A canvas. A monitor. A block of clay.
Human imagination is more fertile and expansive than all of them. Human imagination is where the soundstage of recorded music is rendered.
Creating sound for a recording takes planning. Even a simple voice over requires quieting the room, writing a script, and a doing a mic level check. Recording a band or larger unit requires extensive planning, both technical in nature and strategic from an artistic sense.
How many sounds are we trying to create? How many instruments, voices, microphones, and additional dubs? How many tracks per song? How many songs per album? These are artistic decisions mixed with lots of technical hum-drum (a million cables).
As the musicians and producer start to craft the songs they are already working on many layers.
The arrangement is one layer, actually each part within the arrangement is a layer.
The type and style of sounds emanating from the instruments are another layer.
The feel or tempo of the songs is another layer.
The prominence of instruments in the mix is another layer.
The amount of soloing is another layer. I could go on [and some bands do indeed go on and on!]
The point — there is complexity here that gets painted into the soundstage of the final product. These entire layers of creation are not only intentionally put there, but fretted over in emotionally draining recording sessions hour after hour.
There are screaming battles, insults, and hurt feelings as the artist sweats and bleeds for their art. Pure creativity buried in the mix. Artists layer sounds while recording engineers massage, place, and blend sounds through the recording system.
The blend of the sounds is critical. Each sound works within, against, and through all other sounds.
Nothing – NOTHING, including color, mixes like sound. No medium has more depth than sound.
No other artistic medium works by fulling enveloping the participant. IMAX? IMAX is actually about 20% of your surroundings fixed in space with visible framing. A simple head turn or eye close makes IMAX no-max.
Sound has no equal. This is why I fight so strongly these days against the lossy crowd, against the phones are fine for music, buy new headphones crowd. Even my own friends. I have to remind them that reducing our music is reducing our soul and we should be very careful with such things.