Monday, May 4, 2009

Recording Drums, Part 3

This week is part 3 in a three part series of recording drums. Be sure to check out the Podcast that goes along with this weeks blog.

This week focuses on adding additional elements and percussion to a drum mix, and how to make them fit in early on in the mix process. I'll also show you how to use some special efects on a drum mix to make it more lively and have some movement, without being distracting in a mix.


First off, many people add auxiliary percussion to their mixes as a final element to fill in some holes they may have. Being a drummer and percussionist, I like doing it the other way around. Add all the percussion you think you'll need at the beginning. When I record a drum track, I often add some other percussion to go along with it. Even if it may not be used in the final mix, it's there to set a foundation and a starting point for everything else that my come along in the recording process.


Second thing I like to use are some special or weird effects on drum mixes. Of course, there are many purists out there who would never dream of using effects plug-ins on drums, only on electric guitars, but I say if it can be done, why not try it? Then if it doesn't work, move on to something else. I don't want to get too extreme with this first introduction of the process, so we'll just start with a simple reverb plug-in.


Now, though reverbs are common in many types of music, the way it is used can be unique. Here's my unique approach.

1. Take a drum mix, or even just a snare drum track.

2. Duplicate the track.

3. Use a Reverse plug-in to reverse one of the duplicate tracks.

4. Add a Reverb plug-in to the Reversed track. Try setting the reverb time to whatever your quarter note value is. If your tempo is 120, the reverb time would be 500ms. Keep the Reverb 100% wet, because you'll be adding this to your dry signal later.

5. After adding and processing the reverb on that track, Reverse the track again. This will give you a track that has a reverse-reverb on it. Instead of hearing a reverb after a snare hit, you'll hear a reverb coming up to the hit.

6. Add a little of this reverse-reverb track to your dry signal.


For even a little more fun, try alternating the panning on the new track from hard left-right, to center, on each beat. This combined with the reverse-reverb effect gives the impression of the drums spreading out and then imploding to the middle on each beat.


Be sure to download the Podcast so you can hear these processes in action.

Stay tuned next week when we'll hear from Miles Fulwider about Ambisonics and the B and B+ formats.

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