Creating a Continuous Mix

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raymondh
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Post 09 Jun 2019

Hi folks,

I have a few tracks that follow a similar theme and I'm contemplating creating a continuous album featuring these, in the same vein as a JM Jarre album like Oxygene.

I use Reason 10 for arranging and mixing, then standalone Ozone 8 for mastering.

Keen to hear any advice / tips / tricks from anyone who has done this before.

So many questions :)
- Should I use Reason to build up the continuous mix, or export each mixed song to audio and build up the continuous mix in Ozone? Or should I export from Ozone the mastered result, then use Audacity, etc...
- I have different tempos and keys for my current tracks. Is that ok or should I be re-arranging the tracks to match key or tempo?
- Until now, I think about song structure as keeping the listener's attention for 3 minutes. For a continuous mix, should it be about trying to build tension end to end, or is it no different to any album with a set of discrete tracks?
- Is there any science behind a good transition from one track to another track? Should a transition be a feature in itself, or just blending outro-to-intro as seamlessly as possible?

thanks!
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mon
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Post 10 Jun 2019

The easiest way would be to render the mastered tracks and mix them inside mixing app, such as Traktor, Serato etc. If I have to do it in Reason, and it’s not live performance but more like a DJ mix, I would render masters, then REX the tracks into logical sections (intro/choruses/verses... or intro/buildup/breakdown/outdo...), then load each track into separate Octorex and each section into separate Octorex Rex slot. I would go this route because of the flexibility of easier matching the tempo. Keep in mind that if the tempo variations are bigger then few BPM, the Rexes could start to fall apart (sound with small pauses between the slices). In such case timestretching would be a better choice. Another option is to make sudden changes between tracks (with effects, scratches etc) or even fade outs and then fade ins of the new tracks, instead of gradual transitions. About the mix - there are different routes that can be taken. Usually the highest energy is not the last track, unless you are heating up the dance floor for the next DJ who wants to start with some bangers. If you want to make it a complete story, you would better make the mix energy level resemble the energy level of a track. Something like - Intro, going up the energy with a few tracks, reaching small peak, going down a bit, building up again (longer and bigger), big peak, cooling down, outro. You would have to keep in mind the keys of your songs, as most of the songs would be clashing if you try to mix them. When changing the energy level, the harmonic mixing (going up or down) will be another tool in your hands, together with bpm and frequency content. Final advice - if you can, mix it in a DJ program or even something like Magix Acid, it will make it much easier. Reason is outstanding for live performances but not so great for DJ style of mixing finished tracks. Still it could be done if there is no better option. Whatever you choose to use, load some dj style EQs on the channels and blend the sections to sound good together while keeping the interest. Sprinkle some effects here and there. If needed, make some new transitions specifically for the mix or get away from a dodgy place with a sudden change, or fade out and fade in. Good luck and let us know how it’s going :)
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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

mon wrote:
10 Jun 2019
The easiest way would be to render the mastered tracks and mix them inside mixing app, such as Traktor, Serato etc. If I have to do it in Reason, and it’s not live performance but more like a DJ mix, I would render masters, then REX the tracks into logical sections (intro/choruses/verses... or intro/buildup/breakdown/outdo...), then load each track into separate Octorex and each section into separate Octorex Rex slot. I would go this route because of the flexibility of easier matching the tempo. Keep in mind that if the tempo variations are bigger then few BPM, the Rexes could start to fall apart (sound with small pauses between the slices). In such case timestretching would be a better choice. Another option is to make sudden changes between tracks (with effects, scratches etc) or even fade outs and then fade ins of the new tracks, instead of gradual transitions. About the mix - there are different routes that can be taken. Usually the highest energy is not the last track, unless you are heating up the dance floor for the next DJ who wants to start with some bangers. If you want to make it a complete story, you would better make the mix energy level resemble the energy level of a track. Something like - Intro, going up the energy with a few tracks, reaching small peak, going down a bit, building up again (longer and bigger), big peak, cooling down, outro. You would have to keep in mind the keys of your songs, as most of the songs would be clashing if you try to mix them. When changing the energy level, the harmonic mixing (going up or down) will be another tool in your hands, together with bpm and frequency content. Final advice - if you can, mix it in a DJ program or even something like Magix Acid, it will make it much easier. Reason is outstanding for live performances but not so great for DJ style of mixing finished tracks. Still it could be done if there is no better option. Whatever you choose to use, load some dj style EQs on the channels and blend the sections to sound good together while keeping the interest. Sprinkle some effects here and there. If needed, make some new transitions specifically for the mix or get away from a dodgy place with a sudden change, or fade out and fade in. Good luck and let us know how it’s going :)
Awesome - thanks for all this advice. I've never used Rex, so that could be some good learning too!
cheers!
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WongoTheSane
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Post 10 Jun 2019

