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Tips to fill space Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 12th March 2019
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Tips to fill space

Hello guys,

I'm currently working on new songs for my band. I get pretty satisfying results when it comes to mixing, the structure of the songs are good, but I feel like some parts can get boring due to the fact that I don't know much about filling space.

Let's say I have a good verse, in my context it's often with drums/bass/guitar, I like every line of that verse, the vocals are catchy, but I think I could add a little more to avoid the listener from getting bored. Important thing is that I don't want to add harmony since my guitar and bass already make a lot of harmony, I want to keep things simple.

That feeling of emptiness often comes on the second verse. Since my 1st chorus explodes well, my second verse can sound a bit empty, and I don't want that. I like to keep the vibe I installed in the 1st chorus until the bridge comes. And at the same time, if I add too much on 2nd verse, I'll have to add things on 2nd chorus, I want to avoid that escalation.
I'm talking about a simple sutrcutre by the way : verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus/chorus.

I think I'm pretty good at removing instruments to make good events, but I'm really a newbie to adding things. I don't know a lot of sounds. I use some open hi/hats, some reverse cymbals, triangles, maybe adding reverb here and there, but when I hear hip-hop songs, I hear much more events than I have.

Last important thing, I mix in a pop context with inspirations such as Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons or 21 pilots. But I'm open minded so I'll pay a lot of attention to advices from hip-hop/rap producers, since you guys know a lot of things about filling space.

Thanks for your tips have a good day !
Old 13th March 2019
  #2
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Bart Nettle's Avatar
You could do what you are good at; removing instruments! Strip it right back to the very least accompaniment that supports the verse and bring in and out other elements.
The best way for filling space is to create it first.
You might get some ideas for introducing embellishments.
Old 13th March 2019
  #3
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atma's Avatar
I think the possible answers to this question are nearly endless and encompass pretty much every facet of music making, from songwriting, arrangement, sound design, mixing, etc., etc.

The most concise advice I can offer is to refine your objective, critical listening skills and start utilizing "reference" tracks—songs from similarly styled artists as yourself, whom you idolize. You ought to be able to A/B your own tracks vs. one or more similar reference tracks, and you should fairly quickly begin to get some ideas as to what you're missing.

I'd also second the opinion of sticking with what you're good at (however I'm also always about constant progression and evolution), so depending upon what you deem as being lacking, you may want to actually defer to someone else with a more refined skill set—e.g., really experienced mixing engineers will know exactly how to polish your ideas into a finished record, without you having to spend the next 20 years learning those techniques to even approach their level of that specific side of the craft.
Old 14th March 2019
  #4
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

I usually like to fill space by adding subtle synth "ear candy" if it sounds appropriate for the track, and trying out various things with different percussion instruments (obviously these elements will receive crazier mix treatment).

It's very easy to go overboard with that stuff though, so keep that in mind. Too often people do something cool on a track and instead of being stingy with it they overuse it. Give people a reason to play your work over and over and over again. Allow yourself to get creative and think outside the box when trying to add subtle touches that end up really making a big difference.
Old 14th March 2019
  #5
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Muser's Avatar
some people sometimes ride the volume up leading into a chorus. because it can give the effect of the chorus hitting harder.
Old 17th March 2019
  #6
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Thanks for your advices !

Well it's true that I never really used a reference track, since I was afraid of copying artists ^^.
But I tried it and it looks good, I can really figure out what I lack in my song by comparing.

Also I tried to add discret voices with big effects and it fills very well ! It brings the sweet reverbs that I don't want to be too present on lead vocals for example.

Thanks again.
Old 17th March 2019
  #7
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atma's Avatar
ALSO:

AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE, AUTOMATE!

automation is really the key to keeping things moving, modulating, changing, interesting
Old 18th March 2019
  #8
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You mean automate volume for example ?

