The present set of articles intends to follow up on the paper “Mastering in Electroacoustics,” published in 2002. As the practice of mastering in the field of electroacoustics was still in an embryonic state at the time, this initial document aimed both to inform electroacousticians of the realities of mastering and to convince them of the urgent need to adopt a certain professionalism in their production methods. From this point of view, this inaugural step was clearly pertinent: it has proven necessary today to present, almost five years later, an overview or “state of affairs” of the now relatively concrete relations between electroacoustics and mastering. What aspects of the contemporary situation in fact constitute justification for such a project?
First and foremost, the requests for precise information from members of the electroacoustic community, to which the author’s increased experience in electroacoustic mastering may now respond. It is time to transmit a general report on what has since been accomplished, the impact and significance of the results, and what lies in store for the future. This is the objective of the first article, “Contemporary Problems, Interventions and Results.” “Contemporary Audio Problems” is the generic part of this article, taking advantage of the fact that today it is possible to compile a list of the principal reasons for intervention at the mastering level on existing sound materials: the list is commented and supported by audio extracts. To the author’s great surprise, “Interactions with the Composers” have proven to have far more decisive influence in electroacoustics than in the much more hierarchically-organised commercial milieu, to such an extent that this as well demanded a resumé. In response to repeated requests, a practical analysis of a “Mastering Session” of an electroacoustic work is offered, and forms the final part of the article, accompanied by screen captures and audio examples documenting the entire session.
A certain number of propositions which aim to refine and elaborate the various techniques were made, and these led to experiences which ought to be documented as well. The collaborative article with P.A. Tremblay, “Mixtering: A Working Model for an Enhanced Sound Quality in Electroacoustics,” is the result of this need.
Although critiques have surfaced, in only a single case did these come from composers who were in fact prepared to experiment concretely with one of their own works. For the remainder, resistance has typically been of a dogmatic or political nature, or the result of economics. Of course it is difficult to respond to such objections without becoming entangled in another polemic altercation. Thus, it seemed more appropriate to develop a constructive argument, based on an overview of existing “Perceptual Benchmarks.”
Dominique Bassal, March 2007.