The "what do you think of this mix" topics - observation

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by paulears, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I'm getting old - and I think it's having an impact on these kinds of topics. I've had to listen to younger people's radio stations for a week or two, and I've noticed there's a new type of mix becoming very common. A voice, often male and kick and snare. In the background are the chords, the inner parts, the rest of the kit. When I'm driving in my van, it's fairly noisy and all I can hear is voice, snare and kick - the rest is lost. The result is that the songs are all 'thin'. Musically dull, and lacking in substance - YET - this kind of mix is now considered contemporary and cutting edge, and very oddly, popular and nice to listen to. I find them inept, lacking in musicality and not at all nice to listen to, and often spoiling what would, with better mixing, be a nice song.

    When we get mixes to listen to, we use our experience to comment on the mix, the eq and the effects, yet these popular tracks would be considered lacking here. Clearly, something new has happened in the good mix department. Sometimes, in a quiet environment, you hear some really nice arrangements and decent background sounds, but nowadays, popular seems to mean in your face vocals, sung or spoken quietly, and compressed to hell, with processed kick and snare - the kick being a sort of long dunnnngg sound and the snare being difficult to really identify - almost electronic.

    What is going on?
    audiokid likes this.
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    It's dance music. Chords and stuff just muddy up the beat and make it hard to hear the "lyrics".
  3. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    I can't give you the name so you can listen, as the radio guys don;t ever mention that kind of thing - but it's not really dance - sort of r&b morose stuff. Next time, I'll try to get the title.
  4. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Shoegaze or emo probably. Same deal, don't distract them from their suffering with chords and stuff.
  5. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    IMO I think much of it comes down to mixing to a specific genre, much of what appeals to Generation Y-bother...which is dominated by electro-pop and dance styles and probably mixed towards what sounds good on small portable listening devices such as Iphones with cheap chinese made earbuds, or oversize "Beats by Dre" style headphones that are designed to over-eccentuate the low end.

    Add to that much of which is made using samples, VSTi's and no real instruments played or tracked in real time anymore.

    There is no depth to the mix in most cases and it has a very two-dimensional feel to it. Music is progressively losing the human touch, dying a slow, digitally automated death.

    Much of what I hear being passed off as music today by record companies and commercial radio has a homogenised sound to it, most likely achieved by a cookie-cutter approach to producing, mixing and arrangement, targeting the 12 to 25 year old age bracket who are the biggest consumers of music downloads in todays' market.

    IMO the labels, producers and mix engineers who cater to this age bracket are far too shy about moving out of their comfort zones on the formula that sells to that market...why risk having something that doesn't sell and risk losing the opportunity to do it all over again?
    The label wants to sell as many copies or downloads as possible, the producer wants to keep working with the label and the mix engineer wants to continue working for both...If it works the first time, just keep doing it.

    FOMO or fear of missing out drives them to keep doing the same thing over and over and over again.

    Its the first rule of sales : cater to your market... and its all about selling as much of this tripe to an unsuspecting younger generation who know no better when it comes to the quality of music...its all they have ever been exposed to.

    You can't tell one song from another, and if it wasn't for the break between songs on an album or commercial radio you'd swear it was one continuous song with a chord or tempo change thrown in for good measure.

    Just an old rockers' two cents worth...FWIW
  6. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    .... not just me then! What makes it worse is this notion that all girls must sound the same and so must the boys. The 'find this weeks huge star' programmes on TV filter out everyone different, just leaving the lowest common denominator. One of the UK popular shows had one of the people picked drop out - and selected "their first backup", except in this show, only those who passed, passed - the rest were discarded, so there wasn't a backup - all not picked had failed. No points or ratings. The backup turned out to be dreadful, screechy and horrible, but the only transgendered contestant. Funny that.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    "Hey! You kids! Get out of my yard!!! And cut your hair! and for God's sake pull your pants UP!" LOL

    Of course it's our age, Paul. We don't get it, because it's not for us to get.

    I remember my grandfather's reaction to seeing The Beatles on Sullivan... a guy who loved Big Band and Orchestras. I'm paraphrasing, because, well... because I have to. My grandfather was a Navy man, you see... a WW2 vet, and his language was distinctly more "blue" than this:

    "What in theee sweet hell is this noise? Look Roberta! They got a monkey playin' the drums! Oh... oh yeah, he's purty! Oh for the love of..... Donald, if you ever look like that I'll kill you! ;)
    ClarkJaman, Sean G and Makzimia like this.
  8. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    And young Donald grew up to be a musician, just like those young boys he saw that night on the television, boys and girls.......LOL:D

    - Tell me Donny, did you ever have the mop-top, contrary to your Pappys' advice...?;)
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Oh yeah.. with a gold velour Nehru vest, with a peace symbol for the zipper. Also, Beatle boots with - Cuban heels of course.

    Which didn't raise nearly as much havoc as the day I came home from the mall at 14 with my ear pierced. There's probably still a blue cloud hanging over my old house in the North Hill section of Akron. ;)

    What can I say? Chicks dug me. I was the "artistic sensitive" type. LOL
  10. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Hahaaa!!!....I remember being 13 and in the local mall one Sunday with my parents and my 11 year old sister waiting while she was about to get her ears pierced for the first time, she was visibly upset and I said something along the lines of " Don't be a big sook...", and my dad chimed in and said "if your so bloody brave why don't you get it done?..."

