Getting it right the first time…
The approach that many like to take take when building a dance track is to start with the kick drum and then follow up with the snare, hats, and any other percussive sounds that are central to the overall feel. With those elements in place, the groove of the track is established and you are free to move onto the melody, effects, and any other color you may want to throw in. While adding layers, its important to make sure that you take the time to choose your timbres carefully and make incremental adjustments to the overall mix. Constantly ensuring that the mix stays clean prevents you from having to make radical changes just when you think things are wrapping up.
Its precisely this advice from author Rick Snoman on the Dance Music Manual companion CD that I failed to follow in the track that I am currently working on and the reason I spent hours rebuilding and mixing the track from the ground up when problems surfaced.
The kick, snare, and hats sounded great. I added an amazing sounding bass line and noticed that the kick and bass clashed slightly. It still sounded good. I convinced myself that I should move on to the next layer and that I could simply clean up the mix at the end. When I got to that point, I (sadly) discovered that no amount of EQing was going to make the kick and bass work together. I had to change the kick. When I got the kick and the bass working together, the snare no longer fit. Back to the drawing board I went. With the kick, bass, and snare right, I had to revisit the hats. Then adjust the levels and EQ of the synths. Then rework compression. It went on for hours. Needless to say, I’ll not be making that mistake again.
Free Download – Chapter 12 Audio Clip from the Dance Music Manual Companion CD
By day, Matt Allen is mild mannered software engineer. By night, you can find him in his home studio where he is still learning the dark arts of electronic music production and composition. Some of his work can be found here: http://soundcloud.com/analog-interrupt