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14 Tutorials That Will Spice Up Your Track

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When is a track finished? Does what I've done sound good enough? Should I add a few more tracks? I ask similar questions when I'm cooking for the kids. I could heat up some pies, or serve sausages and mashed potatoes. They'll eat it if they're hungry enough, but I won't win any awards. But if I'm cooking for a special occasion, the decisions I make and thought process I take are different. I'll think about the best combination of ingredients I can get, and will usually add some subtle spices to the mix.

Making tasty music is similar. There are things you can do to add spice at each stage of the production process. Here are 14 tutorials that show us how to do make your tracks spicy.


How to Add Spice to Your Music

So what does it mean to enhance our music - to get the best flavor possible out of what we've done? Here are two Premium tutorials from Ryan Leach that start exploring the issue.

You’re a unique artist with ideas you want to express and music you have to share. So how do you make sure that you’re keeping your tracks interesting and fun for your audience to listen to? In this tutorial we’ll look at some of the most common things that people neglect to keep interesting, causing their tracks to feel lifeless and dull, and how we can keep things lively and intriguing to hold on to our audience’s attention.

  • How to Make Your Tracks More Interesting — Audio Premium

    How to Make Your Tracks More Interesting — Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Ryan Leach teaches you how to create interest and variation in your tracks so that you can grab your listener’s attention and keep it.

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  • A Step-by-Step Approach to Conveying Ideas with Music – Audio Premium

    A Step-by-Step Approach to Conveying Ideas with Music – Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Ryan Leach explores how you can use music to express feelings and ideas in a completely intangible way. He takes a detailed step-by-step approach, with full examples including notation and audio examples.

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Arranging Spice

The time to start thinking about all of this is at the beginning, when you're starting to make the first decisions about how to arrange your song - or even while you're still composing it - when you are thinking about the sections and progressions of your song. If you want your meal to be a success, you need to start with a plan and think about the ingredients and their proportions from Stage 1. Do the same with your music.

Sometimes we spend hours, days, even months, struggling to find the perfect chord progression to suit the lyrics we’ve written. And then we find it, only to get bored sick of the same chords being repeated over, and over, and over again.

If you listen to some of the great songwriters, you’ll notice that the chorus progressions, if not all progressions in the song, are constantly being varied in both subtle and obvious ways.

  • How to Add Interest to Your Chord Progression

    How to Add Interest to Your Chord Progression

    Sometimes we spend hours, days, even months, struggling to find the perfect chord progression to suit the lyrics we’ve written. And then we find it, only to get bored sick of the same chords being repeated over, and over, and over again.

    If you listen to some of the great songwriters, you’ll notice that the chorus progressions, if not all progressions in the song, are constantly being varied in both subtle and obvious ways. This tutorial will take you through a bunch of ways to vary up your chord progressions to retain not only your own interest, but your listeners’ interest as well.

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  • How to Create Build Ups and Impact

    How to Create Build Ups and Impact

    Now our breakdown is complete its time to start thinking about where we go next. As this is a dance track, we want to come out of the breakdown on an energetic high and plenty of impact when our drum track is reintroduced.

    This tutorial shows you some methods for creating the build up needed, and ensuring the reintroduction has enough impact without being to loud. I am now using Logic Pro 9 for these tutorials but they will open successfully in Logic Pro 8. Simply click through the warning pop ups and everything should play back correctly.

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Use Only the Best Ingredients While Tracking

The worst use of spice is to cover up the bad taste of moldy ingredients. Throw those rotten tomatoes in the rubbish, not the pot. Same goes for performance. Capture the best possible performance of your musicians and singers. No amount of spice will make a bad performance sound good.

Be willing to go home and come back another day if, after several takes, you still aren’t getting anything right. You should be getting it mostly right and only fixing small issues, rather than needing to overdub every bar.

  • 15 Steps to Pulling Off a Stunning Performance in the Studio

    15 Steps to Pulling Off a Stunning Performance in the Studio

    Pulling off an excellent studio performance can be difficult. The environment is, for most of us, daunting and cold, even if we’ve spent a lot of time in it. But there are many ways you can give yourself the advantage and improve your comfort with that environment. Give them all a shot, and what could go wrong?

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  • The Producer’s Guide to Putting Passion into Vocal Delivery

    The Producer’s Guide to Putting Passion into Vocal Delivery

    “It’s in the can,” “On tape” and “It’s a wrap!” You all gather in the plush leather, shag-pile comfort of the engineering room and wait as the final touches are put to the mix. Anticipation is running high, everything is technically perfect, the rhythm tracks tock to the clock of the heart with precision and feel, perfectly locking in and connecting the bottom end to the mids and linking them to the highs with emphatic punctuation into an harmonious arrangement that captures the feel and energy of live.

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  • 5 Ways to Deliver More Expressive Vocals

    5 Ways to Deliver More Expressive Vocals

    Singing is the first music-making experience most of us ever had. It came naturally without a single lesson probably before you even went to school. You probably started with a nursery rhyme or other well-known song, and you sang for the simple pleasure of it. And your mom probably thought you were amazing!

