Monday, May 4, 2009


There's no point in having a blog if I never use it. Why discover new tricks and techniques and not discuss them - even if I'm the only one to read this? Repitition fosters learning, plus I can look up information I may lose in a torrent of bookmarks. My lastest sources for music techniques have been Nhomas' Guide To Mixing, RavenSpiral's Guide To Music Theory, and Sound On Sound's Synth Secrets. I've been pouring over all three of them and devouring the content inside.

Nhomas is a member of IDM forums and released a guide to mixing a few months ago. There's a wealth of knowledge in there. A lot of it I'll read but won't necessarily understand what to do with it until I see it in action at a later date.

Robert Babicz about mastering audio from David Star on Vimeo.

Today I stumbled upon this post talking about Rob Babicz's (aka Rob Acid) mastering process [video link] and some of his techniques. Apart from using one hell of a spring reverb he uses chains of compressors to develop his sound. One technique he talked about was something I had read earlier in the mixing guide but didn't grasp, parallel compression.

Parallel compression [video link] is pretty much just what it sounds like. You have a dry signal going to your master bus, but also to a send with a compressor on it. This compressor can be anything from a short attack/decay with massive gain and threashold for drums (so called 'New York Compression'), to a long attack, short decay and wicked compression for a pumping/throbbing sound. I tried both of these, putting my drum send to the NY Compression send and my bass to the 'throbbing' send. The bass really stood out in the mix and the drums had a nice decay once sent through the compressor. The beauty is being able to mix in the results to your taste. Most of the applications I found in parallel compression call for a low mix of compression with a high mix of dry signal, and it's a solid technique - one I think everyone should at least experiment with.

Sound on Sound's Synth Secrets is just that - a guide to getting the most out of synthesis. I'm only on part 10 (out of, what, 40?) and I've only touched the basics. I already knew a great deal about synthesis, but these are great articles with amazing information. It's very easy to read and I've already picked up a bunch of tips I wouldn't have discovered otherwise.

As for RavelSpiral's Guide To Music Theory, well, I have none of that. It's 93 pages of scales, chords, modes, etc. Most of the things you'd expect to find in a guide like this. The great thing? It's easy to read, free, and focused on electronic music. You'll learn that the blues scale is great for jazz bass (a given for the name, but something I never even knew about) and with the wholetone scale you can easily write fantastic acid lines. Not to mention it's full of wit and humor directed at the electronic scene (Drum & Bass jokes abound!).

So that's what I've been up to. I also have a new track I'm working on that I'm going to enter into GAME 5. The last few tracks have fallen short, but this one is turning into something special. I know I've said that before, but I really, truly dig this track. Once this track is completed I think my music will take me someplace more serene. I've been hit hard with inspiration via Boards Of Canada, and I can't wait to tackle a nice warm, silky, crackly, BoC-type track soon. I already have a vocal snippet I plan to eradicate for this project.

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