    So of course, to prove my mettle and to take his dare on, I preceded to have my ear pierced.

    All the while on the drive home all I felt was a burning sensation and a throbbing pulse in my hugely swollen, now purple ear.

    The next day I went to school, copped heaps of abuse from every other boy in my year on apparently how gay I looked (13 year old kids can be the cruelest)...
    - and low and behold....

    By the following Monday, 95% of the boys in my year had their ear pierced...funny that.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That's because 95% of the chicks thought you looked groovy. ;)
  12. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Yeah...I was a trend-setter...

    Its funny, because many years later, I saw this episode of The Simpsons and the exact same thing happened to Bart.

    Everyone bagged him, then the next day everybody had an earring...

  13. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    My apologies to @paulears for taking this thread off topic...
  14. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    To get back to Paul's OP...

    I think that every era has its music trends, which is typically influenced by production and mixing trends. Remember back in the 80's, when it seemed as if everything was synth based, and being swamped with Lexi reverb?
    Or the mid 90's, when Auto-Tune first reared its head on songs like "I'm Blue", and then was driven like a spike into our brains by Cher and that annoying "Do You Be-li-eve"...
    But, somebody must have liked those styles, because millions of records in those styles were sold.
    REO Speedwagon sold a boatload of records with Kevin Cronin's voice drowning in Lexi verb on songs like "Keep On Lovin' You" ( I hear that track today and I'm reaching for a towel to dry off with)... and someone must have been okay with the sound of Roland 808 drum samples, because countless hits used it, (and the Linn, too).

    It's generational, and, dare I say it, a lot of the music is created by the technology that comes out during those times. DAW's changed the game, and with their advent over time, became the sought-after production base, because of how easily things could be done; like seamless editing, without a blade - and with an "undo" button; copy-paste allowed for a "lazier" form of production; where one solid chorus could be pasted and repeated, over and over; all types of processing and FX were but a mouse click away, and midi became internal to the platform and no longer required MTC, SMPTE ( or the dreaded FSK) sync to external devices... All of those things are considered to be advancements and upsides to many people - I can tell you that I personally do not long for the days of razor blade editing - but, these things all have their downsides, too.

    For example:
    The first downside, is that it gave those who probably have no business being anywhere near it access to the same technology. I'm not talking about the home songwriter or solo artist who wants to get their ideas down - I'm referring to the thousands of "studios" that have popped up, where someone with absolutely no knowledge, skill or experience, hangs out a shingle and then charges to record clients.
    We need look no further than to the sonic drivel that is currently available on the internet, to hear proof of the result of these "studios".

    Copy-Paste editing, while convenient, takes away from the possibility of those spur of the moment performance things to happen ( which are often magical).
    Would Merry Clayton have hit that awesome, exquisitely painful voice break on the last chorus of The Stones' Gimme Shelter, if copy-paste had been available ?
    Or, on The Who's Eminence Front, where Daltrey and Townshend sing the beginning of the first chorus differently, but at the same time, adding that cool phrasing glitch ( that I personally dig)...
    Or, on The Cars' Just What I Needed, where the drummer mistakenly switched up the back/down beat on the last verse? All these were mistakes - but they were cool mistakes - that likely wouldn't have been left in the mix, had they been done on a platform that allowed for easy correction - and without a full band retake.

    OTOH, there's also the very valid argument to be made that technology isn't to blame, and that it's the operator that determines how the technology is used - for better or worse.
    (I've heard more than a few awful mixes come out of some very nice analog studios over the years, too).

    And, let's face it - we all grow older, and there are musical styles that we're simply not supposed to "get". As I mentioned previously, my Grandfather and his generation, who grew up on Big Band music, looked upon The Beatles as "long-haired noise".

    By the same token, I don't "get' Rap, either. I'm not 16 and living in an urban ghetto, so it doesn't do anything for me. Nor do I "get" Death metal or Djent styles, either.
    And, most jazz (and classical) "purists" have always considered any form of popular music other than their own to be "illegitimate".

    Things are supposed to change over time, and these things don't always make everyone happy. ;)

    IMHO of course.
  15. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

    My band (we always claim) add to our authenticity by being old and grey, apart from the 22 year old guitarist - who also plays in one of those metal bands where the singer sounds like he is sitting on the toilet and hasn't been for two weeks. We often go to see his band - all young guys and mega keen. One night he was beating himself up because he got the lyrics for the second verse wrong. I tried to point out that nobody would ever know, but he just didn't understand.

    As for the off topic stuff? It's fine with me.
  16. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I don't think it would really matter what style you're playing, especially in a bar - I doubt highly that anyone cared - or even noticed - the times I sang wrong verses, or screwed up words to well-known rock songs over the last 38 years ... and believe me, I have. Many times.

    It's doubtful that anyone cared at all the night I played a few weeks ago, and started out Honky Tonk Women with "I laid a divorcee in New York City" instead of "I met a gin-soaked barroom queen in Memphis".
    And if they did care, well, then they're just not drinking enough. LOL

    But I get your point. I've seen a few of those hardcore metal bands - the kind with the Cookie Monster on lead vocals... and I was hard-pressed to understand a word of what was being sung.
  17. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I have never, ever, heard such a finer description put so well when describing vocalists in hardcore metal bands :ROFLMAO:

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