David Kahne’s Orchestral EQ Concepts

“My favorite thing is arranging strings,” says producer David Kahne (Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Regina Spektor), “So, one day, I was sitting at a console trying to figure out what mixing was, and I EQ’d a guitar part. As I changed the frequency—I think it was a middle C—I realized it was like deciding whether to use a violin or a viola or a cello to play the note with a different color.
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This was a lightning flash of inspiration, and I started thinking about equalization as more of an arranging tool. Am I going to EQ the overtones in front of the fundamental note? How much resonance do I want to hear? If I look at a Stravinsky score, he’s doing the same thing on paper. For example, he’s telling the violins to go to harmonics in a certain place, and he’s telling the french horn players to shove their hands in the bell—he’s essentially adding a filter. Applying a string-arranging approach to audio production made engineering more musical to me."

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