Sound Production And Engineering Analysis: Three Pop Songs

1109 words - 4 pages

These days signal processing has become one of the strongest facets of audio and music production. The function of a signal processor is to modify an audio signal in some intended fashion, in either the analog or digital realm. While effecting all parts of audio production, processing is most useful in controlling: amplitude level (dynamic range), the spectral content of a waveform (equalization), and effects (such as delay, reverb, recreating room ambience, etc) (Huber, 2001). Keeping these aspects of processing in mind can provide a fresh perspective on some of your favorite songs.Sherman Keene suggests in his book, Practical Techniques for the Recording Engineer, that there are eight properties of a good mix: 1) Powerful and solid lows.2) Proper use of the very powerful mid-range areas. 3) Clear and clean highs. 4) Proper but not overburdening effects. 5) Dimension - some sense of depth. 6) Motion - movement of the instruments using pans to heighten the music. 7) At least one true stereo track (e.g., strings, piano, hopefully something used "up front" in the mix).8) Some acoustic information- not just delays and reverb. This list is rather succinct, but it is finding the most perfect balance of these dynamics that proves to be the art form. Using these guidelines, however, a good mix seems inevitable.The Roots: "The Next Movement" (Things Fall Apart, 1999)Here is a great example of a prominent bottom end, which is the hip-hopper's best friend. This mix has got the bass frequencies (60 - 350 Hz) turned up about as far as they will go. The main melody of the song comes from this bass track, which produces a rushing yet grooving feel. The instrumentation of this song consists of: vocals (male lead, fem. bkgd.), electric bass, drums (kick, snare, rims, hihats), organ, turntable scratches. The vocals (rapping) in this song are very "in-your-face" and are the prominent focus of the mix. For a stronger presence, all lead vocals were doubled on two tracks. I feel this echoing technique gives the whole lead vocal track a rather repetitive feel and would have been more pleasing perhaps if used as a feature to the chorus. There are a lot of interesting overlaid and complex female vocal samples used in the background.The dynamics of the song are very impressive. Like the lows, the highs are bright and sparkly as they come through as clear hi-hats and rhythmic claps. This contrast to the drudgy, thumping bass allows the timbre of the acoustic information to come through well. Two scratching solos also highlight the high frequencies. A vintage organ was improvised on to compliment the melody being laid by the bass. The fuzzy sound of the organ and synthetic record crackling were used as an accent to give the song a vintage recording quality. Overall, this is the most superior mix of the three because the mix compliments the song perfectly- it has not been over or under-processed.Ramsey Lewis: "My Babe" (Lewis Live, 1964)This is a live recording from 1964....

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