Persona Digital

Music Studio Technology

Persona Studio


Recording Arts

Musical instruments are carefully created to produce sounds at the right pitches with interesting timbres. Musicians must practice for many years to produce music rather than noise. When the sounds of instruments are combined, there is a risk of noise, so that a conductor of a group must know how to blend musicians and their instruments to produce a pleasing mix. Similarly, a recording engineer sitting at his mixing board must have the knowledge, taste and tools to arrive at a good mix.

In my view, noise is often presented as music. It is easy to make noise. It is difficult to make good music. My goal when I make recordings is to create music. I often simplify arrangements to leave space in the mix. I almost never allow crash cymbals, for example..  Electric guitars with distortion pedals do not exist in my  universe. Music can be loud and exciting without becoming noise, but too loud, too long is never good. More About Noise

Composing and arranging a composition is just the first step toward a final recording. A musical score has multiple staves for multiple instruments. In the digital domain, a software sequencer and an audio recorder have multiple tracks. Composing can be accomplished by playing in one part at a time or writing in the parts when MIDI sound modules are used. The advantages are many, but most of all, the music  is heard as it is composed. MIDI is a marvelously powerful tool for composition. When a keyboard is used as a MIDI controller, any instrument can be played. MIDI files replace musical scores and can edited or rearranged with ease. Midi tracks can be viewed and printed as a conventional score. I use all midi possibilities when I compose, arrange and mix compositions.

The heart of a recording studio is a multi-channel mixer. Fortunately, sound mixing has been incorporated into software associated with soundboards in computers and more people have access to them and can appreciate their intriguing properties.  A home stereo amplifier  has switches that select the sound source, but the sources cannot be mixed. You can listen to the Radio, Tape or CD but not all three at the same time. A mixer is more permissive because you can hear all the sound sources at once if you like, and adjust their position and relative importance in the mix.

Recording studios are moving toward computers and software mixers. Home and office computers with fast multi-core processors, large amounts of RAM and SATA hard drives are now common and inexpensive. With the right software, they can do multitrack audio mixing and editing  as well as professional equipment. Old obstacles to computer base recording have disappeared.

Mixing is the art of adjusting the volume and stereo placement of the tracks. There are a host of sound processing functions that form sound mixes into a finished product.  In the past sound processors were expensive pieces of hardware that often filled racks placed close to the mixing board. Now sound processing can be done with software. At Persona,  sound processing options are too numerous so that discretion in their use is essential. A wise sound engineer knows that you can easily ruin good music with indiscrete sound processors. Skillful compression is highly regarded. The excessive use of the two most common effects -- chorusing and reverberation -- is to be avoided.  The proper placement of sound in acoustic space involves knowledge, patience and art. 

Mastering is the process of assembling a number of songs into an album which is a meta level composition. In the best case, an album contains compatible music selections, with consistency in volume, panning and complexity. Music albums are now produced to create and sustain a mood. You don't want heavy metal playing in spa designed for relaxation. Music is often used for dance; ballet music can be light, varied and sophisticated without drums. An all night disco wants hip hop and trance dance tunes with strong drum and bass tracks to sustain the groove.


  • Topics presented at Persona Digital Studio are from the book,
    The Sound of Music
    by Stephen Gislason.
    Click the Download button to order the eBook 

  • Persona Mandala

    Persona Digital Studio is located on the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada.

    Persona Music Recordings: Our Music Catalogue includes recorded performances under the names P2500 Band, Em4U, and the Persona Classical Consort. Some music online is offered to illustrate music history, advance music education and appreciation. The recordings presented online demonstrate Persona Studio's arranging, recording and mastering techniques. All the recordings are completed in house by Stephen Gislason.

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