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Dave Moore

Mixing? Anyone?

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I'm not talking about fading one 45 into another which has strangely been adopted as a 'mix' by aging 55 year old 'DJs' :D  :thumbsup:  

 

I'm currently working on a project that requires a basic understanding of mixing a vintage track. Now... I THINK I understand what a mixer did back in the 60s and 70s but once remixing came along, I'm not too sure about what their role became. I understand mastering, I understand tweaking the sound to match it's projected medium (Cassette, CD, Car Radio, Hi-Fi etc), I understand the 12 inch disc and it's provenance, I understand the lengthier song requirements requiring stretching tracks looping them via extended breaks, etc but I'm looking for someone (a fan of remixes), to explain the in depth technical/WITH MUSICAL skills required to make a worthy remix and how to judge what is better and what is in fact The Emperors New Clothes.

 

If anyone has bought remixes on the strength of them being better/vastly improved to the originals could you drop by and post your thoughts?  I'm not really after investigating The Sugar Hill Gang styled remixes but more the Disco era Philly/Salsoul era styled things.

 

Or, alternatively, if you're more comfortable people could PM me or get in touch at hitsville2648@earthlink.net

 

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Regards,

 

Dave

 

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Decent mixing of masters is an art. Motown had it in the 60's because all their mixes were designed for small radio speakers and so the mixes were designed to belt out over a tinny speaker. That's why the tambourines, bass and snare are always so upfront. When everything started going to 16 and 24 track by the late 60'a and 70's and home systems got much better along with big club systems, then different skills were required. I learnt all about mixes by listening to the first two Trammps albums on Atlantic ("That's Where The Happy People Go" and "Disco Inferno") which I don't think have been bettered for scintillating Philly mixes. Moulton was undoubtably the master, no question. Once he paved the way then plenty of great mixers followed. As a DJ my favourite ever mixes are The Trammps "That's Where The Happy People Go", T. Connection's "Do What You Wanna Do", "At Midnight" and "Saturday Night" (all Alex Sadkin and genius mixes) and Gwen Guthrie's "Seventh Heaven" (Larry Levan).

But, hey, I could list 100's.....

Ian D :)

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Decent mixing of masters is an art. Motown had it in the 60's because all their mixes were designed for small radio speakers and so the mixes were designed to belt out over a tinny speaker. That's why the tambourines, bass and snare are always so upfront. When everything started going to 16 and 24 track by the late 60'a and 70's and home systems got much better along with big club systems, then different skills were required. I learnt all about mixes by listening to the first two Trammps albums on Atlantic ("That's Where The Happy People Go" and "Disco Inferno") which I don't think have been bettered for scintillating Philly mixes. Moulton was undoubtably the master, no question. Once he paved the way then plenty of great mixers followed. As a DJ my favourite ever mixes are The Trammps "That's Where The Happy People Go", T. Connection's "Do What You Wanna Do", "At Midnight" and "Saturday Night" (all Alex Sadkin and genius mixes) and Gwen Guthrie's "Seventh Heaven" (Larry Levan).

But, hey, I could list 100's.....

Ian D :)

Hi Ian

 

Sent you a PM with regards Philly mixes mate

 

Best

 

Kev

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Tom Moulton is a really nice guy and would probably talk to you directly at length if you wanted.

 

Second that. Tom will tell you the rudimentary principles of melodic mixing, of which he is the undisputed king. If you need an introduction I'll fix it.. 

 

Ian D :D

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I would have thought closer to home our own Dave Lee/Joey Negro and Ewan/Al Kent who are probably kings of the disco reedit in UK if that's what you are after. Sure Ian will know both and think Ewan is on here, if not can drop Ewan a note on FBI.

Not sure of the objective though as what makes it good is surely subjective and will differ depending on individuals taste? An example is the Bettye Swannin When The Game, I think the 10 minute remix has made it a whole new record, and enough to make me sell the 7", but I suspect majority on here would disagree.

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I would have thought closer to home our own Dave Lee/Joey Negro and Ewan/Al Kent who are probably kings of the disco reedit in UK if that's what you are after. Sure Ian will know both and think Ewan is on here, if not can drop Ewan a note on FBI.

Not sure of the objective though as what makes it good is surely subjective and will differ depending on individuals taste? An example is the Bettye Swannin When The Game, I think the 10 minute remix has made it a whole new record, and enough to make me sell the 7", but I suspect majority on here would disagree.

