Thinking in Pairs

In the course of building a track there are many opportunities practice the concept of thinking in pairs. The idea is that a musical part or element is better when it’s somehow doubled, so that it works alongside a duplicate form of itself. Thinking in pairs relates to recursive music production, but here are three practical examples. 

Bass + treble bass. If you use low-pitched, sub bass tones in your music, it can useful to copy that bass part and move it up an octave or two to create a treble copy. This copy will sound brighter by virtue of sounding in a higher register, but you can also use a brighter sound. This sound allows the listener know what the sub bass is doing, even if that sub is inaudible due to playback system limitations (i.e. crappy speakers or headphones). 

Left and right parts. If you have a part, like a melody or a vocal, it can be useful to turn it into a matched or unmatched pair. This allows you to place one part on the left side of the stereo field, and the second part on the right, creating a balanced, call and response’ing soundstage. Left and right pairs can also trigger new counterpoint and harmony possibilities that arise when you rhythmically stagger the parts or change pitches in one but not the other. 

Doubling effects. If you’re using one effect with good results, it can be useful to duplicate it to make a chain with two instances of the effect. This allows you to multiply the effect’s processing possibilities–by stacking tools to create sonic complexity and nuance–without going down a rabbit hole of adding a second but unrelated effect. One example of effect doubling is to use a reverb twice, with slightly different settings on each instance. The first might have a very narrow width and 70 percent wet/dry mix, while the second has a very wide width but only 20 percent wet/dry mix. In this way, the second effect in the chain subtly “tints” the sound generated by the first effect. 

I wrote a book about electronic music production. If this looks of interest to you or someone you know, I would appreciate you checking it out.

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