Making any sort of impact through music requires an insane amount of work, as well as dedication, commitment, and inward-looking. From learning an instrument and writing songs to recording albums, booking shows, and embarking on tours, nothing good in music ever happens without a work ethic. Sure, there are times when inspiration for a song appears out of nowhere without effort or planning, but most momentum in music is generated by tedious non-musical work: writing emails, sticking to a regular rehearsal schedule, setting time aside each day to write music and play your instrument.
The problem is many of us don’t really think that way. My personal musical goal right now is to play piano like Errol Garner. How the heck do you start on that journey? Well, it begins with a process of breaking things down into smaller and smaller steps until you wind up with something that can be realistically accomplished in a practice session (or a few).
Wait, let me back up. Actually, I did know they existed because we put one in our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for musicians recently. But, seriously, who knew that this was actually “a thing,” and that there are literally hundreds of different coloring books out there for almost every cultural fan community? It seems today’s biggest pop stars are out there eagerly awaiting to be colored in.
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Any permutation of the I, IV, and V chords from a key is going to sound good, and every permutation has been used many thousands of times over (especially when it’s in the 12-bar-blues form).
Our Soundfly Mentorship program is built on our belief that accountability and guidance can have a huge impact on helping students reach their goals and develop their musical identities. We currently offer mentorship with seven courses, including those mentioned earlier, as well as a Beta program called the Headliners Club. Our mentors are passionate, experienced musicians with a shared love of personalized learning and artistic curiosity.
And yes, it’s a masterwork. This isn’t just Japanese new-age hindsight fetishism at play here. Takada’s brilliant suite for marimbas and synthesizer brings Asian timbres and African polyrhythms in perfect contact with the minimalist language of composers like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Brian Eno. The fact that this record never made it out of Japan was a cultural crime that needed to be rectified.
So now that we understand what mixing is, what mastering is, and how to make sure mixing is done to optimize the results from the mastering phase, we should also consider when mastering may or may not be necessary.
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Why do some songs tug on our heartstrings while others fall flat? Conveying moods and emotions is a key element of making great music, and doing it well requires a deep understanding of chords and harmony. It’s what allows modern music producers and songwriters to convey a sense of danger, triumph, or melancholy.
Convenient though it is, some musicians don’t want to accommodate a 12-TET, insisting instead that we continue to use pure intervals derived from harmonics the way God and Pythagoras intended. Harmonics-based tuning systems are collectively known as just intonation. This is a poetically apt term, because it implies fairness. By contrast, the implicit message of 12-TET is that life isn’t fair. As we’ve learned, just intonation systems give you some lovely pure intervals, but are severely limited otherwise. A few malcontents prefer alternative historical compromise tuning systems that make some keys sound better at the expense of others sounding worse. There are many such esoteric temperament systems, but none of them are in widespread use.
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It’s true that when you’re mixing, your aim is to make the song sound its best. But your primary goal during the mixing stage is to create the right flavor and balance of sound for your song specifically. So it’s almost as if mixing is focused internally on the song and the artist, and mastering is focused externally on the listener and playback format.
All of our mentored online courses come with six weeks of 1-on-1 professional coaching and feedback on your work. It’s like having a personal trainer, but for music! Share your goals with us and we’ll find a course for you, or create a custom mentorship session with a pro musician, engineer, educator, or music industry veteran, to help you achieve them.