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Keying - can someone explain and give examples?
Old 24th July 2005
Gear Addict
celebritymusic's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Keying - can someone explain and give examples?


I'm a relative newbie home recording engineer, and have been looking at the keying and key listen features of SAwstudio.

Can someone please explain what keying is, and give examples of how this is used to create different effects in music?


Old 24th July 2005
Lives for gear
mac black's Avatar
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years

keying (used with gates sometimes called ducking ) or side chain (used with compressors I like to call it ducking too) is basically triggering a function or controlling a function by other source rather then the original source you hear going through the device you sidechain/key.
In simple terms, if you have a long sustained note and you put a gate on the note you can trigger the gate to open and close by sending other sounds to it,
For example: I’ll be using logic (Emagic turned apple) terms but you can do it on any other program.
program a hi-hat playing 16´th on a 4 bar loop and send it to Bus 1 and then program a 4 bar long note on a different track, make sure you cycle (or loop) for this exercises, insert a gate on the long note track and when you look at the gate editing screen you can see the usual threshold attack release and floor level, you will also see a key or sidechain at the top right of the screen , in the key box select Bus 1 and then play and adjust your threshold and other setting to create a 16´th pattern from the long note, remember that the gate will open and close by the sound you send into it via the key (in this case the 16´th hh you programmed earlier.
You could also duck sounds using a kick in dance tunes (like call on me/Eric pryde or earlier daft punk records... it gives you that sucking effect .

Hope this helps

Good luck with your show
Old 24th July 2005
Gear Guru
u b k's Avatar
🎧 15 years
first, you locate the asshole's shiny new car in the parking lot. then...

wait, my mistake.

del ubik
Old 24th July 2005 | Show parent
Gear Nut
🎧 15 years
Another tried and true use of keying with a gate is to key a low frequency tone when the kick drum hits. It works best if you have a clean kick drum track with minimal leakage, kick sample or an already gated kick drum track. Send the kick track via a bus internally in your SAWstudio. Open or create a new auxiliary input. Add a tone generator, if available, to the plug-in fx section. If not, then you can go totally old school and tape down a key to an old synth that has a nice fat low sine tone and input that to the auxiliary input. Set it to a low frequency of 50-80hz with a sine wave. (Watch your monitor levels when you are bringing in a low frequnecy tone generator. Make sure the level does not come in too loud!) Add a gate after the tone generator. Set the gate for external keying and have it receive the signal from the bus you assigned on the kick drum track. Set the attack and thresholds so that the gate opens when the kick hits. When the gate opens this will pass the low freq tone in the mix. Play with the attack, release, and hold times. This will add the low frequency "whump" to the kick. Turn up the output level of the tone generator for more whump. A fun trick and it can be totally addictive when you do it. Have fun.
Old 24th July 2005
Lives for gear
e-cue's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by celebritymusic
...give examples of how this is used to create different effects in music?


This example isn't really an 'effect' as much as it was an approach that gave me the pumpiness I wanted without sacrificing what I considered key (no pun intended) elements of the track:

Hope it helps.
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