Just this past Sunday was our third in-depth meeting and the first meeting of February. This week, Anja taught me the other half of the two very important tools in music editing, compression! Last week we talked about EQ, which is a tool used to adjust and level out the frequencies of an audio clip by moving around different bands and adjusting all these other knobs. Compression is somewhat similar and is a tool used to adjust and squish down dynamics.
The point of compression is to bring down the super-high volumes and bring out the quieter volumes in a track, so the overall volume is fairly level. There are a bunch of different knobs you can adjust in compression, including Knee, Attack, Gain, Ratio, Release, and Thresh. Anja went over the function of all these different settings and explained how to use them. She also taught me how to read the numbers on the different bars and gave me suggestions on what settings to have for different audio tracks.
During this meeting, Anja was constantly checking in to make sure I understood the concepts because compression can be pretty confusing to understand at first. Though I was a little bit unsure at first, I made sure to ask questions and try out compression on my own to get a thorough understanding of it. Anja explained the idea very clear and simple and used a lot of comparisons and even a very beautiful drawing to demonstrate compression to me. She says that EQ and Compression are like the bread and butter of music editing, and if you were to do anything with your song, EQ and Compression are a must.
Even though these concepts are very important to learn and understand, we both agreed that they are also the most boring to learn about. The process of using these tools is just a bunch of knob adjustments and fancy lingo, and it doesn’t even make a huge difference when you listen to it. However, Anja assured me that even though you can’t hear much of a difference, the point is to even out the audio tracks so that when you stack them together it blends nicely. Despite the importance of EQ and compression, Anja and I talked about the plan for our next meeting and agreed that we wanted to take a break from technical lessons and talk more about songwriting and the creative aspect of producing music. Anja said she would try and work out a structure for our next meeting, as it will be more of a discussion rather than a lecture or lesson.
A few days after our meeting, I tried to record a short snippet of a song in pro tools using the skills I have learned so far. I set up all my equipment and tried to record, but no sound was coming from my headphones. No matter what I did, adjusted, googled, or recorded, I couldn’t get any sound to play from my headset. I texted Anja about this and she replied really quickly and immediately helped me out with the situation. She ran through a bunch of possibilities that could be causing the issue, but none of them applied to me. In the end, she just told me to try restarting my computer, as Pro Tools can often be pretty glitchy. I tried this, and low and behold, it worked. I was a bit embarrassed that I bothered her with my problem when the solution was so simple, but Anja was very understanding and helpful. I was able to record my first recording in the program, used EQ and Compression to adjust it, and posted it on my Instagram story to share with others. Three meetings in and I’ve already learned so much! I can’t wait to get deeper into music production, and I’m excited for our next meeting on songwriting!