Mixing Irish Music in the Studio
I have a pretty good feel for Irish music, the frequency ranges of the instruments (which are essentially the same), and compression techniques. I was wondering if anyone who has recorded or mixed down ITM tracks had any thoughts on how to go about creating some separation between the instruments that occupy the same frequency ranges. Fiddle, flute, and pipes sound great in unison, but as you know it can be hard to really narrow in on one instrument when they all play a tune together.
What are your thoughts, techniques, and hiccups when mixing ITM? An obvious solution I am looking at is a LCR approach (pan instruments left, right and center in a meaningful amount). However, I’m wondering if this would cause the main attraction, which is always the melody, to become lost in mono. For instance, playing the tracks back on a phone or laptop speakers (while not truly mono) can make the stereo image become lost. Has anyone else run into this issue?
Another solution is to use a small amount of reverb to push things back in the mix, but this can overly smooth out the sound even in small amounts making the music lose its distinctive rhythmical transients, which is counter-productive for the genre. Of course this can be mitigated with a small amount of pre-delay on the reverb. Alternatively, a small amount of delay with a low feedback and quick reflection like a haas effect to push things perceptively back in the mix. The latter effect becomes a problem in the phone/laptop scenario mentioned above when that depth can no longer be heard.
As instrumentalists, we spend a lot of time perfecting our tone and technique. The classic unison sound of traditional instruments together is a distinguishing factor of Irish music, but shouldn’t the individual performances also be discernible?