Lots more than Hit Talk's website articles!
Each downloadable Hit Report includes expanded, in-depth coverage of a given hit song's music production including:
Mix production, Hook production, Vocal production, Drum production, Bass production, and Melody Composition.
Many production topics are written and illustrated in step-by-step fashion for quick, convenient learning!
Plus, included in every Hit Report download are up to 7 Hit Talk Maps! Each explained below...


Track Detail Map

Ever imagined what your favorite hit song might look like appearing in a DAW sequencer? on a multi-track basis? revealing all build-ups, break-downs, and automation within the song's production? What once was imagined now lays before your eyes - Hit Talk's Track Detail Map. The map provides a wealth of music production information by revealing, with mind-boggling precision, specific track-by-track techniques and automation within a hit song's production. With each Hit Report, we explain in great detail the Track Detail Map's contents, revealing insider production knowledge found nowhere else.

Here's how it works: The bottom of the Track Detail Map shows the song section's timeline and numbered bars. The map contains 5-7 tracks. Tracks are labeled at left, and divided into clips. We pick the most noteworthy tracks, plus the most enlightened production techniques, and illustrate (with great detail) each track's modulations, effects, envelopes, pitch/midi data, automation, and more via color coded lines. For example, delay and reverb illustrations offer 4 dimensions of detail: first, a vertical line which represents a track's original dry signal; second, a vertical line (or sometimes a 3rd and 4th) that represent time based reflections such as eighth or sixteenth notes; third, a sloping line representing the length of feedback/reverb; and finally, fourth, a horizontal line representing the duration of the effect. Additionally, each track detail map provides a shorthand legend on the left side of every track!

The Track Detail Map proves especially useful as you listen to a song in real time, referencing what you see in the map's illustration against the song's audio. Starting with our Paper Planes Hit Report, every report will contain a Track Detail Map. And really, what better way is there to learn from the hits than to see them spelled out track-by-track as they might appear in the Pro-Tools or Logic session that created them?! Plus, we include extended commentary for all our Track Detail Maps. We provide you a wealth of step-by-step explanations and analysis to ensure you fully grasp the complex processes illustrated in our maps, not to mention bonus illustrations from popular music software. Simply put, we explain it all!


Song Arrangement Map

If you've ever dreamed of seeing what a hit song's arrangement and layout looked like in a single glance, you'll love Hit Talk's Song Arrangement Map - included in every Hit Report we offer! The map's vertical axis divides the song up for you on a track-by-track basis: drums, percussion, lead vocals, background vocals, bass, guitar, brass, strings etc. - even sound fx, crescendos, and decrescendos! The map's horizontal axis reveals where a song's tracks playback, at what level they playback, where they build-up, where they break-down, and where they mute. Each song part (intro, verse1, hook1, verse2, hook2, bridge, and so on) is labeled in blue, all track icons represent a length of four bars. Dark gray icons represent the prominent parts in the song's mix while the lighter gray icons represent quieter parts. Certain icons are half-shaded symbolizing mutes and break-downs as they occur within specific four bar phrases.

In the above example, you can see the song begins with a bare lead vocal track and builds quickly in the first verse, adding backup vocals, bass and violin. 8 bars into the first verse the song builds further, adding brass and piano, while backup vocals drop out of the mix. Each of the song's hooks reveal yet more interesting production detail beginning by adding a soft guitar and synth to the background of the mix, while backup vocals assume the foreground. Also, notice how most song elements drop out of the mix during the last 4 bars of each hook. During the final 2 bars of the hook, a catchphrase is sung on both vocal channels accompanied only by the guitar, synth and percussion accents, while at top a reverse crash or swell acts as a segue into the song's next section. This is the type of exciting production and arrangement detail you can expect from all our Song Arrangement Maps. Studying a song's transitions by ear can be frustrating, making analyzing and discovery of a song's arrangement a daunting challenge. With Hit Talk's Song Arrangement Maps laid out before you, an entire song's production arrangement becomes an instant revelation! Now you can see exactly how the song is put together, from start to finish.


Chord Progression Map

Keeping your music theory skills sharp is vital to producing powerful hooks and chord progressions that can blossom into hits. Nurturing your keyboard skills is tantamount to developing a well-rounded production style, and that's why you'll love Hit Talk's Chord Progression Maps. Every Hit Report includes a chord progression map that enables you to learn chord theory from all the hit songs covered on Hit Talk! The chord map illustrates every finger position per chord, on both the vertical and horizontal axes. The blue circles represent the left hand; the yellow circles represent the right. The fingers are numbered from 1 to 5, thumb to pinky. Each chord is labeled by name at the top of the diagram. All finger positions marked on the chord map represent proper keyboard technique, allowing you to sharpen your keyboard skills all the while learning the exact chord progressions used in top hit singles. Hit Talk's Chord Progression Maps offer a quick, convenient, and constructive way to grasp the chord structure behind many of today's hits and improve your music theory skills at the same time.


