Music Editing

DSC_2996Music editing is the process of joining together the takes recorded during the recording sessions in a convincing and pleasing way. Digital editing has revolutionised the post-production of music by allowing a degree of precision and creativity that was once impossible.

In a hard-disc editor, the recordings are stored in digital form on hard-disc, and a computer interface allows sections of different parts of the recording (different takes) to be joined together. Differing options can be quickly and repeatedly compared, and because the whole process is entirely nondestructive, edits and takes can be moved and changed as much as is felt necessary. Gone are the days of physically splicing tape and throwing the ‘out takes’ into the dustbin.

A good music editor needs to possess highly attuned hearing, well accustomed to spotting poor edits, a fine score-reading ability, and a good dose of musical sensitivity.  Also crucial to the editing process is the relationship between the editor and producer.  Sometimes this will in fact be the same person; when it’s not, it’s important that the editor understands the producer’s markings and intentions. At The Classical Recording Company, music editing is done by either Simon Weir, our producer, or by engineer Morgan Roberts, who has worked closely with Simon for many years.

With the flexibility and possibilities offered by hard-disc editing, it is important not to edit all the musicality out!  We believe that good music editing should show the best of a performer, whilst not losing the sense of the piece of music being performed. How this is best achieved varies from performer to performer, with the intended purpose of the project, and with the repertoire. We try to remain flexible and sensitive to those needs.

Music editing (of classical music) essentially involves joining takes together; that is to say that it presents a sequence of sounds that were played and recorded. It is not about creating notes that were never played, or changing ones that were into ones that weren’t!

The usual chain of events is that some time after the recording sessions, the music editor creates a ‘first edit’, picking the best takes he/she can find, following the instructions and score-markings provided by the producer. Artistes are then sent a listening copy of this first edit, and asked for their feedback. (In larger groups such as a choir, usually only the conductor, accompanist and any soloists would be sent listening copies).

With the points from the first edit in mind, artistes are usually then invited to attend a second edit, in which further options and improvements may be investigated. Sometimes it will be felt necessary to create further listening copies, but often by the end of the second edit, the musical side is complete.

Many projects then undergo a ‘beauty edit’ where, using the unprecedented power of CEDAR ReTouch, extraneous noises (such as clicks, creaks, even page turns) can be removed or suppressed. By reducing the distraction of these extraneous noises, we allow the listener to concentrate more on the musical performance.

Many recordings will be made at a higher resolution than that in which they will ultimately be released. Be it longer word-length, higher sampling rate or both, we always edit at the higher resolution, only making the change down at the mastering stage.

The majority of music editing is stereo, but the same principles apply to multi-channel editing, e.g. for surround sound.