    She probably still does. But now you need to make sure that others agree with her. We are drawn to singing for all sorts of reasons. You may be a good songwriter, and want to perform your own work. You may love recording your own music, and need some vocals to fill out your sound. You may love performing, whether in a band or a karaoke night. And you prefer not to suck.

    Virtually everyone can sing, but some are naturally talented at it. Talent isn’t everything, though. However much talent you have or don’t have, you can learn to sing better. Here are 5 concepts you need to understand to make your vocals more expressive.

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Spicy Instrument Combinations

The best recipes are creative combinations of amazing foods. With music, you can create something unique and interesting by the way you combine different instruments. This is a major theme of that old movie "The Glenn Miller Story". He found the big band sound he had been looking for all his life when he used a different combination of instruments. His style of music was popular way before my time, but that fact is as relevant today as it ever was.

Are your instruments fighting each other to get the main role of the track? This tutorial is about techniques for having instruments relate to each other in ways that will allow them to share time in the spotlight and work together.

  • How to Build Tracks So That Instruments Relate to Each Other

    How to Build Tracks So That Instruments Relate to Each Other

    Are your instruments fighting each other to get the main role of the track? This tutorial is about techniques for having instruments relate to each other in ways that will allow them to share time in the spotlight and work together. This tutorial also covers using note placement as a way to compensate for having multiple instruments in similar frequency ranges. Keeping with this theme, we’ll also explore using melodic content that is already in the track to inspire new instrument parts, so that like characters in a play, the instruments will agree and disagree on points, but in the complete composition they’ll work together to present a distinct theme.

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  • The Art of Combining Instruments and Sounds

    The Art of Combining Instruments and Sounds

    Finding the right combination of instruments and sounds is an art form, and takes the same creative energy as choosing the right chord, creating a beautiful melody or writing engaging lyrics. A lot of time should be spent in choosing the sounds and instruments you will use in a recording, and how those sounds relate to one another. The instruments you use can define your sound.

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Spicy Effects

Effects are the easiest way to spice up a track. But don't tip in the whole container at once! There are plenty of effects you can use. These tutorials cover tremolo and delay.

  • How to Create Excitement in Your Music with Tremolo

    How to Create Excitement in Your Music with Tremolo

    Tremolo was always one of those plug-ins that my eyes completely skipped past. It wasn’t until some experimenting and tips from other composers that I began to see the potential behind this simple device.

    In this tutorial we’ll look at some examples of how tremolo can help you make some truly interesting and unique sounds, including several techniques used to create the final piece from the “How To Create a Compelling Ostinato” tutorial.

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  • Getting More From Your Tracks With Delay

    Getting More From Your Tracks With Delay

    Delay is a simple device with a wealth of possibilities for adding interest and production value to your tracks. This tutorial will examine different ways that delay can improve the sound of your music and inspire creativity.

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Mixing Spice

A good recipe is all about using ingredients in the right proportions. With music, that's mixing.

Mixing isn’t about cramming as many plug-ins into a mix as possible. It’s not about showing off all the effects you have in your arsenal and putting a different setting on each track. Mixing, in the end, is always about the song. As a mixing engineer it is your job to take the song that was recorded and make it into an even shinier production. You want the band to really shine and be happy with the end result. You don’t want the reaction to be: “Wow, he sure piled on the effects didn’t he?” You want each instrument to sound great in its own right but not dominating the rest of the mix.

  • 15 Ways to Diversify Your Mix

    15 Ways to Diversify Your Mix

    Sometimes when you’re recording an artist or a band, it’s easy to fall into relaxed habits and forget how important it is to give each track its own unique flavor and excitement. It could be that you’ve stopped pushing yourself, or it could just be that the artist has written an album of really repetitive songs. Either way, here are 15 tips for adding some excitement and diversity to otherwise tired recordings.

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  • Working With the Intangibles of a Mix — Audio Premium

    Working With the Intangibles of a Mix — Audio Premium

    It’s easy to think that getting a good mix is just a matter of pushing up some faders, getting a reasonable balance, adding some effects and your done. Sure, that might work for a rough mix, but there’s a lot more that goes into making a great mix that’s way beyond the basic issue of balance, and these are the things that usually take some experience or a mentor to realize. While it’s so much easier if you watch and listen while a great mixer does his thing, let me point out a number of intangibles that are vitally important to a great mix. Awareness is always the first step in learning, so here are some things to consider before you start to move faders around.

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  • The Mixing Magician: Adding Subtleties Without the Audience Noticing – Audio Premium

    The Mixing Magician: Adding Subtleties Without the Audience Noticing – Audio Premium

    In this week’s Audio Premium content, Björgvin Benediktsson teaches you how to use effects to enhance the music rather than obviously draw attention to themselves. If you’re aiming to be an audio wizard, this tut has a lot to teach you.

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Conclusion

Are you a good cook? Use the best ingredients, and use spice subtly and appropriately. Which of these points spoke to you loudest? Which tutorial did you find most helpful? Do you have any more tips about using spice in music? Let us know in the comments.

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