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How do YOU add movement to your tracks?
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Colin McCabe
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#1
16th March 2012
Old 16th March 2012
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How do YOU add movement to your tracks?

I seem to struggle at times with making a song feel like its moving. Things start to feel dull and boring. I usually switch up element in the verses and I use mpc templates to quantized my drums into a groove. I've been trying to learn how to set my times for reverbs and delays. Sometimes I feel like I just plain need to turn up the bpm but it just doesn't seem like the real solution. What else can I do?
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16th March 2012
Old 16th March 2012
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The structure dictates how fast the pacing goes. Listen for the lulls and fix the structure or add cool sounds transitions to push and pull the listener back in (ex: reverse cymbal or guitar feedback before chorus). Lately I've been listening for when elements cut out for dramatic effect. Orchestration is 50 % of the game.
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16th March 2012
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remake other people's beats helps A LOT.
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16th March 2012
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I chop, slice, automate, mute, unmute, stop, start, filter, add, subtract, switch up, turn it up, turn it down.... etc
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16th March 2012
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Dayl's advice is good advice. Automation really helps. You can be constantly automating parameters on soft synths to keep things interesting.
Colin McCabe
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16th March 2012
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I think my problem a lot of the time is making an effective baseline. I did start using automation a lot more recently and it does help.
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16th March 2012
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Not sure what you are trying to/failing to achieve but if it's a tempo thing, it all lies in your rhythm section. If it's about the beat getting boring, try introducing drum fills, drops & riffs at the end of 4s, 8s or 16s. If it's a mix issue, a phaser will give you some movement. Try one on the hats or maybe the top end of the bass line.
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16th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McCabe View Post
I think my problem a lot of the time is making an effective baseline. I did start using automation a lot more recently and it does help.
I can't comment on composition itself.

A couple things that help a bass line move :

Sound and tone selection. Like most things, how your parts interact with each other has a great impact on the final result.

Note length and tail (note release) . If every note fills a block on the sequencer ... it can get boring... visualize and adjust note lengths to get some feeling. Likewise, there will be tracks that call for tight bass and others that call for delay ... but this is bringing us back to the first point

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18th March 2012
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Your delete/mute key is your friend. Use it to keep the arrangement changing and evolving. Repetition is good but the subilties you can add by simply muting a hihat (or whatever) here or there can make a huge difference.
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18th March 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McCabe View Post
I think my problem a lot of the time is making an effective baseline. I did start using automation a lot more recently and it does help.
Study bass guitar if you have trouble understanding basslines. You dont really need to play bass to learn how it should be used in a song. Watch some instructional vids on youtube for bass lessons. Listen to a lot of great bassists like Bootsy Collins and focus just on the bassline.

Its usually the driving force of the track, which keeps it moving along, like you say you need more "movement". I dont think you need automation or any mixing tricks. The movement comes from how you play it. Just work on making better basslines maybe, that have more groove in them, but keep it simple.
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18th March 2012
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I think it's just the ears....you can quantize everything at normal 16th's and sound like its "moving" and yo u can use mpc quantizing and nudging and it won't... I'd say it's the sounds and patterns...or it is moving and you are just your toughest critique...
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19th March 2012
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Stop messin with the templates. Chop manually, basslines crucial but not always everything, solid drums alone can make a dope track, mutes & drop outs work magic. A dope rapper will lend a whole lotta movement too....some stiff minimal whatever beat can be turned into shit that ****s heads up, with the right raps that is....
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19th March 2012
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Automate everything.

Bring your verbs and delays in at just the right time and in just the right place. Automate the feedback on that long delay so it disappears for a few beats and then comes back like a ghost.

Do it by ear. If it moves you...it will move me.

Automation is one of the keys to life (as we know it).
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20th March 2012
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If I am sampling, even if the the melody is pretty constant, I try to change up a few chops on the 4th bar, 8th bar, 16th bar, assuming something fits well. A good transition from verse to hook, even if you don't have a different melody from the hook.


For me, if it's structured for 16 bar verses/8 bar hooks, it repeats from their. Intro, verse, hook, verse, hook, verse, hook, outro with no real changes. I am not saying that is the way to go, that's what I do.


So, in reality, the movement comes from the rapper. From flow, story, words, word play, punchlines, personality, etc. If a good rapper sounds boring on a beat, it's the beats fault for being boring in it's first 24 bars (or whatever structure it's in). You can automate or change things around but if it's a necessity to keep it interesting, the beat is boring. Or the rapper is. That's my opinion.
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20th March 2012
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The first thing I'll do, usually early in the mix, is I'll listen for rhythmic motifs. When I hear one, like maybe a bongo pattern or something, I'll grab that track and I'll use volume automation to exaggerate the rhythm.

I'll also do things with big beats - like the down beat, or the transition from the 4 beat back to the down beat. I'll find something that emphasizes those and play it up - maybe turn the kick up a hair there on the 1.

I'll also create rhythms if I feel there's a lack of drive. For example, I'm printing a mix now where every other snare is sent to a reverb - so it's dry, wet, dry, wet. The hat also pans a little, but it emphasizes the 8th notes of a 16th note pattern.

Then after I've done a basic mix I'll go back through and listen to the track through my ADD ears. As soon as I feel my attention starting to nod off, I'll go in and try to create a "moment." With a delay throw, a beat drop, a stutter. Whatever feels right.
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20th March 2012
Old 20th March 2012
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Varying the way the beat is subdivided can have a huge effect as well.

For example, let's say you have a hi-hat pattern playing 8th notes in the verse. Switching this to 16th notes in the chorus (or having another rhythmic element come in in the chorus that plays 16th notes) will make your chorus feel faster.

By varying the way your beat is subdivided throughout the song, you can add movement without actually varying the tempo.

Listen for this in dance and electro music - two genres that do this well.

Jason
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