Week One Evaluation (15th March-21st March)

Overall, this week has been great for adding more production techniques and even instruments to fill out the texture and instrumentation. I learnt lots of things about production this week like how to use automation on Ableton and how to quantize actual audio files as well as midi. These are both very helpful as automation gives the music much more movement, depth and dynamics and it allows different tracks to fade in and out of each other instead of all just playing at the same time or having static movements. Quantizing audio takes away a huge step of the song’s production as you can now let Ableton warp the audio for you automatically, allowing much more time for working on other parts of the song instead of having to spend hours moving all of the markers to the right place manually.

Progressions And Strengths

As I don’t have a bass at home, I have to do this process when I am in college and use their basses and equipment. This isn’t much of a problem at the moment and it means I can have access to the control room or recording booths which is always fun! I have only been playing bass since Monday and only really started playing because I knew I needed to add bass to my songs but I think I’ve already picked it up really well as it is similar to the guitar in some ways. The basslines, therefore, are fairly simple however I added a harmonising bass part at the end to make it seem a little more complex but I’m not sure if I like this yet as I think it makes the song a little too muddy and makes it too low/mid-end heavy.

I downloaded a free plugin I found from a video on TikTok. The plugin is called Labs by Spitfire audio and experimenting with all the great sounds has been great fun and it’s allowed me to add more authentic sounding midi instruments. One of these would be the trumpet which you can hear in certain parts of this song. I really liked the idea of putting some less conventional instruments in there to give it more distinctiveness and to change the textures up a bit. I and Lewis were even talking about finding a sax player for the song. The sax player would be executing some little licks here and there and maybe even a main melody line like the trumpet is doing here. This would be a great opportunity for me as a producer to work with other people potentially outside of college and it will give the track more human elements. However, if this doesn’t work or if we cannot find a saxophone player, the trumpet part I have in now will do.

Automation was one of those things a couple of months ago that I didn’t think was really important or would do much for the track, especially when we were learning to use Logic in project two. However, since using Ableton and learning loads more about production, I have been using it to experiment with these songs. Even though this automation is fairly simple, it can still do a lot for the song. I first did some simple track volume automation on the trumpet part so when the solo is playing, the trumpet comes down in volume and after the solo is finished, it increases in volume and becomes the main melody hook for a while. I also used automation on the jazz brushes as this has a delay on it. At the very end of the song, I turned the delay all the way to dry, meaning the delay wouldn’t carry on once the song is finished and this allows for a much cleaner finish.


After I was happy with the bass parts that I mentioned above, I put an EQ on both of the tracks and started to manually quantize them. I did not know about the warp mechanic or the fact that Ableton can automatically quantize audio so to do make it in time, I sliced the tracks to make different regions and moved them into place on the arrangement tile as you can see in the image. This took a long time to get right and even then the bassline wasn’t fully in time in parts because this technique is very hard to do. So, I plan to delete those bass parts, put the original audio file back in and then quantize them the easier way; don’t slice and move them like I did this week. I plan to auto-quantize the audio first then manually warp some areas that might need tweaking. The end product of this will hopefully sound and look more professional, with a lot less effort needed.

Out of the whole song, the structure definitely needs some more work. I think I should move some parts around like having the mellow piano solo nearer the end of the song and overall give the song more of a verse/chorus feel (this will be important if I want to add vocals later in the production). I also want to create a better ending instead of it just finishing abruptly, for example, a fade-out or dropping different instruments out over time. A longer break or bridge should also be added to finish this structure off well and this will give the song a new direction when this happens. The break would also be important as the song starts to get a little repetitive after some time so adding new drum beats, rhythms or chord progressions could be a great way to introduce new ideas.

This will probably come much later in the production however I want to start looking and researching different audio effects and their uses, so I can potentially add these to my song at a later date. I already know simple things like reverb, chorus and distortion as these are all very common effects. However, I want to look more into things like how to use an EQ the most effectively, how compression affects a song, when to use gate, what all the different delays do (like clean delay, echo, grain delay) etc. Though, all in all, I want to just be able to add more effects to my song and know how to use and manipulate them correctly for the best sounds and outcomes. Once I have researched these things, I want to use these effects on things like the shaker, horns and bass for example. I already have some effects like reverb, chorus and a simple EQ on the piano parts, and a delay on the jazz brushes but I plan to add more and potentially make the pre-existing effects more complex later, but still making sure I don’t overdo it too much.

Targets For Next Week

-Create a more solid sounding structure with a good ending instead of what I have now.

-Add some interesting effects to things like the shaker, horns, bass and maybe even the vinyl dust.

-Re work the bass parts into a more quantized piece instead of using the slice tool and putting it into place on the arrangement board.