Kitchen Consultation: Galen Conroy – Turnstile Pottery

This consultation has been published with the kind permission of Galen Conroy.

Download or listen to the song ‘Turnstile Pottery’ here:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8068578/Kitchen/Turnstile%20Pottery.mp3

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Composition

For this song, the basic structure of the song is pretty good. The amount of material is well-balanced with its length. It’s also got a clear contour that can be easily followed.

I think the two ways the composition of this piece could be improved are in the transitions between sections and the buildups.

At the moment, most of the transitions between sections are just clean cuts. While clean cuts are sometimes the best choice, using a variety of transition types can give a track a greater sense of scope and finesse. Also, by making some of the transitions softer or more gradual, the instant cuts will become more effective and noticeable.
It’s also important to think about buildups. Buildups are different to transitions between sections because a buildup is usually longer and more dramatic. It often makes sense to think of a buildup as its own section (not just a transition between two sections). Turnstile Pottery has a bit of a white noise buildup in there, but I think there’s an opportunity here for much more.
For this kind of music, it makes sense to explore the expressive range of each synth sound. Don’t just keep the programming static – automate some internal parameters. Alternatively, automate some effects. Explore ways of making each sound bigger or smaller, thinner or thicker, narrower or wider. If you’re mainly using samplers instead of synths, look at ways to add similar layers underneath the main sound. Bring in (or crossfade between) those similar layers to change the tonality of the sound without it sounding like two separate instruments.
It’s not about adding more just for the sake of it, but about giving the music a greater voice – letting it speak more clearly.
Mix
The mix itself has an interesting aesthetic – quite dry and knocky. I won’t suggest it needs to be wet and lush, but the mix itself is somewhat two-dimensional. There’s not much front-to-back depth.
Because the sonic aesthetic is quite dry, it’s probably not appropriate to add depth by adding reverb or ambience. Instead, focus on pulling instruments back by making them duller, narrower and more diffuse.
Making a sound often means using a lowpass filter. This usually works, but sometimes it’s too blunt a tool. If you need a more subtle way of using tone to pull back an instrument, try an EQ cut around 2.5kHz. This will subdue the character of the sound in a different way, and might be more appropriate in context.
Making a sound narrower will also help pull an instrument to the background. The smaller and more masked it is, the less attention the listener will pay to it. Of course, this works best when the overall volume is reduced as well.
Making background instruments more diffuse is another technique that may work well with this mix. Obviously, this is not a lush mix so extreme or obvious modulation won’t be appropriate – instead focus on more subtle diffusion. Try a single-voice chorus, or slight doubling.

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This is an example of a single Kitchen consultation. If you would find this kind of feedback useful for your own music, get in touch with me.

– $20 will get you one consultation (basically the same as this example, but in private, with your music).

– $50 will get you three consultations or one studio demo (where I do an example edit or mix of your music to better demonstrate how some concepts would apply to your music)

– $100 will get you seven consultations or two studio demos.

The consultations can be for multiple songs or multiple revisions of one song. It’s up to you.

You can read more about the Kitchen here: http://kimlajoie.com/site/kitchen.html

When you’re ready, send me an email to kitchen at kimlajoie dot com.

-Kim.

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    • Galen Conroy
    • September 8th, 2011

    Thank you very much, Kim!

    If you’re interested in hearing more of my work, as well as some collaborations, check out:

    Cheers!
    Galen

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