Chopping When Producing

ableton_live_chopping.pngWhen I was working on a dance track yesterday, it seems a lot of time I spent chopping out things. Either removing track material, or even going on and taking out slices of the track to minimize the amount of energy going in.

Most of us that produce — at least me — we hear a lot of the material as we know each part. But for a listener, they could get just overwhelmed. In general, a typical listener could keep track of up to three things in their mind. Any more musical overtures happening, and it becomes mush in their ears. So that’s something to be careful about.

The other issue is the amount of energy going on at the same time. In dance music, the kick (and bass) is the most important sections. If the kick is drowned in material coming in at the same time in the 1/4 and 3/4 beats, the total effect could become very mushy, especially if you have compressors and other tools operating at the other end. One classical trick to avoid the kick to be drowned is to either let the kick be the only entry in the places where it’s heard. In other words, cut out anything else happening at those beats, bass, pads, effects…

The other trick is to side-chain a compressor so that when the kick comes in, it will drive the other tracks, so those are muted. This is that pumping sound that is in and out of fashion from time to time. It seems to always be a crowd-pleaser, though…

The thing I was actually working on was to take material, and slice it here and there, deliberately. So each part had a chance to be heard. This is where the volume envelopes in Ableton Live are so neat, I could just draw in the places where each track section should not be heard, and puzzle it all together. I was quite fascinating to suddenly hear each section have a saying along the timeline!

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