There are many different music production techniques out there, and it can be overwhelming as you may feel you need to master them all in order to succeed. To help you get started, I have compiled a list of 5 popular music production techniques. These techniques are simple, but they will get your mixes sounding great in no time. They are popular for a reason, after all!
1. Parallel Compression
Getting punchy drums is key in almost any genre these days, and parallel compression is one technique that can help you achieve that. To do this, you simply duplicate your drum track (or any other type of track), and then heavily compress the duplicate, leaving the original uncompressed. When you play them both back, you get the powerful breathing dynamic sound of the compressed version, while maintaining the detail, brightness, and clarity of the uncompressed version.
2. Sidechain Compression
Effectively sidechaining will eliminate the issue of frequency masking. This is when two elements (such as kick drums and basslines) with competing frequency ranges occur at the same time and clash awkwardly with each other. To do this, add a compression plugin to the bass track and feed the kick output into its sidechain detectors. This will quiet the bass when the kick drum comes through, producing a pulsating effect between the two sounds, rather than a clash.
3. Reverse Reverb
Reverse Reverb is exactly what it sounds like: the reverb tail of any instrument or sound, reversed. In music today, reverse reverb is often used to dramatize vocal passages. If you are working with and entire vocal recording, isolate one word at the beginning of a verse, otherwise, drag a one-shot vocal sample into your DAW. In either case, you will duplicate the selected vocal onto a new track, then reverse it, and add your favourite reverb plugin.
4. Gated Snare
Noise gates are similar to compressors, but instead of quieting signals set above a certain threshold, they quiet signals below a certain threshold. To achieve a punchy, clean gated snare, add a reverb with a decay time of ten seconds or more to your snare, then sidechain the snare track to itself using the sidechain detector in the noise gate. Turn down the threshold until you are able to hear you reverb-soaked snare, then reduce the release time, trimming the reverb until it sounds bright and percussive.
5. Pitch Shifting and Time Stretching Vocals
Pitch Shifting is a technique that has its roots in TV cartoons – think Alvin and the Chipmunks – and changes the pitch of a vocal without affecting its playback speed. It then made its way into music production to create robotic sounding voices that have most recently found a home in EDM music.
Time stretching is a technique that changes the speed of a sound without changing its pitch. This often serves a more technical purpose than pitch shifting, like speeding a vocal up or slowing it down to match a drum break.
These techniques will act as great tools under your belt that will have your mixes sounding great. Once you have mastered these, you will be well-equipped to go out and experiment with other techniques to create a sound that is truly unique to you!