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Old 02-16-2021, 04:15 PM   #41
garanimals
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I'm very nervous about my mix this month.

Sometimes I get focused on the wrong thing in a mix and forget about the rest.

On the House of Kush, the host talks about not focusing on the thing that you are adjusting.

I do the opposite and for long stretches and lose site of the rest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=we4ImwgRmBg


Sorry for rambling...
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:22 PM   #42
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Err, did they really? I don't have a lot of experience with different tracked material, but some of the recordings didn't seem good at all. And I'm pretty sure a lot of them had already been processed in various ways, not always with good results...

The first example that comes to mind is the lead vocal track: either a gate was used while tracking, or the track was processed post-tracking, with a gate -- that chopped off some of the ends of the signal/words/phrases. There was also a couple bad punch-ins, some of the part editing was choppy, where a single phrase didn't sound fluid, like a single take would... There was also a lot of background noise in the lead vocal track. And a ton of sibilance...

The main acoustic guitar track was pieced together - and the seams were sloppy, there was distortion at the seams, that sounded harsh, bad, unnatural...

The piano track was grossly...mis-eq'ed. Way too much low-end, not enough high end. And of course it came with its own stereo pan wide and reverb baked-in. Similar applies to the drum kit.

So, I didn't find them to be very good. Most frustrating was the lead vocal, as it is a very vox-centered kind of song. I found that I really wanted to get more 'information', more detail, from the vocal track - that just wasn't there. When I really tried to hone-in, drill down on it, the sound quality was only passable... Similar applies to the backing vocals... I think the backing vocals had already been processed with some vocal tuning, a lot of the parts just sounded bad, unnatural, with that kind of robotic-synthesized sound...
I've mixed better recorded tracks, but I think the arrangement on this was really strong so it was easier to work with the some others.

I thought the lead vocal was pretty well done.

I just tried to make sure it was balanced well.

But!!! I have no idea if my mix is any good. I like listening to it
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:37 PM   #43
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I've mixed better recorded tracks, but I think the arrangement on this was really strong...
I thought the arrangement was terrible. You'll see that when you hear my mix, as I did a lot of rearranging...

I wish I knew more about the process, the genesis of this song/material. I kept thinking, 'What is this all about?', "this" being this or that arrangement/musical decision. Basically, it seemed like someone was trying to turn a soulful folk-like-ballad into a circa. 1992 pop song. The result was a terrible mismatch, mish-mash of all sorts of elements.

When it comes to the arrangement alone, the seemingly boiler-plate pop song structure (ABABCAB) didn't work for the material/the subject, while the harmonic progression itself didn't suggest it, either... We needed a couple extra chords, for instance - that weren't there - to really make that structure work...

I could go on and on about this stuff, after having spent the last 10 days working through all these issues. It's really interesting to me. But, it doesn't seem like people around here are very talkative, so I'll leave it at that.
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:44 PM   #44
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That's too bad! I really like the song!
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Old 02-16-2021, 04:59 PM   #45
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^ The "song" is very nice - and there are a ton of good things in the material we got, I mean, some really beautiful stuff. The arrangement, however, was not good.

Maybe we're having different conceptions/definitions of "arrangement." The "arrangement" is the order of the major parts of the song - such as verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge and so forth. The 'song' itself is... what's at a lower level, underneath all that - like the basic melody, the basic chord progression, the words... Like, you could re-arrange the song, "Happy Birthday," in different ways - but the song would still be "Happy Birthday":

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday to you.

Change the arrangement:

Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday dear Garanimals
Happy birthday to you.

Same song, different arrangement.



[Later...]

I had to check wikipedia for its definition of "arrangement." Mine above is too narrow - only one component of 'arranging'. Here's a snip from the wikipedia article:

"In music, an arrangement is a musical reconceptualization of a previously composed work. It may differ from the original work by means of reharmonization, melodic paraphrasing, orchestration, or development of the formal structure. Arranging differs from orchestration in that the latter is limited to assignment of notes to instruments for performance by an orchestra, concert band, or other musical ensemble. Arranging "involves adding compositional techniques, such as new thematic material for introductions, transitions, or modulations, and endings... Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety"."

Figured I'd post the lyrics for A Sailor Once More, as best I could hear them. Along with the basic melody these are sung to, this is the 'song'. I was looking for lyrics when I did the mix, couldn't find them, so, posting them now might help someone else at some point:

verse 1:
Young man on land,
wanted(?) for the sea
Fire in his heart
with a life he believes
"He'll get his sea legs soon" -
it's what his family needs.

verse 2:
On the day that he departed
made(?) into the sea
it was stillness on the water
And a calmness in the breeze
"He's followin' in the footsteps" -
to build on his father's legacy.

Chorus:
A sailor was born
A sailor was born
His lanterns light the shore
A sailor was born.

verse 3:
As the land that they departed
was no longer in sight
There were dark clouds in the distance
Turning day to night
The sound of the thunder
The flashes of the light.