I used to automate volume to keep things interesting, I still do on tracks but not on master. I tend to think that if a part of my song sounds too empty, it's because I ****ed up on harmony, for example guitar and bass are playing almost the same thing. Regardless of style, I think the Police understood that very well, I'm still blown away by their ability to fill space with only 3 instruments and voices (walking on the moon or can't stand loosing you), and with such a poor production imho. So I prefere to work in that direction rather than automations ^^.

I like to use automations for reverb, phone effect, EQ though.
Old 18th March 2019
  #9
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atma's Avatar
volume, sure, but literally nearly everything in a mix can be automated—it's just another (very powerful) tool that allows you to maintain interest by keeping things moving, changing, modulating, etc., rather than everything staying static and predictable. Any of your send fx can be quickly manipulated to become more or less prominent during any part of a song section if you simply need some small flourishes, e.g. But it's really the dynamic nature of automating things that really keeps things interesting, rather than simply "filling up space".
Old 18th March 2019
  #10
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

In order to truly rap your head around using automation to your greatest advantage, you have to stop thinking about your productions from a simple, static viewpoint.

Start thinking about them as living, breathing, pieces of music. Eventually, you wont even need to think about what things you should be automating. Instead, you will have an idea, and automation will end up being part of the solution to making that idea possible.

A lot of people use the same instruments, the same hardware processors, the same software. How we choose to inject flavor and life into our work is often what distinguishes one person from another, and automation often plays a big role in allowing that to be possible. Volume automation is just the tip of the iceberg, but that too can allow you to get quite deep with creating flavor in your productions and mixes when you start to fully consider all the things that you can possibly do with it.

Automating overall volume or the volume for certain instruments as the song flows from section to section is probably the most BASIC, primitive idea that you can use volume automation for. What if instead you decided to create a parallel channel for something and compress/distort the crap out of it, and use volume automation to slowly bring in that channel as the verse starts to transition into the chorus. What if you automated a reverb send so as the verse transitioned into the chorus it progressively changed the feel of something that prepped the listener for a much bigger/wetter sound from the chorus. We could go on all week talking about things like this, but the great thing about it is that none of it is hard to do. You just need to come up with the ideas first.

If you're looking for "next level" results, you have to start thinking like a next level producer/audio engineer. The fact that you're hear inquiring about these things means you probably have it in you to do just that.
Old 19th March 2019
  #11
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by PettyCash View Post
you have to stop thinking about your productions from a simple, static viewpoint.

Start thinking about them as living, breathing, pieces of music. Eventually, you wont even need to think about what things you should be automating. Instead, you will have an idea, and automation will end up being part of the solution to making that idea possible.
Absolutely! In fact, often one of the biggest differences I see between beginner mixing engineers and experienced ones relates a lot to the use of automation.
Old 19th March 2019
  #12
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Yeah I get the idea, since we're using virtual instruments it's even more important to give additionnal life to the tracks, I don't really know where I should start but I'll try to use it. I noticed that hearing one of my songs next to someone who's a complete stranger to music makes me hear a lot more the weaknesses of my production. I'll try to write where I feel "guilty" and see what I can do with automations ^^.

Thanks again.
Old 19th March 2019
  #13
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatov View Post
I noticed that hearing one of my songs next to someone who's a complete stranger to music makes me hear a lot more the weaknesses of my production.
How do you mean, exactly? Generally speaking, comparing one's tracks to those of one's idols usually reveals the weaknesses/flaws/etc.
Old 19th March 2019
  #14
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When I write parts for a song, I usually end up over producing them, too busy, too much effects.


Then when I mix it, I start off with very little, and during the course of the song, keep adding a little more for every new verse and new chorus. Then at the end I'll bring everything in.
Old 19th March 2019
  #15
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PettyCash's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatov View Post
Yeah I get the idea, since we're using virtual instruments it's even more important to give additionnal life to the tracks, I don't really know where I should start but I'll try to use it. I noticed that hearing one of my songs next to someone who's a complete stranger to music makes me hear a lot more the weaknesses of my production. I'll try to write where I feel "guilty" and see what I can do with automations ^^.

