12 arrangement effects
Use these tools to design great transitions and variations for new song sections
Throwing a snare into a long reverb on the last beat of the bar before a breakdown makes for a smooth transition as the long tail dies away into the next section. Pretty much any reverb plugin will work for this – we particularly like D16 Group’s Toraverb 2.
Delay is, of course, an essential item in any producer’s toolkit – a ping-pong, quarter-note delay works brilliantly on risers and downlifters, and a synced repeat can add life to the dullest of synth parts. For a great result, try u-he’s new Colour Copy or Eventide’s QuadraVox.
Most filters or single-band EQs will be able to handle the task of filtering down drums during breakdowns and builds, but as stock plugins go, Ableton Live’s Auto Filter is a particularly good one for this job. It’s an absolute doddle to set up and use, and sounds great.
Flanging has been with us since the dawn of time, but that doesn’t make it any less effective for producing a startling dynamic effect that can really switch up a section of your track. Every DAW comes with a flanger, so try it on percussion or vocals for instant satisflangtion!
kiloHearts Trance Gate
Available free with 261, Trance Gate is a gem of a plugin for quickly dialling in gated effects that work on just about anything. Used as a spot effect in odd places, it’s a handy tool for generating quirky chunks of ear candy between different sections. kilohearts.com
Apple Step FX
A remnant of Apple’s acquisition of Camel Audio (and thus only available as part of Logic Pro X), Step FX provides Chorus, Delay, Distortion, Filtering and programmable gating all in one tasty bundle, and can transform the dullest of synth parts into inspiring rhythmical grooves. apple.com
Only available with Cubase, there’s nothing quite like LoopMash for general beat mangling. It’s its talent for creating stutter and repeat effects on the fly with just a tap on your MIDI keyboard that makes it a great arrangement tool, however. steinberg.com
iZotope VocalSynth 2
iZotope’s VocalSynth has all but revolutionised the way chart hits are made. Blurring the boundaries between vocals and, er, synths, it affords you endless scope for creating variations on existing song sections. timespace.com
Sugar Bytes Turnado
This brilliantly mental plugin is a bit like an audio blender – fill eight slots with a selection of 24 separate plugins, then modulate their depths using a mini built-in sequencer known as the Dictator. Fantastic for random, glitchy transition effects when you need a quick idea for a fill. sugar-bytes.de
AIR The Riser
A synth-based transition designer instrument specifically built to produce risers, falls, swells, fades and more. Based on a three-oscillator synth engine with multieffects, and with over 300 presets to get you started, it’s a great go-to resource for the time-restricted transitionist. airmusictech.com
This free, cross-platform glitch plugin comes with a ton of presets, so if glitch is your thing, it’s a great source of inspiration for general weirdness. Take a two-bar section of audio and mangle it to the edges of recognisability in just a couple of clicks. glitchmachines.com
Inear Display Eurydice CM
A freebie available with every issue of this magazine, Eurydice CM combines Buffer, Filter, Delay and Crusher processors to create wacky transition effects you probably won’t hear anywhere else. Our advice is to strap a brickwall limiter across its output before you start experimenting! filesilo.co.uk/computermusic