Saturday, September 10, 2016

Dynamic volume fader riding (creative automations)

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's article!
Today we are going to talk about a topic that is connected to our Automations article and to our "The focus of our mix" one.
We are going to talk about a practice that was very common in the past ('60s, '70s, '80s) but that with the advent of the digital domain has become less used, and that it has remained more as an arranging tool than a real technical need: riding the volume faders.

There was a time in which compressors were not as effective as today, or harware studios did not have many compressors to stack one above the other to make a track steady as a rock, therefore volume peaks, especially with songs with a high dynamic range as a vocal track with whispered parts and screamed parts, had to be manually trimmed down by raising and lowering the actual volume fader at the right moment: this practice is also known as "riding the fader".

Today as we have seen in the automations article we can still do it in real time, recording the changes, or programming it not in real time, letting all the changes to take place at the specific moment.

What is important to say it's that today this practice is an arrangement tool, and rarely a professional album can be considered completed without some volume automation to polish the final result: we need to draw the attention of the listener to the focus of that particular part, in a way that he will not even notice that we are putting something in the front or in the background.
We can also arrive to the point of bumping up one or two db a single word in a verse to give it importance, or lower the guitars in the verse to make the listener focus on the lyrics and bump them up in the chorus to give more of an explosion effect, emphasize the kick drum on a more "dance-like" part and then switch it back to normal when the part becomes back more classic... The examples are infinite, the concept to remember from this week's article is to use the volume automation to further arrange the song and make it even more understandable, more easy listening, to increase the dynamic range underlining stop and go, drops, explosions, and to make it in general more exciting, instead than relying excessively only on compressors.

Don't be shy to experiment!

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