Mixing – Practical Jokes for Mixdown
|Fig. 1. Use these settings for SPL Transient Designer to permanently cripple your lead guitarist’s sense of self-worth.|
AS APRIL Fool’s Day approaches, musicians gleefully
plan novel ways to torture their hapless
bandmates. Nothing presents a better opportunity
for nurturing your dark side than your
band’s critical mixdown session.
Every musician is concerned about how his
or her performance and track will sound in
the final mix. But invariably, someone won’t be
able to attend the mix session to help guide the
process to a flattering finished product. This
presents a golden opportunity for you, the mix
engineer, to prey on the absentee’s worst fears.
Create two mixes. Mix A will be the real
mix: your best effort toward a sonic masterpiece
and not what your absentee bandmate
will hear. Mix B will be your prank mix, the
one in which you purposefully destroy all
positive attributes of your absentee bandmate’s
track while making everything else
sound great. At your following band meeting
(on April Fool’s Day, of course), playback Mix
B and watch the horror spread like wildfire
across the face of your punk’d bandmate.
Of course, we at Electronic Musician would
be remiss if we didn’t provide technical tips
for demolishing your bandmate’s finest performance.
Bankrupt the Money Track If your lead
singer can’t attend the mixdown session, they
become your victim. Slap Celemony Melodyne
Editor on their track, and use the pitch tool
to drag every single note in their track either
sharp or flat. Spare nothing; every single note
should be noticeably out-of-tune by the time
you’re finished. On playback at your next band
meeting, enjoy the deepening look of panic on
your lead singer’s face as their sabotaged vocal
track lurches into the spotlight.
Melodyne Editor can also be used to deepsix
your fiddle player’s masterly track in absentia.
Plunge the pitch modulation and pitchdrift
tools to completely flat-line all vibrato
and every gliss in their virtuoso performance.
In short, make the fiddle sound like an organ.
Let’s say you guys are a rock band and your
guitarist played a soaring solo à la Pink Floyd’s
David Gilmour. Too bad he can’t make the mixdown
session! Activate the SPL Transient Designer
plug-in at the start of his solo, and nosedive
the sustain control to its absolute lowest
setting to reduce every note to a split-second duration
whimper (see Figure 1). On playback
at your band meeting, you’ll relish the intensifying
look of terror on your six-stringer’s face
when his rock star moment of glory arrives.
If country music is your band’s forte, rerecord
the electric guitar track through a
wah-wah pedal while the guitarist is away.
This effect sounds especially impressive on
a chicken-pickin’ solo. Fast and erratic pedal
movements work best and lend an unshakeable
air of anti-street cred.
Shatter the Foundation If your drummer
can’t make the mixdown session, copy an
overly simple bar of drumming from an outtake
and paste it so it repeats throughout the
entire song. (Feel free to move the kick and
snare hits around a little so that they become
painfully off-beat.) When your drummer
hears the mix, he’ll surely freak out and ask
what happened to all of his track’s fills, rolls,
flams and hi-hat work. Tell him you thought it
sounded too busy.
I would offer more tips, but I’m occupied at
the moment drowning a bass guitarist’s track
in a humongous cathedral reverb. Oh yeah, he’s
gonna love that!