Today and yesterday were a big split between office work that needed to be done and finding some hours to go to the studio and work on the music.
Anyways, I started to arrange the first track and since I always feel that I’m not that good in arranging I was googling (is this a real word) around to find different approaches to arranging a track. I ended up with this excellent read. I can also highly recommend all the other articles of the Modern Approaches series on Red Bull Music Academy…there are some really interesting ideas in them.
I don’t know how you guys approach arranging and if you separate your processes in different stages like writing, arranging, mixing…? For me this never really worked because I need to hear the elements like they should be to arrange them or to write with them. That’s why I always mix during the writing and arranging phase too. Actually it already starts a bit earlier with selecting the sounds. The better you select the sounds the less you have to mix later.
And since we’re already on the topic…Konrad who’s following my notes here asked how I approach mixing the low end. If you ask me, one of the important points of mixing is to ask yourself what are the functions of your elements in your track.
When it comes to the low end we speak about a kick, maybe a sub if it’s not already somehow combined with the kick and we’re talking about a bassline.
Are we also talking about a club track? Yes! Allright then, the kick is the most important element of your track. That means everything else has to make room for the kick.
The next question to ask, what’s the element you want to have the most low end? In my case most of the times that’s also the kick because I like them FAT, with a lot of dirt and balls.
That means sub and bass have to make room frequency-wise for the kick and probably also pattern-wise. So I cut the low end of the bassline, play around with the frequency but you’d be surprised how high you can go with it. I mostly cut the bassline somewhere around 90-140Hz (depends on the key actually). If you don’t like cutting, be less drastic and use a low shelf. I always side chain the bassline. Sometimes also for aesthetical reasons, sometimes just to make room for the kick. Since I’m a lazy guy and setting up a side chain in Cubase takes some time, I’m using a plugin called VolumeShaper from Cableguys. The cool thing here is that I can draw in the volume curve and don’t have to fiddle around with a trigger track and the settings of a compressor.
Besides, VolumeShaper allows me to have 3 different volume curves for 3 different frequency bands. That comes in very handy if you don’t want to change the overall envelope of your bass sound (or different) and just want to make room in the low end for the kick.
Then you simply just activate the lower band and “side chain” that part that is fighting with your kick and tataaaa…the low end is more tidy and your bass still sounds the same.
That’s just a start but you’re half way through it with that little thing…for more about how to EQ kick and drum, check the video below for example. Also a good resource for everything about mixing etc is Dave Pensado’s amazingly good YT channel.
That’s just my way to approach this, I’m sure there are better ones out there…Youtube is full of good tutorials how to handle this.
As always…discuss, ask questions, give it a try and whatnot…