The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search This Thread  Search This Forum  Search Reviews  Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Stav's "Mixing With Your Mind" Hit Record Formula Virtual Instrument Plugins
Old 19th January 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Stav's "Mixing With Your Mind" Hit Record Formula

Michael Paul Stavrou in his book "Mixing With Your Mind" claims he discovered the Hit Record Formula. Common denominators that ALL major hits include without exception. Every top 10 hit of every year for the last decade has these same rules applied to each of them, and he claims there are at least 7 ingredients that all of these hits have.

Has anyone broken the secret formula? Has anyone discovered traits that all hit records have in common?

Please let's try and keep on topic. Let's avoid the "I have no interest in writing formulaic music" comments. This is an exercise in the analysis of Top 10 Hits. Not a commentary on trying to copy a formula.

And if this topic doesn't interest you, rather than bashing it, please just find another thread. (I know this last statement is pointless, it's the Internet after all).
Old 19th January 2012
  #2
RiF
Lives for gear
 
RiF's Avatar
The chorus starts at 0:55 to 0:59 into the song.

The vocals are autotuned :-)
Old 19th January 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
pinkheadedbug's Avatar
 

Eighth note bassline.
Old 19th January 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 

He made that claim but then didn't say what he discovered? That's annoying. If true, it would be fun to try to figure out though. I would bet that bpms fall within a certain range. I would bet they're all about love on some level. They all probably have a verse, chorus and bridge, a fairly short intro, maybe a four on the floor kick? Maybe certain common rhyme schemes like ABAB. I bet there aren't any in 3/4 time and I wouldn't be surprised if they're all in major keys or if they're all completely diatonic without any borrowed chords.
Old 19th January 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
I would bet they're all about love on some level.
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was a hit and was instrumental. So lyrics would have to be excluded from the formula.
Old 19th January 2012
  #6
RiF
Lives for gear
 
RiF's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostwriter View Post
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was a hit and was instrumental. So lyrics would have to be excluded from the formula.
I think we talk about the last decade. And I am sure that lyrics/vocals are a must.
Old 19th January 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by RiF View Post
I think we talk about the last decade. And I am sure that lyrics/vocals are a must.
Not according to Stav's article in the book. He claims every hit song including Beethoven's Fifth Symphony for the last century has 7 traits in common. So, lyrics would be excluded. It would all be musical components. It's an interesting claim and I'm just curious if anyone can back it up with examples.
Old 19th January 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Ah, I just read about more about this on an old thread. It sounds like he's talking exclusively about sonic elements or "psychoacoustic" stuff, not composition?
Old 19th January 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
pinkheadedbug's Avatar
 

That is a weird book, though, isn't it? He's got his own strange voodoo terms for everything. A bit too mystical and vague for my tastes.
Old 19th January 2012
  #10
RiF
Lives for gear
 
RiF's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostwriter View Post
Not according to Stav's article in the book. He claims every hit song including Beethoven's Fifth Symphony for the last century has 7 traits in common. So, lyrics would be excluded. It would all be musical components. It's an interesting claim and I'm just curious if anyone can back it up with examples.
Ahhh, OK... I stand corrected.
Old 19th January 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Old 19th January 2012
  #12
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by initialsBB View Post
He made that claim but then didn't say what he discovered? That's annoying.
I've met Stav and he is an outstanding gentleman. You don't get to be Chief Mix engineer at AIR studios during the golden years for nothing ...

George Martin endorsed his book, and IIRC it was GM who asked him NOT to publish the secret formula. Makes good sense not to, because can you imagine how boring music would get if this was common knowledge.

It's a fairly rational scientific approach that he took - you need to read his book to understand it.

The advice about comparing A sides with B sides makes a lot of sense. Quite often the same band, same engineer, producer, mixer, mastering ... the same equipment, the same everything ... and yet one song is a hit and another is not. Makes you think.

It's not the lyrics - because occasionaly you can get an instrument hit. But I would say you need a Hook, and that hook can be vocal (with or without meaningful lyrics) or purely a musical hook.

I don't think i've got them all, but I think i've got a few.
Old 19th January 2012
  #13
Gear Guru
Quote:
Originally Posted by ghostwriter View Post
Beethoven's Fifth Symphony was a hit and was instrumental. So lyrics would have to be excluded from the formula.
Beethovens Fifth was also long before the invention of audio recording ... another massive clue as to the contents of that list ...
Old 19th January 2012
  #14
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
It's a fairly rational scientific approach that he took - you need to read his book to understand it.
Yeah, I'm definitely going to check it out now. It sounds pretty intriguing.

So do you think he's talking about really obvious general stuff like "a hook", repetition, contrast, etc?
Old 20th January 2012
  #15
Gear nut
 
Cegor's Avatar
I'm sure some people have cracked the formula, but again their at the top Would love to see what people came up with though
Old 20th January 2012
  #16
one man, ONE mic pre
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
... You don't get to be Chief Mix engineer at AIR studios during the golden years for nothing ...
was he?
Old 20th January 2012
  #17
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
...George Martin endorsed his book, and IIRC it was GM who asked him NOT to publish the secret formula...
I wonder why GM didn't produce more hit records since he knew the secret formula?
Old 20th January 2012
  #18
Lives for gear
 

He didn't want people to know that he had the secret. heh
Old 20th January 2012
  #19
Gear addict
 
Yeah, right...'s Avatar
 

I was gonna say a kick drum on every beat, but I don't think Beethoven's 5th has that, does it...?
Old 20th January 2012
  #20
well. my opinion, and i'm only 250 pages into MWYM right now, but...

i believe that the 3 songs you posted, just for example....all 3 have direct hooks, and opposing hooks..

it's hard to say that beethoven's 5th is a hit song. maybe when walter murphy did the disco version. haha. totally kidding.

they are all so rememberable, but you're right, it's hard to tell exactly why they do it to us. but God Bless them all for doing whatever it is it's doing to us!
Old 20th January 2012
  #21
Lives for gear
 
pinkheadedbug's Avatar
 

God Bless Stav, but his book is so full of woo -- 'flames' and 'hardness' and 'ghosts' and that bonkers chapter about gravity -- that I suspect his seven things about hit records are just as indefinable. 'They sound purple', that kind of thing.
Old 20th January 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
Beat Poet's Avatar
 

Doesn't Rivers Cuomo have some sort of hidden formula or book, which he just won't divulge?
Old 20th January 2012
  #23
Gear Maniac
I think one of the 7 must be that the melody can be sang or whistled very easily for everyone
Old 20th January 2012
  #24
I liked Stav's description of the sound wave coming from the speaker like a flame. Place your speakers in relation to the optimal position between the flames.

The best advice I've read about composing a hit song came from a little Beatles book called "Help".

The claim was, written from a layman's point of view, that the Beatles formula (95% of the time) was to write in steps, where each step was "higher" than the previous step building tension and reaching a climax. This isn't completely precise in musical terms, but if you listen to the songs, it's absolutely correct.
Old 20th January 2012
  #25
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by beatflux View Post
I think I've nailed a few of them...

Hit Rule #1: Everyone wants to climax

Listen to all of those tracks, then ask yourself:

Where is the most musical activity? What part of the song is the most intense? The climax always comes at the end.

Logically, the apex of the song has to come at the end. With a climax for a song to build toward, it will have something to build toward.

Most songs commit the sin of not having a climax, leaving the listeners with an empty feeling as the song begins to come to a close.

Listen to Party Rock Anthem, and then listen to I'm Sexy and I Know it. Party Rock Anthem has a huge climax at the end...the other song does not and neither do any of the other songs on that album.

Even tho 1812 is ****ing long compared to any other pop song out there, it still has a massively epic climax at the end.

Hit Rule #2: Everybody needs periods of rest

Every song needs a balance of low and high intensity moments. Having an overabundance of low or high moments means that the track won't have any kind of movement. Pop tracks typically move from a low point in the verse, to a higher points in the chorus, then an even higher point in the bridge.

The generally rule of thumb is that the beginning is the least intense, while the end is the most intense.

If there isn't a shift in energy while the song moves along, a track will sound lifeless.

Whoever said that Stan left a clue that you could compose with these rules is partially right. Listen to Fur Elise, and on the first "verse" section the song modulates so that it uses pitches that are higher in the register than compared to the first section of the song.

I'll post more later on.
Thank for your post, this is the exactly the type of discussion I was hoping for.

I'll add another.
The highest note in every hit song is in the chorus.
Old 20th January 2012
  #26
Lives for gear
 
Hardtoe's Avatar
Beatflux - Having read and absorbed Stav's book in the deepest recesses of my mind, I would say that your focus on the energy of the track is of critical importance and right on the money.

I would also argue that a great groove is at the top of the list (Stav goes on about "gravity" and how good mixes defy gravity and make you float or some such talk) which is also about the energy.

Another important element is the final freq balance of the mix, and how sonic density increases as you get to the payoff - the actual sound of the song itself makes it a hit as we react to all the pleasurable waves of freq hitting our brains via the ear. Again about the energy of the track.

Notice a pattern?
Old 20th January 2012
  #27
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardtoe View Post
Beatflux - Having read and absorbed Stav's book in the deepest recesses of my mind, I would say that your focus on the energy of the track is of critical importance and right on the money.

I would also argue that a great groove is at the top of the list (Stav goes on about "gravity" and how good mixes defy gravity and make you float or some such talk) which is also about the energy.

Another important element is the final freq balance of the mix, and how sonic density increases as you get to the payoff - the actual sound of the song itself makes it a hit as we react to all the pleasurable waves of freq hitting our brains via the ear. Again about the energy of the track.

Notice a pattern?
Old 20th January 2012
  #28
Gear maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I've met Stav and he is an outstanding gentleman. You don't get to be Chief Mix engineer at AIR studios during the golden years for nothing ...

George Martin endorsed his book, and IIRC it was GM who asked him NOT to publish the secret formula. Makes good sense not to, because can you imagine how boring music would get if this was common knowledge.

It's a fairly rational scientific approach that he took - you need to read his book to understand it.

The advice about comparing A sides with B sides makes a lot of sense. Quite often the same band, same engineer, producer, mixer, mastering ... the same equipment, the same everything ... and yet one song is a hit and another is not. Makes you think.

It's not the lyrics - because occasionaly you can get an instrument hit. But I would say you need a Hook, and that hook can be vocal (with or without meaningful lyrics) or purely a musical hook.

I don't think i've got them all, but I think i've got a few.
Old 20th January 2012
  #29
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwi View Post
I don't think i've got them all, but I think i've got a few.
Please share.
Old 20th January 2012
  #30
Lives for gear
 
ghostwriter's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Repeating patterns with note changes is a major one.

Start of Beethoven's Fifth:
Da, Da, Da, Da,
Da, Da, Da, Da

Sugar,
Honey, Honey

Let it be, Let it be, Let it be, Let it be
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
Gaston69 / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
1534
Remoteness / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
9
Remoteness / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
33
Remoteness / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
119
octatonic / Remote Possibilities in Acoustic Music and Location Recording
10

Forum Jump
Forum Jump