10 Things To Do Before Mixing a Recording

10 Things Before Mixing

After reading Mike Senior’s Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio earlier this month, I created a checklist of ten things to do to prepare a recorded song for mixing. My process has always been a bit too haphazard, so I plan to use this checklist to ensure that I never miss an opportunity to make my music sound better.

  • Organize tracks
  • Divide timeline
  • Listen to tracks
  • Identify gems
  • Edit out silences
  • Do multing as needed
  • Adjust timing and tuning
  • Camouflage edits
  • Comp vocals, lead tracks
  • Arrange

As these can be tedious, time-consuming tasks, many top-tier engineers give them to assistants to perform, but that’s not an option for those of us in home studios. If you’re a home studio user, feel free to use this checklist to better prepare your recordings for mixing. For more, be sure to check out Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio.

City Lights Bookstore

At City Lights Bookstore

It looks like another business trip to San Francisco later this year, and you know what that means—a visit to City Lights Bookstore. City Lights, the first all-paperbound bookshop in the country, was co-founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose A Coney Island of the Mind greatly influenced me in my early twenties. With any luck, I’ll run into Mr. Ferlinghetti himself.

Books I Read in 2013

I read fewer books this year than ever—and I thought last year was bad! Despite the fact that the reasons for this are really good ones, it is with slight embarrassment that I present this meager list of books I read in 2013:

  • The Zen of Social Media Marketing (Shama Kabani)
  • Coincidences (Maria Savva)
  • Databases Demystified, 2/e (Andy Oppel)
  • Burmese Days (George Orwell)

Next year can only be better. I’m in the middle of a huge book now and have started two others (all nonfiction), so I’m off to a good start.

My Top 10 Favorite Novels

Here are my top 10 favorite novels. Admittedly, language limitations have prevented me from reading several of these in the language in which they were originally written, but I list them here nevertheless, as I am no less in love with them as the result of having read translated versions. The list:

  • Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (James Joyce)
  • The Way of All Flesh (Samuel Butler)
  • The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (Laurence Sterne)
  • Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)
  • Malone Dies (Samuel Beckett)
  • Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
  • Confessions of Zeno (Italo Svevo)
  • On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
  • Look Homeward, Angel (Thomas Wolfe)

Ugly Things Magazine

Ugly Things

Ugly Things is dedicated to “bringing you wild sounds from past dimensions, from times when rock ‘n ‘roll was young, daring, dangerous and vital,” and few if any fanzines are as informative when it comes to lost, unknown, and overlooked music of the 1960s and beyond. Now in its 30th year, Ugly Things is published twice annually, and each issue features up to 200 pages of in-depth features, exclusive interviews, rare photos, and more. Each issue is so packed that I sometimes forget it’s a magazine (it feels more like a book). If you’re into 1960s-influenced music like I am, be sure to check out the Ugly Things website, where you’ll find information on back issues and how to subscribe.

My Love in Her Attire

Pop Go The Jerrys (small)

“My Love in Her Attire,” from The Jerrys’ debut album, Pop Go The Jerrys, is based on a poem I came across while reading The Top 500 Poems. “My Love in Her Attire” was penned by an anonymous poet sometime between 1400 and 1600, and while it is an awesome poem as is, it needed a little work before it could be a Jerrys tune. Below is the original poem as it appears in the anthology, followed by the words to the song by The Jerrys.

My Love in Her Attire

My love in her attire doth show her wit,
It doth so well become her:
For every season she hath dressings fit,
For winter, spring, and summer,
No beauty she doth miss,
When all her robes are on;
But Beauty’s self she is,
When all her robes are gone.

My Love in Her Attire

My love in her attire does show her wit;
It does so become her, this is true.
For every season she has dressings fit.
For winter, spring, and summer too.

No beauty does she miss
When all her clothes are on,
But Beauty’s self she is
When all her clothes are gone.

My love in her black dress is such a hit;
It does so become her, what a view!
In every color she has dressings fit.
In red and green and purple too.

No beauty does she miss
When all her clothes are on,
But Beauty’s self she is
When all her clothes are gone.

Akai M-10 Reel-to-Reel Recorder

Akai Reel-to-Reel

My first multitrack recording machine was a used 1969 Akai M-10 reel-to-reel recorder that featured a built-in amplifier and auto-reverse capability. This machine was the only in Akai’s M-series (ca. 1960-1973) to have three motors, and it operated at tape speeds of 1-7/8, 3-¾, and 7-½ inches per second. Before the M-10, I had been using portable General Electric tape recorders to bounce tracks around, so this machine was a nice step up for me.

My Top 10 Favorite Poems

I don’t get the chance to read much poetry these days, but I used to read poetry a lot, and over the years, certain poems have resonated with me time and time again (I even created a song from one of them). Here are my top 10 favorite poems:

  • The Darkling Thrush (Thomas Hardy)
  • Fire and Ice (Robert Frost)
  • Howl (Allen Ginsberg)
  • Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now (A. E. Housman)
  • My Love in Her Attire (Anonymous)
  • The Owls (Charles Baudelaire; translated by Edna St. Vincent Millay)
  • Sometime during eternity (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
  • Terrible (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)
  • This Is Just to Say (William Carlos Williams)
  • The world is a beautiful place (Lawrence Ferlinghetti)