Thanks again.
Consider automation a tool that you can use for solving certain creative problems. Using automation just for the sake of having automation take place should be avoided, as it wastes time that can be allocated toward something else, and it could cause you to do things that honestly make no sense for the track and doesn't really add anything valuable. Some duties that one would normally use automation for can even be handled by certain plug-ins (like using an auto-panner for example).

Instead, place your focus on trying to create a great listening experience. What a great listening experience even is should be based on your own personal opinion. That opinion is what people pay producers and engineers for, so it is quite important that if you don't already have one that you get one established by doing some homework (listening to a ton of music and analyzing what's going on, etc.). You can also try to search online for some articles and videos on the topic. The goal is to develop your own tastes and allow those tastes to guide you through your production and mixing process.
Old 19th March 2019
  #16
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Does it make you move?
Is everything in tune? or as desired
Is the song any good?

if you are missing something only some of the time, it's often the movement that gets lost. Add percussion of some kind. carry the beat.
Old 19th March 2019
  #17
Gear Head
Rethink if you could live with a few more tones. Here I don't mean anything obvious. Something very subtle somewhere in the background. Maybe some single notes, but odd ones, adding chroma. (Check out the American albums by Cash. Pretty simple stuff you think and then you start listening and discover pianos, a 3rd and 4th guitar, a violin,...)

If you really don't want to add any notes maybe try some spaced out stereo reverb. My favourit for this purpose is Valhalla Shimmer. Maybe on the reverb add some volume variation. Eg in thirds up and down.
Old 19th March 2019
  #18
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Automate for FOCUS. Arrange for interest. If the bass, guitar etc are playing the same part in each chorus and verse than the arrangement needs spicing up such as adding a bass riff and/or slide to the second/third verse or chorus that wasn't in the first(arrangement)in an "emptier" part AND automate the volume or compression of that part so that it is the focus for that moment, then move to the next thing to focus on. If you don't point the listener at something as the focus then you are going to lose their interest. So when there is no vocal there should be something else stepping up, and it should be something ever changing. A cool drum fill. A bar of staccato guitar stabs. Something should always be the focal point(even something slow and non dynamic)otherwise it's all just random well mixed noise.
Old 22nd March 2019
  #19
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b0se's Avatar
Something I read that lodged in my mind was:

"Automation is a song within a song"

That opened me to more ideas and a better way of thinking. Not just volume and panning of course; FX, saturation etc. Don't be afraid to automate delays and reverb also. Serban G does that a lot and it's a very clever way of adding subtle movement.

I like to take two elements and automate them as if they're (horizontal) DNA strands, twisting up (into focus), or down (into the BG) in time and opposite to each other. You can combine these elements (less twisting, as such) for crescendos or final chorus parts.
Old 22nd March 2019
  #20
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se View Post
I like to take two elements and automate them as if they're (horizontal) DNA strands, twisting up (into focus), or down (into the BG) in time and opposite to each other. You can combine these elements (less twisting, as such) for crescendos or final chorus parts.
what now? :D
Old 25th March 2019
  #21
Here for the gear
 

You guys helped me a lot

When I say that I like hearing my music next to someone, for example we're working with a video clip agency. They come from a more hip-hop background, and when they listen to my music they don't care about all the details I added they just listen to the song, as they would for any song. And when I share our new stuff with them, it creates a kind of discomfort to me. And that discomfort makes me see the bigger picture. That's where automation could become useful.


So I tried a few things. I create a track with a lot of reverb, I put it at a level that will be noticeable, but that won't catch too much attention. I reverse guitar and vocal tracks and I put it in that track. That works very well.
Also I heard You rock my world by Michael Jackson, and I noticed that he put triangle on some snares, I tried it and it's really cool.
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