Kim Lajoie's blog

Category Archives: Technique

Tonality in composition

by Kim Lajoie on October 20, 2014

Tonality refers to the harmonic language used in the music. This is about the way notes are chosen and how they’re combined. Tonality is a complex topic, but a good way to approach it is to look at two ways to express tonality – major/minor and consonant/ dissonant. (The following explanations are deliberately simplistic – […]

A basic primer on compression

by Kim Lajoie on October 6, 2014

Compression is a very important tool to a mix engineer. Unlike volume and EQ, however, compression can sometimes be difficult to hear. Where EQ adjusts the tone of the sound, compression adjusts the dynamics. The simplest way to understand compression is as a process that automatically turns the volume down when the input sound gets […]

Considerations when choosing sounds for loudness

by Kim Lajoie on September 22, 2014

At its simplest, composition is the process of choosing sounds and arranging them in time. This process might vary depending on what kind of music you’re making, what instruments you’re using, how many people are involved, etc… but the fundamentals of composition are the same for everyone. When choosing sounds for loudness, you have to […]

Rate of change

by Kim Lajoie on September 8, 2014

Rate of change can be understood along the continuum between sudden change and gradual change. Rate of change in music refers to the way the music moves from one section to another. More broadly, it refers to the breadth and depth of the changes in a piece of music. Sudden change is what happens when […]

Click tracks

by Kim Lajoie on September 1, 2014

The debate about click tracks has always raised passionate responses. Are they killing music? Do only really overproduced artists use them? Or are they just like vegetables – really useful, healthy and important but totally bland? If you’re new to this, a click track is an electronic metronome helping artists to keep time while recording […]

Put your sounds into an upside-down triangle.

by Kim Lajoie on August 25, 2014

Think of all the sounds in a mix being contained in a triangle with one point facing the listener. I usually draw it as an upside-down triangle, with the listener at the bottom. The louder (closer to the listener) a sound can be, the fewer sounds can fit alongside it. The quieter (further away from […]

Why I don’t worry about bleed

by Kim Lajoie on August 18, 2014

It’s a fact of recording studio life – bleed happens. ‘Bleed’ is the residual sound picked up by microphones placed around the studio to capture multiple instruments. For example, it happens when a microphone placed next to an acoustic guitar also records sounds from vocalists and other instruments being played close by. Many producers and […]

How loudness is measured

by Kim Lajoie on August 11, 2014

The meters on your DAW channels or your mic preamps aren’t telling you the whole story. When sounds are recorded, the microphone captures the continuous vibrations in the air and creates a continuously varying electrical signal that mimics the vibrations. Louder sounds have wider/stronger vibrations. When you have level meters on your gear, it usually […]

More about Mid/Side EQ

by Kim Lajoie on July 14, 2014

Mid/side processing is a different way of processing two audio channels. Most processors modify a stereo sound by applying the same modification to the right and left channel simultaneously. Some processors can have different settings for the right and left channels. Mid/side processors, however, work on the ‘mid’ and ‘side’ channel instead of left and […]

What is sidechain compression?

by Kim Lajoie on June 30, 2014

Sidechain compression is a special variant of regular channel compression. A normal compressor adjusts the output level of the audio based on the input level. Sidechain compression, however, adjusts the output level of the audio based on the level of a different audio channel. This means that the volume of a channel reacts to the […]