Inside The Mix | Music Production and Music Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Independent Artists

#74: How Do You Make a Song Sound Less Boring | Produce a Song from Scratch IX

March 21, 2023 Marc Matthews Season 3 Episode 74
Inside The Mix | Music Production and Music Mixing Tips for Music Producers and Independent Artists
#74: How Do You Make a Song Sound Less Boring | Produce a Song from Scratch IX
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Hey folks, welcome back to the latest podcast episode! This one is for all the music producer friends out there who want to learn some new tricks to take their tracks to the next level. I'm continuing my "Producer a Song From Scratch" series with part 9, and I've got some juicy topics lined up for you.

First up, I'll be diving into the world of reverb automation in Logic, and showing you how to create some seriously cool effects. Then, I'll share a quick vocal reverb trick that's going to blow your mind.

But that's not all - I'm also going to teach you how to make your synths sound fuller and give you some expert tips on crafting a killer synth lead that really stands out. Plus, I'll be sharing our secrets on how to keep your song from becoming a snooze-fest and keep your listeners engaged from start to finish.

So, if you're ready to up your music production game, tune in, and let's get started!

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Thanks for listening & happy producing!

Marc Matthews:

You are listening to the Inside The Mix podcast with your host, Mark Matthews. Hello and welcome to the Inside the Mix podcast. I'm Mark Matthews, your host, musician, producer, and mix and mastering engineer. You've come to the right place if you wanna know more about your favorite synth music artist, music, engineering, and production, songwriting, and the music. I've been writing, producing, mixing, and mastering music for over 15 years, and I wanna share what I've learned with you. Hello folks, and welcome back to The Inside the Mix podcast. If you are a new listener, thank you for joining me and do hit subscribe. If you are a returning listener, welcome back. So in this episode, it's a continuation of the Produce a Song from Scratch series, and we are coming towards the end of the series now. So I'm adding some subtle nuances and bits and pieces to the track, and here is an example of what we're gonna be doing in this week's episode. So there we go folks. Well, it's a bit of a bit of a reverb tale there. So let's dive into this week's episode. Okay folks. So I've got this snare in the build just before it comes into the next section, and it's doing this, okay? So I'm just gonna solo it so you can hear it on its own. And what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna automate the reverb mix on this, so it just, Throughout this sort of small progression. So I'm gonna, so currently about 21%. So let's see how this sounds. So I quite like that. So I'm gonna put it in context of the mix. I'm just gonna boost the original reverb. I'm gonna go up to about 28%. Um, That's quite cool. There you go. Really quick. Uh, tip you can use on your build sections if you've got a snare, is just, just to automate the mix knob, the mix parameter of your reverb, and so it builds as you end a progression. Give it a go. Okay, folks, I've come back to the intro now and I've got this vocal sample at the beginning, and what I'm gonna do is I've got an EQ because I want it to sit a bit better in the mix. I want it to sound more distant. So I've applied a high cut and or rather a high pass and a low pass filter. So high pass is, uh, is set around. I've got around 230. And then the, uh, the Lopez is set around what we got about 1 1 1500 hertz, 1.5 kilohertz, and it sounds like this. So that's with. And this is without, and I think it just sounds a bit more distant. So let's play it from bar five. Now. I think that sounds better. Now it just sits a bit better and it makes it sounds more distant, bit more ethereal. And then what I'm gonna do is this, on this vocal sample here, I'm going to use Snap heap on. and so I'm gonna find kilohertz and then, nah. Heap. There it is. There always, it's always at the bottom. I always go alphabetically and I always miss it. And I'm gonna add the pitch shifter on this and let's drop it by one octave and then I'm just gonna bring the mixed star back. So on its own, it's quite subtle, but it sounds like this. So the little Ulta boy does something similar. In fact, what I might do is just have a listen to it in the mix. With this one here, I might use an EQ on this as well, and roll off. I might add a, uh, about a low