I was thinking today about how there are some quite fundamental production ideas that I wish I ‘d taken on board earlier with my music. If you’re anything like me, often you have to hear the very same pointers and recommendations repeated a couple of times before you begin thinking, “Hold on, if I actually did this, altered my technique a bit, instead of just keep writing tracks the way I’m used to, I might in fact improve.”
Make the effort to try something various or brand-new with how you approach your productions every now and once again– it might make things more difficult at initially, however it’s the finest way to improve.
Here are 7 such things to try– pretty simple, however often incredibly challenging to remember when you’re captured up because minute of innovative motivation:
- Parallel compression
Using compression effectively is relatively simple once you get your head around the principles of what it does to your signals, and it’s the simplest way to offer your sounds a few of that evasive professional punch.
Furthermore, getting punchy drums is really type in any genre nowadays, be it rock, techno, dubstep or drum & bass. Even in modern-day motion picture soundtracks, you actually desire those huge orchestral percussion hits pounding the audience with the force of an explosion!
Parallel compression is one strategy that can help here. It sounds complex but it’s not– you just duplicate your drum track (or any other type of track), and after that greatly compress the duplicate, leaving the initial uncompressed. When you play them back together, you get the effective ‘breathing’ dynamic noise of the compressed version, whilst still keeping the detail, brightness and clearness of the uncompressed version. The best of both worlds …
Incidentally, another term for parallel compression is “Motown compression”, because part of the famous old 60’s Motown noise was developed by using parallel compression with an EQ placed right before the compressor, tweaked specifically to highlight the vocals. Whether you’re influenced by Marvin Gaye’s Motown classics, or other compression fans like Dutch drum & bass heroes Noisia (you should actually be listening to both in my opinion), provide parallel compression a try.
In case you’re wondering about the right tools for the job, check out my list of 50 Of The Best Compressor Plugins On The Planet for ideas.
- Sidechain compression
If you’ve listened to any electronic or dance music over the past couple of years, you’ll recognise sidechaining instantly– it’s that pumping, breathing sound where it seems like the drums are punching balanced holes in all the synths and pads. Sidechaining is ensured to offer any track more groove, as normally the more vibrant interaction you can create in between the elements of your track, the higher the sense of a really tight, driving whole.
It’s attained basically by compressing one signal with another– so for instance with my tech-house track, I established a compressor to act on the synth pad channel, however the compressor is activated not by the synth pad sound iteslf, but by the kick drum track. So when the kick drum noises, the compressor squashes the level of the pad right down, developing the particular ‘drawing’ effect.
Let me understand if you ‘d like me to cover the specifics of this in a correct tutorial.
- Correct and ‘inaccurate’ uses of reverb
Generally speaking, you would normally set up maybe two or three various reverbs as send out results (FX Channels in Cubase, Aux Channels all over else) when you start a project, and as you develop and blend, route some of your private tracks to one or another of these. I think it’s important to constantly leave a minimum of one noise completely free of reverb though, to give a sense of where the ‘front’ of the mix is.
Nevertheless, things can get much more fascinating when you utilize reverb plugins as inserts on your channels. My preferred trick for creating truly haunting ambience pads and hit results is to place a reverb on a channel, bring up a big ‘cathedral’ or ‘church’ preset and set the wet/dry balance within the reverb plugin to 100% wet. You’ll marvel how you can turn actually dull source samples into cinematic gems.
Games composer Jesper Kyd is a master at integrating standard orchestral techniques with unconventional/modern sounds– have a listen to his current score for Assassin’s Creed 2 for a concept of what a difference reliable reverb can make, totally free at his Myspace page here.