By FRANCIS PREVE
USING SIDECHAINED COMPRESSION IS A TIME-HONORED
METHOD FOR ADDING “BOUNCE”
to bass lines, pads, and even groups of synths. The technique is simple: Add a
compressor to an
instrument track, set its sidechain parameters to key off of the kick drum
channel, then tinker
with the threshold, ratio, attack, and release until you get the desired
pumping effect. While this
method is extremely precise, there’s an alternative approach that delivers a
similar bounce with
a lot less effort. Most DAWs include tempo-synced auto-panning and/or tremolo
therein lies the secret to giving your synths that wiggle without resorting to
how to do it with Ableton Live’s Auto Pan effect.
Select a track to process. The two most
obvious choices are bass and sustaining
pad sounds, so we’ll start with a pad.
Apply the Auto Pan to the pad channel
and—this is key—convert it to a mono
tremolo effect by setting the Phase parameter to zero.
Next, sync the rate to your tempo to quarter-notes so that the pumping
aligns with your four-on-the-floor kick. Adjust the depth of the effect to
taste and you’ll hear the synth start to breathe in time with the
Since groove is everything, there are a lot
of subtle variations to be explored. Using
the Off set of the Auto Pan, you can shift
the pumping ahead of or behind the beat
to give it more drive (ahead) or a funkier
feel (behind). Since we’re using a sine
wave, a 90-degree off set should be your
starting point. From there, shift it to 75
degrees and listen to how the groove changes. Then, try a more extreme
130-degree off set (shown here) and hear the difference.
For a more extreme effect still, you can
then adjust the Auto Pan’s Shape parameter, which will square off the edges.
This imparts a more chopped, gated
character to the pumping. Extreme
amounts will cause the synth to pulse,
which can be another cool effect.
If that still isn’t precise enough for you, head over to XFer
Records’ website and pick up a copy of Steve Duda’s LFO Tool.
For 50 bucks, you can have the same detailed control over
your dynamics that Deadmau5 relies on for his tracks.