We (well, Kevin with me listening intently) mixed and mastered the whole CD over two separate sessions. Mixing is sort of done as you add tracks, but when you sweep through every song when its finished, you need to make sure the instruments are all balanced off against each other and you are hearing what you want to hear. Mastering is after you have finished mixing you then listen to the album as a whole, bringing volume levels etc on the different tracks up to match / compliment each other. The key to all this was finish recording before mixing, finish mixing before mastering as you listen for different things during each of these phases.
I had also given my outline ideas for the CD cover to Kevin and he had sent on to his artwork person. This came back wonderfully, he had added Celtic patterns, used great fonts and within a few iterations, the artwork was good, we had a final draft of the mastered CD, Kevin was due to fly to Costa Rica at the weekend – I had to give it a final, final listen and then we would print the CDs.
Then disaster… (well it felt like that) … The more I listened, the more tormented I got, all tracks were good, apart from the one I really wanted to be spot-on, the 1st track, “Scots Wha Hae”. I had played the bodhran through the song… but I had put too much expression / intonation in my playing, which was jumbling the rest of the instruments … if you listened carefully standing on one leg. Ok, maybe not the standing on one leg bit – Dorothy was having trouble hearing what I was hearing… but I knew that I wouldn’t be happy if I didn’t fix it… why hadn’t I heard this earlier … well I had, but I thought it would be ok – I now know that was wishful thinking… I couldn’t listen to the track without hearing the slight jumble the bodhran was causing. Decision made, I called Kevin… I needed an hour. I knew this was a blow for Kevin as he was sure we were done (mainly because I had told him …. ooops! – just as well he wanted a final, final written ok before going further). Also, in his haste to get everything else he was doing done before leaving on 2-weeks vacation he had tripped and had wrenched his back… despite all that, he agreed to slot me in.
When I arrived, Kevin was looking awful, his complexion was grey, eyes were dull, I could see he was in great pain – and here was me wanting to change something that possibly only I would hear. He set up the mics, got his system set back to where it needed to be, I did one recording of simple basic bodhran on my 20″ drum – which was deeper and more solid that the one I had used on the previous version. We listened, I gave a sigh of relief, it was perfect – just what I wanted. Kevin adjusted the master, burned a new one and I headed off to give it all the final final listen at home again (I just loved the way he would not shortcut the process, no matter how much we wanted it to be done), Kevin wanted me to be absolutely sure that I was happy with the music .
Driving home, I had tears in my eyes when I listened to the CD – I was so happy, I knew it was was good – the final listen at home, it also had to get the Dorothy seal of approval. She loved it – even the banjo (which, as I mentioned before, she “disnae like”) – I sent the final go ahead email to Kevin, felt the weight lift off me. A nice Glenfarclas 21 year old single malt whisky proved to be just the very thing to relax with!!
The process was now in the hands of Kevin and his CD manufacturers.