I’m a big salsa fan.
Mexican food is definitely one of my favorite foods and I can’t get enough of the different types of salsas you can get with it.
But it’s also easy to screw up a good salsa recipe if you want to make on your own. The simplest mistake is to simply use too many ingredients. Or add too much of lime or some other ingredient. It has to be balanced. All the flavors need to work with each other to create that perfect mix of flavors.
Which is exactly how you should approach your music production. You want that perfect balance of instruments which you achieve the same way you would do making salsa.
Drums – Tomatoes
The mix always starts with a good foundation, just like there won’t be no salsa unless you dice up those tomatoes. In your song this is usually your drum beat or some sort of percussive element that creates the groove. But don’t overdo it on the tomatoes or they’ll drown out the other ingredients, just like overly loud and aggressive drums will clutter up your mix.
Rhythm – Onions
The onions enhance the taste of the tomatoes. They give a little crunch and a sweet or pungent taste to the mix. These are your main instruments like guitar, bass and other rhythm instruments. Depending on what onion you use, white, yellow or green, you’ll have a slightly different taste. Exactly like the vibe you would get from choosing an acoustic guitar over an electric, or an organ sound over a piano.
Melody – Chilies
The chilies are what makes you sit up and take notice, exactly like a great melody. It’s like that moment when you’re listening to a cool intro to a song and when the vocal comes in you’re just taken away by how awe-inspiring it is.
That’s what the chili does to salsa. It takes the simple palette of tomatoes and onions to a completely different level. And depending on how strong you want your salsa, you can use Serrano peppers or an Habanero. Or you can mix and match, adding “backup” peppers like you would with backup vocals.
Is this analogy going too far? I don’t think so.
Interest – Cilantro
Cilantro is my favorite part of the salsa. I probably overdo it, but I like it so much I don’t really care. Cilantro is like those extra elements you scatter around your music production to create interest and variety. It could be extra percussion on the choruses, a rippin’ guitar solo or a melodic piano line that weaves in an out of the vocal phrases.
Effects – Salt
No salsa is complete without a sprinkle of salt. Salt opens up all the flavors from each ingredient to make that perfect blend of tomato-y, crunchy, spiciness.
It does exactly what reverb, delay and other effects do to your mix. Those effects create depth and space in your music, making all the instruments and musical elements fit together perfectly. And the same goes with space as it does with salt, too much and you’ve ruined it completely.
Variety in Your Music Production
Of course, there are different variations of salsa, just like there are different genres of music. But the same rules apply: balance your ingredients and make them work together. Your music production should be better than just the sum of each individual instrument. Together they should bring your mix to a different level.
For a more practical and less food-conscious look at music production, take a look at my Music Strategies:
Image by: magzalez