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How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

by Chinonso Mark

How To Mix Afro Beat Music In Fl Studio | Nigerian Afro-Beat Mixing.

When we mention Afro-beat music Legendary Fela Kuti comes to our minds. An afro-beat Music genre is a fusion of traditional Yoruba music, jazz, American blues, and funk.

Most successful Top Nigerian Musicians like Wizkid, Davido, Timaya, and Tekno are currently making rounds with various forms of Afro-beat Music.

Afro-beat Music is currently the Nigerian dance-hall music style, it drops in a groovy way and hits you to dance by force.

There is no difficulty in Mixing an Afro-Beat Music, in fact, it is almost the same as mixing every other genre of music but with some slight difference and giving attention to some top secrets most successful music producers use.

The tutorial will be based on Fl studio and Cubase mixing, but if you understand the whole process, you can also apply them in other DAW’S.

Qualities Of A Well Mixed Nigerians Afro-Beat Music.

Here are some qualities we should get at the end of our mixing.

A well mixed Afrobeat music should have the following features.

  • Sound as Lively as possible.
  • Must Bounce well and punchy.
  • Must be clear enough (not noisy, all instruments and percussion heard clearly)
  • The kick must be moderately heavy or thick (kick must not be light as it drives the genre)

Lets roll:

I would like to describe what mixing is all about.

Mixing is simply the process of “leveling and balancing” therefore in mixing all you will be doing is to ensure all drums, instruments, and vocals are properly balanced in the mix.

For you to do well in mixing you have to be a very good listener, you have to train your ears and master your monitor speakers or your sound system.

There are two approaches in mixing every Afro-Beat Music, the beat or instrumental mixing and the vocal mixing before you think of mastering.

Mixing Afro-Beat Instrumental In Fl Studio

Personally, the first step I take in mixing my Afro-beat Music is mixing the instrumental of the song I am producing.

This is a solid foundation to how successful the project will be, properly mixing the instrumental after making is one of the most important steps you should never miss especially in Nigeria because fans pay more attention to the instrumental of a song other than even what the artist is singing.

Steps To Mix Afro-Beat Instrumental Using Fruity Loops Studio.

— Enable Cut Itself Option On All Your drums — 

I am sure many producers don’t know this, it took me sometimes before I could figure this out.

cut it self option - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Activating Fl cut itself

You have to go straight to fl pattern and right click on the drums samples and click cut itself. This helps in making sure that your drums sound don’t overlap (Meaning they won’t overlap when the next notes play).

— Reset Your Channel Volume & Panning To Default — 

I personally like doing this, because it gives you the room to mix properly, it keeps the volume and pan of each sample or instruments normal and allows you to do your own thing.

Reset - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Reseting Your Channel volume & panning To Default

But this is optional though, if you understand what you are doing you can just leave it, but I enjoy doing it to be on the safer side.

— Link Or Assign Your Patterns To The Mixer — 

Now let’s start mixing proper, you have to link or assign your drum samples (percussion)and instruments to the mixer where you can have more controls and add whatever effects you intend to use.

You can do this in two ways:

1. Assign all the patterns (drums and instruments) at once to the mixer by highlighting all the patterns and using the shortcut keys to link them to the mixer.

pattern and mixer - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Linking Your Patterns To The Mixer at once

All you need to do is to highlight the drums and instruments on the patterns, then go to your mixer and click on insert 1, then hold this shortcut on your computer keyboard (Ctrl+Shift+L), that is control shift and letter L and all will be assigned to the mixer.

2. You can link it one after the other in your preferred order.

I like using the second option because it helps me arrange the mixing my own way.

But the first option is faster if you’re considering achieving speed.

Pattern - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

linking patterns to mixer one by one

Linking a pattern to your mixer one by one is simply done by click on the channel (drum or instrument) to pop out the channel settings, then take your mouse to fx bus and scroll it to the insert in of the mixer you want it to be linked to.

Or you can also use the first method, but this time you will only highlight that particular pattern you want to link to the mixer.

— Mixing An AfroBeat Instrumental–

There are three things I do when mixing a Nigerian Afro-Beat music instrumental.

a. Equalizing.

b. Enhancement (Effecting).

c. Panning

d. Leveling (Balancing).

Equalization (Equalizing) is the process of boosting or cutting down the volume of specific frequencies in a mix. It has to with messing around the frequencies in your music to enable you to achieve the best sound.

This function can be actualized by using an equalizer, therefore an equalizer is a software or hardware used in manipulating and correcting specific frequencies in a mix.

It also helps in separation and assigning a particular frequency to a specific sound in the mix and however helps in solving problems associated when frequencies clash.

How To Equalize An AfroBeat Instrumental.

Generally, equalizers have the same functions, but how you apply them in your mix matters a lot.

First step.