(Repeat chorus)

verse 4:
Their (or there'r for 'there are') tales of a young man
who's (contraction for 'who was') lost out at sea
who had fire in his heart
With life he believed
In the village they will gather
to honor him on the eve
To remember the young man
and all his legacy.

(Repeat chorus - but change "was born" to "once more" in a couple places, such as at end).


The most important thing I reflected on when doing my mix was the story, this story. I think it took me a day or two to actually realize the basic structure, the story form, etc. It's obvious when you see the lyrics written - not so obvious listening to them sung barely above the cacophony of other un-mixed tracks. I pictured someone trying to understand what the song was even about - and it was hopeless without re-arranging. One would be hard-pressed to tell it was a story, and one told chronologically; they'd probably never figure out what it was actually about - unless the arrangement and mix were right...

It's a sad story... It's also pretty interesting, or can be. There's a lot of...'double meanings' and stuff. I think there's also multiple contexts, different sets and settings. It's really hard to convey 'all that' to the prospective listener without re-arranging, without the proper mix... Frankly, there's a ton of depth and complexity, that goes beyond what one might think upon first hearing 'this simple ditty'.

Last edited by eq1; 02-16-2021 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 02-16-2021, 08:55 PM   #46
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The power came back on after over 30 hours and I was able to complete and submit my mix while my house was warming up again. It means a lot to me to be able to participate this month, so thank you for the extension. I can't wait to hear how everyone else mixed the track.
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:15 AM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eq1 View Post
Figured I'd post the lyrics for A Sailor Once More, as best I could hear them. Along with the basic melody these are sung to, this is the 'song'. I was looking for lyrics when I did the mix, couldn't find them, so, posting them now might help someone else at some point:

verse 1:
Young man on land,
wanted(?) for the sea
{"Maiden for the sea" - as in his first voyage}
Fire in his heart
with a life he believes
"He'll get his sea legs soon" -
it's what his family needs.

verse 2:
On the day that he departed
made(?) into the sea {see above}
it was stillness on the water
And a calmness in the breeze
"He's followin' in the footsteps" -
to build on his father's legacy.

Chorus:
A sailor was born
{"A Sailor Once More" in every chorus after the first chorus}
A sailor was born
His lanterns light the shore
{"His lantern's light to shore" - the way they used to signal from ship to shore}
A sailor was born.
Just a few corrections...
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Old 02-17-2021, 03:57 PM   #48
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^ Not sure where you got these corrections from, but most of them don't match what I have in my audio file...

"Maiden for the sea" makes sense, but it's in the 2nd verse (or rather 1st verse 2nd stanza). It'd be "Maiden to the sea," rather than "for" the sea, though... The word after "Young man on land" in the 1st verse 1st stanza definitely begins with a "w"...

I definitely hear "was born" in the first and second chorus, at beginning phrases and ending phrase. The only times "once more" is used is the ending phrases of the last three repeats of the chorus. So the last three repeats of the chorus are:

"A sailor was born
A sailor was born
His lanterns light the shore
A sailor once more."

I definitely hear "the" in all repetitions of "his lanterns light the shore," rather than "to"... This is actually a potentially interesting little difference; I was thinking that this might be a literal truth - that there's a memorial to 'some sailor', with say paper lanterns that light the shore - like people do when they're memorializing someone or some event... It can also be taken as figurative - figuratively speaking, the honored sailor's lanterns continue to 'light the shore', as if the sailor were looking down from heaven or wherever... Lots of potential interpretations for this. The tale, the song itself, can be seen as part of that 'light' that the sailor continues to cast, as there's a moral to the story and those who listen are supposed to grasp it...


Now, whether the original lyrics are this, I don't know. But I know what I'm hearing in the audio file, mostly. Don't know what that one word is - "Young man on land, [insert two syllable word starting with a "w"]* for the sea..."

* This could be a one syllable word with an "a" before it, "a w---- for the sea," or it could be a two syllable word with an "a" before it, "a w--- --- for the sea". It's probably not "wanted for the sea" as I originally questioned... Could it be "a warrant for the sea?" I think that would make sense: "a commission or document giving authority to do something." So, the young man gets a 'commission' to go to sea...


I'm actually still working with this. I never dealt much with de-essing, and the lead vox needs it. My mix was still full of harsh esses. I'm going to try some 'spectral editing' to see how that works...

Last edited by eq1; 02-17-2021 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 02-17-2021, 05:03 PM   #49
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I actually considered stacking JS De-esser instances but did t want to kill the high end definition. Probably should have at least tried it though. I can see a possible use for taming this further with ReaXComp as well.
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Old 02-17-2021, 05:55 PM   #50
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This is what I'm trying - it seems like the perfect tool for the problem (Kenny vid on spectral editing):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSBO...ature=youtu.be

So far (one "ssss" tackled) it seems like it will work well. Just have to work with it some more...

[Later...]

