FX and fills are major components used to creatively bridge the gap between two parts in a song (amongst other things). With genres like dubstep making their way into mainstream pop and hip hop music, the ability to create elaborate, stylistic transitions in a musical arrangement is a must for the modern producer.
If you want to compete with the best this one of many skills you will need to add to your production arsenal.
What is a Song Transition?
A typical transition happens when you go from hook-to-verse or vice versa.
There are other types of song transitions (i.e. bridge-to-hook, hook-to-outro, etc.) but for demonstration purposes we’ll just focus on hook-to-verse and verse-to-hook, as these are the most common transitions in a song.
A popular and widely used format for song progression is to build your song up going from verse-to-hook and to break the song down or simplify it when going from hook-to-verse. To illustrate this lets take a listen to this audio example.
If you like the beat used in this example, check out our Epic Dubstep Samples.
Now take a look at a screenshot of my arrangement in Logic so you can visually see the difference between the elements in the hook and the elements in the verse. You should notice that the hook is comprised of many different sounds whereas the verse breaks down to just the drums and some wobble bass.
The different sections in this audio example transition quite nicely but there are still lots of creative things we can do to make them more dramatic and punchy.
A great transition is a dynamic interaction in removing certain sounds in a mix while incorporating new sounds (FX and fills) as the song segues from one part to the next in real time.
Lets take a look at a hook-to-verse transition I created in relation to the audio snippet we previewed a few moments ago.
This is where sound FX and fills come into play.
There are many other creative ways to transition between song segments. But, the technique used in this video is an easy, sure-fire way to get you moving in the right direction.
Experiment And Develop Your Own Style
Don’t be scared to experiment. Layer different FX. Layer different fills. Drop this sound, add that sound and so forth. Get creative and give your tracks that extra depth and attention.
Catalogue Your Own FX Libraries
If you’ve had the chance to catch my last article “How To Build Your Own Drum Library” you should be up to speed on how to manage and organize your own drum samples. The cool thing is you can do the same thing with FX samples. I won’t get too much into the process because I’ve already done so but the basic idea would be to bounce down 1-shots of different FX (much like the one I used in the example above), organize them into folders, and load them into your DAW’s sampler.
This will allow you to trigger them from your midi just like you would a drum hit. If done correctly, you can easily have a ‘go-to’ FX library any time you need it, which is a great convenience when you need to create some exciting transitions very quickly.
A great transition is something like a short, but awesome, roller coaster ride. It has the ability to launch you into outer space and gracefully bring you back down to earth in a matter of seconds – that’s the essence of a great song transition.