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CROWDED MIXES / CREATING SPACE AND DIFFERENTIATION
Mixes can be crowded in many ways. The song arrangement can be crowded if there are too many elements playing similar parts that are different enough to cause musical clashes or smudges. Spatial crowding can occur if there are too many parts clashing within the same areas of the stereo image. Frequency crowding can occur if there are clashing sounds with similar tones (such as a screeching sax and vocal).
It is important to create DIFFERENTIATION between different parts, especially in songs with crowded arrangements. Spatial differentiation is achieved by placing instruments into different positions within the stereo image, or by having some parts MOVING rather than stay in one place. Frequency differentiation can be achieved by EQing sounds to emphasize more of their DIFFERENCES rather than similarities. For example, both a Kick drum and a Bass will have very low sounds, but the kick will also have a sharp attack that will cut through the sound of the Bass, and the Bass will have a sustained roundness that will continue between Kick hits.
Changing instrument VOLUMES is an important process to consider when trying to create mixes with CLARITY, within which all of the instruments can be clearly HEARD and FELT according to their functions.
Some Mix Engineers try to create differentiation by EQing each sound to fit into a narrow frequency range, this works, but results in mixes that are significantly less expressive than mixes that contain full sounding instruments that move forward or back in the stereo image, either taking over the image or creating space for other instruments to take over.