Wow, this is a really powerful tool. It'd be perfect for drilling-down into, say, a lead vocal audio file and cleaning it up. If I had time and knew about this tool before the Feb contest, I would have gone through the lead vox track and done just that. There are all sorts of problems with it... For example - not that I'm gonna do this - but, I could focus-in on the location where that one muddy word is - "warrant"? - and actually manipulate the loudness of different frequencies to bring out the word better. That's the micro level.

On the flip side - probably the most macro-level you'd want to use the tool at - I can select an entire phrase, such as the first phrase, "Young man on land" - that's too quiet relative to the rest in the stanza - and increase the level of the entire phrase with a spectral edit. It's more or less the same as if you were to split the item and increase the item volume, but here it can become a part of one preliminary process - cleaning up the source audio. You'd clean it up, export, and that'd become the input from there on out... Pretty useful.


-"He'll get his sea legs soon" - this actually sounds like "He'll get a sea leg soon"... I always thought the saying was "his sea legs"... Maybe he's a one-legged sailor...

Last edited by eq1; 02-17-2021 at 08:25 PM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:21 AM   #51
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I heard it simply as Young man on land | Want for the sea
Later on, He'll get 'is sea legs soon, only with the 'i' in "(h)is" pronounced more like an 'e' as in "bed"

As far as the mixing went, personally I had a blast with this one. The textures it uses made it challenging, but also exciting. Loved the story too. The recording quality honestly felt like a fairly decent representation of how typical raw multitrack files are to work with. Certainly not pristine, but I'd say still pretty serviceable
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Old 02-18-2021, 04:01 PM   #52
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I heard it simply as Young man on land | Want for the sea...
After listening to it over and over, working with the 'spectral edit' thing, I'm pretty sure this is "a warrant for..." It makes logical sense, and there's definitely more than a single syllable there...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiny Tortoise View Post
Later on, He'll get 'is sea legs soon, only with the 'i' in "(h)is" pronounced more like an 'e' as in "bed"...
The funny thing working with vocal audio up close like I have been, is that stuff starts to sound really weird. Up close it sounds like "a sea leg," 'zoom-out' and it again sounds like "his sea legs," where like you say "his" kind of loses the "h."


Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiny Tortoise View Post
The recording quality honestly felt like a fairly decent representation of how typical raw multitrack files are to work with. Certainly not pristine, but I'd say still pretty serviceable
You'd likely know better than me, as I haven't worked with much. But, the vocal track, for instance, is really noisy, and grainy. The gate is poorly timed/set - every vocal phrase has a cloud of 'stuff' that goes along with it, and you (I) can clearly hear it all when the gate opens and closes...

I also/actually wondered whether these, or at least the vox, was a transfer from tape. I've done more of that, and the 'cloud of noise' reminded me of it. There's also noise above about 10k that shows up in say reaeq's spectrogram thing - that also reminds me of a tape transfer, where you try to get rid of the noise with a low pass filter, where the tape recorder itself doesn't capture much of anything useful above about 10k. Plus, in general, the material sounds old - I mentioned "1992" - I'm pretty sure the drum machine is an Alesis SR16, the drumkit pattern for the bridge strikes me as being a rhythm that was especially popular in about 1992...

Hence, old material?, possibly a tape transfer? Or maybe just older A/D converter tech at play... I've actually never tracked anything on newer/newish digital equipment - but, when I do, I will be thoroughly depressed if the quality is as bad as this vocal track. It doesn't sound much if any better than some of the digitizations of 4-track tape material I've done.


edit: I think I'm leaning toward old A/D tech, rather than tape transfer. It sounds too clear and not as noisy as transfers I've done from tape. But the distortion, maybe some of the noise (not the background noise) seems reminiscent of cheaper A/D converters I used many years ago.

Last edited by eq1; 02-18-2021 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:07 PM   #53
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Just want to say Iím super excited to hear all of the mixes. This is my first time participating and canít wait to see what everyone did with this tune. I mix a lot of self recorded local bands, so to me, these tracks were pretty nice to work with. While not perfect (Iím looking at you essing and gating), they were recorded at a higher quality than 70% of the stuff Iím working with day to day. Still hoping to break into that world of getting sent really well recorded tracks all of the time. Hoping doing more of these contests, and learning from this group helps me get there some day!
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Old 02-18-2021, 08:58 PM   #54
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Good stuff brought up by all...interesting the depth going into the vox tracks. I took a very minimalist approach on this one. I basically mixed a few days when I had the moments...mostly pan and leveling at first...then EQ and some automation. I like the final result ...its ultimately how i preferred to hear the songs story balanced out on my references(phones and monitors). Hopefully its a contender...but I know were all at varied skill levels...and preference. Good luck to all, I look forward to hearing your takes...thanks for this opportunity again to be a part of this.
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Old 02-19-2021, 03:48 PM   #55
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After a couple of days working with just 3 parts of the vocal track, spectral editing - I'm bummed that it's not going so well. Very very difficult...

Just wanted to say a few things about quality: I'm really leaning toward older A/D converter tech, now, as an explanation for what seems to me to be low quality vox audio. The "sss" sounds, the sibilance, isn't really 'just' sibilance, it's massive distortion across most of the frequency spectrum. It's reminding me of some things I read in a book called "Digital Audio Explained, for the Audio Engineer."

I'm thinking maybe the sibilance, this 'distortion,' might be due to 'aliasing', or maybe just bad 'filtering' or something like that with too-hot levels? Can't say I was able to fully digest all (most) of the information in that book, it's pretty complicated material... It's just weird the way the "sss" sounds end up being spread out all over the audio - and I can't isolate just the good "sss" sound without distorting the intelligibility of the 'phoneme' or whatever, like the transition from "ss" in "sailor" to the "ai" sound in "sailor." My end results have usually come up sounding like the singer has a serious lisp!

It's actually pretty fascinating - just how bad some of these "ss" words sound - yet on just a casual listen you don't really notice, you can actually make out the whole word fine... The "sss" is harsh, but the whole word is completely intelligible. It's like there's just enough information that your brain can fill in the gap for you...

The phrase "following in his footsteps" is the perfect example: that phrase, when you really listen, is truly muddled, the "ss" sound in "his," the "tst" sound in "footsteps." I don't know how long I tried to fix it, a long time, but even after I thought I had something, zooming-out it just didn't sound right...

Another problem is that the "sss" sounds are not all equal. The "sss" in "sailor" vs. say the "esses" in "foot steps." It's critical that the timing on edits is just perfect, otherwise, the transition into the rest of the sounds in the word don't come out right. But, these are tiny pieces of audio and it's a real pain trying to zoom-in on that time scale...

I've been thinking this is a lot like the problems I had working with vocal tuning, using (manual) REATune. You can make tiny pieces pitch 'perfect' but it often ends up sounding out of place, out of step. The answer there was to use it sparingly, at only the most critical junctures. That's probably the only thing I'd be able to do with spectral edits on this vocal track, simply try to lower the level of the most egregious instances of sibilance and move on...
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:34 AM   #56
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Okay, voting is live. Lots of entries this month, make sure you give yourself enough time to listen to them all.

The contact form should be working again, and I fixed some bugs on the playlist and archives. Let me know if you run into any problems.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:15 AM   #57
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I've just finished my first round of grading/voting, on the yamahas. Quite a few of the mixes sound overcompressed to my taste, maybe due to the fact that the individual tracks were already suffering from overcompression (the drums especially). But the big issue was how to fit the vocals, as usual. It was a tough one, and this is what made the difference really for me. The rest of the song kind of mixed itself.

Anyway, grading with stars feels easier than picking the three best. Maybe it's because as a teacher I spend so much time grading things. I used the full spectrum of stars, and then listened to each mix a second time, from the lowest grades to the highest, to check for inconsistencies.

Tonight I'll do a second round on the headphones. This is perfect stuff for a slow lazy Sunday.
Thanks to all who sent the mixes and to Darjama for making it happen. This is great!
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:40 AM   #58
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I agree with Jansen, excelent sunday fun!

I gave all the mixes a first listen on my headphones and wrote a few topics I'll use for rating each one. I'll leave the final rating for when I can listen with monitors.

So far two things stand out for me: The overall tonal balance of the mixes and the bagpipes!

I hear a lot of mudiness in the low mids, mainly due to the drums + bass + piano + guitars having a lot of those. I disliked it in a lot of mixes, including my own!

Also, I didn't like what half of the mixes did with the bagpipes! There were 2 chanters and a drone, but something was off with the chanters... My guess was the mics weren't phase aligned during the recording which results in a weird unrealistic chorused effect I never liked hearing... I opted to just mute one of them, didn't really have much time for anything else, and it sounded ok. I could also spread the 2 chanters and work with a stereo bus but if you ever hit the mono button... really ugly! Don't know if any of you agree with this, it's just something I think could be better in some of your mixes..

But I already heard a lot of good stuff, creative stuff! And I also heard some mixes much better than mine! So I can't wait to check out your projects!
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Old 02-21-2021, 04:58 PM   #59
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edit: I think I'm leaning toward old A/D tech, rather than tape transfer. It sounds too clear and not as noisy as transfers I've done from tape. But the distortion, maybe some of the noise (not the background noise) seems reminiscent of cheaper A/D converters I used many years ago.
Noowww I'm wondering if it's just normal not-so-good recording, with a lot of background noise mic bleed, maybe a not-so-great mic, and...?

Two things: I was listening to the radio, a local alternative college station, this morning, which seemed to be playing a lot of amateur material, and I noticed a ton of similar harsh "sss" sounds, where the "sss" seemed to be loud and harsh, yes, but also spread out a lot across the frequency spectrum.

I haven't listened terribly closely to the main (live) instrument tracks, but my impression has been that they're much cleaner - if the 'problem' with the vox track were old A/D tech then the quality should suffer on the other tracks as well... The electric guitar and second acoustic guitar tracks I'm pretty sure are quite clean and clear - a lot of good, clean high frequency material...
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Old 02-21-2021, 05:39 PM   #60
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Gave a cursory listen through all of the entries today on my Hi-Fi system. Lot's of great ideas and mixes out there. Took some notes and will listen through again on the studio monitors and possibly a few in the car to narrow it down. So many talented mixers in this contest. I'm honored to get to learn from you all!
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Old 02-21-2021, 06:28 PM   #61
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Also, I didn't like what half of the mixes did with the bagpipes! There were 2 chanters and a drone, but something was off with the chanters... My guess was the mics weren't phase aligned during the recording which results in a weird unrealistic chorused effect I never liked hearing... I opted to just mute one of them...
You seriously think it's possible to record stereo pipes and a monondrone on a set of real bagpipes and have those tracks be completely clean?

It's a Virtual Instrument! So then that brings up the question, how is it possible if this was done with a VSTi, that the "chanters" (as you call them) to be out of phase? Well it is very possible. The tracks were rendered out, who knows who may have hit a phase button by accident? But I have to admit, I didn't notice it if it is a problem.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:25 PM   #62
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^ I'm surprised everybody even used them at all. Along with other things. The bagpipe sounds were garbage. The drum machine extra percussion was garbage - most of the synthesized stuff was garbage. The real instruments, on the other hand, were quite nice... Listening very briefly to all the mixes, I think people need to step back and first ask themselves what's actually worth keeping. A lot of the stuff that was included in the project was not worth including in the mix. It totally compromised what was good.
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Old 02-22-2021, 03:36 AM   #63
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@eq1 Consider that it's not the mixing engineer's place to decide what should or should not be in a piece of music. We aren't the producer, and the song doesn't belong to us. By taking the role of the mixing engineer, we're choosing a path where our own goals are by nature subordinate to the goals of the artist. Our job instead is to interpret (as best as we can manage) the artist's intent, in order to bring that vision to life.

Okay sure, this contest isn't exactly a real-world interaction with a client, so maybe we don't have to treat it as if it were. That said, its main purpose is clearly to help us make better engineers of ourselves. So in that vein, maybe it's wiser to treat the process as if it were anyway. At least that's my take on why the norm is (and should be) to work with what's given, irrespective of what we might otherwise musically prefer. Both here and elsewhere
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Old 02-22-2021, 05:28 AM   #64
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@eq1 Consider that it's not the mixing engineer's place to decide what should or should not be in a piece of music. We aren't the producer, and the song doesn't belong to us. By taking the role of the mixing engineer, we're choosing a path where our own goals are by nature subordinate to the goals of the artist. Our job instead is to interpret (as best as we can manage) the artist's intent, in order to bring that vision to life.

Okay sure, this contest isn't exactly a real-world interaction with a client, so maybe we don't have to treat it as if it were. That said, its main purpose is clearly to help us make better engineers of ourselves. So in that vein, maybe it's wiser to treat the process as if it were anyway. At least that's my take on why the norm is (and should be) to work with what's given, irrespective of what we might otherwise musically prefer. Both here and elsewhere
For me has all the sense, this is the point so I usually work in that way.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:12 AM   #65
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@EQ1 I sent you a PM please read it!
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Old 02-22-2021, 08:38 AM   #66
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@eq1 Consider that it's not the mixing engineer's place to decide what should or should not be in a piece of music.
Interesting point of view.

In that sense, do you guys think that it could be acceptable to change things as, say, the song tempo? Even if it was due to a novice mistake?

😳
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:55 AM   #67
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I thought to delete a whole instrument from a mix...or change pitch etc...would be considered destructive editing ?? ...ie not allowed. I believe if its recorded and your asked to mix it..it should all remain...unless its an obvious double track of same sound...
Please clarify as if im mistaken. Thanks
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:14 AM   #68
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I thought to delete a whole instrument from a mix...or change pitch etc...would be considered destructive editing ?? ...ie not allowed. I believe if its recorded and your asked to mix it..it should all remain...unless its an obvious double track of same sound...
Please clarify as if im mistaken. Thanks
"Destructive editing" for purposes of the contest refers only to edits that actually change something about the source files or create new source files. Basically, could someone else who downloaded the original source files load up your project on their machine and have it play back exactly like it sounds on your machine? If so, it's not a destructive edit.

I've definitely been known to use the mute button from time to time, but for me these contests have mainly been about improving my engineering chops, not my songwriting or arranging chops. If there's a way to fit a part I'm given into a mix I will do my best to do so. Think about it from the band member's perspective: they want to hear their part that they recorded! The biggest notable exception was last month's mix where there was a scratch vocal track and an overdubbed vocal track, and it was pretty clear that the scratch track wasn't intended to be used. This month, I think it might have been prudent to mute the piano for parts of the song (but definitely not all of it!), although I didn't do that in my mix.
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:47 AM   #69
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makes sense...thanks....I agree.
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:26 PM   #70
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Interesting point of view.

In that sense, do you guys think that it could be acceptable to change things as, say, the song tempo? Even if it was due to a novice mistake?

😳
I think I know which one yours is now!
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Old 02-22-2021, 01:29 PM   #71
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YEP you do!

Don't sweat it man...you weren't the only one who made a 'mistake' several folks trashed what was given without trying to use it! Will that matter in the scoring? No idea. To me that triggered my OCD...everyone who left things out got scored down as a result.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:30 PM   #72
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I read tiny tortoise's post last night and have been thinking about it ever since. I read PVinKC's PM, too, and just responded to that, it more or less touched on similar themes.

So... I hardly know where to begin, it's a complicated topic. I know that people have different ideas about what a quote "mixing engineer" is supposed to do. Tiny T makes it sound cut and dried, like being a mixing engineer is a 'technical job', like a computer-aided drafter or something. I don't see it that way, and I know other professionals don't. I do know that it could be reduced to being a technical skill...

In the 'job market' there could be various roles for the mixer, though. It depends on the context. In one role, one job, you might be handed material to 'mix' - fix the sound, balance it out, that sort of thing. In another you'd be doing a lot more, more like a producer/audio engineer/mixer all in one. At a low level you're a cog in a machine, say mixing the sound for a second-rate TV show (or youtuber); at a higher level you're Spike Stent (who'd still be a 'cog', just in a much bigger machine).

Personally, I doubt I'll ever do this 'professionally'; if I ever mixed and got paid it might be for local 'recording artists' trying to make their demos sound like more than the crap that they produce. In that case I'd probably have to do a lot of stuff, from re-arranging the material to mastering. In such a case the artist would have the final say, of course, but I'd be paid or sought out because I have knowledge, skill, experience that they don't. And I'd be expected to fully exercise my best judgment on how to make the music shine. Anything less would be dereliction of duty.

OK, so, that's the preamble.

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Consider that it's not the mixing engineer's place to decide what should or should not be in a piece of music. We aren't the producer, and the song doesn't belong to us. By taking the role of the mixing engineer, we're choosing a path where our own goals are by nature subordinate to the goals of the artist. Our job instead is to interpret (as best as we can manage) the artist's intent, in order to bring that vision to life.
I agree with most of this. My only disagreement comes from what seems like a very narrow conception of what a "mixing engineer" does or should do. As I explained above, that depends, it can vary. In its purest form, simply by nature of the art and science, mixing overlaps with the other stuff. A quote 'mix' will suffer if the arrangement is cluttered, for instance.

As I wrote to PVinKC, forget polishing turds - get rid of the turds first, then you can do your polishing.

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By taking the role of the mixing engineer, we're choosing a path where our own goals are by nature subordinate to the goals of the artist. Our job instead is to interpret (as best as we can manage) the artist's intent, in order to bring that vision to life.
I totally agree with this. When I did my Sailor Once More mix, I was perpetually trying to understand the artist's best, original vision. My goal was to produce the best music possible, I think that would have been the artist's goal too...

In my experience, it's easy for artists to lose their way. Mixers do, too. It's very difficult to stay true to the, what? - 'the source of inspiration', the 'gem of goodness', the whole point of a song. That's one of the most valuable things a mixer can bring to a song - fresh, unbiased ears and the ability to help hone the message. It's a real chore to try to produce something that isn't buried in layers and layers of decisions that are from layers and layers of distracted attention, whether performer or mixer or whatever.

Point is, you really need to step back, grasp the center of the music, and that's what the fresh ears of a mixer can bring to a project. The mix engineer can hear things the original artist cannot.

Basically, you do whatever it takes to make good music. The artist or producer would normally have the last say. But this doesn't mean the mixer doesn't/shouldn't/can't exercise his or her best professional judgment; indeed, that's what he/she is expected to do. It could mean re-arranging the song, it could mean changing orchestration; et al.

In the case of Sailor, I've asked questions, posted stuff here, trying to understand the artist's best, original intent. One could go back and read some of that. Without feedback or direction, of course, you're left to make the best decisions you can, and I've done that, reading between the musical lines.

For example, I think a lot of the material was dated, such as the Alesis SR16 drum machine. Use of old drum sounds can pigeon-hole a piece; this song is about honoring a dead sailor, it has a heavy, serious subject matter. The drum machine sounds, along with some of the patterns, compromised the subject matter, as well as most of the heart-felt performances/recorded tracks. In my 'professional' judgment, limiting the presence of the drum machine was important to make good music. You can't really sing about honoring a young, dead sailor with an Alesis SR16 drum beat from 1992 - and have it be taken seriously.

