What Did I Learn?
Practice makes it easier – I’ve been aiming to complete a tune a week for the last few months and although I haven’t managed each and every week, when I have started one, I’ve seen it through to the end and built up quite a catalogue. Considering I made 3 tunes in the previous 12 months, I’m now on 18 and counting [This post originally written in July 2014]. When I first started, I was going blindly from step to step but after doing the process for a while, I’ve built a decent workflow and my ears are trained to a reasonable level of EQ ability. The creation and arrangement on this one took approximately 5-6 hours (I always mixdown on a fresh pair of ears so avoid ‘completing a track all in one day) and the mental battle is definitely getting easier.
A good mix requires good EQ plug ins – During the mixdown stage I noticed a bit of low-end creeping in on one of the channels whilst checking SPAN. I checked the Ableton EQ on the channel and it was high-passed accordingly but some content was not being cut completely. For the first time, I decided to try a free third party EQ alternative called Tokyo Dawn SlikEQ and it sorted the problem instantly. I have managed to get my mixes sounding ok by using the native EQ up to now but now think it’s time to upgrade and take it to the next sonic level.
Take your time with the mixdown – Sometimes I rush through this and do it on instinct but this time I spent a while clipping a few peaks (using a combo of Airwindows Clip2 and s(m)exoscope) to increase RMS. I didn’t go overboard and ensured it kept some punch / attack, but this reduced the dynamic range of the track as a whole by a few .dB and therefore making it perceived a little louder.
Believe in your own ability – Confidence is key with most thing in life and especially so in the creative worlds. Try to ignore thoughts of ‘I’m not good enough’ and ‘I’ll never top my last tune’ and just get going. I have found 9 times out of 10, I always manage to equal if not improve on previous efforts and on the time I don’t, I’ve improved my technique in some way.
Daily To Do List – Whenever I sit down first thing, I ensure I have a checklist of what I think I need to do on the track. This gives me a starting point rather than having too many options. It also improves focus and gives me some idea of an end point to keep me motivated. If I can see the finish line, I find I’m more likely to finish the composition.
What Do I Need To Work On?
Bass creation – Synthesis and modulation instead of samples. This keep cropping up and would open up a few more doors rather than being somewhat restricted by a set piece of pre-made audio.