Music Recording Cookbook

Start with the music production for general intro.

Song structure

There are different approaches but maybe the most common is to have sections of the song repeating, while typically the lyrics change. This also helps to hook in the listener with a common background pattern. This is called the Strophic form (derived from a Greek work, meaning “turn”) and the alternative is the through-composed form.

The parts the take “turns” by historical reasons are called Verse, Chorus, Bridge, pre-chorus, etc… But i like the approach of a generic naming of sections A, B, C, etc…

Commonly used song structures:

But of course, songs don’t mandatorily need to follow a pre-determined structure, you can do whatever you like.

Reference:

Setup for recording

Audio Settings

Recording Raw

Recording unprocessed instrument is the most flexible for audio mastering editing. All the processing then happens in software plug-ins on top of already recorded instrument. See re-amping.

Recording Guitars

Widening

This produces an a wider sound, less central and more stereo spread and bigger sound in general. Some people even 4 recordings for an even bigger effect.

(Fake) stereo with a delay

Mixing

Guitars especially with distortion tend to fill in a wide spectrum, so the idea in EQ’ing guitars is all about subtracting:

  1. Don’t pile up instruments in the same range. Instead assign each instrument its own frequency range (typically an octave per instrument).
  2. Apply high-pass filters to every single instrument. Shave off all the unnecesary bass frequencies below each sound.
  3. Sometimes overlapping instruments is innevitable (e.g. bassline and kick drum). To separate overlapping instruments, use ‘inverted EQ’: apply a boost and a cut to the first instrument. Then copy that same EQ to the second instrument, but invert it - where you boosted by 2db, now cut by 2db. And where you cut by 2db, now boost by 2db.
  4. Since all instruments overlap in the midrange, you can go through every instrument and cut slightly between the 200-500Hz range. This is a small effect on each instrument, but really adds up and results in a much cleaner mix.

Alternatively this can be done with a Multi-band compressor, for a more adaptive ‘fix’.

Reference:

Soloing

Is easy for the Solo to get muddy when added on top of existing tracks of the same instrument (or the same frequency range).

Song Sections Transitions

Accentuate the effect of music from one section to other, or to make a more natural transition.

Brief Mute

Right before a heavy hitting section mute completely for a few milliseconds (on the previous section), it accentuates the hit of the heavy section.

Volume roll in

To make a transition from quiet to loud dense sections, a good trick is to make the volume of the dense section, start low (at same level of quiet part) and raise up progressively to full. Start to end fairly quick, 1 sec max ?

Stutter Effect

Gaps in audio in fast rhythmic intervals

Tape slow down and speed up

Simulating a slow down like a old Cassette player loosing their batteries ?

Mixing

“Cleaner” Reverb

Use delay between (80-90ms), like left: 80ms, rigth: 90ms, with left right crossover and wet at 30%, add in as much (or as little) repeats as needed.

Mastering

When mastering use a commercial audio track as a reference to what is the ideal sound, A/B between the 2.

  1. EQ Clean: remove ugly frequencies:
    • Remove rumble bellow 50Hz
    • Look for specific resonances to remove
  2. Split: Center + Sides
    • Remove highs from the center using a low pass filter, avoid a floppy low end.
    • Remove lows from the sides, using a high pass filter, widen the sides a little by increasing volume.
  3. Compress, glue things together (Vladg/sound Molot)
    • Even better with a Dynamic, multi-band compressor, to work on different regions
  4. EQ, give a little bump to 4Khz and 10KHz for that extra sizzle (lkjb Luftikus, TDR VOS Slick EQ)
    • EQ like hifi, little color stronger low end, stronger high end (TDR VOS Slick EQ)
  5. Color: Add Subtle warm saturation. Push sides highs up
  6. Make it loud: Maximizer and limiter at the end (Vladg/sound Limiter No6)

Reference:

Final output

I want to convert the final audio or video into different formats, for different purposes

Convert from wav to mp3

Convert videos in raw form to mp4

Reaper video export reference settings

Sound Quality Characteristics

Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz


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