Final Mixdown Checklist

So you got a rocking song written and you’re ready to move it over to the mixing stage. There are many technical steps as well as room for creativity in the mix down process.  After years of being a professional mixing engineer and musician I have found a basic guideline that helps me insure a solid mix.  Below is a checklist / cheat sheet I made to help visualize the steps needed.

Download a hi-res version for print. I love having a binder of images like this I can reference along the way. If you find the information helpful and want to see more checklist like this, then donate. Thanks!

Step by step checklist for the final mixdown.


Download the Image

Here is deeper run-through of the steps and ideas in the Infographic. If you use Ableton Live then check out the Mixdown Toolset. It is packed with tools to help your stereo imaging, advance EQing, and more. (more…)

By | July 28th, 2016|Ableton, Free Music Tools, Music Theory, Producers Blog|1 Comment

Geometry in Music Composition with Ableton Live

The Golden ratio unlocks a nature’s harmony, we see in the world around us.  Beautiful never lacks proportion, and mathematics is the language of proportion.

The Golden ratio occurs in nature all the time. From a shell spiral, architecture, growth patterns of plants, the human form, and more. Using this ratio in our music it injects a kind of natural beauty, similar to Da Vinci’s portraits.

last-supper-phi-golden-ratio

The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, golden mean, or golden section, is a number often encountered when taking the ratios of distances in simple geometric figures such as the pentagon, pentagram, and dodecahedron. It is denotedphi , or sometimestau .

The formula for the Golden Ratio is: (more…)

By | June 22nd, 2016|Ableton, Free Music Tools, Music Theory, Producers Blog|6 Comments

Bouncing Down A Project to Mix in Another DAW

I have worked with many musicians on mixing and mastering their music. I’ve worked with many different DAW’s in mixing.  I mainly like to work in Ableton Live and sometimes need a musician to send me bounced down the audio from their DAW of choice so I can use it in Ableton Live for mixing. This article will look at the process of preparing stems and individual tracks for exporting to another DAW.  We will first look at what our objective is and then doing it in each DAW.

Two Methods of Mixing Down

There are two ways I work for producing with musicians and having them send me files of their project. Each one is specifically for the needs of the project. Below we will look at the different methods.

Full Individual Mix Down

Let’s say I am working with someone that wants me to redo their track. Maybe change instrumentation, add deep processing and mixing.  If that were the case I would want to have control over every individual part. This means I want each instrument sound separately, and not just all the melody as one audio file.  To do this I want the musician to bounce down each track.  It is very important that they name each track or sub bus in a way that is easy for me to know what it is. (we will look at this later).

Optionally, you can also browse some tracks down as MIDI if the engineer / musician is doing more complex editing and rewriting of parts.  (more…)

By | October 6th, 2015|Ableton, Music Theory, Producers Blog, Sound Design Tech|1 Comment

Creating Binaural Beats with Ableton Live

The origin of Subaqueous and my trip down the musical rabbit hole, came from Binaural Beats. Through the years I have had many musicians contact me about it. It has been 10 years since I started experimenting with Binaural Beats. It’s been an amazing experience, and I have decided to distill the information I have learned from the years to help others that are inspired to play with consciousness and sound.

Introduction to Binaural Beats:

First off lets look at what Binaural Beats are.

Binaural beat recordings are specially generated sounds, designed to alter our brainwaves and consciousness. The basic idea behind binaural beats is that our brains operate at certain bandwidths, which are measured in frequencies. Our brainwaves change depending on how we are feeling, and what we are doing. Using binaural beats we can emulate natural brainwave frequencies and then slowly change them to another brainwave frequency. This is based off the theory of entertainment.

