When most people hear music, they’re not listening to each individual note. They’re not paying attention to the mix. They’re not tuned into the intricate harmony structures or waveform modulation.
When most people hear music, they’re having an experience.
Chances are, you fell in love with music for the same reason – the amazing feeling that came from listening to the right music.
Just because all the tiny decisions you make aren’t what most listeners are hearing doesn’t mean they’re not important. They are – but only in aggregate. Listers don’t hear individual notes (or sound adjustments or mix decisions etc) – they hear the overall effect of the thousands of tiny decisions you made.
So what does that mean when you’re sitting in the studio at 1am trying to decide if the reverb density should be set at 35% or 45%?
- It doesn’t matter that much. Being a little bit inexact on a single decision point won’t fundamentally change the experience of the listener. Yes, you need to make a decision. That’s your job. But don’t beat yourself up about any single decision point. Pick a setting (or a note or a mic position) that sounds good and move on.
- Always consider the big picture. Your decisions are never made in isolation. Ultimately, the value of each decision point tests with how well it supports and communicates the creative direction of the song.
Your ‘sound’ – as other people hear it – is not the decisions you make, but your approach to making decisions. Be clear in your creative direction and be consistent in how you express it.
The most important aspect of any song is how it makes your listener feel.