So on the track I'm working on someone suggested I include a pad. I know what it is but how exactly do I use it properly? Is there a certain way? It just seems like its a sound with a big release and a lot of reverb.
I've never used one so thats why it may sound like a dumb question.
Easiest way is to load up a synth and flick through a few presets until you find a sound that fits, then either play & sustain a single note or chords...maybe for the same length as your bass note is sustained then change along with it.
Not sure what kind of tune you've got, but take a listen to the pads in this track. They've been made with vocals (afaik) & they're reverbed and affected to the point of being (vocal) pads and you can hear how well they fill the space and add to the atmosphere.
Also - for instant gratification side-chain a kick to your pad(s). Cheap trick but it can sound great . Maybe just make a quick project with a pad and a kick, sidechain them and start playing notes / chords and see how it sounds.
You'll know you've used it properly when it sounds good
You've got the basic idea, they're just slow soft sounds I guess. For me, subtle textural shifts are what make pads great - if you're good with music, this can be achieved with interesting chords to some extent, but my favourite technique is to record automation for some aspect of the pad (often a detune or unison pitch setting for me.) But yeah, just experiment with layering, see what you can do with pad presets to get a feel for the "basic" pad sounds etc - have a muck around until you like what you hear.
Thanks all of you. I've got a busy weekend but I am looking forward to trying these options. I found a Pad I like that will go with the song, but I will look into the strings. It's all one big learning curve and thanks again for being helpful.
Think of a pad less as a sound and more a texture to provide body and warmth to part of the frequency spectrum in your mix. Consider the frequency spectrum, the whole thing from 20 to 20K. What's missing in your mix? Why isn't it as warm as your reference material? Where's there a gaping hole? Try a pad in that area. Shape it with the synth controls and EQ to get it right and play away on your keyboard until you find something you like.
For example, say you're making something deep and moody with a lot of scope for things in the upper areas of the frequency spectrum. Experiment with soft, round, thin, high sounds, based on triangle and sine waveforms, perhaps with some FM dialled in also.
Alternatively, you want to thicken things in the lower regions. Try saw, pulse, square waves in with some reasonable cutoff removing the high frequencies, but with a reasonably pronounced resonance. Add chorus to this to thicken and give further character.
Further to this, long/slow enveloping the cutoff or resonance on a pad can really give them a life of their own. It starts dull and swells bright over a bar or two bars for example. It can be really powerful, although it's simple.
Honestly, pads can be a beautiful and warm endeavour. Even the simple ones. As long as you cook them up right, a single pad can be a track-changer or a mix-fixer. They have great potential. Enjoy playing with them and let us know how you get on, what you do.
For pads, a great technique to play about with is layering. If you create two different, yet similar pads, and give them the same notes, and EQ to isolate what you like from each of them, a lot of the time it'll sound much better than one of them.
Also, layering in natural textures, from found sounds/foley can be very helpful too.