Sunday, February 28, 2010

Let the Children Dance!

As previously promised this track will be something completely different. First off, we're going for a disco feel... well, at least some of the time. I played around with some sounds (Thor and Subtractor, specifically) and created a kind of wicked combi. Here's a link to that. For anyone who hasn't played around with creating their own combinators yet - you should. It's really fun, you learn a lot, and once you get to programming your knobs it really opens up the breadth and depth of the concept.

Back to what makes this completely different. We're going for an odd time signature - 5/4 (that's 5 quarter-notes per measure for anyone who doesn't read music). For a little history, read up on Dave Brubeck's non-standard time signature masterpiece "Take Five" (from the cleverly titled album "Time Out"). In addition to 5/4 and a slight disco feel we might add vocals this time - we'll see about that. One thing at a time.

The bass sound is another one from Propellerhead's Electric Bass ReFill. This one is called "Chili Magic", which I can only assume is a reference to my all-time favorite bassist, Flea. As a bassist who's listened to a lot of Chili Peppers over the years I can say that they have captured his tone fairly decently. I'd like it to have a little more crispiness, but I'll take what I can get.

One other thing that makes this track different is the key. We're going for Eb Major. Not a standard rock'n'roll key. It is a half-step higher than the saddest of all keys, but major, not minor.

We're going to try fewer guitars this time and, if we can help it, avoid distortion on them (gasp!). I know it will be tough, but just say NO! to that distortion pedal. I'm starting the guitars on the chorus with a default Record patch called "Bottled Message". As the name implies, it is very The Police.

Time is limited these days so I'll stop here for now. Here's your link to the first pass demo.

Next time: totally sweet synth strings... Disco will never die!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed....

Well, after much work and deliberation it would seem that this track, 303, has gone as far as it's going to go. I believe I'm going to have to let it lie and move on to something new. Now, for anyone out there who reads this and wants to add to it, or try and complete it--I'm all in. I love collaboration, so whether you are across the street or across the world, come one, come all and try your hand at making it into something new and beautiful.

Here's a link to the final wav file. It's a little bit bigger (52 MB), but I didn't want to skimp on quality this time. There is some nice riffy guitarness at the end, thrown in along with real bass guitar and "real" (sampled) drums for a little more authenticity. The final mix has Record's mixing board compressor applied and the "Hard Rock" mastering preset in Record just to finish it out a little more.

Thanks for following along on this first project. We'll try something COMPLETELY different for the next one.

Send me suggestions and requests!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Keep Running Until You Hit a Wall

303 is still a work in progress. At this point it is starting to feel like I should leave it alone. That maybe it's not going to go anywhere better than where it is right now.

I started recording guitars and was going for a multi-layered counterpoint type vibe, but instead am getting more of a hot-mess. I did stumble on and save a pretty sweet preset that makes a clean guitar turn into a horn-like sound. Think overdriven french horn. If you play in the lower register on the guitar it's like a baritone. Here's a link to that combinator patch. Enjoy.

Sometimes when I get stuck I will go for my homemade deck of Oblique Strategies cards. The card I pulled was "Is there something missing?" What I try to do after pulling the card is look at the answer/question from every angle. The first for me is someone asking you "Did you forget something? Is there a glaringly obvious omission here?" Well, yes, there is (so it seems). I felt like a vocal track might be the way to go. That crashed and burned. The next way to see it (for me) goes "Is there something missing? Do you really need anything else?" And maybe the answer is no and yes. The psychological need for a lead instrument/voice might be the wrong instinct. Maybe it just needs another section - a C section, or maybe A' (that's pronounced 'A prime' in case you're wondering). I'll keep working at it and will update once there's real progress.

Side Note: those of you with sharp ears you might notice that drums have had EQ applied and there has been an attempt to add space via the use of panning, a room reverb bus, and some level automation. Hopefully this makes it more listenable. Comments are always appreciated.