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How much does a successful recording depend on the arrangement?

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  • How much does a successful recording depend on the arrangement?

    I have a feeling that me English has gone out of me reach and me unable to edit the thread title.
    anyways, i have recently come to a conclusion that certaing songs, even in a context of a single recording session, just seem to "mix themselves". Some don't. The majority, of course, lays somewhere in between, but how much does it depend on the actual arrangement of a given piece?

    not just how good the recording is, but actually, the arrangement?
    Нечего сказать - напиши "Хуй"

  • #2
    in my opinion, the arrangement matters quite a bit. filling holes with parts and/or layering different registers of tones makes mixing easier by far. all too often I hear mid-heavy mixes with lots of things taking up the same space IE; guitars, keys, snare, horns, vocals, etc. In my opinion people also tend to mix way too bright on every tone.

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    • #3
      You can also say if the arrangement sucks why record it. As far as the other part, If the arrangement and recording is good enough to direct the person mixing life is good. It makes working on it a pleasuer so long as the mixer can detatch himself when needed and look at the mix from both glass half empty and half full.

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      • #4
        arrangement, c'est tres importante! mon dieu!

        this is where demo-ing can really help point out the flaws, the too-empty parts, the two-muddy parts.

        also, the engineer will be MUCH happier if your parts lock together! bon chance!
        "It's the har-moan-ee in my heh-eh-eh-ed."...The Buzzcocks
        GW, folkrocky blues ordinaire: singer/songwriter/guitar/bass/drums & earl grey tea
        www.geoffreywelchman.com

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        • #5
          Your English is MUCH better than my French.

          I think the arrangement is absolutely crucial to a great song and recording. The song and performances, and even the recording itself are very very important, but a poor arrangement can cause you all sorts of problems - especially with the mix. A good arrangement will help you mix easier, because parts will be in their own registers, not "stepping" on other parts, etc.

          Subtractive mixing can sometimes be a good option for a song where the arrangement is too "dense". If everyone is playing all the time, and there's too much going on, try pulling things out in different spots. If the piano, organ, horn section and three guitar parts are all playing at once, try pulling a few things out on the first verse, and then bring them back in on the chorus, while simultaneously muting something else. It will help "de-clutter" things.

          Our ears are kind of like our eyes. We can focus in on a specific element or object while still being "aware" of things on the peripheral edges, although not "see" or "hear" them with the same degree of detail as the object we're "focusing" in on.

          Let me try to illustrate with a picture. Here's a shot of my control room. Concentrate on the black computer monitor that is near the center of the picture - look at it hard:



          If you are focusing on that black computer monitor, you're probably aware that there's a reel to reel to your left, but not aware of the details - you can't tell it's an Otari. Same with the soffit mounted speakers - you can tell they're there, but probably can't tell they are JBL's unless you change your focus.

          I like to imagine arrangements in a similar way - almost like photography or film. You have a center focus, or main subject, and that's what you should feature in your mix. That "main element" can change from instant to instant, and you can do the audio equivalent of "swinging the camera or spotlight" to feature different things from moment to moment... when you do, the other elements become supportive instead of featured.

          However, too many elements at once is distracting and can lead to "clutter".

          With arrangements, I like to have one - at the most two - featured elements at any given time, and no more than two or three supporting elements along with the featured elements. That doesn't mean just two or three tracks or instruments though. If the drums and bass are laying down a groove and basically playing similar rhythmic parts, I'd consider that to be one "element". If you have strings and organ laying down a similar "pad" sound, that's another element. A guitar part that's playing a different rhythm would be yet another element. You really don't need more than three or four things going on at once - more than that, and it gets too busy, too confusing for the listener. So you can pull things out for a while, then replace them with something else in the next "section" of the song. That helps to keep things fresh and interesting for your listeners - more so in my opinion than just unmuting everything and letting everyone "play" from start to finish...
          **********

          "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

          - George Carlin

          "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

          - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

          "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

          - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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          • #6
            There was a "mix rescue" article I remember reading where they had gone nuts in the tracking phase. The approach was taken to start working from the track deemed the "star of the show ' and then work in sequential order , adding tracks , and , making sure each added track did'nt mask the previous ones .
            Once all the sonic real estate was taken up( and they had used every trick in the book to pack it full too ! .. it was a prog rock track with mucho instruments ), there were lots of elements still left , and , they ended up on "the cutting room floor" !
            The people whos mix had been giving them fits where elated !! All it took was an objective , alternate adviser to.... cut the fat.
            First kill the goose by refusing to feed it , then blame it for dying and not giving anymore gold eggs


            Professionalism is an attitude and , not a possesion that you own forever once you have acheived something.



            "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."

            Albert Einstein


            .

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            • #7
              Your subject header is perfect.

              And as you suspect, arrangement is one of the most important things for a successful recording, in my opinion (along with obviously good sound and good players and instruments and the room yadda yadda).
              Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

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              • #8
                I almost completely cut the (korg) polysix. There wasn't enough room and every time I brought it up, it seemed abrupt and didn't fit. Everything else only got scaled up or down based on a tighter arrangement and greater dynamics, but I don't remember removing any other parts altogether.

                Not afraid to trim the fat.
                The new blog: http://synonymmusic.blogspot.com/





                Originally posted by Walters9515
                yes he is SIG:

                [...]where is where but where could where be because where is he to where ,where

                I know u have a full blow studio where and haven't ever heard what a envelope follower is or have never used one in your life beside with a Quack which u are quacking like a rubber ducky in a tub

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                • #9
                  There's a cool article in a recent recording mag about getting the drum "part" right in order to get the right sound. (??) Then it mentions Back In Black. Hmmm. Good point. Yes, the drums sound great. The room, the mic choices. It all clicks... but the part? All the parts, contribute to make that great room audible. Hardly any cymbals so the tubs are loud but never strident.

                  It's a great point. Get the parts working together correctly and it's going to naturally go together nicely, and easily.
                  __________
                  Ain't no sacrilege to call Elvis king
                  Dad is great and all but he never could sing -
                  Jesus

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                  • #10
                    The drums hit hard on BinB, but they're not overly busy... which helps a lot too.

                    As the old saying goes, it's not just what you play, but also what you don't play that matters. The "space between the notes", the rests, are just as important as the notes. I believe the same thing applies to arrangements and mixing too.

                    Explore the space.
                    **********

                    "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                    - George Carlin

                    "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                    - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                    "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                    - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ever notice that the less stuff is in an arrangement, the bigger the recording sounds?
                      Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ever notice that the less stuff is in an arrangement, the bigger the recording sounds?

                        Yes and no.
                        The new blog: http://synonymmusic.blogspot.com/





                        Originally posted by Walters9515
                        yes he is SIG:

                        [...]where is where but where could where be because where is he to where ,where

                        I know u have a full blow studio where and haven't ever heard what a envelope follower is or have never used one in your life beside with a Quack which u are quacking like a rubber ducky in a tub

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I sort of lean towards the wall of sound approach on my own stuff--20-40 tracks, and it definetely is too busy at times, but I sort of like digging for sounds that you didn't know were there, when there's all these things going on and pushing and pulling. But that doesn't work for every band or act.

                          Counterpoint is an important thing. And breaking away and counterpointing at just the right moment to add the right amount of elevation and separation is crucial. I can't really illustrate it more than offer that there's that point in songs where we think that they can't get any better, and they do--the bass is playing a counterpoint note, the singer changes up the line and sings it higher, etc.

                          Even though I layer a ton of stuff with three and four part harmonies often on vocals and guitar, I realize that a well placed two part harmony or something with a basic but well captured and mixed sound can capture something so well. There's been times where i've put down ten tracks on a synth part, and in all truthfulness, the same general thing can generally be captured with one part that's well fleshed out with the right notes/ chord to create those harmonics. Organ is great for that, too, it has so many harmonics within itself that you can drop an organ line into something and have it sound great. Neko Case's albums are a great example of this.....she doesn't add alot that doesn't need to be there, the players all exert a lead when it dictates, but there's also alot of space and restraint, too.

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                          • #14
                            This isn't in response to anyone in particular, but I want to augment my remarks by saying that I love doing dense arrangements sometimes with lots of instruments. With this sort of thing, arrangement would be even more important since you have more instruments with overlapping frequencies. But sometimes, a big huge arrangement with tons of instruments or elements is just the thing a song needs.
                            Ken Lee on 500px / Ken's Photo Store / Ken Lee Photography Facebook Website / Blueberry Buddha Studios / Ajanta Palace Houseboat - Kashmir / Hotel Green View - Kashmir / Eleven Shadows website / Ken Lee Photography Blog / Akai 12-track tape transfers / MY NEW ALBUM! The Mercury Seven

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Here's a great example of someone who REALLY knows how to do masterful arrangements working at the top of his game. Listen to how he uses space, and how he brings things in and out...

                              **********

                              "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

                              - George Carlin

                              "It shouldn't be expected that people are necessarily doing what they appear to be doing on records."

                              - Sir George Martin, All You Need Is Ears

                              "The music business will be revitalized by musicians, not the labels or Live Nation. When the musicians decide to put music first, instead of money, the public will flock to the fruits and the scene will be healthy again."

                              - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

                              Comment



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