Music Production Articles

Welcome back to another Tutorial about Propellerhead Reason. Today we'll be looking at ways we can create an ambient pad or ambient drone. While I have touched this subject on different occasions I would like to go through a linear approach while building a layered pad and talk you through the basic ideas and thoughts about why I am doing this. Others may have a different opinion on the subject because an ambient pad can be created in many different ways. Hence I am choosing a linear direction on this approach so have some ideas to either create one for yourself or learn different methods... more

One of the hardest parts of being a producer is taking a song from start to finish. You may have put together a great loop with an infectious beat and a top notch bassline. You listen to this loop over and over, perfecting every detail until it's just right. And then it hits you. Your idea is so good that you don't know how to follow up by building a track around it. We've all been there. Turning a rough idea into a full fledged song is no easy task, and a lot of great loops never become anything more because of this. But there's no reason why good ideas should go to waste In this article... more

When I was asked to provide tips for mixing EDM, I decided to interview a colleague of mine who knows the music better than I ever could. My areas of expertise include jazz, classical, indie, rock, pop, funk, and post-production sound design, but they decidedly exclude electronic dance music I've mixed the occasional dubstep break in a pop track back when that was a thing---remember 2008, but that's about it. Andrew Eisele, on the other hand, brings over twenty years of experience to the table. A former teacher at Full Sail, Andrew not only worked with premier acts in the house, techno,... more

I was taught these EQ “rules of thumb” when I first started out as a trainee, to help learn the art of mixing – each EQ band influences different qualities of a mix or instrument, and I thought you might find it useful if I shared them. Later in the post I’ve also embedded another great video by Joe Gilder. Like the one in my using compression post recently, it gives an excellent introduction to the different EQ settings and parameters, plus some great real-world examples of using EQ in Pro Tools, although the ideas are applicable to any DAW. Before we get to the tweaks, I want to stress... more

You don’t have to play synths or ‘real’ instruments to make music: embrace the experimental, and you could use almost anything... I’ve produced tracks in many different genres over the years, but when making my own music one of my favourite styles is what I call ‘ambient’. Being honest, I don’t know if that’s the perfect description for what I make — ‘ambient’ can mean different things to different people. But online distribution forces me to put my music into a category, and while there are elements of chillout and electronica in my music, it doesn’t fit those genres neatly, and neither... more

The Scottish duo of Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin known as Boards of Canada is one of the most influential production teams in electronic music history. The sounds they conjure from their synthesizers and samplers are nothing if not evocative of half-remembered childhoods, warbly analog recording mediums, reality-bending psychedelic experiences, and so on. Their now-classic debut, Music Has the Right to Children, contrasted starkly with the clinical, busy, and hyped sounds of 1990s techno. In retrospect, whole genres such as chillwave and lo-fi rap would sound vastly different without... more

When I first started mixing, I made all of these mistakes. It took me years to learn these lessons. So I'm sharing them with you so you can make radio-ready mixes much faster These mistakes can spell disaster for your mix. If you want clear, professional-sounding reverb, make sure you're avoiding these problems. The following screenshots were taken in Logic Pro. To learn the ins and outs of this DAW, as well as tips and strategies for tightening your workflow and expanding your production and mixing skills, check out Soundfly's online mentored course, Intro to Making Music in Logic Pro X.... more

There are a number of occasions in which it's beneficial, or even necessary, to create audio stems for your song. But while one might assume that it's as simple as bouncing and exporting all of the tracks that make up your song into individual WAVs and calling it a day, there's actually a subtle art to deciding how you're going to divide it all up. So let's explore some ways of dividing a song into different pieces and learn to appreciate the art of creating stems. What is an audio stem An audio stem is a full song-length audio file that contains an isolated element, or group of elements,... more

This NI Massive tutorial will show you one way to make a seriously wicked distortion bass synth riser that is going to add some incredible power and excitement to your projects! It is often a struggle for electronic music producers to incorporate distorted electric guitar elements into their music when they primarily use synths to design all of their sounds and depend upon sample for the rest. Well, luckily Massive makes it unbelievably easy to create some awesome sounds in this and they always do well with further processing once they are taken into your DAW. So be sure to play around... more

Massive is an extremely flexible synth and is capable of producing classic and cutting-edge sounds. In this article we’ll take a look at a classic sample and hold style patch pushed to the limit using Massive’s awesome modulation system and effects processors. I am completing this using the latest version of Massive as an Audio Unit from within Logic Pro 9 but you could follow this using any DAW. As long as you are using the most recent version of Massive, your brain and your ears... you should be good to go! Picking Some Oscillators In all honesty you could use just about any combination... more