When the perceived beat frequency corresponds to the delta, theta, alpha, beta, or gamma range of brainwave frequencies, the brainwaves entrain to or move towards the beat frequency. For example, if a 315 Hz sine wave is played into the right ear and a 325 Hz one into the left ear, the brain is entrained towards the beat frequency 10 Hz, in the alpha range. Since the alpha range is associated with relaxation, this has a relaxing effect, or if in the beta range, more alertness. An experiment with binaural sound stimulation using beat frequencies in the beta range on some participants and the delta/theta range on other participants found better vigilance performance and mood in those on the awake alert state of beta-range stimulation.

Binaural beat stimulation has been used fairly extensively in attempts to induce a variety of states of consciousness, and there has been some work done in regards to the effects of these stimuli on relaxation, focus, attention, and states of consciousness. Studies have shown that with repeated training to distinguish close frequency sounds that a plastic reorganization of the brain occurs for the trained frequencies and is capable of asymmetric hemispheric balancing. Wikipedia

binauralBeats1

When we are in a meditative state, then our brain operates at a theta frequency. If we are very active, or a little stressed, then we operate at the beta frequency. Here is a list of the different brain wave frequencies.

My Exploration:

Over the past 10 years I have used binaural beats. It first started with a art instillation I created with my friend Jael Topek.  After many experiments we traveled the west coast with the yurt sharing and studying the experiment.  This video is an overview of my experiences.

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Creating Your Live Performance Setup

Technology has given artist new tools and ways of imagining their live performance. We can now sync live visuals, trigger samples on the fly, have access to unlimited effect processing, and all of this can be done through a single computer.  Ableton Live gives musicians an easy way to envision their live set and add as much simplicity, or complexity as they would like.

In this article I am going to go over some basics of live performance with Ableotn Live. This will help you envision what you want to make out of your live performance, and inspire new ways of looking at things. To start, let’s look at the different type of live performances.

2 Types of Live Set

This image shows the major types of Live Sets. I will review what these sets are and their advantages. This will mainly be centered around making these sets with Ableton Live as the backbone. (more…)

Creating Tension and Resolution in Music

Getting a good chord progression is one of the foundations of a good track. Understanding the movement in the Circle of Fifths can help you get a really good chord progression. I have written a few articles on the Circle of fifths, but invited Umang Bhat to share his knowledge of some advance techniques.

Enjoy the article on how to spice up your chords and music with the Circle of Fifths. Also make sure you check out Umang’s blog at Guitar Cover.

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Creating Stems in Ableton Live

Sometimes to collaborate with other musicians we need to turn our Ableton Live Tracks into Stems. Using stems is a great way to send tracks to other people that use different DAWS, such as Logic, or for remix contest. Before we get started though, let’s define what a Stem is.

Stem-mixing is a method of mixing audio material based on creating groups of audio tracks and processing them separately prior to combining them into a final master mix. Stems are also sometimes referred to as submixes, subgroups, or busses.

In other words, it’s taking our track and turning it into a handful of stereo tracks. That way you can send 8-10 tracks instead of 50 individual tracks or one final master.

I created an in depth PDF that walks you through the steps needed to turn your track into stems. Below is the video walk-through.  I also have a free PDF guide for download below that.

Download PDF

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Scale References In Ableton Live

Do you want an easy way to drop in cool scales and write in new MIDI parts? Or have you ever wanted a Scale Reference in the Piano Roll?  I’ve created a new technique I call Scale References to help me with this. It’s helped my productivity and makes sure the parts I am writing are in the scale I am using.  Here is a video walk through of the technique:

You can grab the Scale Reference Live Pack or follow these steps to create your own Scale Reference: (more…)

Sharing your Tracks and Creating Live Packs

Collaborating with your music is amazing experience. It lets you bring new perspectives to your tracks, outsource to other musicians to use their strengths, and it’s just straight up fun as hell. Ableton Live is a great platform to collaborate with, but it takes some knowledge. It’s really frustrating when you get that “Media Files Missing” or  “Missing external Plugin” notification when you open a file. That’s why I made the (aq) Sharing Files PDF.

Here are some example pages from the Free PDF.

 (aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook4(aq) Sharing Live Sets eBook

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