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The Role of Communication and Reference Songs in the Mixing Process: Insights From Professional Mix Engineers

Effective music mixing requires technical and creative finesse, but clear communicationwith the client is crucial. The mixing engineer must grasp the client's expectations and preferences and collaborate to achieve the desired sound. The tacit agreement for the desired sound of the mix is established using guides like reference songs and demo mixes exchanged between the artist and the engineer. This paper presents the findings of a two-phased exploratory study aimed at understanding howprofessionalmixing engineers interact with clients and use their feedback to guide the mixing process. For phase one, semistructured interviews were conducted with five mixing engineers with the aim of gathering insights about their communication strategies, creative processes, and decision-making criteria. Based on the inferences from these interviews, an online questionnairewas designed and administered to a larger group of 22 mixing engineers during the second phase. The results shed light on the importance of collaboration and intention in the mixing process and can inform the development of smart multitrack mixing systems. By highlighting the significance of these findings, this paper contributes to the research on the collaborative nature of music production and provides actionable recommendations for the design and implementation of innovative mixing tools.

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JAES Volume 72 Issue 1/2 pp. 5-15; January 2024
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AES - Audio Engineering Society