Yes, And: What Improv Can Teach You About Mixing
I’ve been taking improv classes and here’s what I’ve learned so far:
- It’s the best thing you can do to get out of your comfort zone.
- It teaches you to be incredibly present in the moment.
- It forces you to listen and act without thinking (often with hilarious results).
Improv is kind of like the jazz of comedy. It’s completely made up on the spot and because of this, you’ll never see the same improv scene twice.
However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any rules.
Just like jazz, you need to know the rules so you can bend them to your will.
In Improv, the cardinal rule is “Yes, and.”
Sounds so simple, yet so powerful.
“Yes” means that you agree on whatever your partner is saying. They could make up the most absurd statement, like,
“Man, I wish I hadn’t eaten all those dragons…”
and you have to agree on its reality. In this two-person scene that’s happening on stage in that very moment, dragons are very real and she ate way too much of them….
Because we’ve agreed that this reality is true (dragons are real and somehow a delicacy you can order too much of), it is now my turn to add to this reality and make it even more real (as absurd as it may be).
“Yes, you ate way too many of these dragons. And, I’m glad we got such a good table at this dragon restaurant. We’ve been on the waiting list for months and I was beginning to worry we’ve never get to try it before they went extinct.”
To help you think faster on your feet, there are three categories you can lean on to make your “Yes, and” scene easier.
Whenever somebody starts a scene, you can decide whether you want to add details, show emotion or describe the consequences of what’s happening.
In the example above, I kind of added all three because this is a blog post and writing gives me more time to think than spontaneously reacting to statements on stage:
- Details: We’re at a restaurant
- Emotions: I’m worried about getting a table
- Consequences: Dragons are going extinct and this restaurant has a limited supply (“so we better eat up!”)
Although an improv scene looks chaotic and spontaneous, it’s actually founded on some solid structure and rules to keep the game going.
Mixing is the same. A veteran mixing engineer might jump from one thing to another while mixing. If you’re watching this might look chaotic, crazy and hard to follow.
But usually, what they’re doing is following some simple rules:
- Volume for balance
- Panning for stereo
- EQ’ing for separation
- Compression for tightness
- Reverb and delay for space and depth
- Saturation for warmth
That’s exactly what I teach you inside my Mixing With 5 Plug-ins course and this week you can get my 1-on-1 Mix Workflow Workshop as a free bonus.
Since yesterday I’ve sold half of the Mix Workflow Workshop spots so there are only five spots left so if you want to get a free hour-long coaching session with me on how to mix more effectively, you better snag one of the remaining spots before it’s too late:
The Mix Workflow Workshop is a private, 1-on-1 coaching call where we talk through your mix process and I help you identify any blind spots you may have with your workflow. That way you’ll not only learn how to mix through my Mixing With 5 Plug-ins course, but you’ll also get a custom coaching session to make you feel more confident about all of your future mixes.
All you do is join the Mixing With 5 Plug-ins course here and I’ll send you an email immediately with instructions on how to book your Mix Workflow session.
Looking forward to helping you out,
Keeping Track, Music Mixing