When I practise Kung-Fu, our Shi-Fu allocates a lot of time to working on basic postures, the base. Generally this means standing in a certain (generally not very comfortable) position in silence for a couple of minutes. We do this because if you don’t get your base right, any move you make will not be as effective as with a perfectly executed base.
Get your base right when mixing
You can apply the same concept in mixing by
- thinking about the most important elements of your song as the base of your song and
- thinking about the more important mix processors as the base of your mixing routine.
Decide which elements of the song are most important
Think about the foreground elements (main vocals, drums) as your base and focus on getting them right first. This will help you focus on getting a good mix fast. A good reference given to you by the artist as well as a clarifying conversation will help this process.Listen to the ‘Blue Lines’ album by Massive Attack. All the songs on that album have a perfect base so that the additional elements can shine on top of that.
Apply the processors that will have the highest impact on your mix first
There are some things that simply do more for your mix than others. For example, setting the volume levels of all elements so that you can hear everything is probably more beneficial to your initial mix than adding reverb.I personally follow a strict order when mixing: (1) volumes, (2) EQ, (3) compression, (4) re-evaluate previous steps, (5) apply other effects (reverb, delay, flanger, etc.). I clearly devote more time to working with volume, EQ and compression which I consider the ‘base processors’ of my work.
Devote time to your base at the beginning of the mix
Just like when practising Kung-Fu, focusing on the wrong elements or the wrong processors at the wrong time will start you off with a bad foot. You might even get hurt and have to re-start your mix from scratch. So next time you mix, devote some time to the points mentioned above. You’ll set yourself off for a good start!
Until next time!