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beatz & funkz

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Schluerf – Mixit40 Breakfast Song

After trying for two or three days to produce a nice dnb track
using the mixit40 samples, I noticed I didn’t really get anywhere. I
had some nice breaks, but somehow I couldn’t manage to produce some
nice nasty bass and rhythmic background. I got more and more
frustrated, and one day before breakfast decided to build a simple
electro track in order to get good karma again. I took most of the
drumkits for Impulse (the Live drum machine) I had built for the dnb
track, and punched in a few simple four on the floor beats. I decided
that was too dumb, and played around with weird time signatures,
getting 3 different beat loops, one 4/4 (basic electro rhythm), one
7/8 jazzy drumloop, and a 6/4 noise rhythm loop.

I also wanted to play around with some effects in Live I didn’t
know, for example the resonator. I just used the preset, and dumped
them onto the 4/4 drum track. The resonator adds a tonal character to
the input source. In this case, the input source is pretty rhythmic,
the output turns out to be some kind of nice rythmic accord track. But
switching the mode of the resonator, a different pitch results. I used
this as a basic harmonic structure of the song. One thing which I
don’t really like about the resonated drum track is that sounds kind
of silly in the long run. Maybe deconstructing the rhytmic structure
would be interesting, the only thing I did was to separate the hihats
of the drum structure and run them through the resonator separately. I
recorded the audio output of the resonated drum track into separate
wav clips, and added an audio track to the song. I wanted to add some
glitch to the track, but in the end I only modified the resonated drum
track a bit. I used dblue’s glitch plugin, which is really nice. It
has an integrated sequencer, which you can use to add a bit more
structure to your glitches, and not just have random effects applied
to your audio. I added a stutter effect, and a reverse effect,
recorded the audio output onto a separate wave clip, and used this for
the second half of the song.

I reused the clean synth sound I had extracted from the mixit
samples for my first track, tweaked around a bit with the LFO and
filter settings, and used this as a bass sound. The bass only plays
two notes. With a bit more effort I would modulate the bass line a
bit, maybe make it funkier, but I didn’t want to lose too much time on
the track 🙂 The basic 4/4 drum clip is actually 4 bars long, and
variates a bit. However, I don’t modify it further than
that. Sometimes, i use the second half of the last bar as an “intro”
to a drop, to add some dynamism. With a bit more time I would work a
bit more on the pattern, maybe make it groovier, maybe add some
“custom” fills. The second drum clip is a 6/4 clip, using a very
saturated drum kit I had built for my dnb clip. The clip is pretty
simple, and shifts every 3 bars on top of the 4/4 clip. I added some
autopanning and phaser on top of it so it doesn’t sound too dull. The
4/4 clip also has some autopan thrown on top of it. The third drum
clip is a bit more complicated. It has a 7/8 time signature, so it
takes a long time to resync itself on top of the 4/4 track. I used
some dnb drums with erosion on top of it, which make the drumkit sound
a bit like a drummer with brushes. The clip is hi-hat heavy because I,
well, love hihats :).

Finally, I added some kind of lead, also derived from the clean
synth sound of the first mixit track. It is three bars long, and so
also shifts continuously on top the 4 bars 4/4 drum loop. I played a
bit with the knobs on my synthesizer to add a very basic filter sweep
on top the lead. Actually, I overdid it a bit, and it sounds quite
thin sometimes, but I like it that way.

So, what were my objectives doing this track, and what did I learn
from it. Well the first objective was just to have fun. This sounds
pretty evident, but actually for me it is not. Most of the time, when
I try to learn something new, I’ll put all my energy into building
something “perfect” from the beginning. However, this quickly leads to
exhaustion and frustration when something doesn’t work right from the
start. I think this comes from the high expectancy I have because of
my programming knowledge. Most of the time, when I program something,
it tends to work in a matter of hours (this could also be a
side-effect of me choosing “small projects” to hack on). Drum and bass
is a music style I’m not really familiar with, and also a music style
which requires a lot more work than “simple” loop-based electro like
acryl and schluerf. I think that I’ll keep out churning basic simple
electro tracks for a while now, and between those tracks work on
building dnb skills, spending a lot of time working on bass sounds, on
breakbeats, on fills, on the overall structure of a song. The second
thing schluerf has brought me is to focus more on “rhythmic” sound
elements, rather than melodic structure. Most electro tracks I like
have a very simple melodic structure, most of the time nothing more
than a few notes repeated over and over. I first began to write
extensive melodies, with the result of having tracks sounding like
80ies synth pop. Blerk… I also noticed that even inside the same
drum loop, the different sounds (snare, hh, bass kick) are more a kind
of “separate voice”, than actually belonging to the loop. A much used
effect is to remove the snare, remove the hh, then turn on the hh
again, then the snare, and I actually perceive them as separate
“lines” in the track. This is a direction I’ll try to explore in
upcoming songs. Also, adding effects to modulate the different lines
is actually a lot more work than just throwing some weird plugins on
top of them. I didn’t use much effects in acryl and schluerf, but I
would really like to build a song like Otto von Schirach does, with a
lot of effect work, lots and lots of different sounds, but integrated
into the same structure.

You can download the schluerf mp3 here,
and the ableton live set here.

posted by manuel at 5:14 pm  

4 Comments »

  1. i like the song, but i think you need some words added in, i’m not sure exactly what, but some words.

    Comment by Cedar H — November 14, 2005 @ 8:53 am

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