So far, all we've really talked about is what we do before the gathering. Over the next few posts I'm going to talk about what we need to do during and after the the gathering. First up,
We've set our levels and done our EQ and everything sounds good. But it doesn't sound good all the time. Sometimes someone else is leading a song and their not loud enough or maybe the solo instrument (like a violin or electric guitar) is overpowering during the verse. We need to change our mix.
Make sure that the vocalist who's leading the song is the loudest - Before the gathering you should ask the music leader which vocalist is leading which song (though normally it's the leader).
Song Feel - Some songs are faster and happy, some are slower and reflective. We can emphasise the feeling by adjusting the balance of instruments. For example, a reflective song normally benefits from more piano and less guitar.
Solo Parts - As a general rule, boost the solo instrument in the breaks between singing and reduce it when there's someone singing so that is doesn't overpower the vocalist.
Drums and bass have a huge impact on the the feel of a song and you can look at changing the balance of each of the drums as well as their place in the mix. Obviously, a soft song will want less drums, but more kick can make a song more intense, or maybe toms play a big role and they need to be boosted. On the flip side, excessive drums can be painfully out-of-place.
In summary? Continually ask, 'Does this mix suit what's happening in the song?' Don't be content to sit back from the fader and let the song pass you by.
One last thing - For a fairly clear example of a changing mix within a song, listen to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars: the kick drum is boosted at 0:50, the electric at 3:12 and the bass at 4:10.