My book club is reading How to Wreck a Nice Beach, on the history of the vocoder. One of my compatriots DJs for CBC Radio 3, and put together this YouTube playlist of vocoder tunes:
New drum kit, new processing techniques. Still much room for improved sythesis. Thinking about just lifting samples, but there’re a million things to try first. This section would be the build-up to the first drop, and would have a 16 bar drum lead-in before it. Might have to get bigger tho, depends on the song.
The bass should be warmer, I guess. It just keeps coming out cold and evil >:)
[Update:] Here is the same arrangement, but I designed a new algorithm for generating snare timings which should be more believably human (ie, funkier):
Here’s a friend of a friend bending some circuit. This contraption won a couple grand in free equipment from Moog:
Copyright Criminals is an hour-long doc about sampling and the art thereof. Here it is in its entirety:
Some points: one) Gilbert O’Sullivan didn’t sue Biz Markie, the company to which he assigned his copyright did, two) the film should have been CC licensed — it’s something of an artfail that it’s not, three) the bit where Saul Williams talks about sampling in trip hop has been continually blowing my mind — Bjork becomes even more of a weird Icelandic half-elf, four) sampling is clearly art and making it illegal is clearly wrong-headed, if not outright racist.
I need to start working on song structure, so here’s another test track. Publish or perish.
It also includes my attempt at a simple (1st inversion) C-maj bass line with an equally-simple A-min lead chord progression. The lead is gated, Trance-style, and everything is gain pumped to hell and back. I need to work on the mix and stereo image.
[I think my music theory needs work too -- shit sounds flat.]
“Sampling Soul” is a Duke University lecture discussing Illmatic and its effects on hip hop culture.
I’ve been listening to Sublime quite a bit — Everything Under the Sun — and in, I think, the Westwood One Interview Bradley talks a bit about their influences: “anything from the Ariwa Sounds label”. So I started listening to that — I think the label is trying to position itself as the roots of dubstep or something. Anyway.
As a practising Rastafarian, Macka B’s music is based around the political and spiritual message of the religion, with an often light and humorous touch. Working with the Mad Professor, he combined dancehall and dub styles of reggae, although has avoided a more commercial crossover approach. He takes his name from the Judean rebels against the Romans, the Maccabees.
My lunchtime project was to learn about gated synth leads. The base note is held and I animated its volume envelope to break it up rhythmically. On top of that I added some held harmonics. If you’ve ever plugged your own ears and then waggled a hand to chop up someone’s voice, gating is the exact same thing.
The kick-snare side-chain-compresses the lead, and when the bass cuts you can really hear it — there’re other notes which come in that are otherwise masked out. The track sounded like it needed reverb, so I added small-ish amounts of echo to the whole thing in post.
There was some problem with the drums — the track is supposed to start with the kick-snare — but I think it’s fine for a testproj. The same envelope animation technique can pan the sound around in stereo space, so I could have had the synth pulsing between ears as well: awesome.
Side chain compression lets drums come through the synth for that house-style whoomping. “Side chaining” is controlling one component using the output of another — in this case using a drum track to trigger a compressor.
[A compressor removes dynamic range from a sound -- makes the lows higher and the highs lower. Dynamic range compression is somewhat controversial because music is "supposed" to have quiet bits and loud bits, for the emotional conflict they create. It turns out it's convenient to media companies to strip out this emotional content for things like radio (so you don't ever have to touch the volume control while driving).]
Anyway, here’s something I did 10 minutes ago — still needs work
Bach sometimes used prime numbers in his compositions. The following is a drum “loop” which uses that idea, plus a little simple cryptography, in its structure.
The main kick-snare is an elaborated 140 bpm at syncopated half-time, as usual. There’s a secondary snare loop which is five sixteenths long, and a maraca pattern which is seven sixteenths. Together they repeat every 35 sixteenths notes (roughly, below), and take longer than that to repeat with in time with the kick-snare (my math on that is fuzzy because I think I’m counting the syncopation wrong).
Essentially this is a drum machine implementation of public key cryptography, via Neal Stephenson’s bike chain metaphor, with trivial key components.