Thanks everyone for their input so far.
I think there is a big problem with sampled pianos. When you sit right against a piano player you hear the higher pitched sounds on the left and lower pitched sounds on the right. However, this is reversed in sample libraries. You hear it like the player hears, not the audience.
I wonder if there is a way to reverse the panning of piano libraries in kontakt..
Thanks soundroll, sounds like a nice practical solution.
By the way, i think the piece below was recorded the right way if anyone wants to hear an example of what i’m talking about:
Higher tones are close to left and lower tones are close to the right, against what sample libraries offer.
Let’s for start not mix musical concepts with mixing concepts, just for start.
What “soundengine” brought up is closer to music… philosophy/ psychology than mixing. There is a reason why classical orchestras are arranged the way they are. Is the same reason why most of European cultures write from left to right and perceive (in visual arts) left as backward and right as forward.
Look at typical classic orchestra (let’s call it “philharmonic arrangement”): 1st violin – left, 2nd violin – left to middle, viola – right to middle, cello – right, double bass – far right. Typical small instrumental ensembles kind of goes the same. Piano, marimba, vibraphone or glockenspiel goes the other way around but those are meant to be listened from the concert hall, not from the performer’s place, so you turn the instrument the other way around and it’s pretty much the same as orchestra.
On the other side you have the “opera arrangement”: 1st violin – left, 2nd violin – right, viola – left to middle, cello – right to middle, double bass – somewhere in a dark corner where they can play cards without being seen by conductor.
This arrangement is not meant to be heard as a “main dish” like the “philharmonic arrangement”, this one stays under the stage, where the sound gets muffled and further you put instruments, less high frequencies you have, so you need to put the melodic instruments more in front (violins) while you might not really bother with the stereo field because it gets “monoized” (sort of) by the space.
Anyway, the “main dish” are the singers here.
So, yes, generally speaking, we like to listen the melodies, solo instruments and movements more in the left ear. I don’t know if that is based on cultural background (together with writing) or is because of the brain structure.
Mixing is another “animal”, with some rules that have roots in vinyl mastering (the DON ’T PAN THE BASS rule) and other AJ authors might have more and better views than me on this subject
Great discussion guys. I’ve really enjoyed it thus far.
Thanks for making me aware of some rules I wasn’t previously aware of. Now I can break them. ... breaking rules in composition/mixing is a favorite past-time for me, though it doesn’t always workout as expected.
I usually follow these rules (for mixing pop/rock music):
- Bass, Kick centered, snare mostly centered but possibly slightly panned right or left
- Main vocal centered.
- Background vocals are panned to the side maybe 15-20 degrees apart from each other or the main vocal.
- Any other instruments are panned in various places to the left or the right but rarely more than 50-60 degrees. Usually that all depends on the balance of the meters and my ears.
I don’t do a lot of hard panning because it can be distracting in headphones.
I pretty much just imagine being in the audience and thinking where the instruments would be in front of me. Most often the drummer is in the back and the lead singer is directly in front. Lead guitar is off to the side. I guess the bass usually is as well, but (probably for reasons others have mentioned) it usually sounds best centered.
I’m not a mixing genius, but this generally works as well as anything else for me.
What I will be sharing will be my own take on my orchestral pieces, not my other pop/acoustic/electronic tracks.
In my opinion, I believe that panning instruments is very crucial in determining how realistic as well as full a piece is.
I tend to follow the orchestra setup with my audio panning. Have a look at this chart (hope you can recognize instruments) http://www.mti.dmu.ac.uk/~ahugill/manual/overhead.gif
The dead on center should be where the conductor stands, and I have my cellos with more emphasis on the right ear while the 1st and 2nd violins are based on the right. Usually conductors have their double bass on the far right behind the second violas but I tend to put a section of double bass to my far right and to my far left, in place of the harps to create a balance of bass—I personally get annoyed when bass is stronger on one side, for some strange reason haha.
As for percussion (especially huge epic drums), I tend to split the main power bassy hits (taikos) just a teeny bit of 3% to the left and 3% to the right., so both ears experience a sense of bass, where the mid-tone of the drum would be pretty close to center.
My treble sounds, such as shakers and hihats would be on the emphasized on the left ear while I compliment it with bongos, djembes, and small accompanying drums with emphasis on the right ear. If I hear any imbalance between the two sides for percussion, I would adjust accordingly
But then again, that’s just me and not necessarily every other orchestral composer hehe.
I see that people don’t read what I was posting about WHY orchestras are arranged like this.
Thanks again everyone for their contribution. Now, i kind of figured it all out on my part and wanted to share it.
This is about ideal representation of a musical performance in stereo environment. Could be better explained with a diagram but here it is anyway:
First, i think the listener is not listening the performance headfront, rather they are at the center of the performance when they wear their headphones. With this in mind, in my imaginary diagram:
- Drums and bass are located behind the listener
- Lead guitar is on the left of the listener (front-left)
- Rhythm guitar is on the right of the listener (front-right)
- Singer and piano are located right in front of the listener
So what difference does this make when you are recording? First, drums are centered but if you want to pan hi-hats and crashes a little, then panning should be done towards the left side.
Second difference is with the piano, with this approach higher-pitched piano keys comes closer to the left side. So we reverse the normal panning if we are using regular sampled pianos.
So we have a all around consistent scientific music theory now. Could be a dissertation in a music school