Electronic drums have become the new standard for most popular genres of music, from hip-hop to pop to EDM. Several of the world’s biggest artists go on tour without a drummer — something unimaginable just a few decades ago. Drums are still an integral part of popular music, but instead of an actual drummer on an acoustic kit pounding out the beats, it’s usually a producer hunched over a laptop.
However, that doesn’t mean acoustic drums don’t have a place in modern music. Obviously genres like rock and country still use drummers. But for producers that are used to working with 808s and digitally-created percussion, there are plenty of benefits of blending acoustic drums with electronic drums. Though, it’s important to make sure blending the two is done smoothly. Otherwise, the contrast can be overbearing, sloppy, and inorganic. Here are five ways to blend the two:
One of the most essential mixing tips when working with low frequencies is to exercise the “less is more” approach. These days, low frequencies are more pronounced than ever in popular music, with hip-hop and EDM-inflected pop dominating the charts. But in order for the low frequencies you want to shine, you need to tame the ones you don’t want. The human ear can only hear so many frequencies, but luckily, digital audio workstations give us helpful tools like EQ spectrums so we can see where our audio is landing on the frequency scale.
A beefy 808 should be most pronounced below 200Hz — whereas a hi-hat really has no good reason to have frequencies in that below 200Hz area. No one is listening to a hi-hat for the low-end, just like no one is listening to an 808 for frequencies above 10,000Hz. When the two start to get in each other’s lanes, the mix can start to mud and feel cluttered. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A smart producer and/or mixer will know to tame unwanted low frequencies in instruments that don’t call for a pronounced low end, such as most hi-hats. So, let’s get into the weeds about when and why you should tame those unwanted low frequencies.
If you’re a serious songwriter, you’re probably used to wrestling with the beasts of routine and boredom every so often. Even songwriters brimming with talent and promise have fruitless writing sessions sometimes. It’s all part of the process. But when a songwriter experiences weeks, months or even years of uninspired frustration with their work, it’s an entirely different story. If this sounds like you, I’ve got some practical guidance that can help break you out of your songwriting rut.
This is the second half of a special Reverb Nation Guide To Music Theory. In Part 1, I taught you how to build and understand intervals and basic chords. If you haven’t gone through Part 1 one of this guide, stop reading this and check that out first. To understand everything in this article, you’ll need to have a basic knowledge of everything I talked about in that first guide.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to scales, Roman numeral analysis, and the circle of 5ths. Having a solid grasp on music theory’s basic concepts can be a huge help to you no matter what your unique experience and background in music is, and by the end of this guide you should have more than enough information to be able to wrap your head around the ideas that govern music. Let’s jump back in.
Arguably the most prolific pop songwriting duo of the 20th century, John Lennon and Paul McCartney crafted some of the best known and most beloved tracks of all time as the major powerhouses behind the Beatles. Although each would go onto have successful solo careers — McCartney with Wings in the ‘70s and largely by himself thereafter and Lennon, along with wife Yoko Ono, helming politically charged outfits during his tragically short post-Beatles career — many insist they were never as good apart as they were together.
When boiled down to the basic status of “co-writers,” however, Lennon and McCartney aren’t so different from you and your writing partners. They dealt with many similar issues that, hopefully, won’t crop up too often in your own career, including copyright disputes, claims over who wrote what, and the public deifying one half over the other. It’s indisputable, however, that their combined power created a musical benchmark few other have risen to.
Although there are many, many lessons to learn from Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting partnership, here are three key takeaways that will get you and your present and future co-writers on the right track to crafting musical masterpieces.
When working with the endless options of vocal effects in today’s average digital audio workstation (DAW), it can be very tempting to go overboard. It’s like having a huge, free buffet in front of you — of course you’re going to want some of everything. But that doesn’t mean you need to put chocolate on pizza or eat four plates until you get sick. Several artists get away with large swaths of effects on their vocals. Look at Radiohead for example. Their seminal album Kid A opens with the song “Everything In Its Right Place,” in which singer Thom Yorke’s voice is reversed, looped, pitched up & down, and drenched in a variety of distorting effects. However, above all of those vocal FX lies Yorke’s clear human, emotive singing voice. So, when experimenting with effects like Radiohead, be on the lookout for these five signs that your vocals have too much processing.
Whether you’re making pop, hip-hop, or EDM, chances are your music is going to include sub-bass. For those who aren’t familiar, sub-bass are low-pitched notes below approximately 60 Hz, and often go below the lowest frequencies that humans can actually hear. In other words, you often can’t hear sub-bass; rather, you feel it. For example, if you’re seeing a concert and the DJ builds to a drop, then the whole room starts vibrating with low frequencies, that is sub-bass. As electronic drums and midi instruments continue to play a bigger and bigger role in popular music, the use of sub-bass is becoming standard. But since humans often can’t actually hear frequencies that low, producers have to come up with ways to bring out the pitch. So, we compiled five secrets to making your sub-bass audible.
Great lyrics have the power to mold a shapeless piece of music into a profound statement, but a few poorly-written lines could potentially ruin an otherwise great song. Well aware of this fact, many would-be songsmiths opt to sit out of the songwriting process altogether out of fear of writing bad lyrics or of not having anything meaningful to say at all. But like every other aspect of songwriting, lyric-writing is a skill that’s developed over time, trial and error and lots of difficult work. We’ve assembled five helpful tips to help strengthen your lyric-writing game.