Excerpted from Music 123 email:
Getting your mind right for recording and mixing.
Much like composing music, recording and mixing are a combination of creative and intellectual processes. In music, first we have a stream of consciousness where we improvise and wait for ideas to come. Next, we have the editing process, where we take those ideas, refine, expand, and organize them into coherent form. These different processes involve different sides of the brain—left brain for the intellectual and editing process, right brain for the creative. Problems can occur in the creative process if we have to switch between left brain and right brain processes too often. It interrupts our creative flow and can cause us to lose those precious ideas. The secret is to get all of your left-brain processes out of the way first so that once you’re in the creative groove, you can stay there. This holds true for both recording and mixing. In recording, the process should be as invisible as possible so that the artist (or you if you work alone) can focus solely on performance. Your gear should be set up in advance so that all you have to do is hit the record button. (Worrying about technique is left-brain, so make sure you know your parts before you record.)
Mixing is a complicated process during which we often find ourselves switching back and forth between the left and right brain. The best audio engineers do all of their left-brain activities first. The key is to make a list of each type of activity and do as many of the left-brain housekeeping chores as possible before you start mixing. Patching in all your outboard gear, normalizing the console, loading plug-ins, naming tracks, and calibrating your meters are all examples of left-brain activities. Anything that takes you out of that creative, meditative state is a left-brain activity. A sure sign you're engaged in a left-brained activity is when you find yourself a little disoriented and saying, “Okay, now where was I?” Once you get your left-brain chores out of the way, you'll be able to stay in the creative zone, where you can truly strike gold.