pass filter on this as well. Um, I'm this gonna hurt this time and filter, filter, filter. There we are. Filter and it's a bit too much. So I'm gonna bring it back to about 1500. I think I'm gonna apply one to the other vocal sample as well, just to make it a bit more ethereal in the. About 1500. Let's see it as a starting. That's quite cool. Quite like that. Just get rid of some of that, that high end. Um, I wonder if I put snap people on that one as well. See what we can do. Snap pee. So this is gonna be on the second vocal sample. So this one here, it needs something. Let's try, what have we got? Um, um, maybe a phaser. Let's try that. That's quite cool. Sorry folks. We've got the loop region on that. So this is it on its own. A solo that. And this is without the Fraser and with, that's quite cool. I like that. So I'm gonna leave that on there for time, bill. Nice. What I did then was with the clap, I just added a bit more Reva, but it's, um, it sounded quite abrasive, so I dialed it back. There we go. That makes that a bit, a bit more interesting. So all I've done there is I've taken one, um, vocal chop or vocal sample, and I've used snap heat with a pitch shifter and pitched it down by one octave and then used the mix style to bring that in. And then I've just used high cuts and low cut filters on those vocal samples just to help them sit better in the mix as well. Cause I want 'em to sound quite distant. And then I've added a phaser to one of them as well. So give it. Okay folks, so now what I'm gonna do is this. I've got, um, the build chords, which currently sound like this. I'm just gonna isolate them. What I'm gonna do is in the second half, some sort of like bar 49, where there it goes, sort of the last eight bars, or it might be four bars actually. Yeah, it's. Into the next section. Sounds like this sounds quite harsh actually. I might actually stick a low pass filter on that. Let's just dial that back a bit. Um, I'm gonna duplicate this pad cuz I'm gonna add another one in. Um, and I want all the, so I'm gonna drag that down and copy, I wanna copy all the automation on this so I've got the tape stop effect as well. And I'm gonna find a different pad to go with this here. So let's go to pad. It's not even a pad that's on there, which we got. What about this band Pass Rise? Band Pass full? It's quite cool. Let's give that a try. Just gonna dial it back in the mix maybe. So what I haven't done here folks, is because I've got a new, uh, a new Mac here, I haven't gone through and saved on my presets. I could import them, but I haven't got round to it yet. I quite like strap that one there, strapping young pad. Let's give that again. So let's play it into that. Mm. It's, it's not different enough for my liking quite like that. Let's give that a go. Yeah, that's really nice. The only thing I might di do is though dial back the plate reverb on. So let's go from bar 37. So this is just the normal pads, rather the first pads. That's quite cool. You got that sort of swell effect there in the last four bars of this particular part. I think that's really cool. Um, so layering synths can add just a bit more interest when it comes to transition, so give it a. Okay folks, so now what I'm gonna do is this. I've got the build going into what is considered maybe a chorus section. I haven't quite defined these yet. It's a bit bit loose at the moment in terms of arrangement and structure on what, what is what, but it sounds like this at the moment, and I'm thinking maybe that could be some sort of fill in there. So what I'm gonna do is I've got my, uh, my samples here and I've got some kick samples. And I've got some snare samples and I'm just gonna create another software instrument with these. So I'm gonna drag them in and I'm gonna put them on a sampler chromatic, and that's gonna load, and I'm just gonna call that kit two for the time beam. So I have this, okay, so then map to the keyboard. And I'm just gonna play around and see if I can figure out some sort of fill. I dunno if this is gonna work, but I'm gonna give it a go. Something like that. Maybe that, let's give that a go. I'm just gonna tidy that up. Let's tied it up too. Map. Ah, I've got it. Quantized to eight notes. Let's try 16th. Let's try adding a, I'm just gonna turn down the, the volume on that there. Cause it's quite loud. That's better. Um, I might leave it like that and then I want to, I'm gonna add some kicks to it as well. Let's record that. Just gonna quantize that. So this is it on its own. There's a lot going on as a fill. Maybe you've moved those forward a bit right there. I'm just gonna bring that. Bum. It's good. It's quite a cool, Phil. And