So I can make a catchy tune filled with complex melodies and chromatic chords and I pride myself on how I mix sounds. Where I truly suck at however is automation. Other than a rising low pass or basic wubs, I can’t do much more. Any tips?
What about flanger?
volume automation is a must for high end mixing, think about how you want your instruments to move and interact with each other. You should also experiment with pan! When I pan instruments I keep all low freq stuff in the centre (Important to maintain a strong sonic structure). Then I like to imagine if this song was being played live by people on a stage where would they be sitting and how would it affect which side I hear parts from? Can be a fun way to get some really wide and interesting mixes. This will of course make the song more interesting to listen to if you take care with it.
Wow, never thought about pan like that. Thanks that’ll really come in handy.
This isn’t really advanced but it’s something that will improve your song if your using sweeper. It’s default settings have just a little bit of attack and release so if you’re using it as a riser, you can hear a little clip at the beginning of each bar. But if you move the release and attack down to zero it will be seamless. (I’ll make a project where I demonstrate)
And speaking of attack and release, if you want to improve your mixing, definitely make use of these. (In case you don’t know what they do, attack increases the amount of time for a note to fade in to play and release is the amount of time for a note to fade out of play.)
In my opinion, a lot of the plucks in pluck pluck go sound harsh, but if you add about 10 ms of attack it softens up a little bit. And if you add 30-40 ms it almost changes it into a completely different instrument. Doing this makes a great instrument for chords.
And further on with release, if you’re using a bass instrument with notes somewhat close together, Turn down the release so the bass notes don’t mix. When the release of a note overlaps another note after it it creates a harsh tone, removing a bit of the release fixes this and makes the bass sound cleaner.
Again, these tips aren’t substantial but they’re little nit-pickety things I do to improve my songs
Honestly… just experiment with it, the way you lay out your automation will ultimately reflect who you are as a producer. Maybe you are better suited for focusing on the wonderful melodies and chord progressions like you said, then all you might need is basic automation. Here are a few things I personally do with automation that might be to your liking… by all means feel free to try them out but really, just focusing on being you and brining your own style!
Pitched chord transitions. Let’s say you are working on more legato chords that are more of a chord progression then a melody, to help transition from each chord, work on custom pitch bends that helps the first chord rise or drop in pitch to nicely ease into the next chord.
Portamento! This is where things get a bit more tricky, but with practice can help a lot, and I recommend trying it. Portamento is another pitch “slide” or “glide” however it is only for note to note not chord to chord. Something I have done to help my chord progressions be a bit more unique is to copy over the fifth, seventh, or ninth of my triad (or higher) chord. [Aka the top note of your chord] And place that note into the same instrument copied over, and work on basic pitch slides for only that note, not the entire chord, it can really make your chord sound more interesting.
Looped panning. Panning your instruments will add a lot more depth to the track, and it is very easy to accomplish. As a tip to make it a bit more smooth, try linking the panning from the beginning on the first bar the the end of the last bar so it makes basically and endless loop, which can sound awesome.
Gliding. Basically just portamento for bass notes, just I more commonly hear it as bass glides. This is most commonly used for 808 basses, but it can be implemented into other organic and Reese basses if automated correctly.
Custom rises. This is something that can start very easy, and end up being extremely complicated. Rises are amazing, and I always recommend trying to add them to your tracks. My only advice would be to try your best to be more advanced with it. Let’s say you normally try to make a riser that you only use one simple note and an increasing pitch automation… maybe try adding a fast paced panning, a lowpass rise, and a highpass fall, and see how that sounds. Going the extra mile and adding detail to the little things like rises can honestly make a world of a difference.
Custom chord breaks. This is another area that can start out simple but end up extremely difficult. All I’d suggest is to spend time experimenting. Try making “wubs” or breaks within your chords to add a bit more variation. It can really help! The whole reason I have been mostly inactive this year is because there is so much to do within this app, and none of us have even scratched the surface.
Track key changes. This is honestly one of the harder things to do, but if you can master it, it sounds amazing. I think I have only publicly posted one track with an entire key change mid track. In a nutshell this is basically done by having the same pitch incline or decline on every single instrument in a track, proceeding with your track in that new modified key, then having a transition to another key. It can be simple on more basic tracks, just remember that every instrument and sample has to be on the same
key, which means a load of pitch automations. If you are up for it, id recommend giving it a shot.
There is a good amount of other transitional automations you can do but, I won’t go into detail of those here. Really just sit down, jump in the app and mess around. Write one basic triad and a staccato melody to accompany with it, then spend time just playing with it. Don’t worry about finishing your track or adding to it, just focus on your automations, just jump in and experiment… trust me… its worth it.
Wow thank you, I definitely do think I’m better at writing chords and melodies, focusing on that, but I always love to experiment with new things.
I like to use pitch automation on my melodies so i can give it a pitch bend kinda sound
Totally agree re. some of the pluck sounds. The same is true of the piano pack… I suspect they were made with the idea that people are using the livmiter quite heavily, which tends to dull the attack.