Performing artists are Christian bolz and Tobias knetch. References and multi-tracks were downloaded for free from cambridge-mt.com. A sincere thanks to mike senior, Christian Bolz and Tobias knetch for providing these for free for non-commercial practices.
Part 1 of this mix attempt
i.e analysing the real world release in detail, all that is going on in the track and note down the findings to faithfully replicate it with best of my ability with some minor changes of my own.
This musical piece is a modified version of Hungarian Dance No 5 by Johannes Brahms. The original composition is an arrangement for an orchestra. Here it is a duet. It feels a little different but still very nice. I recommend you to read about the reference track. Give it a few good dedicated listening sessions..!
Now, starting with the analysis…
I’ll follow a very simple, a very flexible generic framework.
The above image is showing all the questions i ask in the process and in this mix, following are my deductions. This list will improve and more points will be introduced or removed as i grow with my practice.
First thing.. the very basic question..
No. of Instruments and Performance Details
- There are mainly two voices (a saxophone and a guitar) i.e. a duet and its a saxophone preferred performance.
- The saxophone volume level is relatively more than guitar. There is a give and take in the performance, which is captured in the recording to an extent and enhanced further using some volume automation.
- In the guitar performance, especially in the starting seconds of the track, the high notes in the strumming pattern on guitar has their own roles in adding some low volume high pitch harmonics. They are not very obvious so i believe this was done intentionally. It is not just a high freq boost to add some air or noise. They are contributing harmonically.
- Air popping and key sounds of saxophone is removed almost completely. There is a faint presence, a hint but rest is taken care off very beautifully.
- It seems like the saxophone is present in very low end also but that is not the case. Only guitar is responsible for that part while both are present in the remaining frequency spectrum.
Fundamentals voices are the voices or instruments which acts as a base or a foundation for all the other voices and the overall track. These voices drive the track from start to the end and give all the tracks an anchor point, pivoted to which they all move around in the sound field. One small hint to select them is that these tracks are present most of the time in track. i.e. They are being played for a longer duration in the sound field than all the other tracks. It could be one instrument/voice or more. This idea is not a fact but a minor observation, a side point which can help gather some more information. In this mix
The guitar and the saxophone both are fundamental voices because this performance as a whole is designed this way. Guitar is not very far away from the saxophone and saxophone is there to give and take the role all the time, i can say with ease that they are fundamental to this track. Its also very obvious by the idea that this is a duet. Both are important. This concludes that mix will be attempted while taking both as anchors. Even though there are only two voices here, they still have some roles to play.
Roles of sounds
Its like in a cinema, where there’s a lead role, some supporting roles, some significant but less often appearances.. here we have a guitar and a saxophone with a game of catch and throw. While it is true that both are present in the track all the time,
the saxophone dominates the performance making the guitar play the supportive role which i think is intentional here.
They are not moving from their places to left or right. Only forward and backward. This is clearly some volume or reverb dry/wet control automation. I strongly believe that their placement in the sound field from my perspective in 2D space is like this.
Guitar body is placed almost in the centre, just a little to the left. Here guitar body means frequencies after 100Hz which are placed like this. Guitar frequencies from 30-100Hz are somehow placed in dead left. See here, when i gradually reduce the stereo width from 100% to mono, the low frequencies are suffering because of it. The guitar still have some bass frequencies but they are not very clear anymore. The low end is now gone. Moving from mono, back to stereo further confirms what is placed where and how they are affected in this exercise.
I observed some distortion in right channel at timestamps 00:00:37, 00:00:55, 00:02:30.
Volume automation could be one of the catalysts contributing to this behaviour but clipping is definitely there. Its neither harsh or hard or even soft. It sounds like it is leaning towards soft. In this case, whether this phenomena at these timestamps is appealing or not, only the artist can tell whether it is intentional or it was introduced during export or trans-coding process. One very obvious FX here is
- There is not much tail present in the reverb used on the saxophone performance. Body of saxophone reverb also is not taking much space hence keeping it confined to one part of the sound field.
- Sounds of guitar slides which does not contain pitch, are enhanced with reverb.
The reverb which is used.. If compared to real world, is more like a small size room. Pre-delay is not long and sounds like the tail is gated.
After many listening sessions, i believe that the reverbs on the instruments are positioned like this in the sound field in front of me.
- The guitar is represented with the green solid line and the saxophone is with the pink.
- The blue colour semicircle is the sound field in front of me, there is left and right extremes and 50% panning markers on both sides.
- The lower-frequency part of the guitar reverb is positioned dead left and is consistent with the played notes with some variations in levels to make the performance interesting.
- The Saxophone is taking the right channel. I think the reverb is acting as grease on the clipping of the saxophone.
Now the next FX which is applied both on saxophone and guitar, is the cause of the stereo image is it right now.
The delays here are not obvious because they are low volume delays panned to opposite channels. The delay configuration here is known as haas delay. There is a podcast on “Haas delays” by Mike senior on soundonsound.com with examples and detailed explanation.
The following reasons confirmed the use of haas delays here in this track on both saxophone and guitar :-
- The saxophone delay on opposite channel is present during the whole track but can be observed more clearly at timestamps (00:52, 02:26, 02:44).
- Even though the delay applied using guitar performance is present on opposite channel the entire time(which is hiding and playing its part very nicely), the very last strum on the guitar at the very end with a faint identical version on the opposite channel gave away the secret i.e. at 02:47.
- Hence here the low volume panned delays used in the performance are positioned like this.
Overall Sound Field
All this information about the different voices, their positions, roles and FX used has allowed me to get a bigger picture like this.
In addition to the information until now,
- the thicker green solid line area filled with light brown colour is guitar and thicker pink solid line area filled with light orange colour is saxophone.
- The bigger dotted enclosures with the same colours as of the instruments shows the overall area they are playing in.
This doesn’t tell anything about the sonic signatures i experienced during the listening sessions. Maybe someday when i will learn how to represent them into words.
Also the listening sessions were not exactly the same.
- Sometimes i had to sit while some noise was being produced at a distance.
- Some other listening sessions were done in the late night.
- 90% of these sessions were done with no external noise and any kind of influence on the listening practice.
So everything i mentioned here was common and same in all the sittings.
This ends here. Next post will contain the study i will do on RAW multi-track files that were used in this release.