then I am going to just play around with these a bit. I'm gonna roll off some of the highs. Cause I don't need it. There's a lot because I've got the high A frequency energy from the other snare. I don't really need it for this one. And then I'm gonna go into kind of multipass and I'm gonna go to browse like digital and see there's drum sweetness. Let's give that again. Start it back a bit. That's quite aggressive. Let's send it out to a verb. Let's go with this short verb. I don't want it so high in the mix. I'm gonna go back into the sampler. I'm just gonna drop the volume again. Okay. Maybe it works. It's an idea. We'll check it in. Leave it there for now. There we go. So you can just create a sampling arrangement using kicks and snares and creating some sort of fill going from one section to another. Give it a go. Okay. Next, what I wanna do is in this build section, I've got this lead here, uh, which is using. A, where are we? It is using pigments and it sounds like this. I'm just gonna solo on its own with an up, which is quite cool. And I think I've got an EQ on it. I have, yeah, so this is it without the eq and I've gonna duplicate that and I am going to call that lead three and I've gotta find another. Just gonna drag. I've got the wrong instrument here. Uh, wrong shortcut. I'm gonna drag those down and get rid of the eq I'm gonna keep the up on, but I'm gonna see if I can find a different patch. That's Anna Bell. Um, I'm gonna go to, so that's pigment. So I'm gonna go to Anna two. So I think there's a bell in here, if I remember right. I'm gonna go to all, there's a DX sign of, uh, DX sign of. Let's try that. That's quite nice. That's very nice. I am going to move in up in Octave. The reason I've done that is otherwise I've got so much going on in the same frequency spectrum with the pads and with this other lead as well. So the two of them, two, this is, uh, the pigments on its own, and this is with the DX bow and Anna two. And now I'm gonna play in context of the mix and it's quite loud, so I'm gonna dial it back. Let's take it, what I might do is I might just do a bit of, um, night and day. So I might have it in the section here. So it goes from sort of light bar, I dunno what bar that is. Bar 37. I dunno if I like those vocal chops, you know, I might mute those for the time being. And if I mute those and I might just use the one I've got here. Let's give that again. And it just needs to be louder. Let's bring that up in a mix. Dunno if I like that now. Um, I'm just gonna transpose it down again and bring it, bring it back to where it's, where it was. It's a very nice bell sound. What I'm gonna do, it's not gonna pan them. I'm gonna use the EQ on it as well. Uh, but I'm gonna roll off some of the low on it actually. So I'm gonna use the high pass filter and I might do on the other side as. Otherwise, I've just got so much low energy and low mid-con at the moment. It sounds a bit lopsided. In fact, what I might do is I'm just gonna go in to the medi region and it's. Zooming in, it says, I'm gonna move that. I'm gonna go up to E one, E three rather. E one will be going down. Now I'm gonna bring it back in the mix and I think it needs more reve. Sorry, I'm just gonna get into added to boost that. There we go. That's quite cool. Just added a bit more interest by adding another bell and then pitching it up on Octa cuz I don't want all of my synths to be in the same frequency band cuz then it just gets super muddy. But give it a go. Okay folks, so I'm listening through this now and um, I'm listening to the beginning and by about bar nine I'm getting a bit bored. So I'm just gonna play from bar one to bar nine. Yeah, so what I'm thinking is, uh, I was playing around with massive and some of the effects in there. So I'm gonna create an instance of massive. So I'm gonna press Command Alt and s and I'm gonna create another software instrument track and I'm just gonna open up massive cuz it's got some really cool effects in there. And I love using like, Aton effects in tracks just to make them more interesting. Um, so I'm just gonna play around with some of these. Let's see what we have just to add a bit of interest to the. So I'm gonna start, I'm just gonna loop from bar, like bar one to bar 17. I mean immediately if I play it in key. I think that sounds quite cool. and we're an E minor, so we want e. I might slab that in. That sounds quite cool. Um, just to save a bit of time, cause I can't remember all the notes, I'm just gonna go to scaler and open scaler and I'm just gonna put it into e minor and I'm gonna lock the keys cuz I cannot remember all the notes. So scale notes only for E. I think I just need