Music Tutorials

Mixing Midsomer Variations

I was asked to show a whole track being mixed. Normally that is a tiny bit difficult for me as I have the track essentially mixed by the time I have finished composing it so there isn’t a discrete process wherein I go through and Mix things.

But I was disciplined as I worked on this track and did nothing past making sure things weren’t horribly off. That means that I can walk you through the mixdown & evolution of a track.

Mixing

This is essentially what I do in that stage between Composing & Mastering. In this video I also walk you through what I do if it is not my composition and I have been asked to mix it. This is actually good information as it helps you to understand the role of Instruments & Parts and how they express the Arrangement of the Story (Song or Piece). If you do this to one of your pieces, it may actually change how you approach your mix.

This is relatively simple mix in some ways but a complex piece of music nonetheless. You will note that I don’t do any complex producery stuff. My process is actually pretty simple.

Now, I do have the advantage of working with a great composer & performers who have already delivered a well realized piece. Ok so I kid but only somewhat. The fabulous original piece (which I studiously don’t show you here lest YouTube be upset) was written by Jim Parker for the the TV Show “Midsomer Murders” and I have written a set of variations as a second half. These are to echo the sorts of incidental music you hear throughout an episode which clearly carry some of the main theme.

If your composer & performers have delivered scrappy material, your mix will never be so easy. Matter of fact, you may need to accept that it is un-save-able. That or call it “raw” and mix it at such. There is a reason that acts like Motorhead & Venom generally had very unsophisticated (non-producery) mixes. Fans love the honesty & directness of those records. if you are an Indie Muso, then never underestimate the value of raw passion over technicalities (that you haven’t earned or delivered).

I am able to handle the whole mix with little more than Tone adjustments via the use of the stock SSL EQ features. I only use compression twice, when I felt that they really added something necessary. I never complicate something that doesn’t need it. To me that is failing the Story of the song by adding my ego over the top.

Mastering

Forget what you think you know about Mastering. Much of it is probably wrong. Yes a great Mastering Engineer is a god in his profession, but most of what you hire him (or her) for is his brain, not some arcane plugins or outboard gear. Mastering is about craftsmanship. Knowing what to do and when.

Before & After

A well mixed & mastered piece shouldn’t necessarily sound that different. It should just sound better, brighter, bolder: more “right”. Here you can hear the piece before – after the Mix & Master work.

BEFORE

Levels brought up but not mixed or mastered

AFTER

the final output from the videos above

Father Brown Variations & Re-Voice – Whole Session

This is along one as it is one single, unedited take of one session that includes the Production, Mix & Master for a re-voice of my variations based on the very cool “Father Brown” TV Theme by Debbie Wiseman with my variations moved to very different voicings.

This is everything I did to take the MIDI + Assigned Instruments (that I already made in the arrangement) to a final exported mix.

a whole Production, Mix & Master Session

You will see I had issue with a lead sound. Initially it was a bit too clever for its own good but I also got tripped by headphones not giving me the proper stereo information. Once I was out of cans, I could hear that the Chorus for that sound had polarized the sound so it was all left, all right, no middle (the widener would not have helped). That made it very hard to sit in the mix until I could hear it & narrow it. This fix also allowed me to use automation on the Ring Mod component to let it show its “clever” face a couple of times in the mix.

The original compositions belong to the respective composers. These performances & variations are my work, based on the originals. For teaching & display purposes only. This is Portfolio work and not intended to earn any direct income.

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