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Organization is going to be key to your success when you are mixing. This song may seem fairy unruly at 22 tracks, but it's nothing compared to some of the larger mixes these days. Subjective listing while you are mixing is a very right-brain actively, while technical tasks like naming, locating and routing track outputs are very left-brain. Let's go over some strategies to get the left-brain organization done first, so we can stay focused on the right-brain activity as we mix. It's time to get familiar with the Mixer window, hit Command+2 to open it. Here you see all of your tracks that are in the Arrange window, if the Arrange button at the top is checked.
If you select All you'll see All the tracks in your project, even the ones that you are currently using, like the Click track. You can also filter out tracks by type. For example, if you only want to see the Output tracks, we can uncheck the other track types. Now, we are just seeing the Stereo Output. Let's click Arrange again to go back. It's good to be consistent about track order. There are some conventions. It's traditional to put the Kick on the first track because back in the analog days the heavy base sounds used to cross talk over to other tape tracks.
Also, we usually put the vocal around the center of the mix because it's right in the middle of the console at mix position. You can choose whatever order makes the most sense to you, but be consistent from mix to mix. It'll help you be focused. You can move the order of tracks only in the Arrange window. Let's go to the Arrange window to see. To move tracks, go to the Track Header till you have the Hand icon and pull the Track up or down. Let's move this guitar track up. Let's also move the other guitar tracks so they are all together. We will move the SlideGuitar up and we'll move the WahWah guitar up.
Once you have your tracks in order, it's good to color-code them by type for easy visual access. Go back to the Mixer window and we are going to select all of the drum tracks. Drag a selection around all the tracks to select more that one track at one time. Now, we are going to color-code these red. We will go up to the View and choose Colors and choose red. So, all of our drum tracks look red in the Mix window. Let's go back to the Arrange window. It'd be useful, also, to see these colors in the Arrange window. To do this, go up to View, choose Configure Track Header and check the button at the bottom, Track Color Bars.
Click Done. Now we can see that red that we just made for the drum track shows up in the Arrange window. It'll also be useful to color-code our regions as well. So, we have the Kick track selected. We can go up here into Region and choose Color Regions by Channel Strips/Instruments. When I select this, it color-codes the region according to the color we made in the Mixer window. There's also quick key for this. Use a Down arrow to select the next track and use Option+Shift+C. I'll do this for each of these tracks. Great! Now, we have color-coded our regions and our tracks together.
Let's go back to the next window and close the color palette. Selecting more than one track in the Mixer window is useful, because you can move their faders and other operations together. Notice all the drum tracks are still selected since they are white. Watch when I move one of the faders, they all move together. You can also use Groups for the same effect. Let's try this on the BG ox. I'll select both of those tracks. To make a group for tracks, you can single- click in this gray area above the word 'Off.' Now, we can assign both of these tracks to Group 1.
You see a yellow 1 appears in both tracks. Let's go back into that menu and click Open Group Settings. And it opens a window where we can manage the settings for our groups. Double-click the Name field and type 'bg ox,' for background vocals. Hit Return to lock that in. You can also choose what parameters are going to be controlled by our group settings here. Let's close this window and now we can see that even when the tracks aren't selected - I'll deselect those tracks - the faders move together. That's how you can make a group and they are useful when you are mixing.
Notating more significant events a current time can also be useful in mixing. Let's go back to the Arrange window. For example, it's useful when you want to jump to that second chorus or bridge part of the song to work on it without hunting for it. We can use Markers to do this. To get to Markers, you can open the Lists menu on the right-hand side of the Arrange window. Choose the Marker tab. Notice we don't have any Markers yet for our song. Let's move the Playhead to the first chorus, right about here. Now, in the list, hit Create and it makes a Marker. You can see it up in the bar ruler.
We can double-click on the Name and we can change this Marker's Name by typing in 'Chorus.' As you can see, that name is reflected up in the bar ruler. We can also type in a bunch of notes down here. These notes will be accessible to us whenever we click on the Marker in the Lists view. Let's make one more Marker and you'll see what I mean. Let's go to the second chorus, hit Create and double-click here. We will call it Chorus 2. Now, we can use the mouse to click on Chorus 1. You can see our notes, Chorus 2.
It might seem a little time-intensive to do all this organizing. You'll be happy later when all you want to do is make creative judgments, not organize. When you are mixing your song, all this organizing will make it much easier to think clearly.
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