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Having a good arrangement is crucial!

Added: Monday, July 9th 2012 at 2:47pm by mixingyoursong

Hey, my name is Christopher. I'm a mixing engineer from Europe. I have a cool studio with lots of vintage gear.

Having a good arrangement is crucial!

Okay, you have spent countless hours writing a great song, changing chords over and over, tweaking the melody and you've also that great, big radio ready hook line. Don't rush now! Most people tend to hit record, and call it a day cause they think the magic happens in the mix. WRONG!

A song which is arranged in the right way will mix it by itself - almost - it's still a lot of work, and you have to fight hard to get the last percentage out of your song but with the wrong arrangement, you'll never get there. Believe me lol!

So, what makes a great arrangement? First, a great arrangement brings lots of dynamics to a song. That could be that the first verse only contains a slightly distorted guitar with the lead vocal on it, then, when the chorus hits in, the drums, bass and everything else can really boom bang pow! Okay you got me.

The Drums

I always start with the kick drum. I have big monitors (Genelec 1039). What I do first is to put the kick fader up and listen on my main monitors. How does the kick sound rough? Are there frequencies that are to much, like to much of 500hertz? Or does it lack some umpf or some subfrequencies? Most of the time (if it's a real drumset) I add a bit of 60Hz and carve out the low mids to get a nice and airy sound.

Next, I'll add the bass. How does it sound with the kick drum combined? Is  there enough space for both or do they compete against? Most of the time, I cut out the subs and add a bit of 80-120hz and also a bit of 1khz to make the bass sound good on small speakers.

After that, I bring in the snare. How does it sound? Dull, Lifeless? Mhh, most of the time I layer it with some samples from my private library to have that polished radio sound. Once I had a session where the snare drum was banging like crazy and I had really bad migraine ophtalmique but then I turned down my main speakers and everything was fine. Anayway, (sorry) most of the time I use my software trigger for adding drumsamples. I always give the snare a big focus in my mixes, so I try to find the perfect sound.

If you have some compressors, I really engage you to try different compressors with different settings on your drums, cause those can have a big impact on how the drumsounds turn out. Most of the time, I use a mid to slow attack to let the attack pass the comp and have a mid to fast release to bring up the decay.

Anayway, I also always use a buscomp on my drums. Just a touch to add some thightness and overall punch to them. But you always should go back and tweak your settings cause what might sound good solo on the drums might be to much or to less in the mix.

Okay, the hi hat. I use some Highpassfilters to get rid of the mud. Most of the time I cut around 200-300hertz depending on the sound I got.

Okay guys, that's it for today. I really hope you like my tutorials on mixing. Stay tuned, cause next time we'll go over to the guitars and then on to the vocals.

Rock on!

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