 

 

Thanks for the input chaps. All good. Of course Tom is probably the most famous proponent of the remix and I'll certainly be talking to him but I want to try and get a fan's perspective of it all. My own experience with re-edits and remixes is probably I guess, typical of a mainly 60s early 70s soul fan in that I struggle to 'get it' a lot of the time and tend to hear the repetativeness and the synthed sounds as lacking the original's impact.  Like I say, I understand the 12 inch requirement for the disco dance floor and understand the mixing technicalities, (I spent two days with Pete Humphries of Frankford Wayne/Masterworks), it's the additional musical input I'm interested in having explained.

 

Perfect example of what I'm looking for. Cheers Jocko.

 

Of course the end results will be subjective tailored to individual tastes and I'm wary of that for sure.

 

Much obliged Chaps. The responses and the PMs have given me a few leads/ routes to explore.

 

Regards,

 

Dave

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Dave....creating a mix from recorded elements i.e. instruments and the human voice will have challenges. There is a lot of conflict with frequencies and harmonics affecting the general sound in any case, but.....put those down on to tape, with hiss, because it is poor tape stock and a badly serviced recording machine and bingo, you have a sound that Northern Soulers like ha ha!! Kidding like! Once those recordings are tweaked and filters put in here and there to null out the lower frequency bass strings mudding up the kick drum for example, you are then starting to be a thoughtful mixer. On my 'Make Five' releases last year I mixed for the very first time in my life, took the recordings to Metropolis in Chiswick and they said, yes, they sound fine and mastered them for me! I have a pdf for you...I will send you the link to get it.

 

Oh, if anybody hasanything on Philly Horns/strings let me know. I have a project coming up soon and need to nail the sound...

Edited by Carl Dixon

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Second that. Tom will tell you the rudimentary principles of melodic mixing, of which he is the undisputed king. If you need an introduction I'll fix it.. 

 

Ian D :D

 

Third that. He'll talk for hours and play you tunes own the phone that will blow you away. Really one of the good guys and so, so passionate.

 

Steve

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Hi Dave.

 

I will have to disagree with some of the folks here, including those for whom I have a degree of respect. Tom Moulton's style is essentially melodically driven, and can be easily identified by his fomula regarding the use of material already available to him. Moulton is concerned with stretching out the elements of a track that are already present, and this continues to be the case. There is a a clearly identifiable 'Tom Moulton' mix style, but it owes a huge amount to his having access to the original masters. Given equal access to such material it is highly likely that the results would be significantly different - rather than being limited to a 're-edit' as opposed to a 're-mix'.

 

There is a reason why Moulton's popularity and approach failed to work when the 'break' became important as an element inherent in the mix (and the 'edit' - see the 'Latin Rascals'), for which Shep Pettibone (developing the style of Walter Gibbons) should receive greater credit. 'Hip Hop' should also receive credit for transforming the nature of 'the mix', and the rise of the DJ (and subsequent growth in the need for 'mix-friendly' records and structures for a consumer driven dance floor) should not be underestimated. If you want to consider the impact and failure of Moulton's influence then Morales recent mixes are a testament to the ultimate limitations in organising original material.

 

For every major narrative there is (are) counter narratives.

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Hi Dave.

 

I will have to disagree with some of the folks here, including those for whom I have a degree of respect. Tom Moulton's style is essentially melodically driven, and can be easily identified by his fomula regarding the use of material already available to him. Moulton is concerned with stretching out the elements of a track that are already present, and this continues to be the case. There is a a clearly identifiable 'Tom Moulton' mix style, but it owes a huge amount to his having access to the original masters. Given equal access to such material it is highly likely that the results would be significantly different - rather than being limited to a 're-edit' as opposed to a 're-mix'.

 

There is a reason why Moulton's popularity and approach failed to work when the 'break' became important as an element inherent in the mix (and the 'edit' - see the 'Latin Rascals'), for which Shep Pettibone (developing the style of Walter Gibbons) should receive greater credit. 'Hip Hop' should also receive credit for transforming the nature of 'the mix', and the rise of the DJ (and subsequent growth in the need for 'mix-friendly' records and structures for a consumer driven dance floor) should not be underestimated. If you want to consider the impact and failure of Moulton's influence then Morales recent mixes are a testament to the ultimate limitations in organising original material.

 

For every major narrative there is (are) counter narratives.

 

Aha... Excellent! Thanks for the input Rob. I'm slowly getting to where I want to be. You've prodded something I may have overlooked. Many Thanks. I'm gonna leave this thread open for a while longer in case any other interested parties want to give a shout out.

 

Cheers Guys,

 

Regards,

 

Dave

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Hi Rob, some interesting insights. And good call on Walter Gibbons and Hip Hop for where lots began, if Dave was going to look down that route, probably worth starting with DJ Kool Herc for the hip hop stuff don't you think? There is a good book that used to be cheap in FOPP shops, can't remember title that has some good chapters on that stuff,. I have it at home if noone remembers.

Another great book that I would recommend for this, depending on how deep you go, is Tim Lawrence - Love Saves The Day, and introduces Dave Mancuso to the mix, pun intended, which I think is an essential part of the story. He has quite an interesting web site here

http://www.timlawrence.info/articles/ that is worth perusing the articles and the archives.

And DJ history has some interesting material, although I feel you have to wade through a lot of "less" interesting stuff on here.

http://www.djhistory.com/interviews

These guys have a couple of books out, that may be mildly interesting for this.

I am interested Rob in what you mean when you list Moulton as a failure? I assume from the Morales comment you mean his influence where people just tinker round the edges in todays market that seems to be swamped with pointless re-edits, Dimitri being a good example, and I sort of agree, but I think Moulton on his day was the master of audio recreation, and I suppose that then leads into what are these for, For me, not an expert in this by any means there are three main points to a remix/reedit.

(a) Dance Floor, what some people see as repetitive breaks etc are sometimes for me, sometimes being key word, masterful moves to make the thing a dancefloor killer, and in many ways I include the equally loved/hated dub side that was often put on other side of 80's 12". I think this really hits home if you go beyond the disco/soul stuff into house, and in many ways a remix provides that missing touch. Off course sometimes its just another dose of shoe wax on an already steaming turd!

This was Gibbons original forte I would say, as well as Mancuso originally according to Lawrence. Any number of Salsoul direct or just influenced 12"s would work here. Try First Choice Let No Man Put Asunder. And for the Dub side, the West End 12" records, say Raw Silk Di it To The Music that Ian Clarke interestingly used to champion, are good examples

(b) Audio enhancement, adding strings and things as the trendy reviewer would say, stretching three minutes of shallow fun into 10 minutes of hard core aural pleasure. I would say this Moulton's forte, and yes sometimes it turns out to be a disappointing case of erectile dysfunction, 10 minutes of floppy wavy strings. But when its good, its orgasmic. Again often works on a dancefloor with the correct sort of system, but unlike lots of first examples, equally effective on a set of good headphones, dancing butt naked around the record room.

© Creating a new output completely, comparatively rare in my experience, and a more recent phenonomen I would suggest. Primary example of this is Lee McDonald - I'll Do Anything Yann Kesz Remix, which I suspect will have traditionalists jumping behind the couch reaching for their gimp mask to protect their ears, but would have me swaying side to side on a dance floor if I heard it out.

In many ways, the history of the current disco scene that is thriving in London, Europe and the States is the history of above, but I suspect many have come back from House scene rather than the soul scene, or just been into new soul music since late 70's early 80's. Its been interesting seeing some disco dj's, the current definition rather than the insult used on Northern scene, playing rare 7"s among their reedits and 12"'s with no bias. Kenny Dope being introduced to this I believe by the infamous Keb Darge, and creating KD records that has a brilliant remix of the Family of Eve that would/should go down a storm at any Northern-Modern night/

The issue is like most scenes its the more poppy side, like DJ Dimitri, that gets the praise, where guys like Bahar Sadar, who I only heard of for the first time last year creates a quiet storm playing what would have been called Northern Soul in 1981-84!

Edited by jocko

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Jocko.

 

Thank you for the reply and your kind words, and for leaving me with a mental image of you in underpants listening to music! We have never met but as descriptions go - very provocative!

 

My comments regarding Tom Moulton's failure need to be contextualized, but in essence I would argue that the remix as an aesthetic shifted the emphasis and structures of songs, particularly as mixing developed as an artform, and the technology (such as Technics 1200s) became increasingly available to clubs, DJs and (particularly now with computer driven software) almost anyone with the means to purchase a computer. The effect of this 'democatization' has been variable, to say the least!

 

Moulton's work is based on emphasizing and shifting what is already available, and melody is a key part of his particular vision, and this can work spectacularly well with music in which melody is a predominant element (think beautiful string work a la Philly). However, in a dynamic where the emphasis falls on rhythm and percussion (especially an emphasized break) I think Moulton's style works less well, and mixes in the 80s became increasingly percussive and bassline driven, and issued increasingly as a specialized 'tool' to be used by a DJ, with more emphasis on 'the dance' and not 'the listen'. I would cite Francois K's remix of D-Train's 'You're The One For Me' as perhaps being an example of this shift which doesn't work - it is is very percussive but dynamically a mess (too high and too low) - suggesting some confusion as to what the mix was for,  or perhaps serving as an example of the transition within the wider technical aesthetic.

