Contrast is one of the things that makes the world of Electronic Music go around. Ever since the creation of House music almost 40 years ago – Electronic music has been working with the ideas of contrast. In the prototypical House tracks, propulsive rhythms interplay with muted and emotional synths pads, big diva vocals are set over minimalist arrangements, euphoria is stacked up against introspection.
These early tracks set the foundations for many of the popular electronic genres we love today, and these principles extend beyond production. Think of your favourite DJ – they take you on a journey, contrasting high energy parts of a mix with the more subdued parts of a mix. Throughout all of electronic music, contrast is key. If you think about the deep dub effects of DnB clashing with hyperactive breakbeats, or the introspection and emotional charge of Hyperpop’s lyrics contrasted with its bubblegum aesthetic you can see that this is a theme that sits at the core of what we try to achieve with our songwriting.
Trainer Paris aka Made In Paris harnesses these ideas of contrast in her music to great effect, when thinking about how to make the main section of her tracks stand out she thinks in terms of contrasts
The feeling of impact we desire after a build up is a desire for a feeling of release. Whatever comes next becomes even more magical!
Paris employs this technique in her track Pursit, a propulsive tune that skirts the edges of house and techno, employing equal parts melody and drive to create a track that takes listeners on a late night trip into the deep. In Pursuit we hear Paris employing specific techniques to enhance the contrasts between the main drops of the songs and the preceding build-ups.
I use effects like reverbs and delays on elements to make the sounds seem bigger and give off this spacey out of focus effect.
If you listen to Pursuit, from around the 2:15 mark to 2:30 mark you can hear this in action. The higher frequency repeating melody is gradually sent to a cavernous reverb that creates a huge cloud of sound – we hear this cloud building in volume towards the drop at 2:35.
When i pull the reverb effect back, it creates the suction feeling making the drop obtain a full focus effect.
The drop that comes after this pull back stands out with stark clarity – no more clouds of reverb, just big drums leading us to focus on the new synth part Paris introduces. This contrast between clouded and focussed is just one way to create drama and direct attention in a track.
Paris uses the same technique in her track Dystopia. At around 5:12 the drums drop out and an overdriven synth flourish becomes the focus of the track. This synth part has a big reverb tail which rings out across the build up. When the drums drop back in at 6:00 we hear this reverb tail fade out into the void. The drums draw our attention back from the cloud of sound to the lazer focus of kick and hats.
You could try this effect yourself using other types of effect – perhaps a delay, a distortion or a filter might create a unique effect that will help differentiate one part of your song from the next. It’s this differentiation or contrast that creates impact for the listener.
If you would like to learn more about creative techniques that help your ideas shine you could check out our blog 6 Ways To Take Your Chorus Up A Notch which is full of helpful tips on everything from arrangement to vocal production techniques.