Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1 of the book, which is about prepping for a mix. This section provides some editing tips that can come in handy the next time you're in "cut and paste world."
No matter how great the players on the session are, there’s always some portion of a player’s recording that doesn’t feel quite right. The exception being that you have enough time to have the musician play their part until it’s perfect, or you punch in all the suspect parts as you go along.
Usually, the timing of the basic tracks will be tweaked right after your tracking session so you have a solid rhythm section to overdub against, but if you’ve not done that or you’re just now discovering some sections that don’t feel right (which happens a lot), prepare for the joys of slipping and sliding time.
Here’s a list of some of the do’s and don’ts for tweaking timing:
- Don’t edit by eye - You can’t edit successfully by just trying to line everything up to the kick and snare. Often times, tracks that look perfectly lined up don’t sound or feel right. That’s why listening is more important than looking. Turn your head away from the monitor and just listen before and after you move anything.
- Every beat doesn’t have to be perfect - In fact, if it’s too perfect, you’ll suck the life out of the performance. Unless something really jumps out as being out of time, you might get away with leaving it as is. Another way is to just line up downbeats and any major accents. That gives you the best of both worlds. A loose feel that still sounds tight.
- Copy and paste another section - If you have to make too many edits to a particular section, chances are it won’t sound as good when you’re finished as just finding a similar section in another part of the song and pasting it in over the area that’s suspect. It’s a lot faster and easier to do, and will probably sound cleaner and groove better as well.
- Be careful with the bass - Many times the bass will speak better if it’s a few milliseconds behind the kick drum rather than right with it. It still sounds tight, but both the kick and bass will be more distinct.
- Listen against the drums - If you listen to the track that you’re editing all by itself, you can be fooled into thinking that the timing is corrected, especially if you’re editing to a grid. The real proof though, is when you listen against the drums. If the instrument sounds great by itself and great with the drums, you’re home free.
- Trim the releases - This is one of the best things you can do to tighten up a track. Everyone is hip to tightening up the attacks, but it’s the releases that really make the difference. Regardless if it’s an accent played by the full band, the song ending, or a vocal or guitar phrase, make sure that the releases are pretty much the same length. If one is longer than the rest, trim it back and fade it so it sounds natural. If one is a lot shorter than the rest, use a time correction plug-in the lengthen it a bit (see figure 1.2).
Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating the music business.