In this tutorial, I cover what a compressor is, what it does and how to use it. I show how it can be used to shape the dynamics on bass, pads, percussion and leads.

I also demonstrate an advanced method of shaping percussion called "Parallel Compression." Finally I look at sidechaining, and various creative ways you can use this.


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This is Part Three of a Three part series of tutorial videos in Track Construction.

In this series I demonstrate how I would approach writing a chill/dub track from scratch.

I cover such topics as Sound Design, Section Construction, Arranging and Mixing, and use only Ableton Live native instruments.


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So I've been thinking recently about the fundamental elements that a track needs, in order to make it exciting and exceptional!

Of course this is a subjective topic, but this Is what I've figured out through years of writing and listening to music.

I've tried hard to keep these elements non specific to any specific genre.

Also, these elements Im talking about, are more aimed on a deeper, subliminal sense. Elements that you don't hear and think about, but more that, you feel. They generate excitement and emotions automaticlly, and MAKE you like it!

Here we go..

1) Phat Bass

Tight and phat bass really generates a deep drive. You feel it in you gut and it makes you move! This can be one of the most challenging aspects of writing music and mixing. The bass you create needs to be tight, solid and clear. Appropriate EQ and Compression can help a great deal toward this, but the first and foremost aspect of good bass is the source of the bass. Some synthesizers have it and some just don't. But, where possible, hardware synths definitely seem to do the job best,

2) Interesting and Appropriate High end

Soaring, gliding and sparkling high end can generate alot of excitment in music. Ever noticed in a big build how the high content builds and rises? Ever noticed how Hooks usually have the most high end? How does it feel when you hear this in music? The fact is, less high end makes a section or track sound mellow, and a good amount of high end, makes your put your hands in the air, and yell! Use it appropriately though. A hook should be the most exciting part, so should contain the most. Establish a groove, build it up and hit it. Create waves of excitement so your listeners can ride it. Be carefull though. Too much, will result in hands on ears!

3) Musical and Emotional Chord Progressions

This is the part where your listners feel your music, your expressions. Write chords that pluck on the emotional strings, and resonate with your listners, and they'll be coming back for more and more of those good feelings your giving them. Take em on a journey, but generally, at the end, leave them resolved and rested.

4) A Groovy Rhythmical Section

Now this is how you make em move! You want to write music that makes people tap their feet, stand up and wiggle, without even thinking about it.

All elements in you sections should interlink on this one. That synth stab, percussion, leads and licks, all work together toward and over all groovy feel.

5) Overall Presentation of the Track.

So all this is great so far, but with out this last point, it can all turn to mush.

The sounds and ideas you use, need to be interesting and origional. Put your own slant on everything, don't just regurgitate the norms. If the sounds you use sound too cliche, work on them, change them a bit.

The movements between sections need to be lucid, fluid, sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected. If a movement sounds too expected, make it unexpected, if a movement sounds too unexpected and sudden, make it expected.

Everything you use must slot together, all feeling and sounding natural together. Everything inhabits the same space your creating, and everything needs its own space in the audio environment. This starts with the sounds and sound sources you use, and ends with appropriate EQ and Compression. I like to try fill up the audio spectrum, 20Hz to 20kHz. Each element filling its gap, but not overstepping its bounds.

Lastly, keep the energy up through out. If a bit sounds boring, and energy drops where you don't want it to, you may need to full the gap.

Even if you get everything else right, without this last point, you track may still sound boring and clunky.

Well there ya have it.

I hope these Ideas help! If anyone else has any ideas or comments they'd like to shear, pleeeese do!


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Here's mix recorded on Christchurch NZ's bnet FM station RDU 98.5fm, a show by Simon Kong called Radio909, in reminiscent of the late great 909kick, and, a rocket.. which NZ recently sent into outer space.

House/Deep House, Disco Tech, Deep Dubstep, totaly groovy.

Check it..

Direct Download of the mp3 is available at the link


Just in case.


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