 

Hopefully this goes some way to explaining what I meant, only a fool would suggest Moulton was a failure, that was not my intention!

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Jocko.

 

Thank you for the reply and your kind words, and for leaving me with a mental image of you in underpants listening to music! We have never met but as descriptions go - very provocative!

 

My comments regarding Tom Moulton's failure need to be contextualized, but in essence I would argue that the remix as an aesthetic shifted the emphasis and structures of songs, particularly as mixing developed as an artform, and the technology (such as Technics 1200s) became increasingly available to clubs, DJs and (particularly now with computer driven software) almost anyone with the means to purchase a computer. The effect of this 'democatization' has been variable, to say the least!

 

Moulton's work is based on emphasizing and shifting what is already available, and melody is a key part of his particular vision, and this can work spectacularly well with music in which melody is a predominant element (think beautiful string work a la Philly). However, in a dynamic where the emphasis falls on rhythm and percussion (especially an emphasized break) I think Moulton's style works less well, and mixes in the 80s became increasingly percussive and bassline driven, and issued increasingly as a specialized 'tool' to be used by a DJ, with more emphasis on 'the dance' and not 'the listen'. I would cite Francois K's remix of D-Train's 'You're The One For Me' as perhaps being an example of this shift which doesn't work - it is is very percussive but dynamically a mess (too high and too low) - suggesting some confusion as to what the mix was for,  or perhaps serving as an example of the transition within the wider technical aesthetic.

 

Hopefully this goes some way to explaining what I meant, only a fool would suggest Moulton was a failure, that was not my intention!

 

Yep, I understood what you meant. Pretty sure no one would regard Mr Moulton as a "failure''.  I think one thing I should maybe clarify as far as my interest is concerned, is that I'm not really looking to analyse the DJ mixing al la 2014 but rather am more interested in the beginnings of it and environment as it was say... 1975. Hence I think the contextualising you highlight is very pertinent as least to my 'narrower' interest.

 

All good stuff guys.  

 

Regards,

 

Dave

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Dave,

 

It sounds as if you are interested in exploring a number of discrete processes:

 

1) The mix as understood by a producer, the first crystalization of a musical concept.

 

2) The mix as understood by an individual handling such a concept (usually as a musical artifact - a 12" single), usually the DJ

 

3) The remix as an enhancement or alternative articulation of the original concept (officially sanctioned).

 

4) The remix as conceptualised in the immediate experience of a mix.

 

As an aside I would be interested in seeing how the discourse of the remix is articulated through racial politics - so (for example) Tom Moulton is often cited within a mainstream (often 'white') musical discourse.

 

Rob Alias 

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Dave,

 

It sounds as if you are interested in exploring a number of discrete processes:

 

1) The mix as understood by a producer, the first crystalization of a musical concept.

 

2) The mix as understood by an individual handling such a concept (usually as a musical artifact - a 12" single), usually the DJ

 

3) The remix as an enhancement or alternative articulation of the original concept (officially sanctioned).

 

4) The remix as conceptualised in the immediate experience of a mix.

 

As an aside I would be interested in seeing how the discourse of the remix is articulated through racial politics - so (for example) Tom Moulton is often cited within a mainstream (often 'white') musical discourse.

 

Rob Alias 

 

Hi Rob,

 

Yep, my interest is generated at #3 of your scenarios.

 

The emergence of the DJ personality remixes, (both black and white DJs), alongside music becoming a synthisized product a lot of the time, would seem to me to be simply developing the 70s remix route. at least in terms of the remixers musically creative input.  As for your last sentence. I do also think that as with most things, the actual innovators who started he process are maybe often judged with hindsight by people who are on the cusp of it 40 years on.  Plus of course there is the 'DJ mentality' to wade through too. especially as technology develops and some are less and less in tune with the actual original recordings and look more to the production techniques as being the core of what they are trying to do. (And being commercially successful with it).

 

All good stuff.

 

Regards,

 

Dave

 

 

My interest is really as part of a broader project and the remix/re-edit material will only form a small part if it.

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Dave.

 

I would be very interested in discussing this with you further. If you want to please feel free to contact me via robalias@hotmail.co.uk.

 

Best regards.

 

Rob Alias

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