Making a portion of your song sound "full"

First Comment
edited November 22 in Composition and Production

I am still new to arranging/producing. There’s a section in my song that I am trying to making it sound full - I have different elements - ensemble strings patches for mids, choirs for low-mids, eerie strings on the high, and a bass section of an orchestra - I still feel like the section doesn’t sound full enough - I haven’t applied any other effects or plugins but I am trying to see if this is an arrangement decision or a mixing decision that the engineer will take care of later. Obviously, I don’t want to overpopulate a specific range of frequencies at the risk of muddying the whole thing - what are some of the tricks and techniques you use to achieve a ‘full’ sound without muddying it up?


  • @Sai When you say ‘full’, do you mean full sounding from an EQ perspective or spatially full within the stereo field? I’m a novice myself but the answer would differ depending on where you need the fullness.

  • Celloman makes a good point, there are a multitude of ways depending on what you are going for.

    An audio clip with a description of your intentions would be helpful.

    If by engineering you are talking about a mastering process, it is best, in my opinion to leave as little to that as possible. To get the most out mastering it is best when the engineer can do more polishing than repairing since by that point there's only so much you can do.

  • @Aaron Moon and @Celloman : Here is an audio clip of the portion - please note that this is not a polished product, it's still at the arrangement stage where I am sound sculpting and I'd like to fix any issues at this stage before I send it to mixing.

    When I say full, I mean both stereo space and in an EQ sense - I've tried to focus on octave separation and panned to the best of how I knew how to - I've not applied particular EQ on each track as such. But I am looking for a full, rich sound - I do use Voxengo's Span to ensure that I am covering the majority of the frequency range - it still feels like it can get better - Or will mixing fix it :D

  • I think the sound is generally quite fine as it is for the nature of the piece. If anything, some of the extreme panning and FX are a bit distracting, as most of the piece feels quite natural, so it's almost like two sonic/artistic directions fighting each other a bit. The section at ~2:40 does feel a bit empty in the low end, though, but that's an arrangement thing. I'd add a solid bass part (and I don't necessarily mean just basses) to fill that section out and add a nice drive to compliment what's going on with the upper range.

    If I may offer some thoughts aside from your question...I think the biggest issue here is actually focus in the arrangement. There's a lot of stuff floating about, lots of ear candy, but it often lacks a sense of focal point and direction as it goes on, especially in the second half. I'd focus much more on the focal point of each section (and defining your structure) and much less on trying to create interest through sonics. You have a lot of elements come in that don't seem to support each other or the piano melody. Actually, solving this sense of disconnectedness will likely leave you with more of the fullness you desire, so all these things are related.

    Hope some of this is helpful!

  • Thank you, I'll keep your comments in mind while developing it further :)

  • Thanks for sharing, @Sai! I’ll agree with Alex as well; there is a lot going on and the hard panning does tend to distract at times. I think you have some very unique ideas that lead me to believe this accompanies something on a screen. If that’s the case, then maybe those ‘extra’ components fit better matching with imagery.

    Again agreeing with Alex that a solid, low-level foundation (ex. bass line) could help add some continuity, but levels and EQ sound good. I think overall your programming and writing is top notch. Some very intriguing ideas here and I personally would be very interested to hear the end result!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Thanks for your kind words :') This song will be part of an album and I am trying to tell a story - the extra elements all help the journey/emotional arc (albeit no budget for any visuals) - but I will take your suggestion to heart and do my best to give it a consistent bass-line that accompanies the piano which plays the main tune in this portion of the song.

  • Do you mean "full" as in covering all/most of the instrument ranges? If so, and you have sections playing in all/most ranges, then it's probably an EQ thing. It sounds heavy on the low end [not a bad thing] on my speakers.

    Or, if that's not what you mean, perhaps a bit more motion could help - just a shot in the dark, because that may be the sense of 'full' that you miss without realizing it. Like it needs something to help carry it forward. You can add subtle movement with just a few instruments or a group doing a simple 2 note up & down 'sawing' motion as a chord.

    This type of chord motion remains a chordal sound while giving a sense of movement at the same time. Let's say the bottom section is going back & forth from C to E, while the middle sections is playing E to G, and the 3rd section plays G to C. Something like that creates a smooth sense of motion without seeming too rhythmic or disruptive.

  • Thanks for your comment :) I thought I had quite a lot of motors driving the tune forward (ukelele strums, runs, ostinatos, etc.) In any case, I will have another look with your comment in mind. Thank you!