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Makin' Whoope - Marce's mix
Here's my mix of "Making' Whoopee"
Comments are welcome.

.mp3    MakinWhoopee.mp3 --  (Download: 5.33 MB)

Marce Morales
Hello Marcelo,

Very Nice! In fact, it sounds great.
I like the stereo width and it's controlled space you have achieved. A sound that I would aim for.

Well Done
Thanks for your comments, Dangerous !
Marce Morales
I feel like the horns and a few piano lines can come up in volume when the singer isn't there. All the horns are like back-up lead vocalists to me, consider if the big band played without a singer, that happens often. The singer is accompanying the band as much as the band is accompanying the singer. One piano line can maybe get pushed up as well I think. I don't think you actually made any mistakes this is just what I want to hear from a big band. I made a similar decision when I mixed my first big band, and that was basically to keep edging the horns down compared to the rhythm section, because they have a super unique tonal/brassy quality, its impossible to miss them no matter how loud they're mixed in. Because of this it's easy to just mix them down, (especially trumpets,) all the time. However, some more volume from the horns gives power to the sound, and realism, because in real life the horns are always loudest. One thing I don't like about the "real-life" big band sound however is the bass levels. I love hearing a ton of bass, and the low end of the rhythm guitar. I almost feel like the rhythm guitar and the bass are almost the same instrument in a way, and blending them together so you can somehow hear articulation and super low root tones of the bass and the chord tones of the rhythm guitar at the same time makes it super warm sounding. I feel like your ride cymbal doesn't need to be as loud as it is, but this is taste. Center panning it is interesting, I've never thought of doing that. On one song I did I actually L/R panned the bass and guitar and I felt it worked decently well. I might try stereo widening my guitar somewhat in this mix, something different that will allow me to sneak more low-mids into the guitar part and leave the higher quarter-note chunking sound to the piano player. One thing you've done better than I did is you put the piano in a nice place where it can be heard at all times, but again, there's no reason why you can't increase the volume and/or bring it closer to center panning when it fills a space in the music with right-hand single-note improvisatory runs. Listen to some "Oscar Peterson with Big Band," or "Count Basie Big Band" recordings and you can see what I mean. the piano in a big band can be automated with volumes as disparate as a lead vocalist: -3 dB for this section, swinging to +4.5 dB during this little run, back down to -1 dB here, ect.

Here's my last big band mix for reference, please listen to the second version "High-Pass Vocal":

Bear in mind that it is limited and it isn't "in a room," (reverbs on the whole mix,) which is something I haven't started exploring yet. I feel like the vocal doesn't have to be as loud as I had it either, but I'd learned mixing basically from a super long avid tutorial video where this guy is mixing country and his job is basically to turn the vocal up for the whole song. By the same token, I feel like your ride cymbal isn't wrong, but it doesn't have to be as loud as you have it. No one will ever miss it, its such a unique frequency. Basically what I hear is that when the singer is singing her verses and choruses the balance is perfect, and when the band plays by itself it could be louder. However, I have a feeling that this perspective might be skewed simply because of the volume of the ride cymbal is affecting the way I hear the band. I feel like I'm listening through the drummer.

Did the ride cymbal come up in mastering maybe? Maybe you could use parallel compression on the whole mix and dip the primary resonant frequency of the cymbal "stick-click" sound in the un-compressed master, so that the stick click would never go below a certain level but when other things got louder it wouldn't be as loud as them. Conversely you could just go back into the mix and eq it down a hair or two.

The singer is great. Its just automation. There's so many ways you can change the balance of everything between piano, and horns, and the singer, in-between different sections, even as the horns back the singer, sometimes its bones, sometimes its piano, sometimes its bones and trumpets, they're all potentially lead instruments. But yeah, on my 4th listen though right now, I honestly feel like the level of the ride cymbal is making me think the horns aren't loud enough but I think it's really just the cymbal. Think about just the first two horn stabs. The first one is full stereo, the second one feels less loud. Why? Was it less loud in the recording? Did you automate it down? Should it be louder? Perhaps one or two of the horns should be louder and everything else is fine? That first stab sets the tone for the horn levels throughout the rest of the song, but then the horns are slightly less loud from then on.

I'm going to do my own version, so I'll be back in a few days.

So I can see from the first day looking at this that the horn levels are wildly dynamic over the course of the song, that sort of explains a lot, and there's the traditional trumpet-into-sax-and-bone mic bleed that makes big band so fun to mix, lol.