Today i discover that mixing is creative process. Feel free to make whatever thing and try whatever. Maybe you make something you like. :DDDDD
Absolutely! In fact, I would go as far as to say that the entire process of creating music is a creative process, from writing and producing (obviously) all the way to mixing and mastering.
For me, it’s all about building up a toolkit that you can use. Many people do things differently, and you can learn a lot by watching other people mix tracks. There are different techniques and styles, and the more of these you can learn the more robust your knowledge of mixing will become and the better you will be at applying them in your own work (or your clients’ if you are hired to work on a mix for someone else). The toolbelt you use can be a creative choice, as well as how you choose to use those tools.
I think it’s important to have the mindset of an “eternal-student”, always trying and willing to learn and grow instead of letting yourself believe that you’ve “mastered” a skill. I think that’s when growth stops.
That was a bit of a tangent, but hopefully, it was at least somewhat relevant.
Your comments about the “eternal student” applies is many areas apart from music and creativity. But our focus here is supposed to be about music . I have been using an old Realistic SSM2200 for a long time and even with such simple analogue equipment probably much can be achieved. Now I am learning to use an Edirol M16 digital mixer and that is a bit of a challenge, but the challenge should spur us on to greater heights
I’ve got two switches; creative mixing and genre-specific mixing
Creative is a lot of fun. Using OTT a million times, delving into modular (I’m sure I’ve mentioned my obsession with FM by now), and resampling the aftermath is like a game to me, producing an infinite variety of results every time. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’ll come up with, but you can always stash the sounds for later if you didn’t come up with an arrangement in this process.
Genre-specific / traditional mixing is like a whole separate can of worms, and with rock and metal especially it’s way more challenging (fight me), because you can’t always just design your way out of a difficult scenario. You’re kind of stuck with the instruments you’ve got, and you have to make them sound as best as you possibly can - in the electronic world, you can have 60 separate snares coming in and out and nobody will blink an eye, but if you have to make the one snare that gets triggered 300 times in your song sound full-bodied and not too annoying, get ready to bite your nails.
Don’t get me started with guitar tone, either. Sometimes you can pull out some OTT or other design tricks, but mostly if you don’t dial them back below 45% you’re going to have a complete mess of a track.
Neither style is better than another, but the point I’m trying to make is that while creative mixing is valid, there’s a bunch of people in a completely different headspace doing something else. When you have a very specific goal, it’s like playing the game on hard mode, and your critics are even tougher (as they should be).
I mean, that is basically the essence of Dub music which is arguably one very important grandparent of not only hip hop but much electronic music and DJ culture. (and, no, I will not ever stop bringing up Dub’s relevance to electronic music, you fucking Philistines lmao <3 ).
DUb music is so important it makes my teeth hurt when people don’t recognize! If it wasn’t for dub producers bands like Massive Attack would’ve never blessed us!
I had the pleasure of learning from Mad Professor, way back… and he once told me that my job wasn’t to be creative, but to listen… and appreciate what the artist I either am mixing for need or truly learn whagweh! (what’s going on with someone) if you want to produce music. This was later echoed by various persons I’ve met throughout my life, and everyone in the industry always echos the same thing, know your role!
Are you a artist? Well, go be creative! Leave being overly technical, and correct to the people who will tear apart your work, and help you become better!
Mixing engineer? Records, post, or field-engineer? Find people who want to trust you to sit behind their fav. engineer, and mix stuff how that engineer mixes! Then build your own clientele, or you have a clientele? Then make sure a label, is paying you as the mixing engineer, and you are getting recognizable credit for your work!
Your a DJ/Producer, get on record pulls, and mailing list so you can get hot dubplates(white label not released tracks). Get in with a crow, and eventually ask for stems to do remixes of an established artist. If your a producer who actually knows music theory, bravo, no need to higher loads of talent to actual write sheet music for others to interpret in a session!
Producer… know our contracts, fundamentals of scales/chords, and how to clearly communicate your vision for a project. You are the person who is there to help drive the story along. Most often it is not your music, so don’t get tied to it! If you have the biz savy and are doing all the music biz stuff, bravo, but your not a producer at that point, you are a bizness man!
Sound Designer - usually get handed a list of items as your w.i.p. for the week, or day… and need to knock out a bunch of concepts per line item. Most of the time not much mixing, just making sure parts are to whatever specified LFSU that the Senior Engineer is asking for.
Foley Artist … you messy little sod! I won’t even acknowledge your disgusting pleasure, and wicked fun! But also usually not a mixing engineer!
Mastering Engineer - These guys are usually so far from being creative, it is ridiculous! Bob Ludwig might have 1-15 credits for playing a part on a song, highly doubt it…Bob Katz, Mike Marsh, and the late Nilesh Patel, BERNIE GRUNDMAN are a few that come to mind. None of these people invest money into instrumentation, they have worked at studios that have instruments, but do not specialize in playing.
Bedroom/Hobbyist - will probably do it all, and most likely overdo it! Which is why it’s fun and creates crazy artists, inventors, and modular enthusiasts from all walks of life!
This isn’t to say that people can’t be creative while mixing, but thin of mixing in a few ways and you can kill a mixdown!
Problem Solving - Gain Staging, Highpass, automate the dry/wet of verbs, etc. Clean up.
Flow/Dynamic Control - get those eq filtered transitions right, you got some nice curves on your cans miss!, automated effects that need to be cuttoff in time…
Creative - Ok all of the guitars, and bazookas have been grouped together, let’s send em into a. channel that has a cowbell with a verb on it every so often! Then turn it all up to 11, when my ripping distorted fart line comes in! but i need those ducks to fade to the right when Sally does her solo on the Theremin!
Time and place for everything, and a different hat to wear for each job! Or some ish like that
A detailed answer!
Yes, I also believe that creating music is so creative. One of my friends is a musician and I do spend time with him on weekends.
Everything is an art. Sound design, composition, mixing, even mastering. But mastering is less of an art than the others (since it’s mostly about engineering the audio).
In what way do you think my comment about being an “eternal student” does not apply to music?
As far as I can tell, one has to learn and practice how to play, write, produce, mix, master, etc. These aren’t skills someone just has naturally (typically). You have to improve over time. If you want to get really good you should always be driven to learn as much as you can. That’s what the eternal student mindset is, so I think it’s perfectly relevant.
That’s why I love mixing. There are no rules and you depend on your creativity.
What’s strange is that a lot of people have been noticing a pattern – when given the same stems, they can essentially erase and recreate an entire mix from the ground-up and the results are nearly negligible, especially to the listener (spoiler: your reverb sends don’t matter as much as you think, either!)
This has opened me up to the idea that we might only have one mix, in a given set of circumstances.
The only thing that seems to defy this very soft rule is time; my mixes have gotten way different over the past 20 years, and that’s obviously supposed to happen. But given who you are right now, I don’t think it’s quite as creative and malleable as I used to believe. Making music is, but the mix might really boil down to your ears and how you perceive things, added to whatever you’re mixing on.
If you really want a different impact on the listener, just record different music. It’s a lot faster!