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Old 28th September 2005
Past Guest Moderator
Michael Brauer's Avatar

The song will dictate everything that needs to happen. Not gear, not technique, not the “go to” button. It’s about the song and nothing but the song.

Dynamics are going to play a major role in giving the chorus the payoff it needs. I’m not necessarily referring to riding the stereo track up. I mean internal rides going into the chorus like riding the drums up on the last bar or riding up the first chord of the guitars. These are just tiny basic examples to get you started.

I’m riding a whole lotta faders during the course of a mix. I’m riding the vocal to drive the song, riding the bass, toms, cymbals…well pretty much anything that helps make the song come alive. I’m making the mix as animated as possible to get the message of the song across to the listener. Imagine you’re watching an action cartoon and that will be a good starting point for how dynamics work.

Of course, not all songs are going ballistic. I probably do more rides on a ballad than I might on a rocker. It’s the accumulation of many subtle rides that add up to an emotional mix. You can probably set a good level of a compressed string section in a chorus and just let it rip. I prefer to do internal rides within those strings and overall small crescendos of the group to accentuate the passage. I may very well compress them, but that may not be enough to do the section justice. The point is to add movement to the song in order to make it seem to come alive. You’ve got to ask yourself one question “Do I feel lucky?, Well do ya punk?”...oops sorry, I mean, What rides can help a great hook?…punk.

There are no set rules for what stays static or doesn’t because every song is different, the recording is different, the parts are different, basically, everything is different. The point is to use dynamics to bring out the best a song has to offer. What can be done to make the story and the hook of a song burn into your brain forever.

Rides are an essential part of mixing a song to it’s full potential regardless of the amount of compression the mix is going to get hit with by the time it goes to radio. An emotional mix will help the song survive the squash. It’s all about the song. Repeat after me, it’s all about the song.