Regarding the difference in keys/BPM, Jarre explained recently that the wind/waves noises between tracks in Oxygen were just a cheap trick around that. Pink Floyd (well, Roger Waters mainly) used lots of radios sweeping the frequency spectrum. You could use crowd noises, nature sounds, atonal arrythmic FX, PaulStretches...

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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

WongoTheSane wrote:
10 Jun 2019
Regarding the difference in keys/BPM, Jarre explained recently that the wind/waves noises between tracks in Oxygen were just a cheap trick around that. Pink Floyd (well, Roger Waters mainly) used lots of radios sweeping the frequency spectrum. You could use crowd noises, nature sounds, atonal arrythmic FX, PaulStretches...
Oh that's perfect advice thanks! The album will have a space theme! Cheers!
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boingy
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Post 10 Jun 2019

I suspect Reason is not the best tool for this particular job.

If you are not looking for musical transitions between the tracks I think I'd be be looking to have a separate WAV for each track, "pre-master" them separately being careful to keep the mastering sound consistent across tracks (easier said than done!) and then assemble them in something else (not sure what!) to add the transitions.

If you do want musical transitions then I guess trying to do it all in Reason or in another DAW is the way.

Non-musical transitions will be the easiest. Perhaps your common theme will point you at something. Have a dig around in the free Sonnis sound effects samples here (if you have the bandwidth...):

https://sonniss.com/gameaudiogdc18
https://sonniss.com/gameaudiogdc19

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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

boingy wrote:
10 Jun 2019
I suspect Reason is not the best tool for this particular job.

If you are not looking for musical transitions between the tracks I think I'd be be looking to have a separate WAV for each track, "pre-master" them separately being careful to keep the mastering sound consistent across tracks (easier said than done!) and then assemble them in something else (not sure what!) to add the transitions.

If you do want musical transitions then I guess trying to do it all in Reason or in another DAW is the way.

Non-musical transitions will be the easiest. Perhaps your common theme will point you at something. Have a dig around in the free Sonnis sound effects samples here (if you have the bandwidth...):

https://sonniss.com/gameaudiogdc18
https://sonniss.com/gameaudiogdc19
Thanks for those links - I'll check them out! cheers.
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selig
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Post 10 Jun 2019

raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Should I use Reason to build up the continuous mix, or export each mixed song to audio and build up the continuous mix in Ozone? Or should I export from Ozone the mastered result, then use Audacity, etc...
In the past I've built each track separately, if only because I was unsure of the absolute final song sequence. For some tracks, I built the transition into the beginning/end, giving it extra length so I can crossfade it with the previous/next track. It all depends on how much you can be sure of when working on the song level, and how much you want to leave for the final sequencing level.
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- I have different tempos and keys for my current tracks. Is that ok or should I be re-arranging the tracks to match key or tempo?
With a well thought out transition, you can pretty much go from any tempo/key to any other. The important thing is feel. Sometimes you want to keep the feel between tracks, sometimes you need a fresh feel. Use tempo and key (and mood) to tell an overall story, thinking of each song as a chapter or a scene (or whatever other analogy works for you).
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Until now, I think about song structure as keeping the listener's attention for 3 minutes. For a continuous mix, should it be about trying to build tension end to end, or is it no different to any album with a set of discrete tracks?
This is TOTALLY up to you to choose! Do you want to build tension? Do you want to tell a specific "literal" story? Or do you want to tell a more "impressionistic" story? Or no story at all, just a collection of cool tunes. Totally up to you - there are examples of each approach and many others out there. Listen to some that have inspired you, and do a little analyzation to see if you can find the elements that make you smile (and note these - you don't have to copy the technique, just go for the same feeling in the end).
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Is there any science behind a good transition from one track to another track? Should a transition be a feature in itself, or just blending outro-to-intro as seamlessly as possible?
Again, totally up to you. Anything goes. You could even have the same transition for each song - a live album does this with applause between each song. Transitions can be totally musical, like a classical symphony, or more "sound design" or "found sounds". Again, go back to the music that inspired you to do this, add your own "special sauce" (make it your own), and try different transitions and song order until it feels good to you. Don't give up, keeping in mind this is a new approach for you and it may take some practice. The first time I did this I went back and forth on some transitions MANY times, and almost gave up on some. Which reminds me - you don't need a transition on every song - do what feels good/right to you!