Many compressor plugins out there including the ones from Sknote like SDC, Disto, STA-Limit, etc. have got them, and most of us have already seen or even used them Sidechain high pass filters. Especially when working with bass heavy material or sub-mixes the sidechain high pass filter of a compressor can do wonders in terms of consistency and transparency. But why is that so Isn't the purpose of a compressor to bring the audio material closer together particularly when the effect has been put on a group or master channel How would this be meant to work if one actually excludes a part of... more

Bounce in place might not sound like a sexy feature for a DAW. But G.W Childs shows how much this feature can improve and influence your production workflow in Propellerhead Reason. Reason 9 has been out for a few months now, and we’re all starting to get nice and comfy with the new features. One particular feature I’m really into is the Bounce in Place feature for both Audio, and MIDI. In this tutorial, I’d like to go over some of my uses for not just audio, or MIDI. But, the bounce menu, in general! What’s the Big Deal? First, we should talk just a little bit about why Bounce In Place... more

Recently I have been putting together quite a few downtempo, trip hop style beats for various projects and I thought it might be useful for me to share the basic process I use to get things started. Be aware this is just the foundation for a beat and only one way of doing it, styles and technique will vary massively from project to project ... but I figured some of you may find the techniques used here useful. I have used Cubase with stock plug-ins and instruments here but the techniques could easily be ported to any other DAW. Step 1 Load a Groove Agent One and Create a Basic Pattern Ok,... more

Reaper 5 brought us a bunch of new tools, including the long-awaited VCA faders. Mike Senior touched on these when he outlined a cool relative-trim automation technique back in SOS May 2016., but I’ve noticed more than a few users who remain confused about how VCAs fit into Reaper’s existing schemes for grouping and summing tracks. So this month, I’ll take you through Reaper’s various means of summing and controlling groups of tracks, and explain how VCA faders fit into that broader picture. Busses, subgroups, auxiliary channels, sub-masters... They go by many names and are set up in... more

Welcome back to another article about Propellerhead Reason. In this article, I want to mainly focus on elements that are the so-called lo-fi sounds, how to create low fidelity or artifacts you can create inside Propellerhead Reason itself. While since Reason 9.5 we have access to VST plugins, there are some plugins that mainly focus on to getting that specific feeling. In terms of default Rack devices, it just comes down to understanding what Lo-Fi is. How it got there in the first place. So we are able to mimic its behaviors. However, there are some default Rack Extensions in Reason (like... more

Psychoacoustics adjective A branch of science dealing with the perception of hearing and sensations produced by sound. As a composer, whenever I create royalty free meditation music or hypnosis music I always take the principles of psychoacoustics into account. Essentially, psychoacoustics is the study of the perception of sound, and the ways in which it affects you mentally, emotionally and even physically. You could think of it as a form of music psychology. The fundamental reason why we enjoy listening to music is because it is mood altering. Music can stimulate or sooth you. It can... more

This basically falls under the heading of psychoacoustics, and with knowledge of a few psychoacoustic principles, there are ways that you can essentially ‘hack’ the hearing system of your listeners to bring them a more powerful, clear and ‘larger than life’ exciting experience of your music. Knowing how the hearing system interprets the sounds we make, we can creatively hijack that system by artifically recreating certain responses it has to particular audio phenomena. Here you’ll also gain some extra insights into how and why certain types of audio processing and effects are so useful,... more

When it comes to a genre like ambient in Propellerhead Reason, we always need to take good of them inside our track. A lot of times ambient tracks are pretty much 'empty' as a whole. In comparison to, lets say, EDM tracks there is much more going on. Ambient tracks are usually about drones and soundscapes. While in a lot of times the bass line can be used as a syncopation for the track itself. They can also be used in different ways to drive the listener nuts at some point, not really realizing what is going on with the track. This is also on of the reasons why an Ambient Bass is pretty... more

Why compress during mastering? Is every compressor a mastering compressor? When is it best to cascade your compressors? Get tips on these questions and more. Like equalization and limiting, compression is an important part of mastering. It’s a great way to add punch to your mix as well as a sense of overall control. Used correctly, compression can make your recordings sound richer and more energetic, plus it can help ensure that the various sections of your song flow well into one another. Perhaps most importantly, compression can act as the “glue” that ties all the sonic elements... more

It's very important to understand what mixing actually is. At the very core, it can be boiled down to a simple concept making your song sound good... However, this basic and simple explanation is easily confused with the practice of mastering - a very different topic covered in the next article in this series. To expand on this rudimentary definition of mixing, we can break the topic into five categories Chapter 1 Organization of a mix session Chapter 2 Solo processing of individual channels in your mix Chapter 3 Creative processing of your mix elements Chapter 4 Group processing of... more