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Thread: Pad Theory, Basics and Help...?

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    Pad Theory, Basics and Help...?

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    I need help with pads.

    To me the sound design seems the most easy part...
    1. Long Attack
    2. Long Release
    3. Lots of Reverb & Delay

    What I need help with is the theory and arrangement/composition...

    A. Are Pads supposed to compose of just 1 note only (like a bass)...? Or are they suppose to have 3 or more notes...? Therefore having to use triads etc...? As of now...I just make my pads using a 3 note triad.

    B. Where are you suppose to put the pad on the beat markers for the best effect...? Can you set it 'off the beat' a bit for more syncopation and/or so it does not interfere with other instruments...right...?

    C. I reckon pads are supposed to follow and/or support my chord progression...right...? Therefore...the root note of my pads should also follow or line up with my chord progression...right...?

    D. Where are pads supposed to sit in the 'mix'...? Most people make the pad the 'quietest' sound...right...?

    E. Since pads are supposed to evoke a 'ambience' and/or vibe...They should have a very wide stereo field and be placed in the back of everything else...right...?

    Anything other tips and/or suggestions would be greatly appreciated...?
    Last edited by Chew_Bear; 09-27-2017 at 07:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chew_Bear View Post
    A. Are Pads supposed to compose of just 1 note only (like a bass)...? Or are they suppose to have 3 or more notes...? Therefore having to use triads etc...? As of now...I just make my pads using a 3 note triad.
    They're "supposed" to be whatever you want – their traditional role is that of filling space/thickening the overall sound, hence the name: pad as in "padding". I guess pads "traditionally" played chords, but with the complexity of synths and processing available today, one-note pads can sound just as full as triads. So it can be one note, or five notes or whatever. Don't box yourself in

    B. Where are you suppose to put the pad on the beat markers for the best effect...? Can you set it 'off the beat' a bit for more syncopation and/or so it does not interfere with other instruments...right...?
    Do whatever sounds good. No rules here. If you use a long attack (this is not a rule either that it has to be that way), you can just have it on-beat as well, since the attack's length offsets it - in a way - anyway.

    C. I reckon pads are supposed to follow and/or support my chord progression...right...? Therefore...the root note of my pads should also follow or line up with my chord progression...right...?
    Usually, yes. But of course a pad can be drone-like as well, so it creates a sort of tension when the rest of the progression revolves around it.

    D. Where are pads supposed to sit in the 'mix'...? Most people make the pad the 'quietest' sound...right...?
    Again, traditionally used they're the sort of filling that doesn't come up front - but also again...it doesn't have to be that way.

    E. Since pads are supposed to evoke a 'ambience' and/or vibe...They should have a very wide stereo field and be placed in the back of everything else...right...?
    Once more, "traditionally"...

    As a generic tip, pads don't have to be synths - you can make very organic-sounding pads out of just about any sample with some creative looping and editing and delays/reverbs/phasers/flangers/freq shifters/whatnot.
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    There's no really set way to "do pads" IMO, the questions you are asking are really just the choices that you make throughout the course of the song you're making. Pads are usually long sustained sounds that fill up the empty parts of the track. Anything else after that is up to you.

    I'll just mention that it's really important if you do pads with very long release and decay that the chords or tones you're using don't clash with each other too much, or else it's just going to sound weird when you change chords.
    Last edited by Structurer; 10-01-2017 at 01:37 PM.

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    What sounds best to your ear? That is how you use a pad. Me. Most time I will use pads to bring more depth to piano chords.
    Brent Flores | Engineer & Producer
    The Studio Jacksonville

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    Read a book on orchestration.

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