You know, I’ve always been an advocate of less is more; but upon hearing a quote from Dave Eringa during one of our Q&A’s last year, it occurred to me that I’d been under a false assumption of the way I approach sessions. You see, he said quite the opposite; in fact he said ‘If less is more, imagine how much more, more could be!’
I loved that idea so much that I’ve been reflecting upon it ever since, and today I wanted to discuss one major way you can add more to your tracks in this week's 2nd instalment of our focus this month on Mixing.
So, let’s dive in!
For The Love Of Synth!
I have a not so secret love affair with Synths of all kinds. They have a way of texturizing a sound to almost be in reach of something tangible - like my way of describing distortion and saturation in terms of grains of sand. The outright front runner when picking out the right synth for the job is invariably Pigments 3 from Arturia.
At first glance, Pigments looks very complicated, but the layout has been carefully created to help workflow - and better yet, the developers have spent a lot of time creating many tutorial videos to help guide new users!
This synth is incredible in what it can achieve - everything from modular sounds, through to sequencing, analogue, to wave-table - the possibilities are endless with this glorious plugin. I’ve particularly enjoyed using it on an artist and friend of mine’s current sessions. Kyra Jinx is one of the most imaginative people I’ve had the pleasure to work with, but with that comes the need to expel a lot of thoughts all at once - so when confronted with knowing something needed to be added, but not knowing what, we turned to references and it became clear what we needed was rather special; a sound of its own, yet with elements relating to the references she had in mind and it wasn’t long before we found something neither of us were expecting to sound as good as it did. And with that, the song sprung to life and we continued fully motivated.
That’s kind of what this plugin does, it simply just inspires you in a way you don’t expect even after using it for a while. To be totally honest, I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface, but if you grab this plugin, be open to falling down the rabbit hole - you never know what you’ll find, just as I did!
Orchestrate The Orchestration
In most of my work, I like to make sure there’s always room for some sort of orchestral elements, simply because I believe they embellish a record in such an ineffable way. Violins are a particular favourite of mine, but I know that many don’t dive deeper than the simple legato options available when there is so much more!
In almost every library available, there are many, many articulations available to switch between on the keyboard - these will be notes specifically not in the scale of that instrument that are placed strategically on the keyboard out of the way to tell the sample library to change between the articulations for a certain part of the song.
For example, you could switch between a legato or long played note of any velocity for as long as you’d like to sustain that note for, and upon the next note, change the articulation to a staccato or short played note with a clear ending, allowing way for a carefully curated arpeggio to overlay perhaps a more intricate part of the song; then switch back to legato again by signalling the library to do so.
Spitfire Audio describe this particular library from Olafur as being the piano re-imagined, and they don't disappoint!
Another of my favourite additions to almost any song is a library from Olafur Arnalds, an Icelandic composer whom I’ve admired for years. When I heard he had libraries on the way, I checked them out and was instantly blown away by all of them, but one in particular was so unique and inspired me in a way nothing had before. The Stratus Library made in tandem with Spitfire audio features rhythmic patterns on both piano and synth, along with several variations that you can blend together to to make patterns that dance around the other elements of a mix, all with the ability to add various effects like filters, delay, convolution reverb, saturation and more to shape the best sound to suit your mixes. My description doesn’t do it justice, so I implore you to take a look yourself if you’re not already aware of the library; It’s simply world altering once you hear what the library has to offer.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts this week and as always, if there’s a topic you’d like to chat about or for me to write about I’d love to hear it - so please, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to help!
As always though, until next week, stay creative!