Good luck, and if you're unsure of a specific transition post it here and get some feedback!
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JiggeryPokery
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Post 10 Jun 2019

I'ved tried this a couple of times, and it's a fun challenge. The "wind trick", or some kind of FX, is probably the key one.

The other neat trick is the Equinoxe side B one - end a track without fading either the bassline or a beat, leaving those running, then write a totally new track using the same rhythm. This can be hard to do in DSP terms, inevitably it might require some bounce-age, but Oxygene was done on an 8-track ... we have it real easy :D

In terms of writing I think what normally happens (and indeed Jarre's stated this about Oxygene too), one has a track, then you write around it. So for Oxygene, I think said he had Part IV, then wrote backwards and forwards. No idea what he could possibly have had first for Equinoxe Infinity... I'm not sure any of it was actually written down :) It sounded like one of those 45 minute random workstation jams some guy used to post back on PUF.

Crucial, I think, is not to force it to be continuous. If two tracks sound better without an interlinking sound, don't interlink it just for sake of keeping it continuous - you can still render without a break.

Here were my two Jarre-alikes :D
I'm still fond of Facades, especially the changes from Part 1 to 2, and 8 to 9. ;) (9 incidentally, apart from the sudden inspiration of adding a Mellotron choir, was entirely done in PinkNoise's Analog Monsters ReFill, so I had to use the A6 drums for Part 8 in order to link it)


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Boombastix
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Post 10 Jun 2019

Maybe you want to look at the free NI Tracktor DJ mix app, and get a feel for how to mix two song together. Normally, as a DJ, you try to carry something over. So a white noise sweep being the simplest, you can also take a sound, or a vocal chop, and let it carry on top of the outro through the mixing and into the next intro. This is something we DJs started doing a long time ago in live sets and having chops that you you just layer on top while you mix. Filter sweeps to make the ending track vanish, add a reverbed bang, wait a beat, then let the new track start. Listen to some DJ mixes to get ideas, this what they do all the time when they want to stand out.
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dioxide
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Post 10 Jun 2019

I've done similar things in the past for live sets. It can be useful to put all your songs into Blocks if you might want to extend sections etc. You can also use Blocks for the transitions between songs.

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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

selig wrote:
10 Jun 2019
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Should I use Reason to build up the continuous mix, or export each mixed song to audio and build up the continuous mix in Ozone? Or should I export from Ozone the mastered result, then use Audacity, etc...
In the past I've built each track separately, if only because I was unsure of the absolute final song sequence. For some tracks, I built the transition into the beginning/end, giving it extra length so I can crossfade it with the previous/next track. It all depends on how much you can be sure of when working on the song level, and how much you want to leave for the final sequencing level.
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- I have different tempos and keys for my current tracks. Is that ok or should I be re-arranging the tracks to match key or tempo?
With a well thought out transition, you can pretty much go from any tempo/key to any other. The important thing is feel. Sometimes you want to keep the feel between tracks, sometimes you need a fresh feel. Use tempo and key (and mood) to tell an overall story, thinking of each song as a chapter or a scene (or whatever other analogy works for you).
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Until now, I think about song structure as keeping the listener's attention for 3 minutes. For a continuous mix, should it be about trying to build tension end to end, or is it no different to any album with a set of discrete tracks?
This is TOTALLY up to you to choose! Do you want to build tension? Do you want to tell a specific "literal" story? Or do you want to tell a more "impressionistic" story? Or no story at all, just a collection of cool tunes. Totally up to you - there are examples of each approach and many others out there. Listen to some that have inspired you, and do a little analyzation to see if you can find the elements that make you smile (and note these - you don't have to copy the technique, just go for the same feeling in the end).
raymondh wrote:
09 Jun 2019
- Is there any science behind a good transition from one track to another track? Should a transition be a feature in itself, or just blending outro-to-intro as seamlessly as possible?
Again, totally up to you. Anything goes. You could even have the same transition for each song - a live album does this with applause between each song. Transitions can be totally musical, like a classical symphony, or more "sound design" or "found sounds". Again, go back to the music that inspired you to do this, add your own "special sauce" (make it your own), and try different transitions and song order until it feels good to you. Don't give up, keeping in mind this is a new approach for you and it may take some practice. The first time I did this I went back and forth on some transitions MANY times, and almost gave up on some. Which reminds me - you don't need a transition on every song - do what feels good/right to you!

Good luck, and if you're unsure of a specific transition post it here and get some feedback!
Thanks so much for this amazing advice!! There's a bunch of things here that would never have occurred to me and no doubt would have bogged me down without this insight.
Quite a lot to process, so I'll work with this and might have to come back later with more questions!
Thanks again!
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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

JiggeryPokery wrote:
10 Jun 2019
I'ved tried this a couple of times, and it's a fun challenge. The "wind trick", or some kind of FX, is probably the key one.

The other neat trick is the Equinoxe side B one - end a track without fading either the bassline or a beat, leaving those running, then write a totally new track using the same rhythm. This can be hard to do in DSP terms, inevitably it might require some bounce-age, but Oxygene was done on an 8-track ... we have it real easy :D

In terms of writing I think what normally happens (and indeed Jarre's stated this about Oxygene too), one has a track, then you write around it. So for Oxygene, I think said he had Part IV, then wrote backwards and forwards. No idea what he could possibly have had first for Equinoxe Infinity... I'm not sure any of it was actually written down :) It sounded like one of those 45 minute random workstation jams some guy used to post back on PUF.

Crucial, I think, is not to force it to be continuous. If two tracks sound better without an interlinking sound, don't interlink it just for sake of keeping it continuous - you can still render without a break.

Here were my two Jarre-alikes :D
I'm still fond of Facades, especially the changes from Part 1 to 2, and 8 to 9. ;) (9 incidentally, apart from the sudden inspiration of adding a Mellotron choir, was entirely done in PinkNoise's Analog Monsters ReFill, so I had to use the A6 drums for Part 8 in order to link it)

Great advice - thanks very much! I do like your arrangements a lot as you could tell from the comments I previously posted. (And of course your awesome Refills and RE's)
I will try those fade techniques, I think they'll work well for me. I'll take another listen to your tracks...
BTW I really like Equinox Infinity. :)
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jam-s
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Post 10 Jun 2019

Another technique can be to have a beat or baseline or chord sequence running almost solo at the end of a track and then introduce some little variations into it so it slowly morphs into the same element of the next track. This works esp. pretty well for (minimal) techno.
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stxlm
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Post 10 Jun 2019

raymondh wrote:
10 Jun 2019
The album will have a space theme! Cheers!
Well, there's no sound in space, so that's you settled then.

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mon
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Post 10 Jun 2019

stxlm wrote:
10 Jun 2019
raymondh wrote:
10 Jun 2019
The album will have a space theme! Cheers!
Well, there's no sound in space, so that's you settled then.
Good point :lol:
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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

mon wrote:
10 Jun 2019
stxlm wrote:
10 Jun 2019


Well, there's no sound in space, so that's you settled then.
Good point :lol:
Haha! Depends on how you define 'sound' :)

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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

jam-s wrote:
10 Jun 2019
Another technique can be to have a beat or baseline or chord sequence running almost solo at the end of a track and then introduce some little variations into it so it slowly morphs into the same element of the next track. This works esp. pretty well for (minimal) techno.
Thanks, sounds worth a go!
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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

dioxide wrote:
10 Jun 2019
I've done similar things in the past for live sets. It can be useful to put all your songs into Blocks if you might want to extend sections etc. You can also use Blocks for the transitions between songs.
Good idea. I use blocks all the time. An under-rated feature!
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raymondh
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Post 10 Jun 2019