Song Format Map

If you've ever wanted to quickly know exactly what song format, key signature, and tempo a given hit song follows, then you'll love Hit Talk's Song Format Maps. Each song format map displays a precise overview of a given hit song's sectional breakdowns, key signature, and tempo from start to finish. Instantly, you're able to grasp the entire formatting of a given song to study or make your own! Each song map splits up all major song divisions for you such as intro, verse1, verse2, hook1, hook2, bridge, outro, and more allowing you to see exactly where they occur along the song's timeline.


Frequency Separation Map

Knowing exactly how to mix like heavy-weight producers and attain a mix worthy of Billboard status takes lots of experience and skill. Carving each track's frequency spectrum to blend sonically with all other tracks within a song's mix requires a professional ear and adherence to detail. Hit Talk's Frequency Spectrum Maps give you this detail by offering a visual snapshot of any hit's mix and frequency balance! Instantly, you're able to peer inside a song's mix and witness the frequency range occupied by each track within a full production.

Frequency Spectrum Maps enable you to improve your understanding of instrument placement within a song utilizing equalization, low pass filtering, high pass filtering, and more. Hit Talk's Frequency Separation Map is a concise illustration of the frequency spans covered by each specific instrument within a song's mix. In the above example, each orange horizontal bar corresponds to exactly what frequency range each instrument envelops. Understanding hit songs' frequency separation will help you get closer to obtaining a hit-worthy mix of your own, keeping all parts of your mix well-separated and situated for optimal sonic blend and balance.


Melody Map

Solid keyboard technique is a crucial production skill possessed by today's top music producers. To this end, in combination with the chord map, the Melody Map is one of Hit Talk's most powerful educational tools. Formatted exactly like a midi piano roll, the melody map illustrates every part of a song's hook by showing the right hand part in yellow and the left hand part in blue, much like the chord map. In addition, over-dubbed parts are illustrated in red, and can belong to the left or right hand. One of the most enlightening aspects of the melody map is that it plots finger positions. Since the notes are numbered 1-5 - thumb-pinky, like the chord map, the melody map displays the most effective finger positions for performing a particular melody. In the example above, the melody starts with the middle finger on G, then the thumb crosses underneath to A. This makes it possible to play the lead melody entirely with the right hand while chording with the left (blue). This is indispensable information for keyboardists who might otherwise be tempted to start the melody using the thumb. The melody map also reveals, in thorough detail, the many rhythmic nuances and subtle melodic evolutions inherent in a clever melody. Combined with the Hit Talk's chord map, the Melody Map will improve your keyboarding skills exponentially, even after buying only a few hit reports.


Groove Analysis Map

A big part of what makes hit songs sound great is the deliberate deviation of conventional rhythm and quantization. What does this mean? Instead of producing rhythms and melodies that lock 100% to a sequencer's grid, hit producers intentionally offset a song's drum rhythms, melodic rhythms, and more. Why? To create natural, humanized rhythmic feels that lend strength to a hit song's grabbing power. Hit Talk's Groove Analysis Maps help you see exactly how it's done by illustrating a song's syncopation, feel or subtle deviation from a 100% quantized grid. In short, Hit Talk's groove maps illustrate any rhythmic liberties taken by a producer or musician. The time scales represented by Groove Analysis Maps vary depending on what needs to be illustrated. A groove map can represent 1, 2 or 4 bars depending on the groove being analyzed.

The above example map shows a 2-bar drum beat. The black lines represent 8th notes, and the gray lines represent 32nd notes. The blue text at the bottom of the diagram shows the 8th notes as they might be counted while playing them. The "A" stands for "and": every odd 8th note. The beat is almost fully quantized, or nearly 100% locked to the song's tempo grid. However, the first and fourth pulse markers (the blue vertical lines) show the quieter hi-hat notes landing just behind the beat, by less than a 32nd note. That may not seem like much, but it's precisely the amount of rhythmic offset needed to give the drum riff a natural feel. All remaining blue pulse markers show off the rhythm's planned syncopation. For example, the snare drum lands on the "and" of the first "4" count; in an un-syncopated rhythm, the snare normally falls directly on the "4" count. This creates a deliberate rhythmic offset that defies the expectations of listeners, adding flavor and variety to the rhythm. To gain skill and insight over any hit song's subtler feels and nuances of rhythm, Hit Talk's Groove Analysis Maps are key!


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