For this exercise, you will balance four elements: lead vocal, drum kit, bass, and
everything else. It’s no longer a challenge of one track versus the rest. Instead, you’ve got to work through the relative levels of multiple – but familiar – tracks, each competing to be heard, all needing to come together as a whole.
You’ll find five tracks in Soundation giving you a good deal of creative control over “In Your Eyes.”
The ‘Mix,’ a final mix of the tune based on the other tracks available here. It is a balanced mix. Your mission: use the other tracks to match this reference mix.
The “mix minus” track, which for this exercise is the full mix, minus the three tracks above – everything but the lead vocal, drums, and bass, labeled ‘Mix-PG Kit Bass.’
Manú Katché’s drum mix, labeled ‘Kit.’
Tony Levin’s bass mix, labeled ‘Bass.’
Peter Gabriel’s lead vocal track, labeled ‘PG.’
For this exercise, we again focus on a selected portion of the tune, one that captures the many changes in performances across the song structure: the first verse, pre-chorus, and chorus. This exercise will be the most difficult of the Mix Balance exercises yet, but also the most rewarding. You’ve got to juggle the priorities of the vocals, the drums and the bass, while getting them all to make musical sense versus the "mix minus" stem.
Stay focused, and repeat the now-familiar routine:
Balancing the Mix
Listen to the entire reference mix and acclimate yourself to the relative level of all the tracks: vocal, kick, snare, bass, piano, guitar, and the rest.
Mute the reference mix and pull up the other four tracks. As a starting point, raise the ‘PG’ vocal so that he’s singing to you at about the same level that you recall from the reference mix. Then raise the ‘Kit’ to a "good guess" starting level versus the vocal. Then raise the ‘Mix-PG Kit Bass’ track to taste. Lastly, raise the ‘Bass’ track to where it sounds about right.
Start to explore higher and lower fader positions for all parties involved. Develop a sense of what happens when there aren’t enough drums, and when there is too much. Same for bass, and vocal, and the mix minus portion. There is much to explore. You might start to lose a sense of what sounds right. It all sounds wrong. Or it all sounds fine. Which way is up? Help!?!? (That’s a normal reaction at this point).
Mute the ‘PG,’ ‘Kit,’ ‘Bass,’ and ‘Mix-PG Kit Bass’ tracks and unmute the ‘Mix’ track. Have a listen for the whole duration of the track with renewed focus on the level of every element of the mix. Listen from each track outwards. That is, focus on the vocal and assess its level compared to each of the other core elements of the mix. Then direct your focus to the drum kit and listen to its interaction with every element of the arrangement. Do the same with the bass, then the guitar, then the keyboards, etc.
Iterate back through Steps Three and Four, as many times as you like, but resist the urge to toggle back and forth between the reference mix and yours. Your goal is reign in all the options into a complete mix that you like, that sounds professional, that’s balanced.
Share Your Work!
Visit the Module 5: Project Share topic to learn how to save your work, export to Soundcloud, and share it with the PWYM Community.
Module 5 Exercises
- Balance Exercise 1: Lead Vocals
- Balance Exercise 2: Drum Kit
- Balance Exercise 3: Bass
- Balance Exercise 4: Stems