Audacity Dashboard

So what makes a good mix?

What separates a “mix” from a collection of songs? And why do some mixers resonate with their genre while others simply record a few similarly constructed  tunes onto a playlist?

Here, in my opinion, are the beginning components of what it takes to make an outstanding mix – regardless of genre.

  1. Space: Define you genre: Is it Ambient (a personal addiction!), Post-Rock, Garage, Avant=Garde, Techno, House, etc. Begin by mixing within your chosen genre & shift to mixed genre once you get the hang of things & humans begin to clamor for your output.
  2. Sequence: In my [humble?] opinion, this can make or break a really good mix. You’ve chosen the compositions…yet there is (believe it or not) a BEST order (sequence) in which to listen to a particular set of songs. My advice is: always mix from slowest to fastest (the pace of the compositions) – that creates a “build” to the mix & leaves the listener satisfied.
  1. Segue:
    1. How should the songs fade-in/fade-out with one another?
      I prefer to create an environment (when I can) where the listener has trouble distinguishing where one song stopped & the next one began. However, with Rock & Jazz – genres which frequently employ abrupt endings to the compositions –  the Space_Sequence_Seguesegues should not overlap too much, but be short & crisp.
    2. When should you employ l-o-n-g vs shorter segues?
      Ambient & Experimental compositions readily lend themselves to long fades & segues. Sequencing plays a big role here as the mixer will want to long-fade similar sounds so that the perception of ending/beginning is further blurred to the listener’s ears.
      Techno is an interesting genre. To successfully mix Techno, one will need either beat-matching software OR a very good ear (to avoid erratic sounds to the beat-pattern of consecutive songs).
    3. When should there be a little silence (a gap in the audio) in-between tracks?
      When the ending of a song is so perfect (in Jazz for example) that the listener will want to relish & savor the crisp ending for 1/2 a second or 2 before the next composition begins. Again think Rock, Jazz & sometimes Classical.

Experiment! I can’t tell you how many mixes I have  either scrapped, left on the drawing board or left to sit while i searched for the proper compositions to accompany the “feel” of the mix.

Also – take good notes! This begins with organization in file folders:
Mix Fle Folders

Note the tracks you use (partials, excerpts, revisions, etc). I usually make a mix, listen to it, then revise or re-script/re-order the tracks. Once I’ve listened to the final product twice, do I even consider deleting the .aup file created by the software. After numerous revisions, you’ll forget what you mixed-blended-treated, etc. I take notes in note-pad:
Mixing Notes

Audacity (mixing software) is what I use to craft all my projects. It can do everything listed above as well as rip the output to different file formats (e.g. Bandcamp prefers FLAC files) and excerpt portions of songs for times when you just don’t wanna’ use all 27 minutes of a long-form composition ;- ] (and it’s free!)

And, finally, mix for yourself! If you like it, chances are others will too. But, if not…at least you have something listenable that you can enjoy.


Happy mixing!!
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