Mixing in music is a procedure where we blend different tracks with audio content to make a musical piece. The general idea is to merge them together and make one resulting peace where everything is balanced. In a way, all instruments create a pleasing result. In this scenario a producer or engineer try’s to combine different techniques to obtain a uniform result where all instruments are matched, and they all have their room and place in the mix. There is a hole array of tools that help in this task, being the Mixing Console the most obvious but not the only one. With all recorded instrument or vocals tracks assigned to one channel each on the console, the engineer set’s the input gain and output father so all are combined in the way wanted. This is being simplistic and it is what I want for this post at this point, I will work down the post providing further detail and I will complement with an other post soon.

For now let’s say that the relative volume of all parts have a necessary matching amplitude between each other. This requires attention to all parts. Finding room in the frequency spectrum, the stereo image and the depth picture for every instrument is a planning and exercising task. On top of this the producer needs to provide room to make one or another predominant at different time when they have the lead roll on the track (vocals, guitar, keyboards etc.). He also needs to glue them al together in a way that they are tight in a musical sense.

Mixing the STW project is different in many ways. I mean different not harder or easier. The goal for the STW mix is different and the approach changes, Slice is covering a song and will be predominant over the backing track. The first peculiarity is that we use the original song as a backing track, this source has already been mixed and mastered, there for we have little headroom there to work with. Specially if we want to keep as much as possible of the original as possible. So we already have a mix that has been maxed out in frequency spectrum and layout, Stereo image and Depth. In other words our box is full.

Second we want to put Slice’s performance on top in the most respectful way and at the same time provides sufficient performance data that the listener can distinguish Slice form the original. It is obvious that the first approach will be decrease the level of the original just enough to provide room for Slice.

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Amplitude Diagram

This however has a flaw to it Slice is not covering the full spectrum range so we need to work in two dimensions amplitude (volume) and tone (frequencies). This leaves us with a moral issue, How? I don’t want to alter the original, so I intend to introduce no effects or mods to the original and EQ would be just that, so ruled off.

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Frequency Spectrum Diagram

A third dimension is the stereo image, this has an easier approach, the solution here is to widen the stereo image using stereo enhancement on the new performance and play with the stereo gaps of the original. the same as with Depth it seems reasonable to bring the added performances to the front and widen this dimension.

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Stereo image and Depth Diagram     

Also to be considered is the fact that not al songs on the STW project are in the same style or mood. While not a limiting fact it does need to be brought through on the cover mix not just in the performance done by Slice, but also in the production part. This also requires planning and getting the hole picture in to scope before you even start recording. If you don’t get the mood right and this is some times not that easy you may end up with an out of place cover and have affected the mode of the original song.

Some mixes are very busy the same as others have more room and are more disperse, This variation in the amount of instruments fighting to get room in the mix is an additional over head. They can’t be treated in the same way and it is not always the case that less busy mixes are easier since you in theory have more room. Silence is one of the hardest instruments to work with, and some times calm and clean passages can give more work than expected. having a full idea of how you will treat a specific song and how you will use the space or lack of it is key to getting your desired results.

The first cover we have done, putting all this theory together is the Cover to Gun’s ‘N’ Roses ballad Don’t Cry form the Use Your Illusion 1 album. Here Slice only performs 3 different guitars, and only 2 simultaneously at any time. This is a Ballad and mood is very important and predominant in different parts of the song so this had to be accounted for. Also this song builds form a relatively relaxed mix to a busier one during the chorus, the solo, and the finale. so two different approaches where necessary.Finally the original song used as the backing track is a potent one and the Vocals by Axel Rose and the Guitar craft by Slash mesh in a dramatic mix, this made a big difference sin Slice had to com in on that same mood and not lose the effect. Yes we needed to overpower Slash at some part, but still wanted to keep the presence of his mastering sound.      

I have to admit that there are some things that can be done to this mix to improve the result but it was the first attempt and I was also a bit overrun by the video and Chroma key part. Yes this is my excuse, but lest see what comes out with the next covers.

That’s about all for now on this. I will get some more stuff coming soon.

Pease comment Winking smile and thanks for taking the time in reading.

Follow Slice in his YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/inside71slice

Ian Burt

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