When I write articles and make tutorials, I want to really focus on being process oriented. For me, mixing isn't about techniques and signal chains, but about a thought process. I decide what I want and then use techniques or experiments to get that result. My growth as an engineer doesn't come from building a catalogue of techniques, it comes from broadening my musical awareness and refining my sense of feel and emotion. In the ever-forward quest of getting folks to think about music, I'd like to re-exam parallel processing. Parallel processing on its most literal level means making a... more

Having finally launched The Producer’s Guide to Workflow & Creativity, I’m out of the trenches and eager to get back to a regular posting schedule. So, what better way to kick things off than a post about drums? Drums are, as you should already know, the backbone of any dance track. They make up most of the groove along with the bassline, which is why they need careful attention when you’re making your track. Note: If you want to learn more about drums, why they’re so important, and how to program them, check out this post. A lot of producers settle for simple drum sequences. They’ll... more

Historically, one of the most infamous problems producers faced when it came to using samplers and sequencers was what I call the "machine gun effect". This effect results from the repeated triggering of the same sample or drum sound, producing a rigid, lifeless and robotic quality, which is a far cry from the expressive, intuitive playing of real musicians. Modern samplers often come equipped with tools to combat this but the machine gun effect still somehow manages to plague a portion of the electronic music made today - cast those worries asunder however, because today our man in the... more

Any producer who has sat down with a sampler and tried to programme a groove knows how tricky it is to create satisfying hi hat patterns. The first approach attempted by many a novice producer, simply drawing in some sixteenth notes and hoping for the best, typically results in the kind of stale, mechanical patterns decried by all lovers of truly expressive electronic music. Now, in certain musical contexts the mechanical impression arising from the repetition of exactly the same sound can work very well, such as with the rolling hi hat patterns heard in Trap beats. In a great many other... more

Vocal samples are some of the most versatile sounds to work with. They can be easily cut, stretched, and transposed to fit just about any genre or style. As a primer, listen to Burial and J Dilla, two masters of vocal sampling. It’s a small, but fun challenge to edit vocal samples so they don’t sound anything like lyrics or their source material. In general, using sounds as they weren’t intended to be used brings a lot of satisfaction, especially when their application is common. In this article, I’ll show you three unconventional ways to use vocal samples in your music. I’ll be using this... more

In the UK, the past year’s dance–music charts have been dominated by deep house. While genre labels are always divisive, nowhere more so than in the fractious, tribal world of electronic music, deep house can be broadly understood as a more lush and soulful take on house music, that enduringly popular, four–to–the–floor club staple. With self–consciously retro drum and synth sounds and expressive, soul and R&B–inflected vocals, deep house harks back to the early 1990s, when house music first took hold of the UK charts. For Hal Ritson, the ascent of the genre can be understood as a... more

While today's popular digital audio workstations like Ableton, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools come equipped with MIDI instruments galore, most beat producers still prefer to use samples. MIDI instruments have their place, but they can often feel too digital and computerized, whereas samples capture the warmth of high-quality, classic recordings. Collecting and altering samples can be a complex process at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's fun, explorative, and rewarding. Here are a few ways to find and use samples in your music.

In dark techno, I will frequently hear (usually "side-chained" to pump on eighth notes in between kick) like a really noise low end rumble. Almost like putting a kick drum through reverb, where the bass/sub region would normally make the mix all muddy.. but then using that for the bass... If anyone knows what I'm talkin about, aside from the strategy I've mentioned, what kind of things do others do for that. Since the kick plays with it normally, it's hard to tell what it exactly is. Sidechained kick reverb. Thats it !!!!! well... but, what I'm thinkin of is a lot lower in pitch... so the... more

Tips for equalization. By frequency, by instrument with a glossary.

My goal with this set of articles is to share a few traditional percussion rhythms and techniques that can be applied to the drumset. This first installment is dedicated to the tumbadora, aka conga drum. We will explore variations of the Afro-Cuban rhythms pilón, batunbatá, 6 8 guiro, and changui. Let the fun begin Pilón Cuban singer Pacho Alonso popularized this style in the late '60s with songs such as Rico Pilón and El Upa Upa, which were written in collaboration with composer Enrique Bonne. This style is a combination of dance steps, rhythms, and lyrics. For the purpose of this article... more