Pretension is a Brisbane based electronic producer who is determined to make his mark on the Australian dance music scene. This blog explores how he uses various production techniques in his past and present releases. Check them out!

Pumping Reverb

This next little trick is so fresh, it's still hot from the oven. I've only just started using this one on some very recent tunes.

So, you've got a nice little synth stab, a clean guitar riff or maybe just a little plink sound like the one just here:

Bland, boring and doesn't have any character whatsoever. The first thing you then think of is "Hey, I'll put some reverb on it just like I learnt last week. It will then have it's own space and maybe even a bit more character." Let's see how that sounds...

Yeah not bad. It certainly sounds a lot better but it is still not quite enough, is it?. The technique that I've been using to make it more interesting involves setting the original sound to trigger the pumping of the reverb using a sidechain compressor. Sound complicated? It's not really. Have a look at this picture.
You can see that from the input sound (ie. your synth stab, guitar etc.), the unchanged signal goes directly to the master output. However, this sound is also routed to a reverb that is set to 100% wet. Before we sum this with the unchanged signal, however, it is run through the compressor which, with the sidechain, lowers the signal each time the stab hits or the guitar is strummed. Think of it as the reverb only being heard when the original signal is not.

This is what it sounds like:

See how the reverb has now got it's own rhythm? And in the context of the song, it sounds like this:

Much more interesting than the bland plinking sound we had originally. Can you hear the reverb pump?

The easiest way to set this signal path up is to use your returns (sends) with the reverb and compressor sitting on one return. In Ableton Live, however, you can utilise the racks by having one chain for the dry signal and one chain for the reverb and compressor. You may even want to save this rack for use in future projects.

In this song I have even used a similar technique on the bassline but instead of the sidechain compressor, I used the sidechain fakey to keep a constant pump. Can you hear it here?

For those of you who were paying attention you may have noticed that I have an EQ in front of the reverb in the chain above. Now you don't have to EQ the reverb chain every time (and you could even use the EQ in the reverb itself) but it can be useful to throw a high pass filter on it. This cuts out the low end of the reverb and gives the reverb more of an air-like wooshing sound.

Things to try at home
- Adjust the levels of the dry signal and the compressed reverb signal to taste. Sometimes less reverb is more.
- Adjust the EQ of the reverb signal. Sometimes you want that rumble in your reverb
- Try out the compressor settings above but also try different thresholds and attack and release times.
- Why not sidechain fakey if you want a constant rhythmic pump.

Take My Hand - Work in Progress

To be a bit different, I thought I would post up a track that I am currently working on (not one that is already finished and released). It's a fairly uplifting progressive track and at this stage, it is just an instrumental.

<a href="">Take My Hand (Instrumental) by Pretension</a>

I've written most of the lyrics for it and once I throw this cold, I'll be doing some vocal recording.

So in the meantime, I'd love some feedback. Does any part of the mix sound out of place? Do you think I should add more parts? Do you reckon I should simply cut a section out? Throw any feedback my way; positive or negative. I can take it!

A snapshot of the lyrics

Take my hand but don't take it too seriously,
Understand I've got what you need.
Don't pretend you've been here previously
De Ja Vu, I know what you mean.

It's about two strangers that meet at a festival and spend the day together. They've only just met but they've never been so close...

Side Project - Teatime in Technicolor

So when I'm not writing club tunes, I like to slow it down a bit and get a little more jazzy.

I am in a duo called Teatime in Technicolor with the fabulous Suzie on vocals. We have been writing steadily for the last three months and we've already had a couple of gigs in Brisbane.

If you like the music, you can download it for FREE:

Enjoy, tell your friends or even send us an email.

To Blog or not to Blog.

Okay so I write this little blog to let you guys know what I have been up to. However, I also read other people's blogs and useful websites.

Here is my little list of useful Blogs and blog type sites!

New Music Strategies

Author: Andrew Dubber
Content: Advice and information for independent artists and online music businesses. This blog covers many issues encountered by artists in the online music environment and attempts to explore new marketing strategies and services. Make sure you check out Andrew’s fantastic ebook, The 20 Things You Must Know About Music Online.
New Content: Weekly

Music Think Tank

Author: Various
Content: This blog covers various topics such as music production, theory, marketing, touring, etc. It is written by a regular group of authors who have a background in the music industry. There is also an open forum where anyone can post an article.
New Content: Weekly

The Music Software Training Blog

Author: Jason
Content: This blog covers topics such as audio engineering, mixing, mastering, creativity, productivity, promotion etc. It’s focus is on Ableton Live and has a heap of video tutorials.
New Content: Fortnightly

Pro Juice
Authors: Arlo Enemark et al
Content: Video tutorial on various DIY studio, live and recording techniques. Also covers film production and multimedia.
New Content: Fortnightly

Kim Lajoie's Blog
Author: Kim Lajoie
Content: This blog covers many production techniques and useful studio tips from using compressors, creativity and composition to setting up a recording session
New Content: Almost Daily

Create Digital Music

Author: Various
Content: News, tips, reviews, features, DIY music making, emerging trends, advanced software and experimental interfaces.
New Content: Daily