Sridhar Ravichandran : Writings

When magic happens..

There’s creation. And then there’s magic. When you’re harnessing the energy of the collective conscious and channeling it into art, you’re pushing the boundaries of creation, and reaching the territory of magic. Let me tell you a story.

One balmy July night in Singapore, I dreamt of a riff. It was haunting, beautiful and stuck in my head. Thankfully, I remembered the next morning and quickly put it on record. The working title was ‘dreamsong‘. However, in spite of many hours of noodling, I realized that the song as a whole was going nowhere. A few days passed and slightly disappointed, I packed my bags and headed to Berlin for an interview with SoundCloud.

It was the day of the interview, I got to the office nice and early. The person with whom I was to chat was running 10 minutes late, and I couldn’t help but eye a nice acoustic guitar lying in the room. I picked it up and started noodling, and man she was a beautiful sounding guitar! 2 minutes in, I had a chorus for dreamsong. Post-interviews, I hurried to my hotel, fired up the REC button and hummed the chorus into my phone. Now back in Singapore, I realized the song was progressing nicely. But by this time, I was hit by another creative block – while the song had a great build and a chorus – it lacked body. Not wanting to drop the ball, I decided to ask for help. For those who remember, I asked you, via a SoundCloud private track.

What resulted was an enthused display of community songwriting at its best, suggestions flying left right center – some great ones, some slightly crazy ones 😉 but overall, it was amazing crowd-sourced creation at play.

I was inspired, and the song finally went from a little idea in a dream, to a 10 minute long episode. HUGE thanks and special mentions to SoundClouders ethb, Adi, Thiman, Justin, Savi3now, Samiran, Vivek, Kapil and Shravan who helped shape dreamsong into the Idealist. Look what we’ve created!

In fact, you know – I am so stoked about this. I want to preview Miles, the new album to a select, super exclusive group of just TEN people, via SoundCloud private tracks and get your feedback. Let’s do it again.

What’s even more awesome? The best contributors will be credited on the album, and will also get a signed copy of the album shipped to you, wherever in the world you are. Yes!

Fill out the form below and I’ll be in touch once I have something to share. And please share this with your friends who would appreciate progressive music. The more people we have, the higher the probability of magic.

LOVE it when magic happens.

– Sridhar

Update: This filled up real quick, and there are 25+ people on the list. Wow – I love you all!

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Producing an album at home

Let’s bust a central myth around audio production and mixing: You don’t need enormous amounts of cash to make a stellar, pro-sounding record. If you’re the type to dig in and DIY, or just generally looking to spend your cash on other aspects of your musical journey, you will find this article valuable. Here’s a track that was produced entirely at home:

Proposed bare-bones setup

You can read about all the gear I use and recommend, here. There are plenty of great articles on how to record your instruments, which is a highly important science and which I’ll leave to you to dive deeper into. What I’m more interested in, is putting things together once they’re recorded, and making it sound cohesive, and slick. For drums, I use a drum machine/sampler. There are plenty of options in the market that get you pro sounding drums with minimal drum-mixing and tweaking. If you’re interested in recording live drums, this is still possible but is definitely trickier to mix in and will require a sound understanding of the upcoming concepts. Please bear in mind that this article in particular has a bias towards rock and guitar driven music, but these are universal concepts that can be extrapolated to any genre.

Now, onto the real magic:

(1) Equalization

A good mix will have good separation between instruments and respect their individual sonic space(s), while at the same time leaving room for interplay between frequencies. Too much separation leads to a sterile, lifeless mix. Also bear in mind that the human ear is most attuned to hearing live music. Recorded audio only tries to replicate that aural sensation, and hence the mixes that really stand out are the ones that are engineered around the beautiful, ethereal physics of live sound.

Broadly, frequencies go in the following order (low to high)

Lows (0 to 150 Hz) – Bass guitars, and kick drums only please.
Low-Mids (150 to 400 Hz) – Warmth on vocals, warmth on instruments (eg: guitars).
High-Mids (400Hz to 5Khz) – Presence and attack on instruments, Can also be clarity on voices.
Treble (5 to 10Khz) – Clarity on voices and cymbals.
Presence (10 Khz+) – Shimmer, overall ‘brightness’ of a mix.

(2) Compression

By far the most important concept if you want to mix yourself. Put simply, compression is a way of levelling ‘peaks’ in your audio. Sonically, this has the effect of making things fatter, or thinner based on how you use compression. You can write tomes on compression and still not cover it all – I wrote a primer on the basics of compression to get you started.

(3) Space

Space is not reverb. Reverb is not space. Repeat after me. More often than not, you don’t need reverb to save your mix. Reverb has the effect of pushing things into the distance. In frequency terms, applying reverb usually dips the treble spectrum on the track. Next time, instead of reaching for the reverb fader, try cutting treble frequencies on the sound you’re trying to push into the background and see how that feels. Result: Clarity, yet not in your face.

Finally, a good mix is made even better with great mastering. That’s worth a separate article in itself and is generally considered a more esoteric science than mixing, but I’ve found relatively good results with DIY. Think of mastering as applying the final touches and immortalizing your work of art into a shining, gold-plated frame. The skills used in mastering are exactly the same as the ones above, but good mastering engineers work in extremely precise monitoring environments and hear things that humans don’t hear (Okay, that’s not true). But you get the idea.

General tips:

We’ve covered a lot already. I’d love to hear from you on other things you do to get great results, if you’d like to get general advice on your mix or even if you’d like me to mix your stuff. Send me your sounds here.. You can reach me at sridhar (at) or follow me on Twitter.

Happy Production,


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