Sunday, January 6, 2008

Falling Down: Mixing, EQing, Panning

When I started down the musical path at the tender age of 8 or 9 (can't remember exactly when)... I was only concerned with "live" playing.  I wanted to learn to play the keyboards so I could be a rocking piano man like Billy Joel or Elton John.  Never did I dream it would be important to understand and study the concepts of EQing, mixing tracks, panning, etc.  Later, when I actually started playing with bands, I realized the importance of EQ because the keyboard players' sound tends to get lost in the mix, so I had to figure out ways that my sounds would "cut" through the live mix.  I learned how to EQ my synth patches for a little more "bite", piano would have more punch and highs and sound more thin instead of full.

Now, decades later, I find myself needing to learn more stuff yet again.  I guess ya never stop learning, eh?  I'm trying to get this song, "Falling Down" into a semi-final form and I find that it just doesn't sound the way I want it to (for more reasons than the obvious "I can't play these other instruments well" thing).  Aside from the fact that I just can't program drums, the drums just don't quite get it (but they're almost there).  Then there's the problem of panning sounds in the stereo field.  The Rhodes sound originally came in a bit to the right, while the drums and the synth pad were fairly balanced on both sides.  Then the guitars come in, one panned to one side, the other to the other side.  The guitars do not come in at the same time, so there's a time when the stereo field feels unbalanced.  But is that really a problem?

We're so used to balanced stereo fields these days, but it wasn't always so.  One of the most influential albums ever, Sgt. Peppers, was not really a stereo album at all.  John Lennon was creative in how he used mono sources and placed them in the stereo field.  If one of your stereo speakers blew out on you, it meant you couldn't listen to this album properly (either you'd lose the drums or the guitars).  This album is not a balanced stereo field and its a milestone in musical history!  Perhaps I don't need to concern myself with my song so much and just enjoy the creative journey.

After all, this is a labor of love.  I should be able to enjoy the journey... the problem is that I'm a perfectionist, perhaps along the lines of John Lennon.  When Lennon was asked if he'd go back an re-record or remix any of the Beatles' songs, he replied, "All of them."  I know how you feel John, a musical project is never "finished", you just run out of time.

No comments:

My Music - The Phos

#Google Analytics