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Old 2nd August 2005
BevvyB's Avatar

Faster/Slower/What the F*** is going on?

I know exactly how you feel in this instance, but it's not only just after the mix I get it.

When I get tired while working on a track the tempo can appear to be too fast or too slow. If this happens I try to work on another song or listen to any other kind of music to try and reset my internal clock. Either that or stop working for the day, go to bed, or take a holiday.

Sometimes when I'm working on a song which has been developed from the initial demo, I get the realization that the song is in fact too fast for the words, arrangement or both. A song can sound like it's at the correct tempo, but as you layer arrangement stuff into the mix the arrangement gives it more movement and thus it appears faster and/or cluttered. My usual approach now is to be very wary of the tempo of demos and to try and live with a couple of different tempos before I commit to one. I now tend to favour tracks that appear to be a little slow in the demo, knowing that once the arrangement is in, the whole thing will appear to be a lot faster. Also, it gives you more space for vocals I find, and forces you to focus on getting a better arrangment to make the song pacy, instead of just relying on the fact that the tempo is running away with the song...

When you're working on something for a long period of time, your subjectivity can go out of the window, you really need to listen to other peoples music while you're in the studio which is off the same ilk. An easy going 'All I Wanna Do' song can be ruined by being a couple of bpm over, but it's easy to miss the problem until it's too late.

Another thing it may be is that you're just not used to hearing the top end of your recording, which may also be because you went a bit top-deaf during mixing. The high end clank can be responsible for a lot of the movement in a track, when this has be hightened due to mastering or monitoring situation it can be a surprise to hear all this stuff going on which is pushing the track forward, when all you were concentrating on in the mix was the bottom end and the groove of the kick, snare and bass line.

I feel your pain.

Nowadays I am very careful about tempos. And an absolute bitch about getting the correct key. I have rough demos in slighly differing tempos and keys - 2 bpm and a semitone can be a night and day difference - and the difference between a hit or not IMHO.

I've also made demos which are close to masters and had to throw them out because the way the words worked out gave the singer too much to sing and not enough time to sing it! (And had to admit it... groan...)

If it ain't right, it ain't right...