Basic Mixing Procedures
Sean G. Donaldson
Duquesne University (student)
TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:
Electronic Musical Instruments
A computer station for each student or pair of students, including a station best suited for class demonstration. Multi-track Audio Production software – anything capable of varying levels of multi-track audio.
Prior Knowledge and Skills:
The students will need to have an idea of how to navigate in the Multi-track environment, and be able to know what they are looking at when the open the pre-prepared audio project.
NAfME standard of 1994 Addressed:
NAfME standard of 1994: Listening to, analyzing and describing music.
NAfME standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.
NAfME 2014: Responding
Optimally, a Projector connected to the teacher station would help to identify each separate track of audio and other portions of the production layout. The same can be done with a diagram on the board or a well-detailed picture from a textbook.
When the students have finished this lesson, they will have a general idea of some of the methods used in mixing audio to create a final project. The students will be given a prepared file including four tracks of an audio project, all tracks having greatly varying gain levels. Using volume sliders and effects such as normalize, reverb, and compression, students will work towards a mixed, balanced final submission.
(~20 min:) Show and explain (with a separate example) what each of the intended effects does to alter the output of a sound. Also focus on the importance of keeping the output level out of the red, and avoiding peaking. Depending on the level of the students, you could then step through their four-part project and give them ideas of what could be changed to reach the desired end result. (With the Remaining Time:) Have the students examine the prepared project and mix it as they see fit. In the last 20 minutes of the allotted time, remind students of some of the Effects they may have neglected, if any.
Each student would submit their proprietary project file, keeping the tracks separate so that you can see what has been changed. You can then listen to each track individually and to the project as a whole to get a feel for the mix, and to identify if they used the same methods as you had intended in the prepared project. Since mixing is often felt to be subjective, consider how creative they were in altering the mix, and consider how well they implemented the methods they chose.
More detailed methods of mixing, perhaps delving into EQ and Panning.
Items to Purchase:
As far as software is concerned, this lesson can be done very inexpensively, or even for free – depending on what companies you talk to.
When budget should be submitted:
If the computer stations are not already available to you, the budget request should be submitted at least a year in advance.