Danny J Lewis gets his sidechain on with a Disco loop – a tutorial taken from Point Blank’s Mixing Dance Music Course in Logic.
This post was originally published in DJ Weekly issue 81
This week we take a look at sidechaining, also referred to as ducking. The easiest example of this you’ll hear is when a radio DJ speaks, the music playing is automatically turned down. When they finish speaking, the music level goes back up again. To do this, a compressor is added onto the music and the vocal is fed in via a sidechain input. Instead of the compressor responding to the music it responds to the vocal. When the vocal comes through, it turns the music down and when it stops it turns it back up.
Another example is the ‘classic’ sustained sound being ducked by a kick drum. As a technical process this can help the two elements sit together in the mix but as a production process it can create the ‘pumping’ flavour that is very popular in contemporary club music.
That ‘French’ electro house sound of the 90s is probably best defined by this technique. In the video tutorial example above the kick is used to reduce the volume of a disco loop to bring you a bit of Gallic, Bangaltier styled ‘je ne sais quoi’!
Now you know a bit more about the technique you will notice it all over electronic music – See if you can pick out which elements in these tracks are being sidechained and share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Danny is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school. If you want to learn more about producing or performing with this unique piece of software, check out our whole range of Logic Courses.
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Hello. This is Danny J. Lewis and I am a [inaudible: 00:07] developer and [inaudible: 00:08] here at Point Blank Online. I have released tracks on labels like Effected, Strictly Rhythm, Sulfuric Tracks, Monsters at Work, and also done remixes for companies, such as Mystery of Sound and many others. These tutorials you are going to watch are samples taken from the Mixing Dance Music course on Logic.
We are going to use the compressor to create the classic side chain pumping vibe, like the French disco house flavor. This project has a short musical loop and it has also got a drum beat on it. Let us have a listen. What we are going to do is different from the example that we have, the EQ that we have on weak one. We are not going to EQ to set these things together, we are going to take the musical loop and bring the volume down every time the kick hits so it creates this really interesting, energetic pumping flavor.
In order to do this, what we need to do is put the compressor onto the musical loop, so I am going to drop that down now. What we are going to do is use the sidechain in, and we are going to have the signal coming in from the kick drum. In order for this to work, I need to take the kick and root ascend to a bus; the bus is down here. I am going to call this SC to stand for sidechain. I am going to make sure we do not hear this. I am going to drop it down so there is no output. I am going to feed the kick in all the way up to zero DB, so we have got basically a copy of the kick going through. I am going to drop down the sidechain into bus one and we are going to go to peak mode. We are going to go from soft knee to hard knee, take the ratio up about 10 to 1, to a real strong energy coming down, and we are going to adjust the threshold. Let us have a listen; you can really feel that flavor coming in there.
We are going to take the attack faster, and with the release you can adjust this to taste. If it is really fast, it is going to come up very quickly so it is going to brought down in volume but then come up quickly so you want to get this to have this nice grooving flavor, almost on the offbeat when it is coming back up. That has got a nice flavor to that. I am going to compensate plus 20. It is distorting now, so let me bring this down. I am doing this because I want you to hear the difference when I have the kick on and the kick off. Let us take the kick off and bring it back, then again. This has got a real classic flavor.
Just to spice it up a bit, what I am going to do is bring on the auto filter, take the cuts of modulation off, and that is for the envelope. Now I can do this manually. Then how about adding a little bit of effects, as well. We are going to be looking at effects in lesson three. We are going to reduce the feedback, take mix less, just a little bit of movement on there. You can hear, it is much more interesting than the original loop just on the tone. You might want to do exactly what I just did in the structure of the track to create dynamic interest.
That is the classic sidechained, disco loop flavor.