In Alan Moore’s excellent paper with Ruth Dockwary, he discusses the demise of what he calls the ‘Triangular’ mix – which has been replaced by the ‘diagonal’. To get an understanding of this, listen the ‘The Wind Cry’s Mary’ by Jimi Hendrix. Note how the drums are panned hard right – while the vocals are panned hard left.
This can also be heard in ‘If 6 was 9’ by Hendrix. This time the vocals and drums are hard left, while the guitar is hard right.
Some basic listening would reveal that there are countless mixes of this type during the 60s, but as Moore’s paper reveals – slowly but surely it has been replaced by the ‘diagonal mix’ – where the vocals, bass and drums tend to be central – with other other instruments such as guitar and keys panned either side. A great example of this is the 1972 hit by Argent – ‘Hold Your Head Up’
This type of mix has become common place in popular music – the question is why? I have heard a number of reasons for this – including
- Many 60s desks had no pan controls – only left- middle and right switches
- Triangular Mixes are easier to move to mono
- The emergence of headphone listening: a hard panned bass guitar for example can sound horrible via bud earphones
Diagonal mixes sound louder on Radio -see the loudness wars
It is interesting to listen to contemporary bands who are influenced by the 60s – who seem to take on all the stylistic influences – aside from the mix. For example listen to the example below –
I would be interested in any examples of contemporary bands who are brave enough to use a triangular mix – please message below. For a podcast of the full lecture – see below