I'm sure there's this or that technical or economic or whatever non-music-based explanation for this or that musical element or foible or problem - I don't really care. What I care about is making good music, making this material the best it can possibly be, for today and forever...

I made other similar judgments. I was a bit torn on the 'bagpipes'. The sounds were synthetic, low quality, the riffs were generic and uninspired. On the other hand, 'bagpipes' are a traditional Celtic instrument, part of the overall vibe of the piece. I had to weigh pros and cons with that and in the end had to nix the 'bagpipes'; they were more of a distraction from the song's center than they were an enhancement.

I would have included the flute (low whistle), but I ran out of time.

The biggest change I made was to the song's overall structure/form. Without going into too many details, basically, the type of song it is, traditional, folksy, etc. demanded a different form. Songs like this are often repetitive - they're meant to be sung and remembered, verse for verse.

The breakdown, half-time chorus made the whole piece stall-out, twice, on its ramp-up to climax. No good. The 'bridge' sounded perfunctory. It might've been good or appropriate if played live, where the band could riff on the bridge progression indefinitely and get people dancing. Not so good for a recording. And it had that circa. '92 drum pattern. All of this compromises the song, the music, the mix...

The mix serves the song, but if the song suffers major weaknesses the mix will suffer as well. It's shortsighted not to view the two as working closely together. In some settings you wouldn't be at liberty to change anything, in others you would. In this setting, I think we're free to do whatever we want, within the rules. That doesn't mean making a hip-hop song out of this because you like hip-hop; it means deeply trying to understand the song and the artist's vision and making the best of material at hand...


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Okay sure, this contest isn't exactly a real-world interaction with a client, so maybe we don't have to treat it as if it were.
Not sure what you think makes something qualify as "real-world." This seems pretty real to me... I mean, I get your point - it's not a paying job. I took it and take it 'seriously' - as-in seriously enough, knowing this is a real person's artistic creation and handling it with care, careful judgment, etc.

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That said, its main purpose is clearly to help us make better engineers of ourselves.
Your repetition of the title "engineer" makes me think you have a specific, narrow idea of what a quote 'mixing engineer' does or should do. My understanding is the title - "engineer" - is there more by convention than something meant to truly capture the essence of what mixing entails. As far as I know, those in-the-know understand that mixing is equally art and science, something the title "engineer" fails to capture. In any event, I think we're free to do whatever we want (within rules), so the purpose of the contest is up to those who enter it.

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At least that's my take on why the norm is (and should be) to work with what's given, irrespective of what we might otherwise musically prefer. Both here and elsewhere
I think I've explained enough of my take, what I did, how I approached the project, etc. I don't see that anything I did didn't "take what was given" and work with it as best I could.

I think the core disagreement we must have is that I see mixing by nature as being a larger enterprise than you do; someone who's mixing needs to and should exercise broad judgment and discretion over many things musical, not just eq tweaks and compression settings and the like. That's not always going to be possible, the mixer doesn't have the last word, context matters, etc. etc. I think I've repeated the same things about three times now, maybe more.


Bottom line for me is that, yes, artists' material should be taken seriously, handled with care, etc., but I don't think that means artists can do no wrong, that the material is sacrosanct, and I do think it's within the mixer's purview to make changes - normally to suggest them, in this case to just do them.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:53 PM   #73
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As if I hadn't written enough already...

Here's a link to a book on Amazon - that you can preview - that has what I think is a good overview of what mixing is and what a 'mixing engineer' does, most of it should be in the first couple pages. The book is called "Mixing Audio: Concepts, Practices, and Tools," by Roey Izhaki.

https://www.amazon.com/Mixing-Audio-...s%2C232&sr=1-1

I would have copied the text and pasted here, but it's a bit long winded, and not copyable...
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Old 02-22-2021, 08:34 PM   #74
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Voted, commented on every mix.

It sure feels weird to be critical of others' mixes when mine is so amateur. Please accept my critique of your mix as my best judgement given my current skill level. In that same spirit, I've already learned a lot from you all and hope to learn more in the future.

Thanks everyone.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:27 PM   #75
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I think maybe some of you here are taking this far more than what it is.

This is a mixing contest for the tonality of mixes. If there is a HR16 drum machine (I have no clue if that it is or not), then that is what is in the song. Same for the bag pipes. It is obvious that is what the artist intended of the music.

This is just a forum for each of us to judge our mixes among others to see where you are at when it comes to mixing. Hearing things like EQ, compression, reverb, use of delay, etc. decisions as well as using automation effectively to create a mix that has space, dynamics and can give an emotional feeling of the music to the listener.

This is not a contest for being a producer or to completely remove instruments from mixes for the entire duration of the song.

One take (#17) had totally changed the arrangement of the song by cutting and gluing. This is not what this contest is for. I listened to the complete track and though the arrangement was quite interesting, it completely took the song in a different direction. Almost sound like proggy folk. But I can only give score on the mix. The arrangement change is really not fare for this.

