Monday, August 24, 2009

Selective Gating for Fun and Profit

If you've been a regular reader of this blog for awhile, you've probably seen my previous articles about gating (if not, look here, here, and here). Today I'm going to take a look at a less conventional way of gating that can create some cool special effects.

For purposes of this article, I'll refer to it as 'selective gating', although gating is by its nature selective to begin with. In this case, however, we're going to use a side-chain to close and open a gate to selectively let through a massive reverb which we can then trigger rhythmically. I'm going to be doing this in Logic, but you should be able to replicate this with any gate effect that allows side-chaining.

1. Open up your DAW and program a simple four on the floor rhythm. Render your kick and your snare out separately and place them on their own audio tracks.

2. On your snare track, assign a bus to one of your sends. Set your wet/dry level to about 50%.

3. On the send itself, insert a reverb and call up a REALLY long, ridiculous preset. You want something really over the top here.

4. On the same send, insert a gate after the reverb. I'm going to use Logic's Silver Gate, because it's simple and has all the settings we need.

5. Create a new soft synth track and insert a simple synth on it. The sound isn't important because we're only going to be using it for triggering. You want a sound that sustains as long as you hold it and with zero release, so when you let go of a key, the sound stops immediately. I'm using Logic's EVB3 organ simulator since organ sounds generally have this precise amp envelope.

6. Assign the output of the soft synth track to another send. In this case, I'm assigning it to Bus 2 (the output assignments in Logic can be found right under where you assign what instrument is to go on the track). We don't actually want to hear the synth, so change Bus 2's output assignments to 'No Output'.

7. On your gate plug-in, set the ATTACK, and HOLD settings to zero.
We want the effect to be severe. Set your RELEASE to something low, but not zero, or you'll get clicks at the end of your gated sounds. You'll also want your THRESHOLD value set low because you'll want it to trigger any time it receives the side chain signal (our synth). Finally, set the SIDE CHAIN INPUT to Bus 2, the soft synth track we just created.

8. If you hit PLAY now, you shouldn't hear any reverb at all, just your boring old dry drum track. This is because the gate isn't receiving a side chain signal to open it up. So, select your soft synth track and hold down a note. You should now hear your snare being fed through the massive reverb.

9. Where the fun comes in is in playing different rhythmic patterns on the soft synth track so that the reverb cuts in and out in an interesting way. And since you can record the MIDI of the soft synth, you can quantize, edit, and experiment to your heart's content. If you've done everything correctly you should hear something like this:

No comments: