How You Can Record and Mix Body Percussion

How You Can Record and Mix Body Percussion

Body percussion is great because it can add a little extra something to your mixes. I’m talking about anything from hand clap, to beat boxing, to finger snaps, and the list goes on.

Here’s a breakdown of how you can make them shine on your records.

Beatboxing Like a Drummer

This is the art form of using your mouth to make drum sounds. To me, I feel there are a couple of ways to approach this.

One way is more traditional which is to capture the vocal beatboxing. This is similar to how someone like Justin Timberlake would do it.

Another way to do this would be to bring out the percussive strength in the voice. You can do this by adding a dynamic mic as well as kick drum mic to add a bit more weight and then place them both close to the vocalist. From here you can use extreme EQ technique to bring out certain parts of the voice. It’s not uncommon for me to do something like a 12 dB boost in the top end. Compression can also be useful, but I’m just trying to get it to sound like a real drum kit.

Let’s Clap Our Way to the Top

I like to approach hand claps in a couple of different ways. You can go for a more ambient “in the room” type of sound as well as a dryer “in your face” hip hop kind of sound.

In a room, I would usually like to approach this with a pair of cardioids five feet away from the actual clap. For group claps, I will just have everyone in the room, and I will do a few takes.

For a direct clap sound, I prefer to use a figure of eight mics which I am very carefully aiming and positioning. So without the room sound, the clap doesn’t have any sustain, but the same room sound is what helps to place the clap into the stereo field.

For processing a natural clap, it’s pretty simple. You can use a little bit of compression or EQ to even out the tone and maybe a bit more low end or high end if the mix calls for it. Also, panning the layers around can sound cool.

Lo-Fi Your Way to Gritty Claps

One little secret that not many people utilize is to lofi their claps.  This is especially true in Hip Hop.  Remember that Hip Hop came from a very Low Fidelity era with 8 bit and 12 bit samplers and nothing gets those claps sounding gritty then a lo-fi sound.

So how do you go about getting that sound?  You can try using an EQ and filtering out some of the top end but that just turns down the hi-end.  To really get something to sound lo-fi you have to completely remove it as if it never existed before.  To do this, you need to use a sample reducer like the stock lo-fi plugin that comes in protools.   The second option is to just grab a high quality lo fi sample pack which already comes with all that gritty goodness.

Conclusion

Body percussive sounds are usually overlooked when it comes to adding interest to a record. There’re lots of good options to choose whether you are just using subtle amounts of noise or whether they are meant to be the feature. The best part is these are free, and you don’t need any particular instrument to make it happen.

Keep Things Fresh By Changing the Song Structure

I’m not going to lie; I like the structure of traditional pop/rock music.. I like how it contains a couple of verses, a chorus, a bridge and so forth. There is a reason why it’s lasted this long, in modern music. It’s because it just works and people seem to enjoy it.

If you are anything like me, then you know that it’s good to keep things fresh and change it up once in a while. You can go ahead and change some of the instrumentation, and I’m sure that would work well, but an easier solution is to just modify the structure of one song. Let me give you some ideas.

Start With The Chorus

It’s not a secret that we all like the chorus in most songs because it’s the catchiest part of the song. It’s the part where everyone hums and taps to, over and over. It’s the most memorable part, and you just can’t wait to get to it. So why even wait to get there, why not just start your song with the Chorus?

Numerous artists have taken this approach (it isn’t as uncommon as you think), and you can do this as well.   So just take any song that you have written and swap around the chorus and the verse – simple! A band that I just love (*cough* Linkin Park *cough*) did this a lot on their first album. They may have had a cool melodic intro but then BAM they smack you right away with the chorus and then come back into the verse.

Get To the Bridge and STAY THERE!

Maybe you’re working on a song, and it’s doing the regular Chorus and Verse kind of thing, one option is just to get to the bridge and then stay there. Try not to think of the bridge as a quick change that goes back to the chorus or verse. Rather, the bridge could be the next “thing” in your song or outro. So basically what happens is, once you get there, you just never leave.

As luck may have it, I have taken this very approach with one of my newest songs. It has a basic verse, chorus, verse, chorus – which hopefully will build into a cool bridge. So what the bridge is doing is giving a release from all that tension that was built before it. It’s the climax of the song, so just get there and end there. There’s no reason for you to come back.

Do You Even Need a Chorus?

I say this with peace and love but if you want to step outside the box, try and ditch the chorus altogether. Relate this to all of the greatest hymns that we have known about for years. They are just basically made up of verses and nothing more. They sometimes go a few verse deep and nothing more.

To be able to pull this off you need to do things. You need to write an excellent melody, and you need a lot of lyrics. So you can’t just take the traditional approach of having a few lines that repeat. You need to say something around a well-structured melody that people can remember.

Keep It Simple and Stick to One Song

These are some simple ways that you can tweak the traditional song structure, and I’m sure you can probably come up with much more on your own. Basically, what I’m trying to preach is that you take one song on your EP and change up the song structure.

Try it out and let me know how you do. Leave a comment below!

More on song structure in the video below…

A few ways to maintain a big bottom end during mastering

A few ways to maintain a big bottom end during mastering

Is there anything sweeter than listening to your completed mix and it has a nice solid low end to it? And on the flip side, there’s nothing as devastating as destroying your bottom end by a terrible mastering job.  I have been in this situation, and it doesn’t feel very good.

Whether you’ve paid a top notch mixing service or you do the mix yourself, nothing sucks more then having your fat, punchy mix get destroyed by a few clicks of the mouse. Fortunately for you (but more for me), I have found a cool solution by using a combination of equalization and some multiband compression.

EQ is not a very complex tool but multiband compression on the other hand is. I try and keep things very simple in the way I use these tools, and they end up being VERY affective for me.

So what can you expect at the end?

I can maintain that big low end that I have always dreamed of, in my mixes.

I learned everything I know about the mastering process from my good friend John Dougherty. He’s a mastering mastermind, and he’s worked with some very talented guys. He’s also done some choruses in the past where he teaches his mastering techniques.

But of course, you are probably here for the juicy stuff. Well to get more information on mastering with EQ and multiband compression check out these two sources:

Mastering with EQ:
http://music.tutsplus.com/tutorials/eq-the-most-important-part-of-mastering–audio-14690

Mastering with Multiband compression:
http://productionadvice.co.uk/multiband-compression-for-mastering/

Video on Multiband Compression

So there you go, the two techniques that I use in my session to get my mastering up to par and still sound super professional. Don’t hesitate, go check out those sources now so you can become a super mastering ninja yourself.

Now your turn!!!

Go out and master your heart out.

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