One of the main differences between music recorded in the past and today’s recordings is the use of click tracks to maintain a constant tempo. We can debate whether this is a good idea or not, but here’s an easy-to-do tempo track tweak that can add a lot of impact to a song.
To add a pause, don’t move audio around—just add a very short, very deep tempo cut.
Short, subliminal pauses can create a fleeting sensation of tension and anticipation that results when the music comes back in on the beat. These can be very short and still have the desired effect. For example, suppose you want to add a short, almost subliminal “dramatic pause” at some point, like just before some booming snare drum hit signals the start of the chorus. Although you could shift your tracks over a bit or insert some space, it’s much easier to do a radical tempo drop (e.g., from 120 to 50 bpm) for a fraction of a beat where you want the dramatic pause. This sloooooows everything down enough to add the pause. (Ideally, you’d want something that sustains over the pause—silence, a pad, held note, etc.—but often, that’s what will be happening anyway.)
Give this technique a try in your music, because you just might find that it lets a song “breathe” more.