Sidechaining: In brief

Sidechaining: I could write a book here, and I’ve got a HUGE sidechaining article that needs a lot of tidying up. I’ve spent years thinking about it, how best to explain it, and I’ve got a few ways of thinking of and explaining it. But I’ll boil it down.

There are two things I can say here to keep this email on point;

1) The nightclub analogy.

You’re in a club, it’s early and there’s nobody there. The DJ is playing, you can easily get a drink at the bar but there’s zero vibe.

The night goes on, the DJ is playing some wicked stuff, there’s plenty of people there now, great atmosphere, you make your way across the dancefloor, get a drink easily enough and make your way back to dancing, everyone is loving it, room to move but tons of vibe.

More people arrive and it’s rammed. You can’t dance without elbowing someone, some drunk bird is pressing into your back, the geezer in front is standing on your toes. You push your way through to the bar, it’s four deep and when you’re one from the front someone instantly steps in to fill vacant space at the bar. It takes forever to get a drink, it takes ages to get back to your spot and people keep knocking your drink all the way there. It’s bloody miserable.

Bottom line: Pushing stuff out of the way is *not* the same as having space to exist in.

2) I was giving a workshop at a college in London a couple of years ago. I was explaining to kids about how you can sometimes find appropriate release times on some limiters by spanking it with 12db+ of limiting, then setting the release, before backing the gain off to a rational amount. I spanked the track we were looking at and asked what they could hear.

‘It sounds like it’s sidechaining’, said one kid.

I’d spent about three years thinking about this at that point, and this kid unknowingly absolutely nailed it.

Out of the mouths of babes.

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