Mixing Keys Parts
Here’s a quick tip on how to mix a Rhodes part or Keys part for more impact in your mix. This concept works great for any keys instrument as a MIDI part. Obviously we’d all love to own a real Rhodes, but there are some great Kontakt instruments out there such as Soniccouture’s EP73 which I used here.
If you do have a real Rhodes you could try to copy the techniques below using noise gates and then a similar approach to the following MIDI based method.
Here we’ll look at how to mix a Rhodes part for more impact when we have the MIDI information. We are going to duplicate our Keys part, process the copy and then blend it back in. The idea is to add a subtle attack to each Rhodes chord to give a bit more for the listener’s ear to grab onto.
Step 1 – Duplicate the Keys Part
First we need to make an exact copy of the part. In Ableton and Logic Pro just select the Keys channel and hit Command (⌘) D.
Step 2 – Shorten the Notes
Our next task is to shorten the MIDI notes in the duplicated part we have created. Here is the MIDI part I recorded before any adjustment (fig 2a).
Logic Pro X has a really great MIDI editor which includes an option to set all the MIDI notes to a uniform length. Ableton is a bit trickier but I managed this by Quantising the end of each note and then dragging left. We are aiming for each note in the duplicate to be no longer than a 1/32 to 1/16th (fig 2b below).
Step 3 – Add some Bitcrusher
Next we’ll start processing the sound by adding some saturation or bitcrushing to give it a bit more fizz and bite. In this example I used the Erosion effect in Ableton. This isn’t strictly a Bitcrusher but the sonic result is similar. Logic Pro has a great bitcrusher of its own or you could also try a saturator.
Step 4 – EQ
Now use an EQ with a high pass and low pass filter to really hone in on just the high Mids of the sound (fig 4 below). We are cutting the lows so that the duplicate is a really high snappy sound under the main sound. I’ve also cut the highs so that the fizz of the Bitcrushing effect from Erosion isn’t too harsh.
Step 5 – Mixing
Our final step is to balance this copy in underneath the main part. Here, the key is to use the copy sparingly and aim for a subtle enhancement of the attack of each note. With this in mind, I recommend starting with the fader at zero (always a good idea when mixing) and gradually pushing it up.
Duplicating parts and effecting them in more extreme ways can be a really great way to enhance your mixes. Here we’ve seen how to mix a Rhodes part for more impact by enhancing the attack of each note using a more effected copy. Let me now how you get on and if you’ve any questions in the comments below.