Tips for Mixing in Context of an Arrangement

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Tips for Mixing in Context of an Arrangement

Hey, folks.

Matthew Weiss — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com,
and mixthru.co.

I’m going to give you a little tutorial video
here, and it’s going to be one of my more

conceptual ones.

I’m a big proponent of really getting the
fundamentals down, but the second level of

mixing is putting the fundamentals in context
of the music.

So, without extrapolating on that any more,
here’s the section I’m working on.

[mix]

And there’s a bridge section that occurs right
before this chorus, which sounds like this.

[bridge]

So, back to the bridge real quick…

[music]

So there’s a couple of things going on that
I want to address, because if you’re listening

to this, I think the first inclination is
to say, “Okay, well this sounds fine, so

what’s the problem?”Well, if we start digging
into it, first of all, the contrast between

this bridge section and the chorus that I
just pointed out, it’s clear and it’s there,

but is it really the most it could be?

I don’t think so.

I’ll talk about why in a moment.

The other thing is I feel like there’s a certain
dryness to this section that isn’t exclusively

because of a lack of reverb.

[song]

Right?

That two and that four beat are very tight
right now, and I don’t know if that’s really

what’s best for this section.

What I’d like to hear is a little bit more
release on the end of both the tambourine

and the claps, and the other thing that I’m
thinking is this tambourine just sticks out

too much to me.

Even though the level feels right, it’s just
a little bit too bouncy in the top end.

[song]

Like, it feels like somebody just layered
a tambourine on it, instead of a tambourine

that’s sort of blending in with everything.

So the first thing I’m going to address is
this clap.

To make the clap more present and stronger
without making it louder in the mix – because

I think it’s balanced – a good way to do
that is to use compression, and compression

is not only a good technique for that, but
it’s also something where we’re going to extend

the release of the clap in the process.

So I want both things.

I wouldn’t mind a meatier clap sound, and
I also definitely want more of that wind that’s

coming off the end of the clap.

Then I’m also going to use a little bit of
distortion to make the clap a little crustier

and to make it kind of blend with some of
the other crunchier sounds that happen to

be in this section.

So here’s the before.

[mix, before and after]

And what’s important to note is note only
does the clap get more present, but it does

it without getting brighter.

It does it without necessarily getting louder,
and it does it in a way where it feels thicker,

not just that it’s more there, but that the
duration of it is also a little bit longer,

and those are the subtle differences, because
if I just wanted more clap, I could just turn

it up, but I want more clap in the sense that
it grabs the ear more and that it extends

through the rhythm of the track in a more
cohesive way.

Then, to address the tambourine, because I’m
adding this distortion to the clap and because

I’m trying to get this sort of crustier, analogier
sound, and because there’s too much brightness

to the tambourine, all of these things lead
me to use a very unique processing on the

tambourine.

I’m going to use a SansAmp, and I’m going
to use it to extend the note, I’m going to

use it to roll off high end, and I’m going
to use it to change the texture, and all of

those things are going to aid the overall
feel and emotion of what I’m trying to go

for on this bridge.

[song]

Just to hear that a little more clearly, I’ll
go to an earlier section real quick and play

a before and after.

[song]

So, I’m extending the note, I’m making it
feel more distant, I’m rolling off top end

while retaining a certain amount of presence
to it, I’m changing the texture to sound a

lot more “analogy,” a lot crustier and
dirtier, and what’s going to happen in the

process of this, is because I am rolling off
so much top end from the tambourine, when

the chorus then kicks in, we’re going to feel
that contrast more dramatically.

[song plays]

And the tambourine I think is the lynchpin
of all of this.

It’s the corner stone of making this all work,
mostly because the note extends in a really

flattering way.

Like, here’s without it.

It’s really tight, right?

Then here’s with it.

[song]

The duration of the note really pulls you
into the next beat, and so that’s a really

important part.

The other thing is that by rolling off that
top end, but making the mid-range a little

bit crunchier and more distorted, we keep
the same sense of presence to it, but we sink

it back in the stereo field so it feels further
away, and it allows us to have somewhere to

go when we get to the chorus in terms of opening
up the total frequency bandwidth of the record.

Meaning if I have that tambourine really bright,
then I’m already – I’m representing 16kHz

already in terms of the frequency realm.

I’m already up in that super treble.

If I roll it back and the tambourine is now
more present at like, 8kHz, then when I get

into the chorus, I can have that cymbal, I
can have that new tambourine up at 16kHz,

and it makes the record feel like it went
from here to here, which is a really important

concept in terms of mixing, because it allows
the chorus to feel really big.

It makes it feel like it has that explosive
quality where it opens up this way, and it

opens up this way, and it opens up this way.

So one more time, the bridge…

[mix]

Chorus.

[mix]

So the idea here is taking fundamental ideas
– shape, tone, texture – and translating

those ideas into a musical vision, which I
think is the next step in terms of the world

of engineering, and what makes the difference
between somebody who’s mixing, and somebody

who’s really making the song come together.

Okay, guys.

This is note so much a technique video as
it is a concept video.

I hope you start looking at mixing techniques
in this kind of a musical way.

It doesn’t mean you need to go distorting
your tambourines – that’s not usually going

to sound good, but in the right context, doing
what you want to do to get a musical result.

That’s what’s going to work.

Alright, until next time.

Tips for Mixing in Context of an Arrangement

Instant access to every in-depth mixing course from Matthew Weiss: http://theproaudiofiles.com/members

http://theproaudiofiles.com // http://mixthru.co // A video on mixing with the context of an arrangement in mind.

Transcript excerpt:

Hey, folks. Matthew Weiss — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and mixthru.co.

I’m going to give you a little tutorial video here, and it’s going to be one of my more conceptual ones. I’m a big proponent of really getting the fundamentals down, but the second level of mixing is putting the fundamentals in context of the music.

So, without extrapolating on that any more, here’s the section I’m working on.

[mix]

And there’s a bridge section that occurs right before this chorus, which sounds like this.

[bridge]

So, back to the bridge real quick…

[music]

So there’s a couple of things going on that I want to address, because if you’re listening to this, I think the first inclination is to say, “Okay, well this sounds fine, so what’s the problem?”Well, if we start digging into it, first of all, the contrast between this bridge section and the chorus that I just pointed out, it’s clear and it’s there, but is it really the most it could be? I don’t think so. I’ll talk about why in a moment.

The other thing is I feel like there’s a certain dryness to this section that isn’t exclusively because of a lack of reverb.

[song]

Right? That two and that four beat are very tight right now, and I don’t know if that’s really what’s best for this section. What I’d like to hear is a little bit more release on the end of both the tambourine and the claps, and the other thing that I’m thinking is this tambourine just sticks out too much to me. Even though the level feels right, it’s just a little bit too bouncy in the top end.

[song]

Like, it feels like somebody just layered a tambourine on it, instead of a tambourine that’s sort of blending in with everything.

So the first thing I’m going to address is this clap. To make the clap more present and stronger without making it louder in the mix – because I think it’s balanced – a good way to do that is to use compression, and compression is not only a good technique for that, but it’s also something where we’re going to extend the release of the clap in the process.

So I want both things. I wouldn’t mind a meatier clap sound, and I also definitely want more of that wind that’s coming off the end of the clap. Then I’m also going to use a little bit of distortion to make the clap a little crustier and to make it kind of blend with some of the other crunchier sounds that happen to be in this section.

So here’s the before.

[mix, before and after]

And what’s important to note is note only does the clap get more present, but it does it without getting brighter. It does it without necessarily getting louder, and it does it in a way where it feels thicker, not just that it’s more there, but that the duration of it is also a little bit longer, and those are the subtle differences, because if I just wanted more clap, I could just turn it up, but I want more clap in the sense that it grabs the ear more and that it extends through the rhythm of the track in a more cohesive way.

Then, to address the tambourine, because I’m adding this distortion to the clap and because I’m trying to get this sort of crustier, analogier sound, and because there’s too much brightness to the tambourine, all of these things lead me to use a very unique processing on the tambourine.

I’m going to use a SansAmp, and I’m going to use it to extend the note, I’m going to use it to roll off high end, and I’m going to use it to change the texture, and all of those things are going to aid the overall feel and emotion of what I’m trying to go for on this bridge.

[song]

Just to hear that a little more clearly, I’ll go to an earlier section real quick and play a before and after.

[song]

So, I’m extending the note, I’m making it feel more distant, I’m rolling off top end while retaining a certain amount of presence to it, I’m changing the texture to sound a lot more “analogy,” a lot crustier and dirtier, and what’s going to happen in the process of this, is because I am rolling off so much top end from the tambourine, when the chorus then kicks in, we’re going to feel that contrast more dramatically.

[song plays]

And the tambourine I think is the lynchpin of all of this. It’s the corner stone of making this all work, mostly because the note extends in a really flattering way.

Like, here’s without it.

It’s really tight, right? Then here’s with it.

[song]

[truncated]

About The Pro Audio Files

Tutorials on mixing, mastering and producing music in Pro Tools with plugins from Waves, FabFilter, SoundToys, Softube, Sonnox, PSP, Slate Digital and more. Learn how to mix using EQ, compression and effects like reverb, delay, saturation and distortion on vocals, drums, guitar, bass and more.

Tips for Mixing in Context of an Arrangement

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