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Topic: mixing advice appreciated

  1. #1

    mixing advice appreciated

    Hi all!
    These are my first compositions for gigastudio and my first mixing experiences. I\'d appreciate it very much if somebody could give his opinion on these mixes.
    Sampel libraries which are used are:
    1. Nosferatu : xsample strings / PMI harpsichors
    2. Good night story : LOP (Glockenspiel) / xsample winds
    3. Melancholia: all xsample
    4. Poursuite: SAM / LOP
    5. Maschinentanz : industrial noise
    6. Neptune : LOP / xsample winds and celesta

    Here\'s the link:

    Thank you very much for taking the time [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Hi Markus,

    My comments will be very general.

    First, I would spend some time cleaning up parts. This consists of many things, but mostly listening to how each note relates to the next/last, and adjusting lines to flow musically without \"stick outs.\" Also, I would rhythmically tighten up the parts--not quantized--but correct any little defects in the rhythm or dynamics of a line which don\'t flow musically. Professional orchestra players are exceedingly accurate, and any rhythmic fluctuation you hear in a performance is controlled. There are some cases where I hear rhythmic fluctuations in your lines which seem most likely to be issues of how they were played. All of those should be cleaned up, to emulate the technical and musical quality of a top-flight instrumentalist at every chair.

    Essentially, you must make each line and each part a world class performance, through playing or editing, then move on to the mix issues.

    As far as the mix, I am hearing two things. First, the parts are not in balance according to their importance. Just as a conductor will balance an ensemble, so must you be aware of where the melodic and artistic interest lies at all times, and keep that part in the spotlight. Not necessarily front and center. One example I heard was in one of the more melodic pieces--there was a melody struggling to be heard, while a series of accompanying whole notes was the strongest part of the mix.

    In general, moving lines are more important than static lines. Rarely should whole notes be held motionless. They should either express forward propulsion or recede. Every note in a piece must go somewhere. There are some cases, of course, where a static effect is desired, but this is almost strictly a deliberate effect. 99% of notes should be leading towards or away from some deliberate point of tension or release. As a producer/mixer of \"virtual\" orchestras, you must make those artistic calls, and shape your work accordingly so that it transcends any single element and works as a deliberate artistic whole.

    Some very basic mix suggestions:

    Just because an instrument is recorded at full bandwidth does not mean that is its best use in a virtual ensemble. Listen carefully to the way one instrument relates to another. If the bass clarinet is extremely warm, and the tuba is extremely brittle, for instance, that will imply that the bass clarinet is right under your nose, and the tuba is so far away that the deepness of the bass is being lost. Probaby, the truth is somewhere in between. As the producer, you must decide where you intend the instruments to sound in relationship to each other and the soundstage, and place them there in their frequency component as well as their panning and volume. Lows carry farther than highs, so the general rule is that you lose detail as you virtually move away from an instrument in a mix setting. You also lose some definition in the lows, and some extreme lows unless the environment you\'re emulating is very bottom responsive.

    I think you are off to a good start. Just begin to build on the mixes you\'ve started. Take a walk whenever you feel frustrated, or find you\'ve lost your objectivity, and when you come back you\'ll likely hear something different. I think if you\'ll go back to the MIDI parts as I mentioned, and really put another round of detail and cleaning into the parts, then re-approach the mixes, you will be happy you spent that time.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Dallas, Texas

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Nice web page, by the way.

  4. #4

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Hi Bruce!
    Thanks a lot for your advices! The problem is: I tried to do almost anything you are saying [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] .
    I think it would help me a lot if you could point out just one exemple for each problem. Then I will try to hear it and find more of those problems by myself. Would you mind telling me where I can find:
    - musical flow interrupted;
    - too static notes (I did a crescendo or decrescendo on each held note - should it be more audible?);
    - rhythm not tight enough (well in Nosferatu I tried to play a \"stumeling\", irregualar rhythm, are there any other irregualrities in the other demos?)
    - one note that doesn\'t lead well to another (same as musical flow interrupted?)
    - one instrument too far at the same time as another too close.
    - one instrument not load enough, while having the melodie.

