Nine tracks. All hip hop. All instrumental.
Please check out and talk to me about my latest release.
This is me playing out a gnarly synth part in one of my latest tracks. The song is called Daylight Practice.
This is the second synth part.
The full track is here:
Just a post to say I’m still around and have not abandoned this blog.
New posts coming soon, but for now, happy holidays. Here is a song I just finished pertaining to how blessed I am to have good family and friends.
If you are even remotely serious about mixing or sound engineering, you have to know what the Parametric Equalizer. Many would call it man’s best friend in mixing. I’ll go over the basics of frequencies and eq’ing at first and later, I’ll cover the massive impact it can have in making your tracks sound better as well as the most common cases of potential abuse.
Here’s a track where I used the EQ to make space in the mix, allowing every instrument and drum to “shine” in its frequency range.
As per format, I will be discussing in terms of FL Studio 10, which comes equipped with a nice eq of its called, Fruity Parametric EQ 2. Why the number 2 and not 1? Because it has a better graphical interface and it’s easier to see what’s going on as far as which frequencies are strongest.You equip the EQ in the mixer channels and it is an effect that is applied onto a channel and not to a specific instrument. Thus, you can have as many instruments as you want running into that channel and getting the effects of the EQ on it. For starters, here’s a closer look at the interface and design of the Fruity Parametric EQ 2.
A great place to start is to run your instruments through the channel and see it in action. You’ll immediately see the pink columns start to appear. These are the frequencies the instrument or drum track hits. This in the image is a cello, so it is populating the mid-lows and a little bit of the mid range.
What can the EQ do:
1) Boost/ cut certain frequencies of the instruments running through the channel.
Why would I use that:
1) To cut unwanted frequencies of an instrument, especially if those unwanted ones preside in the same range as some of your other principle instruments.
2) To boost an instrument in a frequency range that would help it stand better in the mix, or just sound better in general.
How to use it:
1) Increase a band, which is indicated by the numbers in the circles, to boost in a certain region. Ex: The image shows increasing the 6 band in 3000 Hz region to make the cello have more of a presence in the upper register.
2) Decrease a band to cut. Easy as that!
tips on using it WELL:
1) Keep your ear really tuned in to see how it affects the track as you adjust the bands.
2) Cut the areas that a particular instrument doesn’t need to have like the bass end of a lead synth, or high harmonics of a bass guitar.
3) So by cut, I don’t mean roll off. Roll off is a term used to mean entirely remove. In the mastering process, rolling off is extremely imp0rtant.
4) When you boost, make sure you use it judiciously because too much boosting (above 10% in a given band) will give you a pretty bad sound that is hard to recognize for novices.
5) In general, good EQ-ers cut more than they boost. And great EQ-ers make their changes to be very precise and don’t dump it on every track unless absolutely necessary.
6) Keep your eye on the volume levels. This goes back to my Loudness War post. Cutting and boosting will affect the overall volume of a track so make sure to mix your levels accordingly.
Wrapping up, the Parametric EQ is a simple tool to use if you get the fundamentals down and it has tremendous power in controlling the clarity and quality of your overall sound. Good luck using it and feel free to ask specific questions.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the Loudness War. If you don’t know what it is, it is the complaint that music nowadays is too “loud” which in technical terms is the lack of dynamic range. When a song has little dynamic range, it is harder to distinguish loud versus quiet sounds. I don’t really want to write out the full history of this topic but the idea is that digital music has been losing dynamic range since the ’90s or in other words, getting “louder.” Check out the Wikipedia page here at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loudness_war
And here is a Youtube videofor an audio demo:
For a lot of you reading this, you are already well-informed about the Loudness War and you know how it affects every genre in modern music. Hip hop in particular is affected severely by labels requiring music to be “loud.” Hip hop is a very radio and club driven genre which requires the a song to be “loud” for it to grab the listener’s attention. The current situation is that if a song doesn’t match the excessive loudness of all the other songs being played in a club or radio mix then people will quickly turn their heads away. However, I believe this entire “war” has a silver lining for hip hop production.
This whole debate can be very useful for producers and engineers because it can enhance the number one factor that any artist, DJ or listener is looking for, “bounce.” This bounce in particular comes from the drums. The video above shows how the drums are surprisingly crisp and strong in older recordings which were not mastered for maximum loudness. I honestly believe all producers can get banging beats, if they just lowered the levels of their other instruments and kept the drums with high levels in their mix. So when it’s turned up to the desired volume, the drums simply pop when they hit the eardrum.
Here is an example where I made a lot of headroom for the drums and gave the instruments the dynamic range they needed.
Here a couple of helpful tips on how to use the Loudness War principles to your advantage.
1) Go to the Master Channel in your Mixer, and go to the settings for the Fruity Limiter at the bottom.
2) Set the Gain (Purple knob on the left) to 0 dB which should be the 12 o’clock position. In some default setting, there is Gain turned up to a couple dB because Image-Line decided that it was automatically going to help make songs “louder.”
3) Just because one of the settings here was screwed up doesn’t make the Limiter our enemy. Don’t disable the effect on the Master Channel. The Limiter is one of the best friends a producer has.
4) My volume recommendations for a banging mix:
I’ve always known about the Loudness War but most of my previous mixes are rather “loud,” but my plan is from the posted track onwards I want to make the drums really stand out, which you can only do by making the other things quieter.
