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After you've finished recording, a good rough mix is important to allow you to hear what you've recorded and how well everything works together. If you're a Pro Tools user, and you have access to the exercise files, you can open the Pro Tools Session file called rough mix and follow along. You can find out a lot more about mixing in my Audio Mixing Bootcamp course here on lynda.com, but in the meantime, here are some quick steps to setting up a rough mix. In order to get a great rough mix, you have to understand the nature of a musical arrangement.
Every type of music consists of five major elements. Let's take a listen to each of these elements within the Pro Tools Tracking Session we created for the Iyeoka track, Simply Falling. The first is the foundation which provides the pulse of the song. This usually comes from the bass and drums, although it could come from any instrument with a lot of low frequency information, like a tuba. Let's have a listen to the foundation element of Simply Falling. (music playing) Next is the rhythm, which provides the feeling of motion in the song.
This can come from a strumming guitar, a piano playing eighth notes or an arpeggiated line, or percussion instruments like congas or shakers. Let's listen to the rhythm element of Simply Falling. (music playing) The next major element is the pad, which provides the glue to the song.
This is a long sustaining note or a chord that can come from an organ, strings, a synthesizer, or even power chords from an electric guitar. Let's listen to the pad element in Simply Falling. (music playing) Next, we have the lead, which provides the melody of the song.
This is usually the vocal or instrument or instruments playing the melody. As you would expect, the lead element of Simply Falling is the lead vocal. (music playing) And finally, the fills, which provides interest. The fills can come from almost any instrument that's playing a counterline to the melody or in between the phrases of the lead.
In this case, the piano plays the fills. (music playing) Good arrangers and producers know that having more than five elements playing in the song at the same time is confusing to the listener and most songs rarely have all five occurring at once.
That doesn't mean that there can't be more than five instruments playing at once, though. In most cases, a number of instruments are playing the same part in different registers and they make up a single element. As an example, here we have two keyboard parts, but they make up a single pad. (music playing) The key to a powerful sounding rough mix of any kind of music is to remember that the foundation instruments must be in the forefront of the mix while the lead can be at the same level, a little more, or a little less.
The other instruments are added at levels somewhat less than the other elements. To sum it all up, most great arrangements consist of no more than five musical elements occurring at the same time, the foundation, the pad, the rhythm, the lead, and the fills. Regardless of the music, a powerful mix always has the foundation instruments at the forefront with the lead vocal or instrument around the same level. The other instruments are usually mixed in at a lesser level. To find out a lot more about the sequence to mixing, check out the Audio Mixing Bootcamp course.
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