The anatomy of mixing a song, as per Kohinoor Mukherjee

Minal Singh
3 min readSep 29, 2020

“The proof is in this song”.

Yes, the proof is always in the song! Anything you feel about it, you’ll probably be able to tell when you listen to it closely. You can always tell if the song was carelessly mixed or if it wasn’t meant for a particular platform, or something entirely different.

What does the anatomy of mixing a song mean to you?

Is it just the difference between a verse and a chorus or is it the difference between an independent song or one for a movie? Let’s check it out.

Difference between a single, album and a film soundtrack

Before we swim in to find the bottom of the iceberg, let’s get one thing out of the way — every song has its own vibe. And for a mix engineer, working on that song depends on its vibe. The work put in on a single, an album or any non-film song, varies from the work you put in on a film soundtrack.

What do you have to do in a film soundtrack?

Songs used in a film have their typical sound. They are way punchier and more aggressive in their overall feel compared to independent tracks. Especially in Bollywood films, there’s a particular way of mixing songs, with a more commercial approach attached to them. Musicianship, artistry and aesthetics takes somewhat of a backseat.

In films, everyone involved has a say in the song made. A mixing and mastering engineer mostly can’t produce the kind of sound they want to have in that particular song for the film. Whether it be the movie director, the lyricist, the music composer, or the musicians themselves, everybody has their own say on the project. As a creative person, you’re completely blocked up and can’t do your own subtle moves that help the song structure.

As an engineer, you would want to color up a few bars. In a film, you already have a rough sketch to work with and you have to stick to that. It’s all about what the director wants, and never what you want. You’ll always have to cater to what they want, you’re not necessarily considered as a focal point in the process of making the song.

You might not be the best of engineers but if you know how to get the job done, you’ll be preferred over the others.

How do you work on an independent single or album?

In case of an album or a single, the basic difference is in the atmosphere in the studio. Even if it is a virtual mix, a mixing and mastering engineer like Kohinoor Mukherjee can show their artistry and all their creativity. If it’s a bit of an experimental project like an EP or a single, you can be very open-minded during the process and are always welcome to be who you are and produce the kind of sound you want to produce.

There’s surely a sketch to work with, put forward by the artist themselves, but you can always put your own thoughts on the work. You’re catering to the inputs of the artists, but there is artistic freedom in the process. You can mix a song the way you want, while taking inputs.

Difference between a verse and a chorus

Also, when it comes to the verse and chorus of a song, the approach becomes entirely different. The verse needs to be a bit low-key ; the chorus needs to be quite punchy and glossy compared to the verse. There should be a sharp musical contrast to the two parts for the song to have a certain amount of craze to it.

The anatomy of mixing a song depends on a lot of factors, the key of them being the vibe. And if you can catch the vibe at one go, there’s no stopping you as a mixing engineer.

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