I'm not in this to learn from others arrangements.
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Old 02-22-2021, 09:40 PM   #76
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<quote>Point is, you really need to step back, grasp the center of the music, and that's what the fresh ears of a mixer can bring to a project. The mix engineer can hear things the original artist cannot.>>

I felt the center of this song was the vocals/harmonies... though brief at times Also the Low whistle n Bag "drop" in. Very interesting mixes and cool to hear the variety....we're all coming at it from different angles. I never heard a ref recording(if it exists? ) of this song prior to going at it. I mixed the vox how i would want to hear the band in a live situation. That's typically how i visualize and hear a song to decide the balance and pan, etc. That said...its cool to know im getting closer to what i believe the better mixes (per my ear and taste) are achieving... and similar to what my mix is.. though not as polished. Im participating in this mainly to get a better read on what is sounding proper out there verses my ear and movements on the mix. The top mix will always be a great reference for use vs personal recordings in future....😎 Enjoying the voting and glad to be in the mix with y'all. Thanks
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Old 02-22-2021, 10:41 PM   #77
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Hey all, I thought I would post a thank you to each and everyone of you. Somehow my song was picked to be chosen for this months mix contest and I am very grateful to all of you who took the time to mix and analyze the song. I have listened to every mix and read all the posts with the intent to learn and grow from them. There are certainly a great group of knowledgeable mixers here. This is what this community is all about and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to be part of it.

A little background on myself, I'm a hobbyist by nature and just enjoy the creation and collaboration of music so I was actually quite surprised on how we got to this point of having the song picked for a platform like this. I have a little basement studio and my brother and I wrote and recorded this tune as a have fun project for what we call the vault (in other words not to leave the basement lol). We had a few musicians from Fiverr add tracks and were basically just having fun with it. For those of you wondering the bagpipes and flute were recorded live by a musician in Russia, some bass and guitar tracks are from the UK, backup vocals are from the Philippines. I sang and played guitar on the track and yes unfortunately the acoustics are quite rough in my basement so my apologies :-) In the process of getting the song mixed I was asked if I would allow the tracks to be uploaded to the Cambridge Music Technology website so others like yourself could try their hand at mixing it and so here we are. Overall this has been a very cool experience and an excellent way to get involved in a community of likeminded folks. I just wanted to pass along a thanks. I hope you all keep creating and enhancing your skills. Cheers and hope you all are staying safe during these crazy times, Glen
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Old 02-22-2021, 11:10 PM   #78
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Hey all, I thought I would post a thank you to each and everyone of you. Somehow my song was picked to be chosen for this months mix contest and I am very grateful to all of you who took the time to mix and analyze the song. I have listened to every mix and read all the posts with the intent to learn and grow from them. There are certainly a great group of knowledgeable mixers here. This is what this community is all about and I'm happy to have had the opportunity to be part of it.

A little background on myself, I'm a hobbyist by nature and just enjoy the creation and collaboration of music so I was actually quite surprised on how we got to this point of having the song picked for a platform like this. I have a little basement studio and my brother and I wrote and recorded this tune as a have fun project for what we call the vault (in other words not to leave the basement lol). We had a few musicians from Fiverr add tracks and were basically just having fun with it. For those of you wondering the bagpipes and flute were recorded live by a musician in Russia, some bass and guitar tracks are from the UK, backup vocals are from the Philippines. I sang and played guitar on the track and yes unfortunately the acoustics are quite rough in my basement so my apologies :-) In the process of getting the song mixed I was asked if I would allow the tracks to be uploaded to the Cambridge Music Technology website so others like yourself could try their hand at mixing it and so here we are. Overall this has been a very cool experience and an excellent way to get involved in a community of likeminded folks. I just wanted to pass along a thanks. I hope you all keep creating and enhancing your skills. Cheers and hope you all are staying safe during these crazy times, Glen
Hello!! How cool is it to have the original artist here!!!! Thanks for the background on your process. I had a blast mixing it and I hope you get an honorary vote and can provide some feedback if you have time. Iíve never mixed bagpipes or tin whistle before, so it was a fun challenge and only made me a better mixer (I think, weíll see what the reviews say). Cheers Glen, would love to hear more of your tunes some time.
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Old 02-23-2021, 12:17 AM   #79
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Hey all, I thought I would post a thank you to each and everyone of you...........
Hey Glen. Nice to see you here.
Thanks for this great song and thanks for take the time to share about the process which is amazingly collaborative.

Cheers.
Javi.
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Old 02-23-2021, 04:46 AM   #80
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Hi Glen, thanks for taking the time to check out what's going on here. Good song btw, I still enjoy listening to it after x listens, and I even put it on (my mix, sorry folks ) just for the listening pleasure.

For some reason, this month's contest feels special, there's involvement, passion even, but also respect for everyone's work and skills . I like that!

So long live this mixing contest! Cooperation and learning, humanity at its best. Small scale, yes, but God knows we do need to be positive about ourselves atm.
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