How Subtlety Makes You Fall In Love With a Mix Over and Over Again
I was driving around town the other day.
Going a route I’ve gone a thousand times before.
But this time I happened to notice this house that I’d never seen before.
Even though I drive past that house all the time I was pretty sure I was seeing it for the first time.
Hearing New Things Every Time
Isn’t that exactly what great music is all about?
Being able to listen again and again to a certain musical production but it’s so elaborate you keep hearing new things every time you hear it?
Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart” comes to mind when I say that. It seems there’s always something new in that song every time I hear it.
And that’s exactly what you should strive for when you’re producing.
Make your listener discover new things in your mix every time. -Click to Tweet!
Look at it like an Easter Egg hunt of sorts where you’ve strewn all these cool production ideas and mixing tricks into your song for the listener to discover.
Some elements are “filler” but they shouldn’t just be thrown into the background without another thought.
Subtle Mixing of Percussion
Take percussion for example:
I’m mixing this song and we overdubbed congas and tambourine over the drum beat.
Now I look at that percussion as a secondary instrument that shouldn’t take away from the drums.
So I mix the percussion in very softly with the drums. You can barely hear it but by being subtle I accomplish two things:
- The congas add a rhythmic pulse to the song that enhance the drum beat. Even though you can’t really hear the congas you can definitely feel them adding to the rhythm.
- The tambourine fills up the drum mix. It adds to the backbeat in the quiet verses when it’s played along the snare and it adds excitement in the choruses when it’s shaken along with the rhythm.
So even though the percussion doesn’t take the lead in any way it makes the other instruments shine. Next time you’re mixing, think about how you can blend some instruments into the background so that they’re felt rather than heard.
It’s the careful blending of instruments like this that makes never noticed that before!”
For more on my approach to mixing and how to spice up your productions check out Recording & Mixing Strategies:
Image by: John-Morgan