Friday, August 30, 2013

More D. I. Y. Recording Tips - Overlapping Synth Tracks

This installment deals with getting a layered sound by overlapping several short synth tracks to create an ever changing, almost floating effect. I used this idea to construct the main part of "Overmed Daydream", and chose that for a title because I remember when I was younger and had a few symptoms of flu or something I kind of took a few too many medications and found myself drifting in and out of a series of dreams with the most ominous soundtrack for what seemed like days. This music was very similar to what I was dreaming(I think!?). Anyway, For this song I wrote out the chord progression in block time form so I knew what order everything had to be in. Then I recorded a couple of seconds of each chord played on a synth, making several recordings of each chord with the synth set to different sounds. I then took each chord separately and layered them up into one track in Audacity and listened to them to decide which ones to leave in and which ones to leave out. Once I had that done I exported each short track out to a single WAV file each and then brought them back into Audacity one at a time. Then I applied a "fade in" and "fade out" to each one. I know this is starting to sound tedious but it doesn't take that long once you get going, and you're driven to see how this all works. Now I had all of these short clips, each one a couple of seconds long, all fading in and out, so I began placing them in the order they needed to be in according to the chord progression, but I assigned each chord to it's own track and then positioned them so that they overlapped. Now I had one chord just starting to fade out as the next chord is fading in. You can do this in Audacity by using the copy/paste function, first you highlight the section you want to reposition and copy it. Then you move the timeline over to where you want the section to be and paste it, then go back the the original position and highlight it and zero out the volume. Here's where this took an unexpected turn, placing the timeline and pasting in the section is not an exact science in Audacity, so my first attempt to get these all into place came out sounding different than what I was imagining it should. The fade ins and fade outs weren't lining up exactly, but, it sounded great(to me anyway), so after spending a few minutes trying to get them to line up and not getting good results(I was making it sound bad), I decided to use it the way it was with the idea that once all the other instruments were in I would fix it if it didn't sound good. I like the finished product and left it alone, putting it down to what some people would call a "happy accident". You can hear "Overmed Daydream" at YouTube, along with one of my psychadelic video montages at Overmed Daydream

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