This mixing tutorial by Brian Malouf shows how to EQ the acoustic piano when it’s part of a bigger, denser musical bed. He shows you a few of his favorite methods for EQ, compression, and even panning and placement of the piano within a full rhythm track, and also discusses the contextual role of this percussive instrument.
- [Voiceover] The grand piano is a percussion instrument,…remember, and it has lots of overtones…and an abundance of transience…and both of those things take up a…huge amount of space in a pop mix.…So, I've chosen a song that is otherwise…rather dense, and so, I really felt like this…grand piano had to be pretty small…and compact to fit into this rather large soundscape.…So, let me play a little bit of this song for you.…(slow pop music)…This is really a pretty straightforward process.…
This is obviously some sort of upright piano…and it sounds like it even might be a tack piano,…at least a lightly tacked piano…and, if this were a song where it was…maybe just piano and vocal and a…regular grand piano, that's when you can…let the piano just be full range.…Many people would not add top end…or shave off the bottom end on a piano…that's a sole accompaniment to a vocal,…let's say, a piano vocal track,…but in a large track like this, I think it's…prudent to realize that certain elements…of the piano are taken care of…
Brian starts with the basics of creating a mix template and getting a good raw balance of the instruments in the mix. He then dives deep into signal processing techniques on many types of instruments, including drums, bass, guitar, keys, vocals, percussion, strings, and brass. He'll pick out and treat individual tracks with compression and EQ, add space with reverb and echo, and modulate the sound with flangers and phase shifters. Pro Tools is used throughout the course, but the techniques will work equally well with the DAW of your choice.
- Customizing a mix template
- Understanding the interplay of volume, panning, EQ, and dynamics
- Processing drums
- Processing lead and background vocals
- Gain processing
- Treating the bass guitar and synth guitar
- Placing piano in the mix
- Treating strings and brass