In today’s world of high-energy productions and a seemingly decreasing dynamic range, it can be tough to build contrast into your productions.
And in case you’re not aware, contrast is what makes music exciting. If there was no contrast in music, you’d listen to a single pitch at the same velocity, rhythm, and pitch. Can you imagine how boring that would be?
We do a pretty good job of using contrast in rhythm and pitch, but a pretty bad job dynamically. Here’s a way to ensure that you have good dynamics in your productions:
Build them in to the arrangement.
It sounds like it’d be simple, but this is only the first step. You must be thinking of dynamic contrast from the beginning. In order to add contrast dynamically, you must play with the arrangement in order to give you the control you’re looking for.
For example, leave the rhythm guitar out of the first verse almost entirely. When the chorus hits, it’ll (almost) automatically have more energy and better contrast.
Use your engineering tools to accent the contrast.
Notice how I said “almost automatically”? That’s because you still have a little bit of work to do.
You’ll need to make sure that your production plays well with your arrangement. In order to do this, you need to leave an appropriate amount of dynamic contrast during the mixing stage.
It’s common to want to make it “even” throughout the production. If there isn’t a guitar in the verse, you might want to fill that space with something else.
Fight the urge – you’ll be undoing everything you did with the arrangement. Let there be an open space in your production. This is where the true contrast comes in to play.
Start arranging your way into more exciting productions!