Posted tagged ‘Signal processing’

TCM MASTERING HOME MUSIC STUDIO BLOG: TIPS & INFORMATION

June 11, 2012

TCM Mastering Home Music Studio Blog: Tips and Information

The TCM Mastering Home Music Studio blog series contains essential tips and information for the musician working at home.

It starts with setup at home and gear choices, continues with mic types and techniques and covers recording most of the common (and some not so common) instruments. It also explains the multitrack process including overdubbing, editing, mixing (with the use of signal processing) and mastering, plus a section devoted to MIDI.

Use the links below or the Tags on the right hand side of the page to find what you’re looking for.

Part 56 – Mastering

MIDI Setup For Keyboard And Sequencer.

Part 52 – Intro To MIDI

Part 45 – Mixing Drums

Vocal Split Over Multiple Tracks With Different EQ Settings.

Part 39 – Mixing Vocals

Part 35 – Editing Music

A Basic Multitrack For A Low Budget Setup.

Part 29 – Multitrack Recording

Part 24 – Signal Processing

Using Coffee Filter Papers On Drums And Cymbals.

Part 19 – Recording Drums

Part 11 – Recording Acoustic Stringed Instruments

Tuning Piano To Concert Pitch.

Part 8 – Recording Piano

Part 1 – Your Room

TCM Mastering and TCM Music Group have been offering…

a professional, fast and affordable

service to the music industry for over thirty years, having worked with most of the major record labels. Their clients range from new, up and coming artists to established international musicians.

TCM are also experts in audio restoration and have done work for the BBC and Sky Satellite Radio as well as many smaller independent music houses.

Take a look at some of the clients TCM has worked with recently.

If you’d like more information on what Ted Carfrae and the TCM team can do for you and your music, give us a call or drop us a line. Our contact details can be found by clicking here.

West 1 Entertainment News

Ted and business partner James Baker formed West 1 Entertainment in 2011, to handle artist management and promotion. One act West 1 are particularly proud of is…..

Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act.

Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act is currently touring the UK to packed crowds.

Upcoming tour dates are below.

FRIDAY JUNE 22nd – THE GREEN ROOM, LIVERPOOL
SATURDAY 30th JUNE  – THE CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE
FRIDAY 6th JULY – WOODVILLE HALLS THEATRE – GRAVESEND, KENT
FRIDAY 13th JULY – THE FERRY, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
FRIDAY 20th JULY – WEYMOUTH PAVILION
SATURDAY 21st JULY – FRANKIES, MANCHESTER
SUNDAY 19th AUGUST – TRIBFEST
FRIDAY 24th AUGUST – WEYMOUTH PAVILION
SUNDAY 26th AUGUST – ISLE OF WIGHT

Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act is one hundred per cent live. Along with the musicians and dancers in the band, the act is supported by a professional crew who expertly handle lighting and sound.

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act, is the closest you will ever get to experience Michael Jackson live in concert. For live footage of Ben & The Band performing, click here.

Take a look at the video below of the Band performing ‘The Love You Save’ Live at Glastonbudget 2012…..

Check out the website for more information, by clicking here.

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TCM MASTERING HOME MUSIC STUDIO BLOG: TIPS & INFORMATION

June 4, 2012

TCM Mastering Home Music Studio Blog: Tips and Information

If you’re the owner of a home music studio or are thinking of putting one together, then you’ll find the TCM Mastering Home Music Studio series of blogs essential viewing.

It covers everything from initial startup to final mastering, including the use of various mic techniques, recording, editing and mixing instruments as well as a section dedicated to MIDI.

To find what you’re looking for use the links below or the Tags on the right of the page.

Part 56 – Mastering

Various MIDI Controllers.

Part 52 – Intro To MIDI

Part 45 – Mixing Drums

Part 39 – Mixing Vocals

Logic Piano Roll Editor Window.

Part 35 – Editing Music

Part 29 – Multitrack Recording

Over Compression On The Lower Pair Of Tracks.

Part 24 – Signal Processing

Part 19 – Recording Drums

Two EQ Curves For Acoustic Guitar.

Part 11 – Recording Acoustic Stringed Instruments

Part 8 – Recording Piano

Part 1 – Your Room

TCM Mastering and TCM Music Group, founded and run by multi-platinum music producer Ted Carfrae, have been offering a professional, fast and affordable service to the music community for over thirty years. TCM have worked with most of the major record labels. And their clients range from new, up and coming artists to established international musicians.

It’s also worth mentioning, TCM are experts in audio restoration and have done work for the BBC and Sky Satellite Radio as well as smaller independent music houses.

Take a look at some of the clients TCM has worked with recently.

So if you have a music project that needs recording, production, mixing or mastering services, give us a call or drop us a line.

All of us at TCM are passionate about music in all its various forms and we’re here to help.

Click here for contact details.

West 1 Entertainment News

In 2011, Ted Carfrae formed West 1 Entertainment with business partner James Baker to handle artist management and promotion. One of their acts that continues to stun and excite audiences is…..

Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act.

Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act is currently touring the UK.

Upcoming tour dates are below.

FRIDAY JUNE 22nd – THE GREEN ROOM, LIVERPOOL
SATURDAY 30th JUNE  – THE CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE
FRIDAY 6th JULY – WOODVILLE HALLS THEATRE – GRAVESEND, KENT
FRIDAY 13th JULY – THE FERRY, GLASGOW, SCOTLAND
FRIDAY 20th JULY – WEYMOUTH PAVILION
SATURDAY 21st JULY – FRANKIES, MANCHESTER
SUNDAY 19th AUGUST – TRIBFEST
FRIDAY 24th AUGUST – WEYMOUTH PAVILION
SUNDAY 26th AUGUST – ISLE OF WIGHT

Whereas some tribute acts mime and use backing tracks, Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act is One Hundred Per Cent a totally live experience, comprising a talented band of musicians, dancers and a professional sound and lighting crew.

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, Ben – The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Act, is the closest you will ever get to experience Michael Jackson live in concert.

It’s not just another tribute act, but a sincere and totally professional musical tribute to one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever seen – the incredible Michael Jackson.

Check out the website for more information, by clicking here.

TCM MASTERING HOME MUSIC STUDIO BLOG: TIPS & INFORMATION

May 7, 2012

TCM Mastering Home Music Studio Blog: Tips and Information

The TCM Mastering Home Music Studio series of blogs contains essential information and invaluable tips for the musician who records at home or is thinking of putting together a Home Studio.

Check out the 56 parts. Search for a particular topic by using the tags to the right side of the page, or get started by trying a few of the links below. And if you have any questions get in touch. Contact details are here.

We covered the multitrack process from recording various instruments, overdubbing, editing and mixing right through to final Mastering.

If you’re interested in MIDI start with part 52.

If you want to know what Signal Processing is all about, check out the blogs starting here.

For info on the various microphone types and techniques for recording many of the instruments you’ll encounter in a home studio setting, start by taking a look at this blog.

TCM Mastering and TCM Music Group have been providing

a professional, fast and affordable service

to the music industry for decades.

Click Here To See Recent TCM Clients.

So if you have a music project that needs recording, production, mixing or mastering services, give us a call or drop us a line. And don’t forget, TCM are also experts in audio restoration.

All of us at TCM are passionate about music in all its various forms and we’re here to help.

Click here for the contact details.

TCM MASTERING: HOME MUSIC STUDIO TIPS & INFORMATION

April 23, 2012

TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Tips and Information

For the time being, the TCM Mastering Home Music Studio series has concluded. At some point in the future, we may decide to continue it or put it all together in a book or PDF format and release it.

So, please continue to check out the 56 parts. You can click on some of the links below or use the Tags on the right of the page to find what you want. You’ll find lots of very useful information and tips for the musician and home studio owner.

If you have any questions, please get in touch. At TCM, we’re all passionate about music and always happy to help. Our contact details are here.

We covered the multitrack process from setup, gear choice, recording various instruments, overdubbing, editing and mixing right through to final Mastering.

We looked at various setups for the home studio and considered in some detail the world of MIDI.

If you’re interested in Signal Processing check out the blogs starting here.

For info on mic types and techniques for recording many of the instruments you’ll encounter, start by taking a look at this blog.

TCM have been providing a professional, fast and affordable service to the music industry for decades. So if you have a music project that needs recording, production, mixing or mastering services, give us a call or drop us a line. And don’t forget, TCM are also experts in audio restoration.

All of us at TCM are passionate about music in all its various forms and we’re here to help.

Click here for the contact details.

TCM MASTERING: CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR THE MUSICIAN

December 16, 2011

TCM MASTERING: Christmas Gifts For The Musician

In the run up to Christmas, we thought a few ideas for presents might not be amiss. After all, you can never have enough gear.

Don’t forget to check out e-Bay and local ads for those occasional bargains too.

We’ll restrict our suggestions to smaller presents, the kind you might want to find as stocking fillers.

Stagg Slide Chromatic Harmonica C Major BJH-C48.

For around £40 from Stagebeat in the UK, the Stagg Slide Chromatic Harmonica comes with a hard case.

Shure 520 DX Green Bullet Harmonica Microphone.

The Green Bullet mic tradition for harp blues players is continued and improved with Shure’s 520 DX Harmonica Microphone, from Stagebeat again for around £126.

Boss FBM-1 Fender ’59 Bassman & TU-3 Chromatic Tuner.

The FBM-1 brings the natural fat, rich, bright tone of the Fender Bassman to a Boss pedal for around £109 from Dolphin Music. Also from Dolphin Music the Boss Chromatic Tuner TU-3 costs around £69.

Blue Microphones enCORE 100 & Audio Technica AT2020.

From Sweetwater, USA – the Blue Microphone enCORE 100 handheld dynamic, tuned for vocals, costs around $69.  Or try the Audio Technica AT2020, around $99 – great mic for the price, use it on vocals and acoustic guitars.

Zoom Q3HD.

 The Zoom Q3HD is ideal for recording your band rehearsals, both audio and video. And all for $299. Okay we’re leaving the cheap gear behind for a moment, but this unit is a great piece of kit. I wouldn’t mind one of these myself. Click here for more info.

M-Audio UNO MIDI USB Interface.

If you’re putting together a basic MIDI setup the M-Audio UNO USB interface could be just what you need. It has 1 in/1 out MIDI, the USB connects to your computer. Price $36. Just be aware that it’s not compatible with Yamaha keyboards.  To be safe, check for compatibility with your keyboard make.

The Cherub Blue Metronome.

For those of you who need to be encouraged to keep a steady beat, the Cherub Blue Metronome does the job. It has a clockwork mechanism, so no batteries are required. Priced around £20.

Shubb C4 Nickel Capo.

Some Guitarists frown on the use of a Capo, but there are times when they can come in useful. Price around £19 from Gifted Musician.

Geipel Violin Rosin.

An essential accessory for the Violinist for around £5, from Gifted Musician.

Set Of 6 Dava Grip Tips Delrin Medium, Guitar Picks.

A perfect stocking filler for any Guitarist is a set of Dava Grip Tips. These can be found at Guitar Center, for around £6 for a set of 6.

DrumDial Drum Tuner.

I haven’t personally tried this bit of gear, but it has good reviews. DrumDial Drum Tuner allows you to tune tympani, snare, kick or toms without even hitting the drum head. From the Guitar Center for around £45.

ProLine PL-1100 Padded Keyboard Bench.

For around £30 you can get the ProLine PL-1100 Keyboard Bench. Adjustable height, padded and tear resistant. Okay, you might find it difficult getting it in as a stocking filler, but every Keyboard player needs one (also from Guitar Center).

Hope you found these suggestions useful. Check out the various links for more ideas. And if you have a music project, or songs that need producing, mixing or mastering get in touch with us. Our contact details are here.

Seasons Greetings To All Our Readers From Ted And Everyone At TCM Mastering & TCM Music Group.

TCM MASTERING: HOME MUSIC STUDIO PART 39 – MIXING VOCALS TIPS & SIGNAL PROCESSING

November 28, 2011

TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Tips and Information

Part 39 Mixing Vocals Tips & Signal Processing

The last few weeks have served as an introduction to mixing. Over the next several weeks we will examine the mix stage in detail, by considering the most common instruments, setting levels, panning, automation and the uses of EQ, dynamics and effects processing.

