Wilton Said… Newsletter #94
Rock Opera Arrangements and Mixing
For the past 4 months, I’ve been mixing the Rock Opera recording. ….And it’s taking longer than anticipated. I’ve come to realize that while the songs themselves are simpler in structure, the textural orchestration and arrangement is more complex than on any of the Wilton Said… recordings. Thinking about this, it makes sense, as the WS band consisted of drums, bass, guitars, sometimes keyboards and vocals. In most cases I tried to keep the instrument arrangement for recording similar to how we’d play it live. There were a few cases of harmony guitars, rhythm guitar backing the lead guitar, and some doubling of keyboard and guitar parts which, when played live, would just be one or the other. But over all, pretty straight forward.
This Rock Opera is another thing altogether. When I arranged and recorded the guitar and keyboard parts, I went with what I thought sounded good without any regard on how it will be reproduced live. So there are many instances of rich, thick, everything including the kitchen sink, textures. In many cases these textures overlap from one song section into another which makes it tricky to mix section by section.
Sonically, the keyboard textures are all over the place. With WS, I pretty much kept to a small roster of sounds. Not so with the RO. I’ve got clavinet, distorted piano, various strings, pads, numerous lead sounds, effects and more.
The guitar parts, while a little more straight forward in sound (usually overdriven), are in some cases arranged to add to the orchestration rather then the main chordal instrument. This means some widdle diddle of my digital Eq knobs to get these guitar lines to stand out without over-powering the mix.
And then there are the vocals. Six character vocalist parts with usually a maximum of three on any one song. This makes for additional twiddling as each vocalist needs a slightly different Eq setting. Some vocalists are louder than others so there’s also the variable fader factor.
Over all I’m not complaining (I don’t think I’m complaining), it’s a great learning experience. However, it’s meant that each song is taking me four to five hours to mix as opposed to the two hours it used to take me to mix a WS song. Finding four or five hours to mix can be tricky as I need to be in the right head space. Nevertheless, I am half way through and have reviewed the earlier mixed songs with the more recently mixed songs for comparison to make sure they all sound within the same style. And they do, yay!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll be doing more mixes on and off over the summer and fall and hope to have this thing mixed by late fall. Then it’ll be mastering time. After that, there’s the business of scripts and hopefully having a theater company (perhaps high school) perform this.
That’s all for now.
P.S. Feel free to take a listen to a rough mix of one of the songs with yours truly on vocals.