People, I have a new guru. A visionary, a sage, a seer. I hang on his every uttering like they are precious droplets of Mana. He is a true master, and I am keen to follow in his ways.
His name is David Gibson, and he is the author of a book called The Art Of Mixing, a text used by some of the world’s top music production courses to show how best to “mix down” a track using its individual parts (drums/bass/vocals/etc). At some point in the early-to-mid 90s David also produced a video guide to accompany his book, using primitive computer graphics to help explain various ideas. Imagine if Wayne Campbell’s cable-access show had been directed by Tim & Eric, and concerned solely with music production techniques and the intricacies of a track’s mix, and you’re in the right ballpark.
The Art of Mixing (subtitled A Visual Guide to Recording, Engineering and Production) uses a very clever two-dimensional representation of a song’s “sound world” to show how effects, pan, track levels and EQ can be used to alter a song’s final mix, its shape, movement and dynamics. As well as imparting valuable information that any music producer will appreciate—be they bedroom or studio, headphone, Mackie mixer or Neve desk, witch haus, thrash metal or trad jazz—what really shines through is Gibsons sheer joy at working with music. This dude just exudes good vibes (in a slightly goofy, 90s-retro way, natch.)
In the modern world music is both hugely rejoiced and profoundly debased. Talent shows spread a myth that music is merely an easy route to fame, and that fame should be a musician’s ultimate goal before they are disposed of by the corporate behemoth in favour of the next big thing that comes down the machine’s pipeline. At the same time the tools for creating music have become easier than ever to obtain, as have the distribution methods, and now everyone’s voice can be heard. I believe we NEED people like David Gibson right now to remind us WHY we make music, and just why music is so precious, so magical, so moving and so much fun.
Gibson does not shy away from talking about music’s innate spiritual dimension and the long path of discovery, both personal and musical, for anyone who chooses to work with music. To the more literal-minded reader this may sound corny, but it is important to remember that music IS an artform, with as much wisdom to impart to the practitioner as any other discipline, be it scientific, artistic or spiritual. David Gibson is the Buddha of the track bounce. He IS the Anti-Cowell.
What you see below is the conclusion of The Art Of Mixing in its video form, as uploaded to YouTube, and it is truly inspiring. I have started at the end because it gives a very neat summary of the topics covered in the book/video, but also, in the words of Guru Dave himself:
Now that we have covered all of the dynamics you can create using the equipment… we’ll let you begin this lifelong exploration on your own.
David Gibson “The Art Of Mixing (Part 17)”
David Gibson’s The Art Of Mixing: A Visual Guide to Recording, Engineering and Production is available to buy, in book form, on Amazon.
Thanks to Kurt Dirt for expanding my mind!