Friday, April 25, 2008

To Build a Patch

Early on, I discovered that there are two ways to develop a patch that fits into your track.

The first is to take something simple and process it until it fills the void.  The alternative is to take something huge and cut it down until it settles into the gap.

I sit squarely in the second camp.  I like taking huge synths--Virus and Moog type sounds--and plopping them into my song.  Then I'll tweak the detunes and the filter cutoffs and the overdrives and the envelopes until they no longer overwhelm the song.

I suspect, however, that truly great sound designers go the other way: they take tiny sounds--Prophets and CS-80s--and compress and process and detune and layer them until the sound is as bold as they need.

The advantage of this latter approach is that it's easier to mix.  You end up with, as a friend of mine once called it, a storm of secondary things.  Nothing needs to dominate.  ...I also suspect this is how most of the music I love most is produced.  For example, I'm listening to Nine Inch Nails right now (Ruiner from Further Down the Spiral).  I'll bet he starts with tiny sounds and builds them into monsters (to be fair, it's probably "they start", assuming he works with talented crews of engineers).

I wonder if I should attempt to switch my modus operandi.

The more I think of it, the more I think I should.

Unfortunately, my entire studio is currently based on the big-to-small workflow.  And I am decidedly poor at the mastering skills required by the small-to-big concept.  It would be a difficult transition.

No comments: