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Music Mastering According to Musical Genre

As a cultural activity and an art form, music is a huge part of the daily lives of many Americans. The demand for music consumption has created a multi-billion dollar global music industry which includes music production, distribution, live concerts and other music-related activities. In the USA, the music industry was expected to generate an incredible $17.2 billion during 2016 with forecasts indicating that by 2021 the industry will have an annual turnover of approximately $22.6 million.

Over the past few years, many music producers were necessitated to alter their strategies due to a rise in popularity of LP's while other formats saw a constant decline since 2012. Despite this decline, music remains in huge demand and have been assigned countless benefits which include uplifted moods and even an increase in SAT scores and general intelligence (as far as certain genres are concerned). As the popularity of individual musical genres rise and fall music producers have to constantly improve their skill set to ensure that they are able to produce and master music that is relevant to current trends and preferences.

Mastering for Different Musical Genres

The practices of audio mastering can never be set in stone but there are different genres of music that will benefit from certain mastering techniques while others won't.

Rock vs Electronic Dance vs Hip-Hop

An electronic dance piece may rely on a lot of synthesized sounds a rock song may contain more vocals and instruments. The diversity of the instrumental aspects of a rock compilation is paired with a contrasting compositions and arrangement techniques to create a masterpiece that will impact the rock music-lover in a unique way. When it comes to hip-hop tracks with a booming bass, the energy needs to be sustained and the low end needs to drive the song home. A mastering engineer will know how to incorporate some heavy-handed multiband compressions to ensure that the song has the necessary punching-power to deem itself relevant among hip-hop enthusiasts.

What About Classical Music and Heavy Metal?

In classical music, dynamic range is the lifeblood of the composition which means that very light compression (if any) will be needed. A very gentle compression ration may be applied in certain instances to simply reduce the dynamic range somewhat. On the opposite end of the spectrum, heavy metal relies on depth. A sense of space is necessary not only for creating a soundstage but to create a sense of pressure for the aggressive instrumentals as well. To help reinforce this sense of depth the mastering engineer can boost the high shelves on the sides slightly and apply certain techniques without altering the vocals at all.

Every musical genre enjoys its own unique compositional, instrumental and arrangement characteristics which all require a different receptivity when mastering. While studying towards formal qualification can help somewhat to understand the various mastering techniques better, raw talent and a good ear remain the most important assets of any mastering genius. Each song is unique and must be treated as such, something which a natural musical mastermind will be able to accomplish without too much effort.


-Sally Writes - MU Columnist



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