Learning how to layer leads properly is one of the most important aspects of producing current-sounding, huge, rich dance and pop music.
Ok, ok….I know the title sounds a little “click bait-ey”, but I’m serious: Layering leads is something I’m asked about often, and it’s really not that complicated. If you want to know how to layer leads properly, there are just a few factors to consider…
In this tutorial, I’m going to walk you through the main mistakes people make, AND what they should be doing instead…
Here is the process in a nutshell, but watch the vid so you can actually HEAR the difference. (If you want to learn how to layer other elements, click here for pads or bass, and click here for kick drum layering).
How to layer lead synths:
- Write your lead melody.
- Pick your main lead sound.
- Duplicate the MIDI track a few times (spending on how many layers you want; 4 or 5 as a maximum).
- Add layers one by one, making sure that there is a reason for each. Look to COMPLIMENT and contrast the other layers by considering these attributes:
- Dynamics (the ADSR settings, e.g. don’t have 4 layers with the same ADSR shape. Pointless).
- Frequency / tone (e.g. don’t bother layer 4 pianos playing the same notes in the same octave. You might, instead, have one piano, one saw synth, one vocal chop, etc.)
- Consider stereo width, e.g. you might have one layer in the centre (the main one), then a couple more panned out left and right, or made wide with a stereo widening plugin. ALWAYS check in mono to make sure it still sounds good.
- After processing each track separately (e.g. cutting out the unwanted frequencies from one layer so it doesn’t clash with another), route them together in a group or buss and process them as one whole. This will help make them sound like one cohesive instrument.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below, and what you want me to make my next tutorial on 🙂