Today, I’ll be going into some detail on how to sync up a different sequencer with the one in your DAW and how to record it seamlessly. To illustrate this, I’ll discuss syncing up a Yamaha Motif XF6 with my DAW, FL Studio 10. The basic idea behind MIDI Clock Syncing is to have all the sequencers lined up to one master clock so that when you hit play both the sequencers are playing to the same clock and tempo at the same EXACT time. The master sequencer is obviously the master and the other sequencers tethered to the system are slaved sequencers. The terminology used is kinda iffy but it is what it is. Once all the sequencers are on the same clock (which is the master’s clock which in this case is our DAW’s), then hitting the record and play button should have the DAW recording at the same time the external sequencers start playing with no gaps or delays.
I felt the need to cover this because before I learned how to do MIDI Clock Syncing, I would individually record instruments and then cut them up at their starting and ending points and would have to place them precisely within the sequencer of my DAW. I screwed up a whole bunch and it wasted a lot of my time. If you’re one of those that still does this, you’ll greatly benefit from this technique.
Here is a track where I made heavy use of the MIDI Clock Sync and you can hear how precise the starts are:
Tutorial on MIDI Clock Syncing
1. Make sure you’re connected with MIDI. I connected my XF6 with USB MIDI which is just a simple USB 2.0 cable running from the back of my workstation to my computer.
2. Go to the MIDI Settings. In FL Studio, it is located under Options in the top bar as the first selection from the top.You should see this window, which is where all the magic happens.
3. There is a lot of stuff going on here but the important parts of this window are the white option boxes and the Enable keys directly under them on the left side.
4. For all these options to appear in the white boxes, the MIDI and control settings must properly be set in your external sequencer’s MIDI options. In the XF6, they are located under Utility>Control>MIDI. Here is where you decide what channels and ports to use.
5. In the top box, I would leave everything at Channel/ Port 1 unless you really want to record multiple sequencers simultaneously. Make sure to set Synchronization Type to MIDI Clock and check the box for Send Master Sync.
6. The Motif is a slightly complicated because it is both an external sequencer (in Pattern and Song modes) and a MIDI controller, if connected through the USB MIDI connection. This means I not only have the option of controlling it from my DAW but I also have the option of controlling my DAW through it’s keys and interface. Any comparable workstation (Roland Fantom, Korg Triton etc.) should present itself in a similar fashion, if configured correctly.
7. Try hitting Play in the DAW now. It should start up your external sequencer and you should hear the music being played from it, if you’re audio cables are all connected. (Your audio connection should be all hooked up, but I go over it in Step 9 just in case.) If it doesn’t start playing, don’t panic. Save your work in your DAW and just restart the application on your computer. Sometimes it takes a restart to send the Master Sync clock signal to the external sequencer.
8. Here is the sort of complicated part. You still have to set it up to record correctly into your Playlist. It’s a series of easy but important steps.
9. You basically need to do everything as shown.
10. This should give you a crisp recording with the correct start and end.
A couple of helpful tips
Well that’s it for now. If you have any questions or anything to add, feel free to send me a message or post a comment below.
Here is a heavy rock-n-roll inspired hip hop instrumental.
But what makes this identifiably hip-hop? The drums. They hit hard and loud so you know it’s a banging beat. It’s difficult to bring out the drums in a loaded track such as this one because all the instruments have to be amped and heavy to get the desired feel. The most important trick in doing this is sidechain compression. The idea behind sidechain compression is simple: lower the level of a competing instrument precisely at the right time the desired one peak, which in this case is our drums. I’m going to talk slightly in depth of how to do this for the kick drum by ducking the bassline because this is one of the most common/ effective uses of sidechain compression. If you don’t already know, I work primarily in FL Studio 10 and I’ll illustrate all my examples in that DAW specifically. All my tutorials are going to be for the intermediate/ advanced user. However, I’ll be more than happy to answer any beginner level questions.
Sidechain Compression 101
1) Open up a Fruity Peak Controller on the mixer channel for you Kick Drum.
2) Go to the Volume Slider on the mixer channel for your bassline and right-click the slider.
3) In the list, identify “Link to Controller” and click it to open up a new window.
4) Go to the option of Internal Controller.
5) The only thing you want to affect the volume of the bassline is the peak of the Kick, not the LFO or anything else. So, just leave the option to be “Peak Control Kick- Peak” or something that reads to that effect.
6) You can start playing the Kick pattern to see how it affects the volume. You’ll immediately notice it’s doing the opposite effect, where the volume of the bassline increases when the kick drum peaks.
7) To correct this and get the desired effect, go to the same Link Controller window and click the option arrow by the Mapping Formula box and choose Inverted. This does the trick.
8) Now tweak away to perfection. This is something I can’t precisely guide you with because this is where you fool around the Fruity Peak Controller settings to get the right sound YOU WANT. In the peak settings, fiddle with Volume, Base, and Tension dials. Here’s some tips
Note that this type of compression is super handy not only in hip hop but also plays a big role in all the electronic genres. House music uses sidechain compression like none other and the clubs wouldn’t be roaring if the kick wasn’t highlighted through sidechain compression.
Enjoy blasting away your subs with this neat trick and feel free to ask any questions. For my future posts, you guys can help me decide on how much detail I need to go into. Until then, cheers!
Just fired up a blog to post some useful stuff. I’ll be posting my music of course but I’ll also be posting some of the techniques I use in music productions, nifty tips to make your producing life easier and even some in-depth how-to guides. The scheme I had in mind was to post a track I made and a little crash course into one of the techniques I used in making that track. It’ll cover mostly stuff related to mixing/ mastering, sound editing, VSTs, musical gear and other stuffs related to digital music production.
For all of my music, visit my Bandcamp at http://warlordproductions.bandcamp.com/s
Feel free to ask any questions, comments, whatever to email@example.com
Of course, leave comments on what you’d like to see covered and went over as well.