When you think of automation, you probably imagine hitting a switch and a robot grinding coffee and preparing scrambled eggs while you take a relaxing shower. And while that future might be all that far away, automation in music production is already here and being used by producers globally to make pre-programmed changes to different parts of their music.
In fact, automation isn’t all that new. In professional music studios, consoles can be programmed to remember the audio engineer’s fader adjustments. Each time the engineer tweaks a knob, the console will record it and each time the song is played back those exact adjustments will be replicated by the console. This is extremely useful when you are trying to make adjustments across multiple instruments in your mix.
How does automation make your music better?
Automation allows you to create organic-sounding evolution and movement in your music. Think of the dynamism of tracks with changes in volume to create tension, or the spatial experience of sounds moving from left to right.
When to use automation
Attention spans are becoming shorter. A flat piece of music that doesn’t change or evolve will have us skipping to the next track. Remember how you felt when you first heard the rising tension and then the sudden drop in an EDM track? Automation is used to create dynamic moments like these, guiding the listener from one section of the track to another.
Add automation to certain parts of a track when you want to excite the listener and create tension.
Automation on BandLab
The web Mix Editor is equipped with parameter automation. Every track comes with volume and pan controls as standard, all of which can be automated with great ease. Click on the automation button at the top left of the Mix Editor. You can choose to automate the volume or the panning.
To automate, simply plot the points by clicking on any portion of the track. By creating slopes in between points, you can automatically adjust the volume as the track plays, creating volume swells or fades.
To automate panning, select “Pan” and plot the points in the track just like you would above. When you automate panning, it can be a great tool to give space in a mix, or create dramatic effects of sounds moving from left to right.
Tip: Keep the tracks close to mono at the verse and start panning instruments a little wider at the pre-chorus and then pan hard left and right at the chorus to create a wide, explosive experience.
To learn more on how to use automation, watch our video tutorial here.
Automation can be a useful tool that lets you explore different sounds creatively and take your tracks to the next level. Best of all, it’s easy! Add automation to your next project here.