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From OK to great.

While we can now beatmatch, the results are still somewhat ugly. What can we do about this?

Volume and HiLo curve

Our main problem is that our tracks start and end suddenly leading to nasty ... discontinuities ... where we want them to blend nicely into each other. Our main tool to overcome this is the volume curve (sometimes called an 'envelope').

The volume curve shows, for each part of the track, how loudly it is to be played. For example, here is a track gently fading in over the opening sixteen bars:

You can see that the curve is made by control points - the little blue circles. MixTape will automatically connect any control points you put down (or drag) into a volume curve. You need to know three things:

  • Holding down the option key with the cursor over a track changes the hand into a pointer with a blue '+'. Clicking will now add a control point.
  • Moving the cursor close to the control point will cause it to glow red - you can now drag it.
  • To remove a control point once again hold down option - and moving the cursor close to the control point will cause it to glow red and the pointer changes to a blue '-'. Clicking will remove the control point.

Also available is a "HiLo" curve. The hilo curve regards the centreline of the track (on screen) as zero. Then, for values above zero the effect will progressively cut lower frequencies until we are left with a 'tinny' noise. And vice versa - below the centreline removes high frequencies until we are left with a 'muddy' sound. The HiLo curve works exactly the same as the volume curve except it's red, and you hold down control instead of option.

Tracks can be blended any way you like, but a common pattern is to use the volume curve to bring the 'new' track up, then fade the 'old' one down. This is such a common pattern that MixTape implements a shortcut for it.

Automix

On the toolbar are two controls: Make Small Automix and Make Large Automix...

Selecting one of these will turn the cursor into a 'pointing' hand with the automix logo on top. To make this work we need: An 'old' track that provides sync; and a new track. Something like this...

If we now apply an automix to "Minimalicious" it transforms into:

Automix has done the following:

  • Synced the timing of the new track against the old one.
  • Moved the new track such that it overlaps the old one and starts on a phrase (16 bar) marker.
  • Applied fade-in and fade-out volume curves.

Of course, this is not the final word when it comes to mixing - more a starting point than anything else.

Filling in a breakdown

Sometimes music has long beatless sections which, while a valid form of artistic expression, are just not what we want right now. MixTape is really good at fixing these, let's see how easy it is. Here is a track with a 48 bar beatless section...

See that we're using it to provide sync? We can see (or hear) the master sync continuing on through the beatless section. To fill in we're going to: Find a track that sounds good over that part; sync; then either fade out or shorten the track to stay within the beatless section. The result looks something like this:

Opinions may differ on whether or not this is the best way to fill that particular hole, but none the less the technique is obvious. One sneaky trick is that usually tracks mix nicely onto themselves - just add another instance of the track and treat it exactly the same as above.

Mashups

Mashups are two tracks playing simultaneously for a long time. Again, MixTape has this nailed - you just ... play two tracks synced together and use you skill and taste to choose which two tracks they should be.