The past few months for me have been an adventure into the complexities of the world of music mixing and audio design. As someone who always wants to learn and improve upon my current set of skills, I occasionally find myself exploring some avenue of knowledge that I have yet to truly master. For the past month or so I’ve been studying up on mixing techniques and just general information on how to better organize my studio setup. I come from a classical music background so the use of more modern technology in my creative process has been a very recent development. In most scenarios within the classical music world, I only had to worry about composing the music itself and arranging the parts for the performers who would be playing the piece. The music is looked over by the performers, details and errors are fixed, the piece is rehearsed, and if all goes well a performance of the piece results.
Usually the end goal or product to reach in the classical music setting is the actual performance of the piece in front of an audience. Getting the music recorded is often an afterthought. It presents its own set of challenges and requirements, but is usually fairly simple in its execution. Recording and mixing adds another series of steps to the process. So for me, it’s a new set of skills and disciplines that I’m still learning.
During my information scavenging, I’ve come across a variety of opinions and preferred methods for mixing. It’s been interesting to read the varied theories from different sets of professionals and experts on the subject. For the most part I’ve spent time testing out some of these methods on my earlier projects with some encouraging success. Most of this has been alternate ways of using EQ, compression, and reverb. Through some of these experiments I’m finding which methods I find more suitable for what I’m writing and how I want my mixes to sound. It’s been a time-consuming process, but I can’t really argue with the results. The improvements have been substantial enough for me to actually create alternate mixes of the pieces that I’ve had up on my Video Game Music page. The newer versions are much closer to what I ideally wanted in sound quality. Inevitably I will always have this feeling of wanting to tweak the older pieces more and more, but it’s something I’ve learned to avoid. It’s a phenomenon that many of my creative friends and peers seem to experience as well. That nagging push towards perfection is just something we’ve all had to learn to live with. So for now these new versions will stay to represent my mixing skills or lack thereof.
I have a few new projects in the pipeline. The first being a piece for a composition competition. The work in question needs to be written specifically for this event, so the immediacy of a looming deadline makes it my highest priority. There is no limitation on the style of the music, but it needs to be something you would theoretically write for or hear in a video game soundtrack. I’m definitely going to be trying some new things with this particular piece. My current plan is to write something in the style of a science fiction game or setting. Very atmospheric and much more experimental than what I normally write. I really want to push for originality in this project and hopefully I’ve come up with something that will separate my work from the rest of the pack. It is a piece that I will be showing off on a future post regardless of how well it ends up doing against its competitors. I am also working on a few other pieces that I plan to add to my portfolio. Their progress will obviously depend on how much time is taken up by the previously mentioned project. Until then I’ll try to keep posting updates on the music and get some other articles posted in between those. It’s going to be a very busy month.