What is a reference song?
It is a finished, mixed, mastered and released recording, which in our opinion is a model in terms of sound, its structure, melody, rhythm, duration and many other elements that make up the finished piece of music. These are, of course, subjective feelings, because each of us has our own taste and our own musical preferences. So, such a piece can serve as a kind of inspiration and reference point for us to create our own music productions.
In music, of course, there are certain sound standards resulting from a given genre or era in which a piece was created. Even over several years, you can notice clear differences in this respect in relation to the same music genre. This can be perfectly noticed during the development and shaping of rock and roll, where other sound trends could be seen in the 60’s flyer, and other twenty years later in the 80s. of digital instruments, such a standard of the XNUMXth and XNUMXst centuries is, for example, midi. The main idea of this system is that all devices equipped with this standard can freely exchange their data, transfer commands regarding parameters characterizing a given sound, such as pitch, volume, panorama or sound modulation, regardless of the period for which the device is digital comes, of course taking into account the fact that newer generation instruments or devices have much better solutions than the older ones.
What can be learned from the reference track
The first element that we can immediately catch is loudness. We can see if our piece competes with the reference piece in this respect and is similar to it in this respect. Another element is the appropriate proportions of low and high frequency settings. Is our piece too low or too cut in relation to our formula? The arrangement of the instruments and their panning, i.e. proper arrangement on the right, left and in the center. The size of the depth, i.e. whether a given instrument gives the impression of being far away, hidden, or maybe our feeling as if the instrumentalist was next to us.
Key comparative elements
The basis is to compare the reference piece with ours at the same volume levels. It is important that we fog quickly and efficiently switch between the reference track and what we are mixing. This will allow us to immediately spot some deviations from the volume, depth or pan. Also, we will immediately see any differences in the timbre of the two songs. What is immediately noticeable with such a track is which of the tracks has a brighter sound and which has a darker sound. It is also worth connecting a temporary limiter to the track being mixed, which will allow us to refer to the reference track during our work. It is quite important because the vast majority of tracks have a limiter in the final stage of production that changes the sound to some extent. Thanks to the fact that we will use such an illustrative limiter, we will get similarly compacted peaks with a similar dynamic range.
The reference work gives us such a point of reference in relation to the work we create. Therefore, the reference piece should first of all present the sound and structure you like and would like to achieve in your projects. Thanks to reference songs, we have a reference whether our production is going in the right direction. When creating different genres of music, it is worth having references to a given style and genre. You should not create, for example, a rock song based on a reference song from a different music genre, unless you want to create a completely new, innovative style. It is also worth taking care of the good quality of the reference tracks, preferably in wave format. Finally, remember that the most important elements of the mix at the level of the mix are the frequency balance, the volume of individual instruments, panning, widths and depth.