Before we start by looking at Vocals, I think it’s important to briefly mention some generic guidelines for the use of signal processors, as these are the tools used most often in the mix process.

We took a first look at signal processing in this blog…..TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Part 24 – Signal Processing. We then went on to consider in some detail, various types of EQ (graphic, parametric), dynamics (compressors/limiters, expanders/gates) and effects (reverb, echo, chorus etc). So feel free to refer back to these earlier blogs for more information.

Pete Townshend, Neil Young, George Martin, Sting, Ted Nugent, Jeff Beck And Many More Musicians Have All Complained Of Suffering Hearing Loss, Which They Put Down To Monitoring At High Volumes For Many Years.

It’s worth bearing in mind that monitoring your mix at high volumes gives you a false sense of balance between instruments, which does not translate very well for the eventual end user or listener. Musicians/Engineers use their ears a lot, and often abuse their ears too by monitoring at volumes that are very loud, for extended periods of time. Most people can hear frequencies between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. So, if you want to preserve your hearing for as long as possible and produce more accurate mixes, monitor your music at sensible levels.

Using Signal Processors

Every mix session is different, but there are some general guidelines for using signal processors, which are useful to consider.

Before you start to use any signal processing in the mix, make sure you have recorded the best possible sound from the vocalist or instrumentalist, by careful positioning of the mic(s) and by using the best equipment you can afford, throughout the entire recording chain. At the risk of repeating myself, your sound is only as good as your weakest link.

Vocalist With Selection Of Mics – Neumann U47, Microtech Gefell M92.1S, AKG C414B ULS, Coles 4038.

The variations in sound you can obtain with a quality mic and different mic placements, are numerous. If you can capture good recorded sounds, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t end up with a great sounding mix.

Check out some of TCM’s earlier blogs on how to get the best recordings of your instruments…..

Miking Vocals & Instruments, Recording Piano, Recording Electric & Bass Guitar, Recording Acoustic Stringed Instruments, Recording Horns, Recording Woodwind, Recording Drums.

EQ should never be used to ‘save’ a poor recording, unless you have no other choice. Use it to improve an already great sounding track. Sometimes EQ can be used to create a ‘special effect’ sound on an instrument or voice, but try not to over use this approach.

The Digirack 7 Band EQ Includes A Bypass Button For Comparing With & Without EQ.

If you have an On/Off switch for EQ, use it frequently to prove to yourself that the EQ your boosting or cutting is actually improving your sound.

Changing EQ will invariably change the level of a sound. Adding EQ, adds level to a signal. So be careful that you don’t introduce clipping, distortion or more unwanted noise to your signal’s sound. Adding bass can increase hum or buzz levels. Adding top end (treble) can increase unwanted hiss in your tracks.

To improve clarity in your mix, try cutting the bass frequencies of instruments which are not bass instruments.

Many plug-in EQs give you a visual display of the amount of cut or boost you’re applying to a signal. Make sure you listen to your sound with your ears. Try not to be influenced by what your eyes are telling you.

Specialist Outboard Gear Can Often Solve Some Of The More Difficult Mix Problems.

And if you feel that your mixing console’s EQ isn’t good enough or can’t handle the job you’re asking of it, then you may need to consider buying or hiring an outboard piece of gear that is specifically designed for the job.

The use of dynamic processors in the mix can be abused too. Too much compression or expansion can harm your tracks. Over compressing gets rid of the natural variations in level that occur in any performance. Using a badly set up expander or gate, can cut off starts and ends of notes or vocals.

The Over Compressed Pair Of Tracks (Bottom) Give More Headroom Allowing You To Raise The Level, But Get Rid Of Most Of The Dynamics That Are Present In The Top Pair Of Tracks.

So set up your units or plug-ins carefully and listen closely when applying dynamic processing to make sure you’re getting the desired result. Solo tracks that you’re working on, so that you can hear exactly what is happening without other instruments masking the effect.

If there’s one group of signal processors that is prone to abuse more than any other, it’s effects. Too much reverb on too many instruments, chorus, flange, delays…..the list goes on. If you have several tracks of instrumentation, each with their own effects, you can quickly reach the point where it sounds cluttered, clichéd and very amateurish. Moderation is the key.

Mixing

There are different approaches to the mix process. Some prefer to build from the drums and bass first, then add the other instruments and finish with the lead vocals. Whilst others start off getting the lead vocal or lead guitar/keyboard sound (depending on the song) and build everything else around it. You won’t know which works best for you until you’ve been through the process a few times. And some songs will dictate how and where you start, anyway.

So without further ado, let’s start by looking at EQ for vocals. Just remember that every vocalist (as well as every instrument) is unique, so use the suggestions as guidelines only.

Vocals can be adjusted dramatically with just 2 or 3dB gain or reduction at different frequencies. Adding 10kHz produces a brighter sound. Reducing in the 5-10 kHz (sometimes even as low as 2 kHz) range can help to cut sibilance (the harsh sounds produced from Sss or Ssh). But each vocal is different, so you will need to sweep through the frequencies to find what needs cutting. Boosting at 5 kHz will add presence. To reduce muddiness, cut between 200-250 Hz. Vocals can be warmed up and made more full by adding 150 Hz.

Waves – DeEsser Plug-In.

On the subject of sibilance, be careful not to over-compress a vocal, as this can make the problem worse. Some mix engineers recommend using a de-esser after the compressor, to reduce sibilance.

The lead vocal is the most important element of a song. A common mistake made in the mix stage is to have the vocal too loud or too quiet. That may sound like an obvious thing to say, but when you’ve spent days, weeks or months on a music project, it becomes almost impossible to remain objective and sensitive to the various levels of your tracks in the mix.

This is why we have suggested in earlier blogs that taking a break from your music or enlisting the help of others who have a vested interest in the music,  can prove to be so beneficial.

The style of music and your personal preference, will have a lot to do with where the vocals lie in the mix and at what level. Just make sure that you ask someone who is unfamiliar with the lyrics to tell you whether they can be heard and understood.

Aphex Systems 204 Aural Exciter & Optical Big Bottom.

Aphex Systems introduced the original Aural Exciter back in 1975. It can enhance the sound of most instruments, but has been used to great effect on vocals since its introduction. It works by adding low level, dynamically related harmonics to the signal. These harmonics add little or no level to the overall signal, but increase presence and clarity, restore brightness and give greater perceived loudness whilst also improving detail.

Lead vocals are usually panned down the centre of the stereo field. If you want them to sound distant, try adding some reverb. For an upfront effect keep them dry.

The recorded sound of your vocals also effects the way they are interpreted. If you used a close mic technique, they will sound more upfront than if you had your vocalist several feet from the mic, allowing more of the room ambience to be recorded.

So in summary…..go easy on the EQ if your original recording is good. Depending on the desired effect, moderate the use of reverb, delay or other effects on a lead vocal. Judicious use of a compressor, can help to even out the level of a performance with unnatural highs and lows. Just don’t overdo it and compress all the dynamics out of the voice. Too much compression will squeeze the life out of your most important track.

Don’t forget, use the automation if you have it in your system, it will make things so much easier. And SAVE your work at regular intervals.

Next week we’ll continue to examine vocals in the mix and discuss some popular techniques for improving your vocal sound, then move onto drums.

Editor’s Note: We’ve covered a lot of ground in the TCM Mastering Home Music Studio series so far and still have lots more to do. However, there are times when I feel a particular subject needs more space, taking a lot longer to explain than I had initially planned. When this occurs, I continue the theme over two or more weeks, which inevitably results in some blog topics being pushed back to be covered later than expected. We will get there in the end, but in order to make this series interesting (hopefully!) I have to limit the size of each blog to a sensible length.

Thanks for your continued interest. We really appreciate your comments and feedback.

If you want to get in touch, click here for our contact details.

TCM MASTERING: HOME MUSIC STUDIO PART 36 – MUSIC EDITING

November 7, 2011

TCM Mastering: Home Music Studio Tips and Information

Part 36 Music Editing

TCM Mastering Home Music Studio series continues looking at the Editing stage of the multitrack process.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve discussed music editing in some detail. This week we’ll finish looking at the editing stage by considering the use of some signal processing as edit tools. We’ll also discuss how editing can create a performance that was never recorded or considered at the beginning of a recording session…..it’s not just for fixing mistakes.

Not really regarded as editing in the purest sense, some types of signal processing can alter the sound, effectively performing an edit on the audio file. You can alter the pitch of a sound, stretch or shrink the length of it and reverse it to produce some great effects.

Legendary Voice Over Artist & Man Of A Thousand Voices – Mel Blanc.

Altering the pitch of some sound files e.g. vocals, can only be done by a relatively small amount before the file starts to sound a little odd – think of Alvin & The Chipmunks or some of the many voices the legendary Mel Blanc created for cartoon characters! He did many cartoon voices without the use of effects, but sometimes even the great Mel Blanc needed help with a little pitch change.

Having said that, there will be times when the vocalist has gone and you are left with a vocal track that is out of tune in places and needs fixing with pitch correction.

Prior to the wonders of digital technology and pitch correction plug-ins, many vocalists ‘got away’ with certain vocal imperfections – I’ll let you decide on whether that was a good or bad thing.

The fact is, today’s commercially released music very often employs an auto tune and/or pitch correction to vocals or specific instruments before it is released.

Before attempting a reverse modification, pitch or time correction fix, I would recommend making a copy of the file you want to work on. It’s just more convenient to keep a version of the unmodified file, so that you can make fresh copies for each attempt at a modification or fix.

There are plenty of plug-ins on the market that can help to fix pitch problems. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some, like the DPP-1 (below), come free with Pro Tools 6.0 TDM or higher.

Stereo Or Mono Pitch Change Plug-In.

To fix the pitch problem, choose the note or notes that need correcting then open your pitch correction plug-in. Pitch can often be changed by a ratio, percentage, or fractions of semi-tones, although you may need to try a few times before you get the desired result.

By pitch shifting a vocal or instrument, you can sometimes add harmonies to words or musical phrases, without having to re-record them at the new pitches.

Antares Auto-Tune 7.

Some plug-ins like Antares Auto-Tune claim to be able to alter the pitch of a voice or instrument in real-time without distortion or artefacts, whilst preserving the nuances of the original performance. Most good plug-ins can achieve this providing you don’t push them too far to their limits.

Logic’s Pitch Correction Plug-In Allows You To Modify Scales.

With Logic’s Pitch Correction plug-in you can modify scales by selecting or deselecting notes from the music type keyboard in the centre of the window. Just be careful when setting the response time. If it’s set too fast you’re likely to get a robotic feel to the vocal.

Time Shift Plug-In.

Audio can also be stretched or shrunk. Let’s say that you are producing a piece of music for a commercial. Unfortunately, the finished track runs one second too long. To cut a second out of the track would be difficult or impossible, whilst still making the track sound natural and complete.

The answer could be to shrink the running time by one second using a plug-in like the one above. It allows you to dial in a time length that you want a piece to last, whilst keeping the pitch of the piece the same. It will also handle pitch shifting.

When I first started producing my own music and playing all the instruments myself, there was a little more effort involved in getting certain special effects with analog multitrack technology.

Reverse Guitar Parts Recorded Digitally – With A Characteristic Slow Attack & Quick Decay.

I remember for one song, I’d recorded half a dozen or so instruments in the normal way, by overdubbing them. But on the next track I decided, I wanted to try out a reversed acoustic guitar. So in order to achieve this I had to remove the multitrack tape from the tape machine, turn it over so that it was now upside down and then place it back on the machine.

When I pressed play, all the previously recorded tracks were now in reverse. I then played and recorded a guitar track over the backward sounding tracks, then turned the tape over again.

Now the latest guitar track was in reverse, whilst all the other earlier tracks were back to normal. It produced a very interesting, creative effect – not immediately recognizable as a guitar.

Pro Tools Includes A Reverse Effect In The Audiosuite Plug-Ins.

Today, the process of reversing audio is much simpler with digital technology. There are numerous plug-ins that will reverse your audio. It’s useful to make a copy of the file you want to reverse first. Then apply the reverse effect to the copy.

The Left Audio File Is The Reversed Cymbal. The Right Shows The Original Forward Cymbal.

The picture above shows 2 stereo cymbal crashes. The one on the right is the original, forward cymbal. And the reversed cymbal is on the left. Once you have the reversed audio, you can then place it in the correct position in your song, trim the length if necessary and add other effects like reverb.

As with all ‘effects’ less is usually more. Try not to overdo a particular pitch change or reverse effect, otherwise it can become cheap and tacky.

For the one-man-band who is recording at home, it’s often useful to get a good, solid backing or rhythm track down as quickly as possible, so that you can then take your time overdubbing, content in the knowledge that the tempo is sorted, allowing you to add or replace tracks at your convenience.

This is where digital editing becomes a useful and creative tool. You can easily put together a song from small loops…..copy whole sections, like a verse or chorus and then paste them elsewhere…..create a composite take of a lead vocal or guitar solo.

Let’s consider some examples…..

#1 Loops – allow you to quickly build a basic drum track, for example. Play or programme a couple of bars with kick, snare and hi-hat. Record them into your DAW, then copy/paste or loop them to give you a drum track that lasts the length of the song.

Two Bars Of A Drum Loop – Sliced By Propellerhead Recycle Software.

Make sure the tempo of the loop is accurate when repeated. If you use beat 1 on the kick as your first edit point, choose beat 1 on the kick as your second edit point too. If you’re out by even a small amount it will affect the timing. You don’t want it to sound like you’re missing a beat at the beginning of each measure or changing time signatures. This will sound disturbing and make it impossible to overdub.

Once you have a drum loop with the correct tempo, you can record a guide vocal and overdub the other instruments. Then using the basic drum loop and a few other instruments as a click track, re-record (overdub) a fuller more interesting set of drum tracks with a real drummer.

Logic Studio – Edit Page.

You may then want to re-record some of the other instruments again. A fuller drum sound with fills, may inspire you to play another instrument part different/better…..it can be an organic process.

Finally, add your vocals…..see point #3 below with the video, which explains how to assemble a great vocal track.

#2 Song Assembly – it’s always useful to plan out the number and order of verses and choruses in a song. The first example below shows a simple song structure.

Intro-Verse-Chorus-Middle 8-Chorus-Outro.

So let’s say all the basic parts are recorded for this example. But you then get inspired to write another verse. And whilst you’re at it, you decide it needs another chorus or two. The final structure could look like this…

Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Middle 8-Chorus-Chorus-Outro.

Example Of A Song Structure – Showing Various Tracks For The Intro, Verse & Chorus. The Solid, Thin, Vertical Line Shows The Position Of The Cursor At The Beginning Of The Verse.

Left-Verse Section. Right Chorus.

By simply copying just the tracks in the verse section, you can paste them to the new position for the added verse. Do the same for the chorus; paste it once after the newly added verse and again after the third chorus but before the outro.

BEFORE

Intro-Verse-Chorus-Middle 8-Chorus-Outro.

AFTER

Intro-Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus-Middle 8-ChorusChorus-Outro.

Once you have placed the new sections, you may need to move them slightly to fit the tempo of the song. Slight adjustments of some tracks may be needed, but it’s still quicker than re-recording a complete new verse and two choruses.

When the basic tracks forming the song are in the order and structure that you want, you can then add your lead vocals and any other finishing touches to the song.

#3 Composite Tracks – if you have multiple takes/performances of a particular instrument or vocal, by using the best parts of a few performances you can often piece together the perfect track. This technique is used to great effect for lead vocals and guitar solos, for example.

Ted Carfrae owner and founder of the TCM Music Group, speaking from the TCM Mastering Studios, describes how to achieve the perfect vocal performance in the video below.

Next week we move onto the Mixing stage.

If you’re looking for help, putting those finishing touches to a music track or would like more information on our affordable studio packages, please contact us by clicking here.

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