Today, I have something rather special. The only person talking is me, no guests or interviews. I would love to share with You a piece of my mind.
As some of you might know, I do other things, apart from coffee. I am an electronic music producer too. Lately, I have realized, how much building a “mix down” (the whole arrangement of a song) is similar to coffee making process. Sounds crazy, I know, but let me walk you through it.
For starters, we have to pick the tempo and the style of a song we are going to build. This equals, picking the size of a brew, and a method. We have many methods, as well as, we have a lot of music genres, there are many tempos, and many different sizes/ratios of our brew.
Let’s say, we are going to make a 110 BPM (Beats per Minute – Term in music production, to define the tempo of the track. The metronome clicks, 110 times per minute, and that’s how fast the song is). I will call that a down-tempo electronica. Not too fast, but fast enough to catch a really nice vibe. This genre is full of tasty and exciting parts, and so is my coffee…
If I chose this type of music, I see it as Hand Brew coffee, also, the structure of this style, tells me that I will experience interesting, but stable beat/drums (in general of course, let’s not forget, there are many experiments, and so are in coffee…).
Groovy melodies, characteristic bass line, and more importantly, all together will be really harmonious. Sounds good, doesn’t it. Well, that’s exactly how I see V60 brewing method. Reliable, harmonious, interesting, characteristic, groovy, if you will.
Now, let’s start our arrangement.
When I start making a track, I always prepare my working space (in my case it is my software, I use Fruity loops 12). Preparation means, I clear all my “channels” (let’s just say, channel is a space, where we can assign every sound to, and put many effects on it – it’s not exactly all that, but that’s easiest way to understand it for someone who doesn’t know anything about the process). Cleaning channels means, taking all unwanted effects that might be there, out. Do you see where I’m going? Yes, that’s rinsing my paper filter to make sure, I don’t have any undesirable flavors
Next step, I always write a melody, very ”raw”, just a piano, to create the base of what I am going to work with. This will help me to prepare for the whole process, that’s my bloom.
Next up, building the drums. Everyone knows how important it is, that there are drums in a song. Here, I like to think of it as my first 50 grams of circulate pour. I start the process of brewing, giving coffee kick to start the extraction. That’s what I need when making my song, create the rhythm, the idea of how will it sound in my tempo.
I never take breaks when making first project (it’s just me, that’s the way my brain works, I need to make full song arrangement right away, and then, I can start changing things), and this is exactly how I brew my coffee. After my 50 grams of water poured in, I don’t stop, I go with the flow, making all melodies, bass lines, effects etc… till the end of the process. This allows me to reveal, what I actually had in mind, and shows if maybe I need to change things to make it better. To see that, it is time for tasting.
Tasting is nothing more than listening to final product. Here it gets interesting.
In music production, we work with frequencies of sound. With that, as you might already know, there are some frequencies that you don’t want to have. We have the very low, which usually we would call strong bass, this terrible, muffled sound which really affects everything, if it’s not balanced with the rest of the song. For me, this is the bitterness of the coffee.
Coffee is bitter, always was and always will be. But, we have learned how to keep our bitterness balanced, so it wouldn’t overwhelm the final brew. Usually, we would just change the grind size, by “cutting” beans to different size. So, we have to do it in music as well. To achieve that, we use special equalizers and compressors, to simply cut the lowest, undesirable frequencies.
Because there is no more, unwanted “low end”, we can easier hear the high frequencies. Again, do you see where I’m going with it? Exactly. Now you can taste the acidity of coffee more, that means, you can judge, if there is too much of it, or is it too sharp, etc. That’s exactly what I do with my song. After I cut my “low end”, I can easily hear what is going on high frequencies, and again, judge them. If there is too much of “high end”, which creates that squeaky noise, really not pleasant, I have to take actions to bring it back to balance. So would I, when making coffee. I would simply play with the grind (in general) to reduce/re-balance my acidity, to the level when I am happy with.
I keep tasting my song. Now, when I don’t have any super low or super high ends, I can start looking for harmony. Does it all sound like a one piece? Does it sound like it was made for a reason? Are all the sounds playing harmoniously with each other, not overwhelming or disappearing in any parts? This is my coffee balance. When I feel that all flavors in my cup are mixing together to create one, great and tasty brew, that’s when I know, balance is there.
You probably think: “but what about sweetness”, well…
As we all know, it’s quite difficult to brew coffee that is actually sweet, I mean, sweet. When you do, you take notice, you think of your brewing method, you repeat that, because you found the way of making your coffee sweet (of course some coffees might be sweeter etc. but we talk in general now). That’s the style. Every musician has his/hers own, unique style. The sweetness of his/hers music.
Sweetness is good, in coffee and in music…