Joined: 14 Aug 2006
|Posted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 10:44 pm Post subject: Helpful tips for composers...
|Ok, I've decided to give away some of my basic techniques to help any songwriters that need help or those who want to get better. Print this up and keep it handy:
1) If a phrase repeats, make at least one occurance of the phrase different from the rest. This goes for small (ex: 4 second) phrases as well as large phrases (ex: 30 seconds). The keeps the material diverse and adds dimension.
2) Melodic phrases should be a changing mixture between rising and falling tones and sometimes tones that stay the same. This serves to break up monotony and predictability.
3) Only certain instruments should have reverb (if you choose to use reverb at all). This helps to preserve a sense of foreground and background. The same applies to delay.
4) It's okay to use more than one kick drum and snare drum simultaneously. This can make it seem like the drums are sometimes accented.
5) Multiple instruments should play in different octaves. Each instrument is audible and not interfered with by others this way.
6) Mix different styles of music together. It doesn't matter which genre you predominantly play in; mixing genres of melodies, rhythms, and harmonies will keep your material fresher than it otherwise would be. (You don't have to worry about things sounding silly because as long as the parts are on beat and in the same key, it will sound like a unified piece).
7) Filter out frequencies below 40 hz on most instruments (if not all). This will get rid of bias distortion and will give you more amplitude headroom. For example, if you EQ cut below 40 hz and you lose 6 dB of amplitude, now you can add 6 dB of EQ at a higher frequency (such as 80 hz) without risk of clipping.
8) Use compression and normalisation on instruments such as voice, kick drum, and bass.
8) Cut off the first few milliseconds of drum sounds to get rid of the transient peaks (which are usually way too high). Some drum sounds will sound cleaner and more accurate that way. After you do that there is usually enough room to boost the signal with EQ or gain.
9) To get a wide sound, use some samples that are 180 degrees out of phase. This is acomplished by taking a stereo sound and inverting the polarity one channel. On a playback system with a surround effect, these type of sounds will be exaggerated to sound more spatious. Don't overuse this kind of sound, because when collapsed to mono (as on some MP3 players) the sound will disappear.
10) Use noise reduction for a noisey soundcard. This could be in the form of a noise reduction VST effect plug in or as a function in an editor such as GoldWave or CoolEdit.
11) Try not to repeat using the same sounds too much. This is hard to do since we want to use only good sounds each time. But the more you can do this, the more unique each song will sound. If you have to rely on certain sounds again and again, process them differently or change their envelopes.
12) Not all changes have to happen at the beginning of a phrase. Some changes can happen in the middle of a phrase. A lot of songs change every 4, 8, or 16 bars every time. While this is good for basic stability, it gets boring and predictable if most instruments are doing this. It can be nice to have a few instruments which change what they are doing in the middle of phrases.
13) Use a few accents or effects only once or twice during a song. If you have something that happens only once or twice in a song, it will sound extremely novel in that song. It helps to keep the song interesting an less predictable if some things never repeat.
14) Test songs on headphones, a small stereo, and a large stereo. If possible, do your recording and mixing on the most accurate of the three. If a song sounds good on all three of those, then it probably doesn't need mastering.
You can hear examples of my techniques at http://SoundClick.com/DeathlessDodecagon