E, I'm just gonna play E. Let's give that a. So on the fifth bar, I'm gonna come in, he says, but I played it incredibly low. I didn't really hit the key on the keyboard. You can see there if you're watching this on YouTube, the velocity's at 12. So I'm just gonna boost that and let's see what this sounds like actually. I did it by accident, then I triggered it at the wrong time, but I quite liked it coming in on that sort of offbeat and it's a bit too long. And also, I'm gonna stick some, I'm gonna roll. I'm gonna use a low pass filter on. Too long again, let's try it. And I think also it doesn't need to come in there. Where have I got it set? Uh, I'll want it to come in at round. I want to come in there. Let's try that. Not even there. I think maybe there, and again there, maybe I'm just gonna rename this. What is it? Body. Body spin, kind of ominous in a way, and then maybe again around bar. Not bar just before bar 17 now too soon, maybe just before bar 18. So I might just use it once. Start becoming once. Yeah, something like that. And then in the verse section, when it comes after the drop, like there maybe like a BA bar 25, it could come in with something cool. So I'm just gonna duplicate that again, get a massive turn off the eq and, and I've starred my favorite ones in there. So let's see what I've got. No, not quite. Uh, might if I turn the. I have no idea if any of these are gonna work. Let's give it a go anyway. That's quite cool. I need to stick that in. I've got an idea of what I'm gonna do with that. And once again, I'm just gonna use you on it. Uh, let's do that and maybe again there. So let's play it, it's gonna change the name of it. Uh, it's not called Body Spin, it is called Mech Attack Change that name. And I think I've rolled off too much. Wait. There we go. Let's screw that again. Ah, probably too, too much going on there. And then I also wanna slap some reverb on it as well. I've put a long reverb on it, and maybe I'll send out to the delay as well. See how this. All right. Uh, I'm just gonna bring it down in terms of volume in massive. I'll transpose it, see how that sounds. I'm not sure it works or not, but you get the idea. What you can use are a eternal sounds just to add a bit of interest in certain sections. Um, I'm not entirely sure it works there, but you get the idea if you're ever in a position whereby you're songwriting or producing and you kind of get bored of a particular section, try some, a eternal sounds. There are loads, like Massive's got some great ones, Anna two as well. Any synth you have, just see what sound effects are in there and just make it a bit more interesting. So give that a. Okay folks, so we've come to the end of this episode. So what have we done in this episode? We have used some sound effects on Aton sounds, just to add a bit of interest and variety, where we've got bored in our arrangement. It's one way that you can sort of, um, counteract boredom in the composition and arrangement section. Uh, I'm not sure if it works in this one here, the what sounds I've put in, but. I just wanted to demonstrate what you could do. Uh, we've also dragged some samples in some, so some, some kicks and some snare samples, and create a sampler instrument just to, so we could create a fill going from the build section to the next section. And we've also augmented the synth lead and synth pads in the build section as well, just to add a bit more interest and some texture. But be mindful when you do. That you are filling up that frequency space. So that's why I pitched the bell sound and octave up, because I didn't want everything sitting in that particular frequency spectrum or that band because it's gonna sound very muddy. But during mix time, we can solve that and we can also use panning and leveling as well and automation. So folks, if you want to progress as a producer and a songwriter, head over to and take on my free. Day Producer Growth Scorecard Challenge. Okay. The idea is that you can gamify your songwriting in production and kick on and release more music. So head over to the podcast website, give it a go, and happy mixing. This is Tim Benson, a K A R nine. My favorite episode of Inside The Mix Podcast is episode 40 with Zach Vortex. I really love this one as it gives a real insight into Zack's own work ethic, his music, how he markets himself and manages to balance all of this with his family life.

How do you automate reverb in logic?
What is a quick vocal reverb trick?
How do you make synths sound fuller?
How to make a simple drum fill
How do you make a good synth lead?
How do you make a song less boring?

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