Cover/ Thumbnail Photo Credit : Drew Ressler /Rukes www.rukes.com
Dance Music, designed for night clubs to be loud and make people move. If your a modern music producer, chances are you are either a DJ or want to be a DJ at some point in your career.
Awesome, now what is the single most important aspect of a club tune?
It has to hit, period.
When you are starting out there is a HUGE gap between pro tunes and your tunes, this gap seems impossible to breach.
What can you do to make your track hit harder right now?
Simple, BUILD IT LIKE A HOUSE.
This is my theory.
When your new to the production game you focus on the higher elements.
Because these are the elements the human ear picks up on first.
You aren't thinking about the bass ( or maybe you are, but in the wrong way ) .
You are worried about designing these nifty sounds in the high range, the stuff people hear.
This is what I did for years...
It wasn't until one day while standing in the middle of the dance floor like a dumbass did I realize that I was focusing on the wrong shit, I should be worried first and foremost about the low end grooving.
For whatever reason, I tended to ignore the importance of the bottom end.
Lets face it when you start out you are most likely using random speakers , ear buds or some headphones that your friend loaned you.
With these devices, you mainly hear...
The Mids/ Highs, so that's what you focus on.
Now I could say, get some sweet monitors ,rock a sub and your problem is solved. But that's money and if you live in a apartment, have fun when the cops show up.
This brings me back to start, build it like a house.
You don't build a house with the roof first, you build a solid foundation for it to sit on.
You need to do this with your track.
This is the single most important thing I ever did in helping me learn to mix, I ALWAYS Mix in this order...
Kick Drum- Sub- Bass - Snare- High Bass/ Mid Section- Vocals/ Lead- Top Line Fluff - Hats ETC
Of course, not every track will have all of these elements, some will be lacking a sub line some won't have a true bass line.
The important part is that you build the foundation around the drum/sub/bass.
Now you may be saying, duh that's what everyone does !
Maybe, but I know I didn't.
I'd make a melody, then try to throw a bass under that and finally add some drums to the mix.
Of course, the drums didn't have room in the mix, since I mixed the melody huge.
I was then scared to make the melody smaller .
Hello land of mud and over compression.
Making the house a home
( uber lame I know , had to )
Ok, so the best way I've found to add these layers is to envision them like you are stacking bricks.
I get the bass elements solid, then I layer the mid/lead/vocal whatever just on top of the bass.
I have it loud ( high ) enough in the mix so it stands out, but not too high that there is a large gap between the bass and the lead.
I feel a major benefit to this layer drums first method is that you ALWAYS know where to put the next element in the mix.
Your drum is hitting hard, your sub is deep, bass line grooving.
Then , just place the next highest element.
This will involve some mental images in your head, but I truly think this is one of the keys to a clean mix.
If you build roof first, then you have to try to fit elements under the highs.
Doing this makes it harder to hear whats going on down below.
Learn where a kick drum should sit.
Listen to your favorite artists track 500 times.
It doesn't matter what you are listening to it on, just learn WHAT YOU HAVE.
Once you learn where the kick drum should sit in your track, you can then build all the elements around it.
In placing the elements around the kick drum/sub bass you then can be sure you'll have a strong foundation to build the rest of your track on.