Creative Mastering: A New Culture of Audio Post-Production

Hinksman, Alexander (2022) Creative Mastering: A New Culture of Audio Post-Production. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Alexander Hinksman PhD Thesis published_Final version_Submitted Oct 2021_Final Award Apr 2022.pdf - Accepted Version

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My thesis posits that a new culture of ‘Creative Mastering’ exists in the realm of audio post-production. This culture has evolved out of a more technical and procedural mode of engineering and music industry labour. My study takes seriously the mastering engineer, like the more conventional producer, as a creative participant in the contemporary recorded music production process. To better understand the modern-day mastering engineer, their culture and the creative aspects of their day-to-day work, I have conducted autoethnography and original interviews with 20 of the world’s leading practitioners. These practitioners have operated out of major facilities such as Abbey Road Studios (UK) and Sterling Sound (USA). Through my thesis, I unpack some key aspects of mastering culture to demonstrate why this particular form of technical engineering work is now gaining acceptance as creative labour. My research demonstrates why better understandings of mastering and its culture will make for much richer appreciations of popular recorded music production. I examine issues of access, learning to master and operating as an expert in the space. I also theorise how mastering engineers identify with their role, engage their creativity and make use of their studio setups. These issues that surround mastering all bear the hallmarks of creative practice. Up until very recently, technical publications and trade literature made up the dominant stock of written information on mastering, or ‘audio mastering’. I have surveyed ideas that emerge out of academic studies and discourse related to popular recorded music production, creative labour in the cultural industries, and social studies of sound. Having drawn from a large pool of scholarship, my research offers new and theoretical contributions to the field. It will help a growing collective of interdisciplinary academics who are now focusing on the creative aspects of audio post-production.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
14 October 2021Submitted
8 April 2022Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Audio mastering
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Birmingham School of Media
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2022 14:12
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2022 14:12

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