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In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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ABOUT CHAPTER 27

A final soundcheck brought us to the point where we're ready to make our first Dub. 

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 28: VERSION EXCURSION (1): (UN)MUTING CHANNELS AND USING ECHO

Create multitrack recording of instrumental Reggae track: check. Add effects and make a set up: check. Finalize it with a sound check: check! In principle we're ready to make our first Dub. At least, we're ready for an introduction into what this is all about: making Dub with computers. 

Dub is both a technique and a form of art. You can learn the techniques but without the art-istic approach it won't be much. On the other hand, creativity can so much be enhanced with just a little bit of technical knowledge. So, before we'll start to look in some actual techniques we really need to consider our actual artistic feelings and desires when it comes to Dub.

There are many, many different ways to start a Dub. We'll take a look at some of them later on in this tutorial. There's the thing, are you making a Dub of a track that is also to be released as a vocal, are you making a Dub for a single release or as part of a Dub album? All need a different approach. What is it you're trying to communicate with your mix? What are you trying to say with that one particular effect you're using? These questions should be answered in your final Dub.

Where there are so many different forms, styles and techniques in Dub, one thing that all good Dub has in common is the fact that the Dubs are remixes of full musical tracks, with or without vocals. Dub is the Art of taking away, and when there is nothing to take away, things become a bit weird. Dub is the art of transforming a musical track by the use of effects and changing of settings on mixing board and devices. You'll need a musical track to transform, even when you're never intending to release the original track you made the Dub from.

Before I make a Dub, I open the instrumental track in my DAW and save it under a different name. I usually give my riddims a number, like 201401master.rns which I then save as 201401mix01.rns just to help myself keeping track of what I do.

The actual Dub is made in exactly the same way as it would be done in a real studio, with a couple of extra features that were unable in the times when Dub came into existence. It means, that while the track is running you'll change sliders, knobs and everything else you can possibly change and record these changes. This is called automation and every serious DAW should have this possibility. Some programs require you to arm tracks for automation, others will automatically record movements on the mixing boards and devices. 

The last thing I do before I start recording my mix is to make an initial setting. Usually this means I mute every channel except for the drum, bass and effects (channels 11-14). When I don't do a thing, the drum and bass will just play. Only when I unmute another channel and/or mute channels 1/2 (drums/bass), you'll hear something else. 

I do this because one very important general rule is that the drum and the bass should be dominant, there should be many parts where it's just the drum and the bass (plus perhaps an echo), and there should be let's say at least three little parts in your mix where drum, bass, or both will drop out. You could call them "breaks", in a way. That was a tip I got very early on, a tip I gladly pass on.

Now, let's take a little version excursion: a first mix wherein some of the mentioned principles are being put into action. Let's just play a little bit with the track by muting and unmuting channels while channels 3-5 have a little Dub delay (aux 1). 

Take a look at the following video and also watch some basic use of the slider in channel 11, that basically functions as the echo volume:

(UN)MUTING CHANNELS AND USING ECHO

Making Dub With Computers Video 04: Version Excursion (1): (Un)Muting Channels and Using Echo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_6lHYQuU4g

At a certain moment, I increase the volume of the Aux 1 (Echo) out at the horns channel. This increases the gain of the echo, which gives a totally different vibe. However, the basic thing to watch in the video is the (un)muting of the channels. I configured Reason to (un)mute channel 1 when I press "1" on my keyboard, same with channels 2,3,4,5. I just pressed these buttons and used the mouse to do the other movements you can see.

Everything on the video was done in one take. For the purpose of demonstrating some basic (un)muting, that's perfectly okay. But for mixing a Dub, you actually need to put certain things in a loop and do much more moving of sliders and things. When you just use a mouse, in a real studio situation this would mean you're only using one finger and that's not really leading you anywhere when you're just having one take. That's why you need to overdub your automation in several takes. 

You can put the whole track in a loop and start from the top to the very last drop several times, you can select let's say the first 32 measures of the tune and loop them, only to continue with the next 32 bars when you're done. There are many ways to do so, and your personal preference will crystallize the more you work and the more complex everything becomes.

For now, lets stick a little bit with the (un)muting of the channels. In my own production method, I usually make my set up so that when the volume sliders of the channels are at max volume, they're at the preferred level. The reason for that is that even though I use the mute button a lot, there are also parts where I prefer the slider. Pressing the mute button at a skank just after you hear the actual chord gives a special effect, it's done in the video as well. Using the volume sliders can give other special effects. Since I do not want to bother about maintaining the right level all the time, I simply slide them from max to zero or from zero to max.

When to (un)mute channels is more than anything else a matter of feeling. Playing with the progressions of tones in for example the horns give special effects. For example, when the horns three 16th notes and you cut the horns just before the third tone is played, a long echo of the unfinished start gives that special effect.

EXAMPLE0042.MP3

Listen to a lot of Dub. Listen close where the instruments are cut off and you will discover all kinds of strategic (un)muting like the ones I just described. It is really a matter of feeling where and when you (un)mute, but it is the most important thing for a Dub engineer to master. Most Dub effects are in fact some form of emphasis of an (un)mute, so when you master that, you can continue to use the effects to de facto emphasize what you are doing. Just play a little bit with the riddim like I did in the video, it will increase your skills like a football player increases his skills by training.

Yes, to master (un)muting is a must for dubbing.

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or join YUKU.com and post your words publicly on the Studio Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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