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Every song has some element that acts like a hook to capture the listener's attention. In this video, I'm going to show you how to find that element and emphasize it to bring excitement to your mix. The most important element captures listener's attention. Many times it's the vocal, but it can be other elements as well. Usually it's an element that's so important that without it, the song just wouldn't be the same. Think of the piano line in Coldplay's "Clocks" or the clavinet in Stevie Wonder's "Superstition: or the intro guitar line and the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction." If they weren't there, it would be almost a different song.
Finding the most important mix element is vital to getting a great mix because it's what provides the excitement and the reason for you to listen. In a dance song, it might be the kick drum; in an R&B song it could be the groove; in a pop song it might be an interesting hook than an instrument plays in the intro or the interludes-- and yes, it could even be the vocal in just about any genre. So let's take a listen to our example and see if we can find the most important element. (music playing) There is not a signature line in this kind of song, so we're actually going to go through all of the elements and see which one we'd miss the most if it weren't there, and let's start first with the organ.
(music playing) Okay, we kind of missed it, but it wasn't that big deal that it wasn't there. Let's listen without guitar number one. (music playing) Okay, let's listen without guitar number two. (music playing) Okay, that didn't make all that much of a difference either.
Let's go and listen without the bass. Now this might sound a little radical, but have a listen anyway. (music playing) Now we really missed it, for a couple of reasons. First of all, the bottom, or the foundation of the whole mix, and of course that's a big deal. But the biggest thing is the motion that it adds. Now in some songs you'll find that the motion is added and is really important through guitars, through saxes, through vocals, through any kind of overdubbed instrument, and usually it's not something in the rhythm section with the bass and drums.
In this case, the bass has a special place in that yes, it does add the foundation, but also the movement of the song, and we really miss it. There are many songs where you can mute the bass and just turn the bottom up on the kick-drum and you won't even miss the bass all that much. In this case, you missed it because of the movement. Let's listen one more time. (music playing) So the bass is the most important element in this song, and that's what we're going to emphasize.
Now keep in mind that every song has its own most important element and you have to go through and listen to each one to find out which is the most important for that particular song, that particular arrangement. If something's up, you have to listen to each of the mix's elements to discover exactly which one drives the song. Once that element is found, make sure it's emphasized to take your mix to the next level.
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