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Home Recording - Add Punch to Your Tracks

Guest Author - Allan Harris

So you’ve recorded all your instruments on your home computer, or even in a professional studio, but something doesn’t sound quite right. All the parts are good by themselves, but when they’re playing together it just doesn’t have the “kick” it should.

If you’ve got tracks that are sagging, this one technique will go a long way toward cleaning up your song. It mainly involves the low end of your music - the bass (either a bass guitar, standup bass, or synth bass) and the kick drum.

The technique is this: have the bass player play on the same beats as the kick drum.

If you have live players, pick a bass player and drummer who frequently work together. They will already be in sync with each other.

If you are playing your own tracks into your home computer, and making up your own drum part, try starting out with the kick drum first. Add the bass part while you’re listening to the kick drum part. Then add the rest of the drum parts later.

Wherever the kick drum hits, make sure there’s a bass part on those same beats. For example, if you have four beats in a measure, a kick drum part might be…

    ONE - and - two - AND - THREE - and - four

The bass can play notes on exactly those same beats as the kick drum:

    ONE - and - two - AND - THREE - and - four

… or the bass could play on more than those beats…

    ONE - and - TWO - AND - THREE - and - four

… but if the bass at least plays on the same three beats as the kick drum, it will absolutely drive your music track.

Have you ever listened to a song and wondered how they got such a fat bass sound? This one technique is the reason for it. Most of the time it’s not the bass sound by itself at all. It’s the punch from a kick drum that’s playing right on top of the bass notes. So your ear hears the bass sound, but you FEEL the punch from the kick drum simultaneously. And that’s why it sounds fat and punchy.

I once attended a two-day guerilla workshop on how to make a movie. The instructor said when they shoot a scene there’s usually all kinds of extraneous noise. So the actors will often re-do their speaking parts in a sound studio at a later date. The sound is removed from the original shoot, and many sound effects are added in post-production – ambient noise, wind, traffic, doors opening, etc.

The interesting thing is that if the sound effects are done correctly – like the rustle of a shirt when an actor moves, or the sound of footsteps added to each foot movement, an audience will SEE the visuals more clearly, or rather, they will perceive it that way.

It’s the same with the bass and kick drum playing in sync. You "hear" the music more clearly, because you’ll be feeling the rhythm more precisely.

Listen to what sounds you actually hear, what sounds you are more likely to feel, and what happens when you combine them. It will make a big difference in your music.

All the best,

Allan,
BellaOnline’s Musician Editor
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Make Your Recordings Sizzle
Home Recording - How to Fix Badly Played Music
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Content copyright © 2014 by Allan Harris. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Allan Harris. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sabira Woolley for details.

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