Rough Mixes – What are They

For me, a mix is not a rough mix until I am done tracking. Regardless of the overall quality and cohesiveness associated with a project, I am not bouncing tracks to stereo and seriously evaluating tracks as they pertain to a song until they are all somewhere in the project, whether they be sub-mixed, muted, or frozen. I may not have decided whether or not I will even use a track until I have completely finished transferring my musical ideas from my mind to my hard drive.

Often, I will choose to use or not use a track only after I have the opportunity to listen to it along with one or more other tracks, like say a Bass track in a group of other Rhythm instruments.

I prefer to do that by soloing and creating sub groups in the console section of my DAW or mixing console. I may want to change the part musically or audibly, so mixing down or bouncing tracks at this point is pointless.

Rough mixes, for me, are used for perhaps honing overall FX and setting the final send, pan, and volume levels on my busses, and usually entails several different formats associated with several different ways we listen to music. It is where I tweak the Compressors and I am checking for clipping and saturation levels of different tracks as they modulate amongst the other tracks in a mix.

Of course, my personal workflow dictates I am doing this throughout the entire process of recording but the process is progressive, in that earlier tweaks may have been before other tracks and FX were added and though necessary in the overall creative process, are not permanent, as in a final mix or a contending rough mix.

Rough mixes is where I really focus on bringing the mix together as a complete entity. I think less about tracks and more about the completeness of the song.

It is less about,“How do these tracks sound together in a mix.”  It is more about, “How do these tracks sound in a mix, at these levels, in these formats, on these speakers, on my personal audio system or in my car or on a surround system (That is a whole different story).

Rough mixes are Keepers, whereas up until that point, aside from the musical and technical data (Mainly MIDI and Automation data), everything else would be considered Scratch Tracks.



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Oh, Positive

Originally called Saturday, here is another one of those, What day is it diddys.

I decided I have to become more serious about titling my works…so I am now calling it, “Oh, Positive.”

Like my blood type, subject to change…

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Meaningful Relationships for Today

We remember the bad with the good…

We only forget the bad.

If you want to be remembered, take something from someone that is meaningful to them. They most assuredly will remember.

If you don’t want to be forgotten, leave something with them that is meaningful to you. They most assuredly, won’t forget.

J.C. Mitchell

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Smooth as Silk

There are times when as an Artist things go, as smooth as silk.  Such is the case when I composed “Etude para Usted.”

Besides, in my biased opinion, being a very pretty composition, the thing I find to be the most satisfying is that it was recorded in one pass. It made composing and arranging the piece very fluent. Maybe 4 or 5 takes, at the most, from start to finish.

Inspired by a very personal and moving experience, this composition, performance, and production happened almost simultaneously.

The music tracks (Acoustic Guitar, Contra Bass, Violin, Viola, and Piano) were all recorded together and performed by one person (That being, yours truly).

The separateness of the instruments was achieved primarily by varying the instrument attack times and slight delays. It is most obvious when listening to the attack and swelling of the strings being slightly delayed so as to not wash out the pluckiness of the guitar.

Also, I used slight tuning/detuning of the string voices, from the piano, so they did not mush together.

All of this processing was controlled via a Kawaii MIDI Controller Keyboard via 4 separate MIDI busses.

Aside from lacking some contemporary technical additions, such as multiple position sensors on each individual key, playing this 30+ year old keyboard is still a very pleasing experience. It’s design and flexibility in manipulating MIDI parameters was very much its strength in 1987…

Etude Para Usted

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Less is More, More or Less

In this piece, Accessible Passage, I would like to illustrate something every Producer will encounter sooner or later.

As in most Electronica music, the content is busy, throughout the piece. When I originally created this song, I used the version Accessible Passage 14. The version I have had posted for the past year is, Accessible Passage 13.

Accessible Passage 13

The difference? There is a very staccato percussion part, which I really liked. It kind of sounds like vibes but much more synthetic than the actual instrument. You can hear it in Accessible Passage 14. After tossing it back and forth for a while, I decided to go with AP 13, because I felt maybe the piece needed to breathe a little.

Accessible Passage 14

Every time I listen to it however, I still miss those tinkly, percussive, tines so in Accessible Passage 15, I added it back into the mix but not until about halfway through the song and in alternating sequences.

Accessible Passage 15

One of the best things I like about Percussion is you really appreciate it, when it isn’t there! For me, it adds so much more to the Rhythm. It is about time AND it is about melody. Which in this piece, I never could have written it without the percussion, even if I didn’t include it in the final mix…

Every track in the song, except perhaps the main melodic track and a couple of the FX tracks, is a sub-division of a different track, with respect to time. And that is what I like about percussion. If I am playing Keyboards, I can play between the cracks, so to speak….

I guess what I am trying to illustrate is less is more, more or less…

The interesting thing about this song is I pretty much wrote it at a Subway restaurant. The thing I like about the Gadget is, I can create tracks without having to do a full production or without a keyboard or drum pads. Sure, those are great also, but I find using the Gadget drives me in a different direction and I find I can still be creative outside of the Studio. I am thinking of taking some of my Electronica creations and doing an Acoustic version…now that the idea is implanted in my head!!! We’ll see… I don’t like forcing things…

Anyway, back to the Subway… While I was there, a Locksmith was changing the lock on the front door… I don’t know why, nor did I deem it important enough to ask, but the thing is when you start a new project in Gadget, it randomly gives it a name. I suppose it has limits but it is kind of neat in that often I am done with a piece before I even think about what to call it… Of course. if you don’t like the name it chooses, you can always change it.

In this case, it chose Accessible Passage, so it seemed fitting I keep it…


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