Lobos Aulladores

  • Todays noodle doesn't quite know what it's trying to be. I'm now going back to basics trying a few different approaches on bass and drums. This time it's sjidechaining the kick to the bass, although I'm not sure I love what it does, anyhow this may not be successful there but if nothing else I'm learning the tools at my disposal.

  • I read that sidechaining is used a lot in dance music where you want that push-pull. Did you do it with a volume envelop or plugin?

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • With a compressor, I wanted to ensure it was as fast as possible. However I think I’ll try it with an eq next if I go for it again as I don’t really want to kill the whole bass on kick but just carve out a little bit of space in a less obvious way.

  • That was fun. And certainly has that south of the border vibe to it. I had to GoogleCheat to find that it meant Howling Wolves (growing up in Texas as I did, the only Spanish I know is the kind that would get me kicked out of a Mexican bar). Reminds me a little of some of the songs in Desperado (Antonio Bandares), which had a great sound track.

    If your intent is to clear some of the low end out to allow the kick to poke through and you don't want to just high pass it, then side chaining seems like a reasonable approach. Compression is a natural go to, but there are a lot of cool dynamic EQs out these days that would lend themselves well to side chaining so that's another good thought. And of course, there's no reason you couldn't use a touch of both.

    There's a lot of information in the low end, perhaps with more contributors than just the bass. If you don't feel like you're getting the bang for the buck you're looking for putting the effects on the bass, another idea might be to take the bass, the low guitar parts, maybe lower keyboards and run them through a bus, then side chain the bus. Of course, that could then get weird with those disparate characters all sharing a bus, so I guess you could also copy / paste your side chain effects onto each of the channels. Just thinking out loud, really...

  • Thanks those are good suggestions and feedback, I'll give them a try. I really do want that definition for both instruments which I know really lives in the mids rather than bass itself. But I also know how big of a weakness I have in taming my bass frequencies because I love *lots* of bass. Most of the time I cut all low frequencies (<100hz) on everything but the drums and bass guitar, but it can still get congested so easily.

    I have this feeling that perhaps the only important thing to get right for a great mix or pop sound is the rhythm section and then it almost doesn't matter what's the guitar etc is doing on top. I mean it matters and I should be doing better at it too, but I know how weak my drum sound design and bass are, so I'm extra aware of it and open to trying out many different things to find a solution to try and raise my game in the pursuit of trying to make something actually worth listening to, or at least that sounds well produced.

  • As a rocker I couldn't agree more that the single most important thing in the song is the rhythm section (conventional wisdom about the vocal be damned). If the bass and drums are cooking, you can train chimpanzees to stand in from of them and it'll still be a great band. If they're lame, even Eddie couldn't help you. One of the reasons Van Halen was such a great band is the fact that, like the Who or Rush, the power plant was insanely good. And all this coming from the guy who's both the lead singer and guitarist, the two biggest prima donnas in any band. :)

    I gave this another listen and I think at least for this song it's not so much the bass or low frequencies stomping on the kick as it is the rhythm section overall being overpowered by guitars and keys. They're panned out of the way but both are very hot compared to the levels of the bass and drums, so that's most of what I'm hearing.

    There's also a lot of reverb (which sounds good), so it might be the levels of the instruments or it might be the reverb return level. Either way, I think if the instruments came down or the bass and drums came up, you'd hear punch in the drums because they would be at a peer level to the rest of the instruments. At that point you could fine tune more within the rhythm section itself.

    Don't know if any of this is actually useful, it's just what I'm hearing.

    in the pursuit of trying to make something actually worth listening to, or at least that sounds well produced.

    Don't you win, like, Grammys or some other kind of awards for your work? This is just back seat driving from an out of work musician. :)

  • Haha, I wish. No I’m just some rank know-nothing beginner amateur trying to figure out my way on something that gives me a lot of pleasure (music). But it’s kind of you to warm up my ego a little.

    You’re right about the guitars, I wanted that sort of complex multi-part clarity and sound going on that you get with some of those Tom Petty arrangements but I didn’t do due diligence and just listen and copy the balance from a recording instead going from memory only.

    Another thing I’ve realized is that there is no “ideal” mix, lots of great old sounds have all sorts of odd mixes, but there are definitely tips and tricks to learn. So long as it’s in the service of the song then it’s good… having said that because I don’t really write songs but just noodle I think that goes against me. Analogy time - I very much believe there’s a story to every song, a good singer is a good actor and a good producer is the director, which makes the engineer the cameraman trying to frame it all and the mix is in the service of that story. With a little bit of improvisation it’s harder to figure out what the story is and make a mix that serves what it is you want out of it, you’re too close to the subject and want everything to be on display, “hey listen to this bassline! But also to this guitar and this guitar and this keyboard and these drums!” when really you need to find a focus.

  • I wanted that sort of complex multi-part clarity and sound going on that you get with some of those Tom Petty arrangements

    I love Tom Petty and really admire the arrangements. Honestly, I think you're well into that territory. All you need is some tweaking on levels and maybe some EQ carving so that everyone has their own turf, at which point I think your arrangement is going to shine through.

    Once you have the levels a bit more balanced out, you might look at each guitar and keyboard part and give some thought to which chunk of the frequency spectrum it should "own." For example, if the signature sound of one guitar part really lives between 700 - 800, then maybe you set your Q wide enough to highlight it and give it a little 1 - 3 db bump. Then take that same range and do a corresponding 1 - 3 db cut on the other guys in that sonic real estate (other guitars & keys). Then go to the next instrument and figure out where that one lives, rinse and repeat. That will cut out some mud and give clarity to each part without castrating them.

    “hey listen to this bassline! But also to this guitar and this guitar and this keyboard and these drums!” when really you need to find a focus.

    Yeah, I grapple with that sometimes as well when there are several instruments / parts in a song that I fall in love with. The analogy I use is a spotlight. Focus goes to where it's shining, and it can only shine on one thing at a time. On the hook it might be the guitar part, on the verse maybe it's the vocal, the bridge might be a rhythm section build up, etc.

    Of course, I want everything to be cool, but it's like that line from the bad guy in The Incredibles - "When everyone's special, then no one is special."

  • Those are some cool tricks I’ll have to try out as soon as I get a grip on what’s meant to be the hero for each section.

    Yeah, if you ever get that sort of thing figured out then I'll buy you a beer and you can show me. I still struggle with it.