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Newbie producer looking for advice


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#1
EmptyCloud432

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Hello all! My apologies if this sort of thread is discouraged here. I have been dabbling in production for a few years, but just started getting serious after switching from Ableton to Logic Pro X. Almost immediately things are clicking for me in Logic that took months of agonizing study in Ableton, and I am starting to crystallize my desires in sound creation in a fashion that is giving me hope that the sounds in my head can finally come out and be shared with the world.

 

I am looking for experienced downtempo bass music/psybient producers willing to illuminate for me some of the techniques that I should be focusing on learning. I don't require deep instruction or anything as I have got many gigabytes of videos about Logic and Alchemy and such to watch over the next couple months. Just looking for a basic "hey, you should learn this stutter edit technique, or learn to gate vocals, or learn how to sidechain".

 

My music is coming out a blend of psybient and more trap focused bass music with my passions of shoegazer/ambient/Dream-pop/post-rock with my electric guitar. i am also an experienced vocalist/lyricist/beatboxer with an acoustic band as my other project so I will be adding lots of vocals and vocal sound effects to my work.

 

My Rig is as follows:

2012 Macbook Pro, soon to be upgraded to 16gb RAM and a new SSD

Nektar Impact LX49 MIDI controller

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 interface

2x behringer XM8500 Dynamic Mics

Logic Pro X (and Mainstage)

G&L ASAT Bluesboy Classic electric guitar

 

 

Thank you for your sage wisdom , friends <3

 

 

TLDR : I would love to know what techniques are the best for a budding psychill producer to learn. No need to go into detail, just the name of the technique is fine. Blessings.

 


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#2
Matt Freak Flag

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Welcome to the forum :)

 

I'm actually pretty similar to you musically.  While I don't care for trap, my live set right now ranges from downtempo breaks and psybient-infused trip-hop to midtempo glitchy funk.  I also chose Logic for production, though I still have to hack my way through Ableton (slowly) for performing.  I also use a guitar a lot, too: for my chill sets, mostly on soundscapes dripping with reverb; for, the dancier stuff, it's all about that clean 70s Strat spank. 

 

You've got awesome gear already - top notch albums have been made with far less, so don't let anyone tell you you need this or that flavor-of-the-week.  What's your monitoring situation, though?  Good monitors are invaluable.  They don't have to be ridiculously good, but headphones or stereo speakers are NOT acceptable substitutes in my experience.  KRK Rokit 5 (not 8), entry level JBLs, or used Adams or Dynaudios would be my suggestions on a budget. 

 

As for synths, the fact that you have Logic and therefor Alchemy means you already have what was until recently considered a top-tier third-party soft synth rivaling the likes of Omnisphere etc.  If you learn Alchemy inside and out, that will serve you forever, and you will always find new ways to use it creatively. 

 

As for what to learn... I'm not sure what your current skill level is, so forgive me if something I say is either too simple or too complicated. 

 

I don't know much about trap percussion, but I think the same rules apply as with any other genre.  Mainly, sample selection is king.  More often than not, no amount of processing will substitute for a well-picked (or, well-made) sample.  Can't polish a turd and all, and it's easy to suck the life out of your sounds if you try.  If I could go back and do one thing differently from day 1, I would spend less time polishing turds and more time keeping a better organized, well-curated sample library.  20 kicks that you like and can actually use are worth far more than 3000 unsorted kicks with 100 you might use but never be able to find, endlessly digging through samples while your creativity finds a corner in which to hang itself.

 

If you're making bass music, you'll want to know the basics of... well, bass.  Yes, sidechain compression is a staple of the genre.  The now ubiquitous "wobble" or "wub" is a staple, too, and I'm of the opinion that making a good wobble takes a minute to learn and a lifetime to master.  I'd learn what a Reese bass is, too, and at least a few methods of making one.  Both wobbles and Reeses can be aggressive and heavy or mellow and smooth depending on your execution.  

 

For the psybient stuff... there's a few staple sounds in psytrance/psybient that are worth at least learning, but you don't need to use them everywhere (or at all).  The psy-squelch or psy-fart, the trance gated pad or vocal, the sample-and-hold sequence, and more than I can think of are all still used all the time.  Time-honored techniques like the dub delay are used in virtually every genre. 

 

If you work with vocals, consider learning a few advanced techniques.  Pre-compression, an underused form of side-chain compression, is amazing on vocals (or anything else) and surprisingly easy to do; learning how and when to use pitch correction is also key.  Logic has a very useable pitch-correction plugin, great for creative spacey auto-tuned effects. 

 

Logic's compressor is awesome for a built-in plugin.  Learn the models - they are very different from one another.  I think an oscilloscope is a ridiculously useful tool for learning how different plugins shape a sound, especially if you find that you like to learn visually.  It's fantastic for watching how distortion changes a waveform, for example, and how this relates to your headroom. 

 

Learn everything there is to know about Flex Time in Logic.  You'll find it's useful everywhere: from creative time stretching, to correcting performances after-the-fact, to chopping up drum loops... it's extremely well programmed, and the algorithms sound great. 

 

Make sure you learn about sends and bussing and using auxiliary channels for reverb and delay.  To give you a starting point, I start with 4 different reverb aux channels and 4 differing delay aux channels on any given track, and just send whatever to them as needed.

 

Don't be afraid to customize your hotkeys in logic.  Alt+K opens up the keyboard command list.  I have a ton of custom commands that I would never want to be without. 

 

Eh, that's all I can think of at the moment. 

 

Try things out and experiment at LEAST as much as you follow manuals and tutorials.  Alchemy alone is so expansive that you could watch every tutorial on earth and there would still be creative ways left to discover. 

 

Twist knobs and have fun. 

 

See my signature. 


