Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mixing 101

This week began with the very detailed process known as mixing. This stage is slow, deliberate, and, for me at least, involves hours of sitting quietly and twiddling my thumbs while Ben (mixer) dials in a hi-hat, or a floor tom, or an electric guitar in terms of equalization (high, mid, low frequencies) and volume as each track courses through the song. Sometimes we want to hear a magnificent pedal steel part to shimmer and stand out at certain moments, so Ben automates the digital software to do so. Sometimes individual words need a little extra volume to cut through the music so it can be heard and understood. Mixing does that. On and on goes the list, and includes each and every instrument on each and every song. Generally speaking, it is customary for a song mix to take up all eight hours of a work day. The process is slow, laborious, and can be mind-numbingly boring if you have no idea what's actually taking place or if you've been listening to the recycled sound of a soloed kick drum for consecutive minutes at a time.

But this is also the phase where the body of a song ultimately takes on its final, curvaceous shape. The challenge for Ben, as I see it, is that he is already so wrapped up in the project that it might be difficult to approach the tracks with a new perspective. Having never heard the song or any of its recorded tracks before, a separate mixing engineer has the advantage of coming at the songs with fresh, unbiased ears. Clarity is a gift. That's not to say anything negative of Ben, or my doubting of his abilities in this department. If the money were in the budget, we would both prefer to hire someone to mix the album. But that is not in the cards, and I believe Ben will, in the end, knock it out of the park. Pray for Ben's clarity in this process, and for patience with his oft-crashing software. We've got a mastering (the final step, the icing on the cake) date on the books: 23 July 2009.

More on an official release date SOON! Cross my heart.

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