Spend time to make wicked transitions.

When producing a song I can spend a good 20-30 minutes working on creating a single ear tingling transition. Usually I make transitions when the song is almost finished. The reason I wait until the near end of the song’s creation is two fold. First, I like to hear the entire song from beginning to end and as I do so my brain tells me, “This is the spot where something is needed!”. Second, I use the audio of the full song’s mix to create the effect. You can here the kind of transition I am talking about at :06 seconds right before the vocal starts:

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Here’s how it was done using Ableton Live:

  • I rendered one bar of the full song exactly where the transition is going to be placed.
  • I created a new Audio Track.
  • I delete the audio on all the channels where the new transition will be (cut a hole).
  • I drag my rendered clip into the arrangement on the newly created audio track and place it horizontally where I created the hole.
  • Now I play back the song. It should sound just like you have not done anything yet.
  • I experiment by loading different effect plug-ins on the new audio channel where the rendered clip sits. I try and find some heavy mangling plug-ins to really make the transition stand out.
  • I re-render the clip with effects on it. I will usually do 4 different variations.
  • I delete the plug-ins and the original plain rendered clip leaving a blank channel again.
  • I drag in each of my rendered variations one by one replacing them with each other and listening to figure out which one is the most interesting fit.
  • I also reverse each variation (in the Clip View) and listen to how that sounds.

Usually by this point I have a wicked sounding transition. In the audio sample I above I also cut and repeated the last 4 sixteenth notes and automated Ableton’s built in high pass filter to sweep down.

This process may seem like overkill but its the minor sweet effects that are the icing on a good song.

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on September 24, 2008 at 7:31 am, filed under Ableton Live, music, plug-ins, song writing, sounds, synthesizer and tagged , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.