Use Fruity Parametric EQ2: This is a default FL equalizer which has up to 6 bands, the Low Bass, bass, Low Mid, Mid, Upper Mid, Pass and Trebor.

Tighten and thicken your kick, you can do this by inserting a fruity parametric Eq2 in the mixer channel insert and using it to cut off some high frequencies (Around 2000Hz), then boost a bit of some of the low bass end (give 55Hz a slight boost as you listen) and then monolize (keep it in mono instead of stereo) your kick. This trick hardens your kick and gives it an afro rocky groove you want to hear.

Fruity Parametric Eq2 - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Fruity Parametric Eq2

Please also note that mixing has a lot to do with much of listening, so whatever you are doing in your mix your ears should you must listen very well.

Note: It is also advisable to keep the kick, toms, 808, bass guitar and sounds of very low frequencies say 200Hz and below at mono, though this does not apply to all kind of Music.

Second Step

The same procedures apply for other percussions but what changes are their frequencies and treatment, you can not treat a snare drum, the same way you treat a kick drum.

You can learn how to use Fruity Parametric EQ2 here.

b. Enhancement (Effecting).

You have equalized all your drums and instruments, the next step is to add some enhancement to them by inserting your desired effects such as a compressor, reverb, delay, chorus etc just as the need be in the mix.

c. Panning.

Panning provides better space in your mix, you can pan to the center, left and right.

Panning 1 - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music


It is better to allow your Kick, Snare & Bass Guitar be in the middle and then you can pan the rest of the sounds if need be.

c. Leveling (Balancing).

The Last stage is to Balance and level up the Afro-Beat Instrumental.

After you are satisfied with your mix, you have to control the individual mixer channel volumes to level up the mix, this gives it a better sound.

leveling - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Leveling and Balancing

Any percussion or instrument that sounds so high has to be controlled to balance the mixing equation.

However, you don’t have to touch the master control gain, but the rest can be tweaked to your desired level.

After the final process of mixing the beat, I personally prefer to export my job down to Cubase 5, which I feel gives me what I need during recording and mixing of afrobeat vocals.

First Step In Cubase

Create A stereo channel and import the mixed instrumental, probably you must have recorded with the unmixed beat.

Recall I said earlier that mixing is all about balancing.

Here Are The Seven Easy Steps In Mixing Nigerian Afro-Beat Music.

  1. Vocal Cutting and Editing.
  2. Equalizing.
  3. Compressing.
  4. De-essing
  5. Reverbing
  6. Delaying
  7. Panning

— Vocal Cutting / Editing —

This is the most important aspect of the mixing where a music producer has to cut out unnecessary part of the recorded vocals, he can boost or cut down, he can adjust the vocals to bounce well on the instrumental if there are delays, he can do a whole lot of manual editing before applying other steps.

— Equalizing —

At this point, you have to mess around with frequencies using an equalizer.

With an equalizer, you boost or cut down any unwanted frequency range in the mix.

Getting a brighter and best afrobeat vocals you have to use high pass filters to cut down the low end and achieve that sense of brightness in your vocals.

Note: Not all the vocals are the same therefore your ears must be sensitive enough to help you achieve what you want.

You can stick around these frequency ranges if you are mixing afrobeat vocals.

equalizing - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

Afro beat vocal equalizing

— Compressing  —

The process of compression is done by a compressor (could be a hardware or software form).

What the compressor does is to automatically bring down the loudest part of the vocal in the mix and keeps it at an average unharmful level and also punch out the quietest part of the vocal to normal range.

Apply this to your afrobeat vocals keeps it going well. You can easily gaze at the chart below.

compression - How To Mix Nigerian Afro Beat Music

simple compression chart

Features of a compressor.

Threshold, Ratio, release, Gain, Attack, and output. Knowing how to use all these features can help you achieve a better mix.

You can learn how to use a compressor here in this video.

After adding compression to your vocals, you can decide to add a de-esser depending on the vocal.

— De-Essing —

The de-essor is used to calm down the vocals, it also reduces over loud frequencies, sibilance and allows for better diction in pitch.

Add it where you deem it necessary.

— Reverbing —

Here you add a reverb to sweeten and make live the vocals. The reverb gives your vocals that room like sound.

You can use a default Cubase reverb or simply use sonitus fx reverb or fab filter pro reverbs.

— Delaying —

An Afrobeat Music is never complete if the feels of delays are not found in it.

You need to add a delay to your vocal channel, you can use a default Cubase delay or Sonitus delay.

Make sure you set the tempo, feedback, crossfield and mix to suit your desire.

— Panning–

Here is the last thing to do before you finish your mix. Your backups vocals or harmony do well to pan them to left and right, leave the lead vocals at center.

Listen to your mix over and over again, make necessary adjustments, listen again and them finally head to mastering for finishing of the Project.

So far, if you have any question, contribution, please do well to comment below

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