Updated: Jul 18, 2019
When working in modern music production, one of the common goals is to get the finished track loud and similar to commercial songs in the genre you are working within. There are many steps and techniques that you can use to achieve loudness, here is one of them.
When trying to achieve loudness, arrangement is a key ingredient. A dense and cluttered arrangement, particularly in the low end will be far more difficult to make loud than a well thought out and sparse arrangement. This is not to say that loudness cannot be achieved with a dense arrangement, it is just more difficult. It is best to avoid many instruments occupying the low end, no more than the kick drum and bass guitar/synth usually, as this will muddy up the mix and rob you of potential loudness in the long run. An even spread across all of the frequency range is best, with the majority of instruments/sounds lying in the midrange, and a few in the low and high end. As the midrange (roughly 200 Hz to 5 kHz) takes up the largest part of the frequency range available to us, the majority of instruments/sounds produce midrange frequencies, so we should avoid having too many of them build up and clutter the arrangement, which could potentially make the mix sound messy. In addition to the amount of instruments, we should also pay attention to what each part is doing. Is there a good balance between the rhythmic, melodic and harmonic elements? Is there a rhythm clash between two similar sounding rhythmic elements i.e. a Hi-hat and a Tambourine? Making sure that we check for these potential clashes, ideally before the recording takes place, means we are able to change them and gain extra potential loudness at the mixing and mastering stage.
Tom Rickerby (Music production and guitar teacher)