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#3
Gagarin

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we are collecting tutorials here => http://forum.psybien...eful-resources/

feel welcome to add yours or comment the one you find useful :)


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reality is a creation of your mind


#4
EmptyCloud432

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My goodness Matt Freak Flag! Endless gratitude for that extremely enlightening post!

I guess trap is a loaded word for most these days, i grew up listening to dirty south hip hop and fell in love with the complex drum patterns. Most of the trap music i hear these days is not up my alley, but i do love incorporating those bass heavy 808s with high speed hi hat fills in alot of my tunes :)

Seriously, thank you so much for the detailed reply. When i get back from this festival im at for the weekend i will be diving into everything you mentioned :) Tashi Delek! (Tibetan phrase meaning something like may all auspiciousness come to you)
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#5
EmptyCloud432

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And in regards to monitoring, i live at a meditation center and amplified music is not always appreciated ( my studio is right underneath a room where the monks come to do practice) so my workaround is Closed Back headphones for recording and open backed headphones for mixing and mastering

#6
Lorn

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For the psybient stuff... there's a few staple sounds in psytrance/psybient that are worth at least learning, but you don't need to use them everywhere (or at all).  The psy-squelch or psy-fart, the trance gated pad or vocal, the sample-and-hold sequence, and more than I can think of are all still used all the time.  Time-honored techniques like the dub delay are used in virtually every genre. 

 

 

If I may be so bold to ask the question...any chance to get some direction in making these classic staple sounds?



#7
Matt Freak Flag

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If I may be so bold to ask the question...any chance to get some direction in making these classic staple sounds?

 

Well, for the squelches, Psilocybian posted this to the Isratrance boards a while back and I think most people do something similar.  Slow it way down for a gnarly grow, or, for extra squishiness, use some FM instead of simple oscillators.  Generally, a saw-wave modulator precisely 2 octaves below a sine-wave carrier is a good starting point here.  When the modulator is at sub-audio or nearly sub-audio frequencies, you get that ripping squelchy lead sound that makes up like... half of the leads in forest psy.

 

"Trance-gated" or just gated stuff can be made all sorts of ways; you could just make a pad or vocal and chop it up manually, for maximum control.  However, I prefer the side chain method: Set up your pad or vocal, plug a gate on the channel, and side-chain the gate (with a near-instant attack and release) to your second channel, which is just any old synth running a whatever kind of oscillator.  Make a staccato note pattern on that second channel; don't worry about the notes, just the pattern, and remember to leave enough of space between notes.  When you turn off the audio output of this second channel, your staccato pattern is now controlling the audio that gets through from the first channel.  In Ableton, I think you can just "slice to midi" or something.  And, of course, there are a zillion different plugins that do this, although you'll usually sacrifice some precise control over the pattern that you'd get with the more tedious manual methods.  Xfer LFO Tool is probably the best bang for buck, and it's useful in a hundred other situations, too.  

 

The sample-and-hold sequence is very simple but IMO is the best and most versatile classic psy sound.  Throw your favourite harmonically-rich oscillator (a saw will do) onto your favourite synth (that has a band pass filter).  Set the band-pass filter somewhere in the middle-ish, with high resonance, but not quite so much that it self oscillates.  Modulate the frequency of that band-pass filter with a sample-and-hold LFO (the random stairstep looking one that most synths have; might also be called "random step" or even just "random"). Chose 1/16note as the speed of the LFO.  Throw a stereo delay and some reverb on that channel, and you have instant psychedelic goodness.  That's just a starting point - you can use the S&H LFO to modulate literally anything and it will probably sound cool: oscillator type, distortion amount, resonance, FM amount, pitch, amount of reverb, all of the above, etc.  Try with different filter types, try with parallel filters, try with no filter...


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If it sounds good, it is good.  


#8
Matt Freak Flag

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 but i do love incorporating those bass heavy 808s with high speed hi hat fills in alot of my tunes

 

Hey I for one am looking forward to hearing it :)

 

I have an aversion to trap stylings for no real good reason.  I went travelling 3 summers ago when it exploded in popularity, and was essentially camping and hiking for the first month or so, so missed most of the explosion.  Came back to civilization, and it was... everywhere.  And most of it was terrible... to me anyways.  Went to a few festivals that did not originally have trap on the lineup that suddenly were half trap because every DJ was spinning it.  My partner and I were just confused.  It was a pretty weird experience.  808s went from a funny novelty to something that was on every non-psytrance festival dancefloor went to in the span of a month or two.    

 

Also the Daft Punk album came out that summer.  So all we heard for like two months was Get Lucky alternating with "wtf are all these 808s?"  

 

But I've heard good trap, too.  Chill groovy stuff.  Good luck!  Sucks about the monitoring situation, but so it goes.  Try to check your mixes on speakers somewhere.  


If it sounds good, it is good.  


#9
EmptyCloud432

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<3 I have a friend with a studio, ill be taking my tracks to his spot just to relax and absorb. Now I have multiple different projects going as I just got a vocal looper, need to dedicate as much as possible to all 3 of my avenues of expression (Logic Pro X, my acoustic band, and my accapella beatboxing looping solo project) (on top of my office job and my incoming star child baby)

 

I need to clone myself!



#10
Iacchus

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I wouldnt advise mixing on headphones, if you want your bass to behave itself, no matter how good they are.

 

In terms of general production advice, look at formant filtering, using that when making your squelch noises has some great results.. thats something that hasnt been mentioned here

 

I wouldnt say any particular technique is especially important though, just lay down some beats and some synths etc, then repeat for several years until you start to get good at making the noises you like.  Get a really good synth and learn it inside out, dont be fooled into thinking the next toy will make all the difference, it is better to know 1 tool really well than to have tons lying around and not know any of them that well.


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