While producing digital music, you never know when breaking the rules may yield interesting, stimulating and musical results. We are conditioned, through discussion forums, instructional videos, online tutorials, etc. to approach using Logic Pro X in certain ways. It’s not that there is a codified set of rules, but more like invisible unspoken agreed upon conventions.
Y is for Y Not?
When was the last time you pushed a Channel EQ's Q control to its very widest? Or an EQ band’s gain to the absolute lowest or highest value? These things just aren’t done, right?
Just because certain workflows are not agreed upon best practices doesn’t mean they can’t be used creatively to good effect.
Yielding interesting and unusual results is our job as creatives. And you need to think outside the box to get different results.
Here I’ll try and suggest some ideas to help shake up some of your preconceived ideas about how to do things. I’m not promising they will all be useful in all musical contexts. But my hope is to simply get you to expand your imagination as to the possibilities.
While other people may ask the venerable question “Why?”, it is our job to ask “Why not?”
1. Y not use two Vintage Electric Pianos instead of one?
We think conventionally of an electric piano part as being played back by one electric piano instrument.
In this audio example, I’ve played a simple short phrase with the default settings that come up with the Vintage Electric Piano. That is followed by the same phrase played back by two instances, each hard panned, with the second using a different preset.
2. Y not follow a reverb return with some modulation?
One of the things that make many of the classic hardware algorithmic reverb units from the 80’s and 90’s so unique is the way the reverb tail is often processed with chorus or other modulation style effects.
We’ve been indoctrinated with worshipping at the altar of convolution reverbs like Space Designer, which are designed to capture pure natural spaces and yield clean, unaffected results.
In this audio example, I’ve taken the same piano phrase as demonstrated above. The first time through I am sending it to a bus hosting an instance of Space Designer for some traditional impulse response style reverb. The second time through, that same instance of Space Designer is followed by the Chorus plug-in using the Mega-Wie chorus preset.
3. Y not play two drum loops together, but each looping with different lengths?
We’re used to looping things evenly for consistent results and rhythms. Four beats, eight beats, two bars, four bars, eight bars, etc. Shortening one loop while leaving the other consistent will generate some interesting syncopations.
In this audio example, I have two drum loops, hard panned, playing together. One is four bars long, the other two. When looped, they play back together predictably. After a short pause, the loop starts again. This time, the two bar loop is shortened by one beat so that it is one bar three beats long. When looped, the beat’s natural accents fall in different locations each time through. Listen for the unusual syncopations that occur as it plays alongside the evenly metered four bar loop. For really unpredictable results, try shortening one (or more) of the loops by a fraction of a beat instead of a full beat.
4. Y not take a nice big stereo sound and send it to a mono bus for some parallel processing?
We’re conditioned to think that wider is better. An excellent way to get a nice big, rich, and complex sound that is full in the center is to send to a mono bus, process the mono bus differently, and blend it in with the full stereo signal.
In this audio example, I have three chords played by the factory Alchemy patch called Widely Serene. They are then repeated on a track with a send set up going to a mono bus. It is processed with some EQ boosts and cuts, some heavy compression, and blended in with the original via the Aux fader. This is a great way to emphasize specific areas of the frequency range. By boosting around 2k on the parallel mono bus, I have brightened up the sound subtly in the middle, while leaving the sides as is.
5. Y not play back Drummer grooves on EXS24 kits?
We are conditioned to think that Drum Kit Designer sounds are the Holy Grail. That they are so far superior to the factory EXS 24 drum library, we shouldn’t even consider using them.
There are lots of fantastic drum sounds in the EXS24 and Garageband sound libraries.
In the following audio example, I started with Logic Pro’s R&B Drummer Benny playing four bars of his “Britwon” groove. He’s using his default Motown Revisited kit. It sounds great. I then copied the Drummer region onto another track to convert it to MIDI. I then copied the MIDI region onto several different tracks, each loaded with different EXS24 kits. After Benny on his Motown Revisited kit, we hear the same groove converted to MIDI played back on EXS24’s Paris House Remix, then Trance Remix, then 2-Step Remix, then Drum ’N Bass remix.
You are not limited to these ideas alone of course.
Hopefully, I have stimulated you to shift your thinking a bit, and ask yourself "Y not?" next time you are in your creative space.