Podcast 75: Genre Conventions and Dancing with Stars

In this podcast, we are talking about mixing different musical styles.  I use the reference of “Dancing with the stars”…

What does dancing have to do with mixing? In dancing, each style of dancing, the cha cha or the tango, has certain rules that the dancer needs to adhere to in order to get a “high score” while dancing that style.

Listen to this episode for a more detailed explanation.

Raw Transcript:

Announcer: This is the Mixcoach Podcast, episode 75.

Kevin: On this episode of the Mixcoach Podcast we’ll be talking about genre conventions and why you need to know what conventions are traditionally kept within each genre.

Man: And why you need to watch Dancing with the Stars.

Man: If you want to become a more confident mixer …

Man: Now you can get the training, tools, and community you need to achieve a better mix and workflow.

Man: Mixcoach Member is a growing community of versatile mixers led by award winning engineer/producer, Kevin Ward.

Man: Each month, you’ll get access to …

Man: Downloadable session files so you can build your confidence and hone your mixing skills. Mix tutorials so you can see how a Pro-Mixer approaches each month’s new mix. The forum where you can get real-time feedback on your mix from a huge community of mixers, just like you.

Man: Members only webinars where you can get your questions answered and get advanced training.

Man: Plus hours of Mix critique videos so you can see what the Mix coaches say about the monthly mix submissions.

Steve: Hey, it’s Steve Borden, from Los Angeles, California. I’m a Mixcoach Member. I’ve been involved since its inception and my game in mixing has elevated greatly through the excellent tracks provided the feedback and the community. It’s a great group of people.

If you’re thinking about joining Mixcoach membership, and you have any question or any hesitation, just do it for one month. Mix Coach will start you on a course that will only elevate your game in mixing.

Man: Become a more confident mixer now.

Man: Go to MixcoachMember.com.

Jon: Hey Kev, how are you doing today?

Kevin: Jon, I’m great, how about you?

Jon: I’m doing good.

Kevin: Good.

Jon: This week, and I guess for a series here, I wanted to talk a little about genre conventions as far as mixing goes. So a lot of times there’s mixing things that you’ll do in one genre that you may not do in others, or you may, in fact, do the exact opposite of in other styles of mixing. And so I just wanted to kind of address some genre specific mixing conventions.

Kevin: Okay. Well, we’re not going to mention all the genres in this podcast, surely, because there is a lot of …

Jon: No, no. We’ll break it out just a little bit.

Kevin: Okay, well, I was doing a mix feedback just the other day for one of my members on Mixcoach and it just dawned on me finally. Okay, don’t take my man card on this.

Jon: Okay. [laughter]

Kevin: But my favorite show on TV right now is Dancing with the Stars.

Jon: Okay.

Kevin: I know, you’re kind of snickering right now, I can tell.

Jon: Not at all, not at all. [laughter]

Kevin: And I wondered, what is it about this show that I am just so wild about? First of all, the thing about the show is that it’s live. It is the pinnacle of production. You’ve got a live band, live singers most of the time, live dancers, live TV shots. I mean, if you look at some of the shows, even the dancers know exactly which camera to look at.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: You’ve got live feedback from the judges. You’ve got … and then they’re even working in social media now.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: But the cool thing about this show, in my opinion, and this is where it applies to Mixcoach. I know you thought I was on some kind of a tangent here, but here’s the thing. When it comes to Dancing with the Stars, there are different dances. There’s the rumba, the cha-cha-cha. There is jazz dance;. There’s several different kinds of dances, and I can’t name them off to you, but I just did several of them.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: So I’m really showing what kind of fanboy I am. But the thing that I thought about … This is where the light bulb went off for me was each style of dance has a certain set of rules that you have to go by, like … I can’t remember what kind of dance it was, but there was a guy dancing the other night on the show, and one of the judges says, “You know, this was a X kind of dance. Your feet are never supposed to leave the floor, so the spin you did I’m going to have to deduct all kind of points on that because that is not traditionally a … whatever it is.

On this kind of dance, you’ve got to hold your shoulders back, and there’s a certain stance you have to have. There’s certain flicks and kicks, they say. You have to do your hands a certain way. You have to hold your head a certain way on a certain … and I think that’s the way it is with mixing.

And when we started Mixcoach Member three and a half years ago, the thing I wanted to do the most is I didn’t want to train people how to mix one style of music. I wanted to train people how to mix and how to … you know? Because a dancer, if you think about how limited you would be as a dancer if you were trying to make a living as a dancer for you to go an audition and for them to say, “Okay, I need for you to do this on this song, and this on this song, and dance this way on this song.”

And you would say, “I’m sorry, but the only thing I dance well is the rumba. That’s the only thing I do well. I can kind of do everything else. You probably are probably not going to like it, but I rock at rumba. So you’re not going to make a living as a dancer if you can just dance one style.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: So my thought process, and this is where the light bulb … You know, this is why I was like, that’s why! I’m just justifying why I like Dancing with the Stars. [laughter]

Kevin: But that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to train mixers …

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: … to mix all different styles of music, and the kind of music that I mix the most is gospel music. And people will look at that as like it’s its own subgenre, and maybe it is. But in my opinion, when you mix Southern gospel music, which, you know, that’s my bread and butter most of the time.

You think about any typical Southern gospel album, you’ve got an a cappella song on it, usually. You’ve got this rocking country thing on it. You’ve got a big ballad with real orchestra on it most of the time, depending on the budget. You may have a bluegrass cut on it that’s got, you know … And you’ve got to be able to mix each style as if it’s its own dance with its own set of rules.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: So when I started Mixcoach Member, I wanted to make sure that I’ll train the most versatile mixers in the world, and I didn’t know when I said that, I didn’t realize that people would be joining from around the world.

I just didn’t. It’s a small world because of the internets and the world wide webs, but anyway, that’s the reason that I was just drawn to this show, Dancing with the Stars, because each dance has its own convention, its own set of rules, and I think …

Jon: And working within them is definitely something that is a challenge, but it’s something that also increases artistry, I would say. It’s because in that one dance per se, you can’t take your feet off the ground. You have to work within those guidelines, but there’s so much that you can put in creatively, to not take your feet off the ground, where it increases artistry, where it forces you to think within those terms. And then come up with the coolest possible routine and the coolest possible thing you could do within that subset of rules.

Kevin: Know when to stay within the rules, and know when to …

Jon: Push the envelope.

Kevin: Strategically push the envelope a little bit, and when just to do everything within the rules the best you can.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: And that’s one thing, we mix a different style of music every month on Mixcoach.

Jon: Yeah, and we plan out, you know, months in advance, and we try to shift it up a lot.

Kevin: Yeah.

Jon: But then we come back to a lot of the same styles to say, “Hey, what have you learned from these other mixes that you can put into this, you know, next mix?

Kevin: Right. So I guess, over the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about each style of music.

Jon: Yep.

Kevin: And I guess what the dancing rules are, when you shouldn’t lift your feet off the floor …

Jon: Right.

Kevin: And when you should show your holders back, when you should hold your shoulders back, or whatever. So hopefully this’ll be a good series.

But to sum it up, every style of music has its own set of rules, and you should know when to stay within the rules, and what the limits are, because I believe that the limitations, you know … In the past podcasts we’ve talked about, you know, not having the huge toolbox of plug-ins. It actually makes you better. The channel strip channels that we did on Mixcoach member actually made the mixers better because they didn’t have a huge amount of things to choose from. It was one thing and they did that one thing as best they could.

Jon: Yeah.

Kevin: I think it’s improved the mixers as a result of that. So in the next few weeks let’s talk about the different styles of music and what the rules kind of are.

Jon: Absolutely.

Kevin: Thanks for listening. This has been the Mixcoach Podcast, the podcast dedicated to making your next recording your best recording. For more tips, tutorials, and even a free course, be sure and visit us at Mixcoach.com.

What are some “rules” that you can think of for mixing styles?  example:  In Bluegrass, the Mandolin chop is like the snare drum.  In Jazz, never let them hear your compressor…

got any more?

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