I was looking through my archives today and found this video I made for a student of mine. They wanted to know how making a drum rack more efficiently. I’ve been building custom instruments for myself, commissioned by musicians, and for members of this site. Along the way I have learned all sorts of tricks and tips. Watch the video below to see ways you can start building your own drum racks.
One of my favorite things about electronic mixing and Ableton is the power of effects. I can morph a sound into unimaginably different new sounds with effect processing. You can layer effects and change a simple sine wave into a complex sound with pulsing auto filter, unique chorusing, and undulating phasing. A big change in my sound design has been learning a new technique called Parallel Processing. This opened even new dimensions to my sound design.
So to start, let’s define what Parallel Processing is and Serial Processing.
If you have a sample and you add an effect in Ableton, you start by processing in Serial. You can add a Chorus, then a delay, a reverb, you name it. What is happening is the sound is being processed in a series, or one after another. The sound goes through the chorus, and then it goes into the delay and so on. That is, a linear, or right to left way of processing the sound. This is Serial Processing.
There is another way of processing and that is Parallel Processing. Parallel Processing lets you take a sound and separate it to multiple new chains. Each chain, then processes the signal separately and at the end, it all comes back together. This approach lets you do all sorts of new creative things. You can separate a sound to different frequency ranges. You can then add different effects to different frequencies. Or you can do all sorts of new creative effects.
We can easily do this in Ableton Live by adding an Audio Effect Rack. An Audio Effect Rack lets us add new chains. Each Chain can process the same original sound differently.
The video below will show off the basics of Parallel Compression and then some more advance techniques in using it.
Enjoy using the Presets. Parallel processing opens up a whole lot of new possibilities. If you have ways you like to use this technique, please comment below.
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:
Collaborating with your music is such an 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.
An amazing part about being human is our aptitude for willpower, intelligence, and consciousness. It lets us take abstract ideas, like music, and create such wonder. Sometimes we get lost in our own self importance, our ego. One of the first things you’re going to have to learn as a Mixing engineer is to get over yourself. It’s no longer about how good that guitar solo was, or how fantastic that synth bass is. You have to look at it objectively.
Something that helps us reach that objective is referenced. The way the ear and mind works is it adjust over time. We also get this thing called ear fatigue. If we listen to the same thing over and over, it has a different impact than when we first put it on. Over time we don’t want it so bright because we perceive it differently.
Because of this we must always understand our references and out reference points. (more…)
An important part of any mix is the Low End. Getting that sounding solid, having a punch to it, and bring out a lush bassline is the key to an epic track. Mixing all the Bass Elements is also one of the hardest things to do. The first key in understanding the low end of your track is to understand there is more than one layer to your bass.
There are multiple layers and frequencies that make up a good bass. The way they flow together and interact with your other elements is what will make the bass truly punch through, or be a murky mess. A bass can have a click on it, a warm mid range, a synthy top end, or more. In this article I will go over the different parts that make a up the domain of the low end and share some insight on how to wield it in your music.
Here is a chart to show off the 4 Layers of Bass:
There are a lot of DJ’s and performers out there. It can be a monumental task climbing up the endless heights to be known as a performer. One way you can quickly rise above the crowd and get recognition is through bootlegs and remixes. You can take any track and make your own spin on it. By taking popular dance tracks and adding your own spin you can quickly get your sound and vibe out to the world.
I just created a new Bootleg Remix Pack to help speed up the process and wanted to share some techniques and tips I use a lot in remixing.
WHAT IS A BOOTLEG REMIX?
To start, lets define what a Bootleg is.
A Bootleg is one type of remix of a song in which the remixing DJ uses an entire song or samples from a popular song without the explicit permission of the original artist. A bootleg remix generally uses the stereo master track and or accapella of the track.
Compression is a key to controlling the Dynamics of your track. In this article I will be going over the basics of Compression, other resources, and share a collection of Compression Presets I use in production. This will include Parallel compressions, Drum Compressors, and Side Chain Compression Presets.
Wikipedia explains compression as:
Dynamic range compression or simply compression reduces the volume of loud sounds or amplifies quiet sounds by narrowing or “compressing” an audio signal’s dynamic range. Compression is commonly used in sound recording and reproduction and broadcasting and on instrument amplifiers. Audio compression reduces loud sounds over a certain threshold while quiet sounds remain unaffected. The dedicated electronic hardware unit or audio software used to apply compression is called a compressor. Compressors often have attack and release controls that vary the rate at which compression is applied and smooth the effect.
Compression is a tool that lets us tighten the gap between the loudest and quietest parts of an audio signal. Most compressors have pretty much have these same basic controls:
1. Threshold sets the level when the compression starts. If the peak of the sound is under the threshold, then nothing happens to it. If it is above the threshold amount it then becomes compressed.
2. Ratio sets the degree of compression above the threshold level. A ratio of 2:1 represents mild compression and means that when the incoming level (that is, the level above the threshold) rises by 10dB, the outgoing level will only rise by 5dB. The different ratios let you decide how obvious, and how much the compression is happening to the signal.
3. Attack is measured in milliseconds and sets the time taken for the compressor to start working once the signal has passed the threshold. For drum parts like snares and hi hats you will want some attack to come through. Other things like Sidechain compression you might want a slow attack to give it a pumping sound.
4. Release sets the length of time it takes for the compressor to return to its normal state once the signal has gone back below the threshold.
5. Gain lets you raise or lower the final output sound. Sometimes in compressing you make the sound much louder and it will clip. You can turn down the signal with the Gain Knob.
To continue with this whole theme of Time Management, I want to dive into techniques in Ableton live for fast songwriting. These tips and tricks will help you stay creative, bust out songs, and feel confident in how you are spending your time.
If you are not using Ableton Live or, what to read the article on taking your time, it will look at the bigger picture of how artists can better manage their time.
1. Good Old File Management
Nothing says “I am an artist” like spending a day going through your files. Every successful musician I know is ruthlessly efficient with their sample library. We each have our own way of managing our files as well. Here is what I do with my Sample Library: