with Spear and the tools within Izotope to come to a successful outcome. Below you can see a screenshot from Izotope, I am using the magic wand tool here, what uses a particular algorithm to find and highlight a certain trend in the audio, and from this you can use the previously mentioned processes on it.
With all of the pieces completed I sent each of the composers the relevant performance. Within a couple of days of doing this I have received responses from just over half of the composers. Most of them agreed that they were extremely happy with what I have done to the piece, where a couple of others have asked for a different approach to processing the recording. The reasons they have explained for this is that the processing within these new recordings are quite apparent, running them through Izotope and Spear has added digital artefacts and removed an amount of the high end. Additionally some of the composers also preferred less processing, and thought leaving some of the noise within the track adds to the experience. So for these pieces I am going to go back to the source file and run them through the same processes, but at a much lesser extent, to try and find a nice balance between the two extremes.
The composer I have had most contact with is Martin Iddon, and we have discussed his piece Balanos. This has been one of the most problematic compositions, mainly because the piece is intended to be heard very quietly, so because of the amount of noise in the recording, it sometimes covers a lot of the actual piece’s performance. Because of these problems we have decided to try working on a different concert recording of Balanos, and if all fails with that, maybe a studio recording of the piece would be a much better way to go.
My next goals are to simply fulfil all of the composers requests regarding their compositions, to a point when they are all completely happy with them. On top of this I am to complete a spreadsheet which lists all of the pieces throughout the tour and the processes used on them.
– Barni Sparkes, Organ and Electronics Intern