Mix Sound Like an Artist Paints
The mixing of sound is, ultimate, an art form. I sometimes think of the analogy of a landscape artist. Just as the painter must know the technical details of the tools of his trade, so must the sound technician know the tools of his trade if he is going to produce the best soundscape possible with the equipment at hand.
The painter must know about the paints, color combinations, the uses of various brushes, and the 'canvas' onto which the picture is painted. He must know about perspective and how to represent it in the painting. He must also be aware of environmental factors and how they will effect the art work.
The Sound Engineer
There are areas of knowledge that could be compared to the various things listed for the painter. The greater the knowledge of the tools available the better the outcome will be. The microphones, mixing board, signal processing, amplification, speaker system, and the venue are all elements that enter into the production of the sound that the listener hears.
My comparison is to a landscape artist because, just as in the picture, there are things in the mix that must be in the foreground and things that need to be more in the background. The art is in getting the perspective right, so that the listener hears the detail of the music. The foreground is louder and the background is softer in music. The lead instrument and the vocals need to be in front, but the rythme instruments need to be heard as well in order for the soundscape to be complete.
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