Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Adventures in Babymixing

I have a word problem for you to solve:

Let’s say you want to make an a cappella album, but you are highly introverted and the thought of collaborating with someone, anyone, is terrifying and you’re probably sure that they won’t understand your unique vision. Now say that you have the drive to make an a cappella album yourself and you’ve learned how to track and edit that album, but mixing is not only foreign to you, but incredibly complicated to learn. It’s like when you look at all the buttons available to you on Protools, you suddenly get nauseous, you blackout, and you’ve awaken to find crudely drawn images of pagan gods on your walls scrawled in what you think is your own blood.
What do you do?

Do you want to learn how to mix all by yourself? Well, anyone reading this blog who already owns a studio/mixing business will probably send both you and me some hate mail for suggesting it and they are definitely correct that without years of hard work and study, you won’t get a better mix than they do. But what if you’re not looking for a high quality mix? What if you’re looking to get your feet wet and you don’t know where to start?

Here are some books, events, workshops, etc. that will help you get your foot in the door so you too can learn to be a quality a cappella mixer:

1)   Next Level

Built as small, interactive, hands-on workshops designed to address your specific problems and needs, Next Level promotes themselves as your best chance to get one-on-one face-time with some of the industry’s top experts, from tracking to mixing, arranging to producing.


2)   A cappella Boot Camp and Soup To Nuts

Both these week-long programs train you, from scratch, to produce an a cappella track. Not only do you get face-time with industry pros like Deke Sharon, Bill Hare, Dave Brown, and Freddie Feldman, but you get to take the reigns of their studio as they throw you headfirst into the shallow end of the pool. A cappella Boot Camp is where I first learned about a cappella recording- Protools, Melodyne, etc. It was a game changer and it opened my eyes to the men behind the curtain. The reason I group these two together is that, even though they only host them once a year, these workshops are not guaranteed to run. YOU have to make the commitment to sign up and show your interest.


3)   Mixing and Mastering In The Box by Steve Savage (available on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com)

Out of all the books I’ve read so far, this one has the most logical progression of steps, mainly because it is intended to be a textbook for a college mixing/mastering class. The most important thing I learned while reading this book was the differences between mixing and mastering. I knew they weren’t the same thing, but I didn’t really understand why until I read this book. Give it a read, and see if things make sense to you.

4)   Home Recording for Musicians FOR DUMMIES (available on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com)

This may sound dumb (no pun intended), but for a novice like me, I feel no shame in reading these types of books, because they are intended to talk down to you, which is what I need to begin. They make things as simple as they can so you can at leats understand the basic vocabulary of what you are doing. (I also read the Korean FOR DUMMIES and Dungeons and Dragons FOR DUMMIES in earlier years and they helped a lot.) True, none of these books will make you a master, and some of the titles are better left on the shelf (like Sex FOR DUMMIES…look it up. It’s real) but for someone just starting out, it functions the same way Wikipedia does: You should never use Wikipedia as the final word in anything, just like the FOR DUMMIES books, because they are compendiums from secondary sources, but both these outlets are highly functional when you’re just looking for someone to point you in the right direction.

Jump in, get your feet wet, and avoid any Pagan God symbolism on your journey.
Marc Silverberg

P.S. If I’ve missed any great resources, please tweet me and they will be included in part 2!

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