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A Simple Recording Mistake

It doesn’t matter what you do, once you’ve been doing it for a while, you default to a particular way of approaching issues. Coming from the era of recording to tape and “dropping-in” to correct mistakes, that’s how I think when I find I’ve recorded something that isn’t quite right.  (In fact, I never liked dropping-in – I always found it easier to just go back and do the whole part again, but that’s another story.)  All of which can blind you to the obvious when things have moved on and you’re recording to RAM, buffers and disk instead of spinning reels of tape.  Back in the day, you’d record with minimal lead-in recorded to tape, lest there be a sudden burst of tape noise which would ruin the ambience.  Nowadays, of course, there’s no tape hiss and the noise floor is so low you wouldn’t think twice about it, but old habits die hard.  Until, that is, they trip you up…

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Alternatives to Automation

Automation is an invaluable tool for adding colour to a mix, as well as its more mundane use for controlling volume, be it levelling peaks in tracks or adding swells and fades. However, its big drawback is that once you’ve written the automation, you can’t then go back and tweak the levels without editing the automation. In this video, I look at using clip gain and muting to balance parts of a recorded track against the rest of that track, without using automation that would impact on the levels of the recorded sound against the rest of my mix.

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Video Tutorial – Editing Automation

Once you’ve got your automation data recorded in your project, whether you wrote it in on the lane or recorded it in real time, there’s likely to be extraneous automation points that you want to delete or, as your mix progresses, there will be changes that you want to make. This video looks at the options for editing automation in Cubase.

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Video Tutorial – Writing Automation

Sometimes, it’s not possible to record the automation data you need by moving a mouse as the song plays back – for example, a MIDI controller or a parameter that you can’t get a satisfactory degree of control over in real time. However, it can be just as easy, (and sometimes easier), to write the automation data straight into your DAW rather than try to record it. In this video, I look at how that’s done in Cubase.

 

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Video Tutorial: Match Quantise

It’s one thing to tighten up the timing of a recorded part, be it MIDI or audio, but there’s no guarantee that it will be in time with the other parts in the song you’re recording.  What happens when your bassist doesn’t sync with your drums, be they virtual or real, (or both)?  Fortunately, Cubase has an easy system for copying the quantise from one part to another, so that you can copy the groove of one part onto any or all of the other parts playing at the same time.  In this video, I give you an example of aligning the groove of a bass part with some pretty busy drums and look at some of the issues that can arise when you do so.

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Video Tutorial: Iterative Quantise and Delete Overlaps

For those of us whose keyboard skills are not as complete as Rick Wakeman’s, recording MIDI from a keyboard can be a humbling experience when you open the resulting part for editing.  What felt like a good performance can often be revealed to be a shambolic approximation of the desired recording, (or is that just me?).  All too often, the temptation is to quantise the notes to within an inch of their life, leaving the part in time, but robbed of that human ebb and flow that separates man-made music from machine music.  However, Cubase offers a halfway house between a performance that’s just go too much swing and sterile perfection – iterative quantising.  This takes your ragged timing and smooths out the edges, leaving something close to the beat, but not welded to it.

Another issue with recording MIDI bass lines is that a bass guitar is (mostly) a monophonic instrument, but keyboard recording can leave you sounding adjacent notes that you could never play on a bass.  This registers with the listener and detracts from the overall effect you’re trying to achieve.  Cubase offers the facility to eliminate overlaps between notes, ensuring that your bassline is a one note wonder and doesn’t sound like you stumbled your way through.  The video below looks at the application of both Iterative Quantise and Delete Overlaps to editing a less-than-perfect MIDI bass part.

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Video Tutorial: Introduction to the Logical Editor, Part 2

One of the first uses I had for the Logical Editor was to try to put some dynamics into drum patterns I had written into Cubase.  This video looks at creating a drum part by hand that matches the dynamics of an existing drum pattern taken from a commercial drum library, using the Logical Editor to apply a limited range of random velocities to replace constant values.