Writing, Arrangement and Production
When writing lyrics, think of how the words will be pronounced when sung. For example, the words "baby" and "hey" don't exactly rhyme, but when "baby" is pronounced "babay" they are an exact rhyme.
Session musicians are a great way to add a lot of flavor and realism to your tracks. If you are a singer that plays piano, try getting strings or acoustic guitar added to your songs. If your productions are all written in midi, replacing or adding just one live track can give your song a more human feel. Take to the internet, you may find that a lot of session musicians are not all that expensive, especially improv jazz musicians.
Sub Trash Studios will be releasing a production demo in the future which will feature 3-6 session musicians. When I first had the idea for the song I started out by programming the drums and bass. Second, I had two guitarists write and record guitar parts and a solo, according to my specifications and requests, which I later chopped and rearranged. Once I had a rough mix with the guitars I was happy with, I got a saxophone solo recorded on top of that. I am now in the process of writing lyrics and will soon after have vocals recorded. I may also add keys and strings to the final production.
Recording is the most over looked step in my opinion. This is where you create the source material for your whole project. You can make great cake with bad ingredients. Take a look at our article "Getting It Right At The Source" to get some great ideas while recording. Also, be sure to check out Part 2 of that article as well.
Mixing is where you are going to make everything fit and sound it's best. You use things like EQ, compression, reverbs, delays, distortion, and so on. It is important to make wise decisions, remember mixing a track is like putting together a puzzle that you need to curve each piece for. Everything needs to sound cohesive and be in it's own space (highs, mids, lows, right, center, left, front, back etc), not competing with one another, so you can clearly hear every piece of the composition in all it's glory.
One of the best things about mixing is that it's not about "getting it" it is about consistently evolving and challenging yourself to make better and more creative mixes. If you stay curious in the mixing community, you will find yourself always trying new things, finding alternate techniques, and always viewing this week's mixes better then last week's. There is infinite ways to mix a song, so you will always have something to learn or think about. In short, never tell yourself you know everything.
Your actions you take while mastering are subtle but can change the life of a track drastically because, you are applying the subtle effects to the entire mix, not just each track. If the only thing you use on the master bus is a limiter or compressor.. you need to start getting creative, today.
Try using multiple EQs not just one, for example, NI's Passive EQ for HP & LP, Pro-Q for using bell curves, and SlickEQ or BaxterEQ to do the shelving.
Also sometimes instead of using EQ I will use a harmonic exciter to boost the frequencies I want. Think of it as a "coloring EQ" in a sense.
Also try using serial compression to get further control over your transients without pumping or triggering your bus compressors too hard. This also will combine the characteristics of multiple styles of compressors to give it more unique coloration. I find using a multiband compressor to tame transients in certain frequencies before you run it through your normal compressor can really create a more natural sounding compression which is great for mastering live tracked songs.
Finding Creative Inspiration AnytimeAll of our creative juices run low sometimes, usually more then what we'd like. Thankfully there are many ways find inspiration. The most obvious one is to just listen to some new music. Internet radio is pretty good for this because most sites are consistently update their playlists with new releases. Also try listening to some artists or genres you would not normally listen to, and try and find something you like whether its in just the mix, lyrics, or composition or the song as a whole. If you play an instrument practice some off the wall scales or try and learn a new part to a song.
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