    And: I\'m don\'t think I\'ll have the time to get back to all of the midi files. Is there one worse than the others which would be specially \"pedagogique\" to work again?
    Thanks again for your help,

  5. #5

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Hi Markus, here are some of my impressions (of the mixing and other things, hard for me to comment on just the mix because when it\'s perfect it ought to be transparent).

    One of my first impressions is that the frequency balances are not to my tastes. Perceptually, we are much more sensitive to high frequencies than low, so if I calibrate my master fader so your low end is as loud as I want to hear it, I then have to turn it down further for the treble passages. Sometimes it sounds like you are ducking your bass to bring the treble closer to -0db. Better to leave the bass level more or less constant with a bit of headroom, and let the bass signal be the carrier for the high frequency signals.

    Also, consider the directionality of signals. We can readily place high frequencies, so you can position these to taste, but bass signals are largely nondirectional, so traditionally they are generally centered. This also allows you to drive more power with the bass, which is perceptually necessary. Now to the songs:

    Nosferatu: the harpsicord sounds stumbly rather than working towards good effect. The cellist plays in my right ear and doesn\'t leak into the left, this would never happen. The violin sometimes randomly jumps in pan position for a couple of notes. If you want to do this, use it as an effect that I can follow, one that holds my interest, or integrate it into the composition as a dialog. Could be an effective piece with a more sensible mix.

    Good night story: Not my style of tune, hard to evaluate. Starts interesting and promising. Then I find the frequency balance more jarring than the composition.

    Melancolia: nice piece. The high flute is out of balance to his pals, too loud (especially as he gets higher) and not modulated like a real player. At the end, there\'s some panning action, which sounds like a dialog between the player and himself. When the position moves, he should have a different tone and compositionally answer or finish his friend. Close to excellent, would be better with a better sounding flute.

    Poursuite: Not my style. Brass tone is isn\'t modulated through passages nor with volume. These guys should be saying something different when they play quietly from what they say when they blast. In the 1:10 area, the retards (the tempo, not the brass players) don\'t sound like a conductor is in control, it sounds like a midi tweak. I would beat it by hand and then tempo match each beat.

    mashinetanz: well it is what it is! There is a frequency order and pattern to great beats, this one doesn\'t find that. Interesting anyway.

    Neptune: pleasant and effective.

    Overall a good collection, plenty of nice work there.


  6. #6

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Hi Sam,
    Thanks - very interesting what you are saying! I\'ll keep an eye on the frequency balance (bass / high frequencies)and the balance. But I am a bit bit worried about this: I didn\'t do any panning... Where could those jumps come from? From the samples (flute and violin are mono)?

  7. #7

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Interesting on the panning... If you didn\'t pan at the mixer and you didn\'t send any pan controllers to GS, then perhaps the panning is in the instrument. In the xsample libs I have, there are usually some straight up instruments, and some that are more extensively programmed and/or effecty. If it\'s not that, then I dunno!


  8. #8

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Allo mon nouveau ami francais. It is a very tough act to follow Bruce. Throw Sam\'s comments into the mix (so to speak) and I think you have plenty to play with. I won\'t attempt to add to what they have stated other than to say there are surely some things to be explored in there.
    Meloncholia and Poursuite stood out for me. And where o where did you get those crunchy machinery sounds? [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] I would like to hear that piece as an intro to something rather than on it\'s own. Then again, you haven\'t had them long!
    chat soon


  9. #9

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Bonjour mon ami canadien!
    Merci d\'avoir ecouté ma musique et donné ton avis! A bientôt,

  10. #10

    Re: mixing advice appreciated

    Hi (again) Bruce!
    I listend to the demos again and I think I know now what you mean. I\'ll take care of that in the further productions. Thanks again for the inspiring suggestions!

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