Notes on paper vs. emotion in music!

I talked to a mixing engineer recently, and he shared some interesting aspects about his process what gear or plugins to use on a particular song. Basically, he was talking about two things:

  1. the technical side (like frequencies, signal flow, how to manipulate audio material, etc. …)
  2. and the emotional effect he was looking for

He really stressed that you have to understand both aspects and that it is absolutely crucial to develop skills and taste on each side so you can use plugins with purpose and emotional intention! He also pointed out that too many guys believe that great gear alone will create a great sound. Well, more and more professionals rely on mixing completely “in the box” (meaning using plugins only as opposed to hardware gear). In other words, nowadays, you have access to the same tools top mixing engineers use with a fairly small investment. But how come some achieve a million dollar sound and some don’t? What is the difference then? According to my friend, it is the lack of being able to listen for the effect of an effect. You are supposed to create a listening experience for your audience! It is really like telling a story! If you don’t know the story you are about to tell … well, you might want to stop turning knobs randomly and think about that first.

This insight is very helpful for the composing process as well! At M.I.T.A. we teach lots of techniques and tools. In a way, these are your high-quality “plugins” you get access to, one after another. Now it is your turn to listen for the effect of an effect. And this can only be done by using them in your own writing! This all allows you to think more emotionally and less theoretically when you write music!

In essence, you will start to think of music as a story! As a result, you will also notice that this point of view is a great source of motivation and inspiration. It is fun to tell stories, and people enjoy listening to stories. So, whatever notes you write on paper will create an emotional effect. Learning how to use these emotions on purpose will enlarge your musical vocabulary … which will make your stories better!

And now, please tell me your story,



About the Author

Frank Herrlinger

Frank Herrlinger

Frank is the co-founder of Music Interval Theory Academy (M.I.T.A.) and a professional composer working in the industry for over 10 years. He wrote music for numerous video games published for PlayStation, Xbox, and PC. His music is also constantly heard on German television (RTL, Pro7, VOX, etc.), in commercials, and trailers.

Furthermore, he gives live training sessions in composition and how to use interval theory inside the membership every month.

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