Tips For Mixing Using Musical Function Rather Than Individual Tracks

Tonal groups for mixing

I just read a really good article on mixing music. The focus was different from what is normally talked about when mixing.

Usually you hear things like pan the bass track, the kick drum track, and the lead vocal track, to the center of the mix. Then pan the other tracks out from there to create stereo. Add this kind of EQ, compression, reverb, etc. to that kind of track, and on and on. But the article I mentioned talked mainly about “groups” rather than tracks.

For example, the author, Rob Schlette, defines 3 groups: the lead/focal content group, the rhythmic content group, and the harmonic content group.

The article even contains a cool graphic showing what instrument is on what track, and color-coding the groups. BTW, “BGV” means “background vocals,” which took me a couple of minutes to figure out:).

Then using tone as defined by the above groups, you can organize your mix in a certain way – by creating contrast between the groups (using tools like EQ, compression, and even saturation effects – to help the tones perform their roles better.

The article doesn’t explicitly say that you can best do this by creating subgroups of tracks, called “folders” in Reaper, BTW, that correspond to the 3 tonal groups. See our article Creating Subgroups In Reaper and Pro Tools for a review of subgroups. But it is surely the best way to go about doing this.

The article also suggests that this kind of mixing is great for giving an entire album a more cohesive feel to it.

To read the full article, click here.

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