Boombastix wrote:
10 Jun 2019
Maybe you want to look at the free NI Tracktor DJ mix app, and get a feel for how to mix two song together. Normally, as a DJ, you try to carry something over. So a white noise sweep being the simplest, you can also take a sound, or a vocal chop, and let it carry on top of the outro through the mixing and into the next intro. This is something we DJs started doing a long time ago in live sets and having chops that you you just layer on top while you mix. Filter sweeps to make the ending track vanish, add a reverbed bang, wait a beat, then let the new track start. Listen to some DJ mixes to get ideas, this what they do all the time when they want to stand out.
Thanks. I think I understand. Will add that to the melting pot too!
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MarkTarlton
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Post 11 Jun 2019

this turned out to be a great thread of ideas! good job everyone for your input, and thanks for posting raymond :)

mcatalao
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Post 11 Jun 2019

You know I've done this various times, for example for a musical where there were situations where 2 or 3 songs followed each other and the sequences were with the instruments (they worked like a medley) for corporate videos (an example about a wine company that had a narrator) and for musical audio books with effects.

In the case of the musical, it was a bit more complex because a lot of the instruments were different from the others. We used a lot of leitmotiv, a technique where each role has it's own musical identity (check out Peter and the wolf for reference), and the initial roles presentation was wicked because i had to go from a big band arrangement to a hip hop to a heavy metal to a country to a mellow ballad. The thing is the Big band and hip hop had organic passages and the country to the ballad the same, so these pairs were arranged on single reason files. From these to the heavy metal in the middle there was a traffic sound passage and a dreammy harp that were put on the mastering project.

I'd say if you don't go crazy with the sounds you use (Re's and VST's), you can create 2 or 3 songs on a single file (i think the musical had 50+ instruments and vocals) but the mix will be a tad crazy.

As for the other projects, on the corporate stuff, simple effects in between or normal crossfades work ok because the music was behind the vocal. As for the audiobook, again, leitmotive, and more a la "peter and the wolfe" so very small very simple little songs for each character, in between of the narrator and effects. The generic and ending song was done on it's own project.

I look at this way of work as a fun challenge. If you separate your project into these parts, and separate production phases reason is quite capable of being used on this. I think some stuff like folder tracks, hidden tracks, views and other stuff could be helpful in the mixing process, but nonetheless it is pretty doable!

michael.jaye
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Post 13 Jun 2019

As a dj, sometimes when I'm transitioning between two tracks that are radically different, I'll deadstop the outgoing track whilst at the same time engaging a delay of heavy reverb. This creates a tail that slowly echoes or fades away while introducing the new/next track. In a DAW the deadstop can be replicated with a quick fade. A long washy tape delay is also a good option.

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dioxide
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Post 15 Jun 2019

Another trick I learned recently was to do with harmonic mixing. I needed to do a live set recently that had a lot more musical content, which meant the transitions were more tricky. I bounced them all down to WAVs and dropped them into Serato (with key lock enabled!), which has Camelot key labelling. This allowed me to choose tracks that were sympathetic to each other when working on my set order. Other DJ software such as Djay have key detection, but I found I got different results from Serato.

https://mixedinkey.com/harmonic-mixing-guide/

Mixed In Key have a Studio Edition now, but I already have Hornet Song Key, which works as VST in Reason. I think the functionality is pretty much the same, although I haven't tried Mixed In Key as they don't offer demos.

https://mixedinkey.com/studio-edition/
https://www.hornetplugins.com/plugins/h ... ngkey-mk2/

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raymondh
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Post 15 Jun 2019

Thanks for all this advice guys.
I'm not producing a Dance/DJ mix, but I've been reading your comments and following the links and see how the techniques you use are equally applicable to what I am wanting to do. I really had no idea how much science there was behind all of this!!

On the harmonic mixing, that looks like a model based on the Circle Of Fifths right? I never use that, even though my expert-musician friends always tell me to!!
I've already started remixing some of my tracks to be tonally more similar (some of the tracks I'm using for my album are 6 years old and sound way different to my recent stuff!) but now I'm wondering if I should be looking to change the key of some of them to mix things up more!

I thought this experiment would teach me about transitions but can see it's branching out into a whole new sphere!!
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