Here’s a track here’s how I made it No.2
Here’s a track I’m really happy with, it came together over about four three to four hour sessions if I don’t include the nights spent searching for an idea to start with. I hope to release a HQ version of this at some stage with the other acid tracks i’m making at the moment, but the soundcloud version sounds ok. I haven’t put up a screenshot of the ableton project this time because I think maybe that ruins the mystery.
With a track like this there’s going to have to be a solid midi foundation that really keeps my interest. The actual midi pattern will undergo lots of revisions. The earliest version uses instruments that I knew I was going to replace (apart from the acid). I mostly used the instruments and send returns etc from the last track I had made (
) I deleted the arrangement and clips and tried my hardest to find new patterns that would breath a different life into the sounds.
These patterns themselves got to a point where they either suggested other sounds or I experimented with a lot of different sounds which were within the sonic palette where I was trying to work, in this case electrobass, acid etc… This would then show problems with the midi which would change and then the sound design would change again until I had something that felt natural in it’s own way and just spoke In a way that made sense to me.
Sometimes I hum ridiculous sounding voice mail messages of melodies to myself or test my ropey keyboard playing skills. Another option that can give unexpected results is taking existing midi and applying different midi processes like stretch and reverse, some max4live plug ins and just working the controls on a long chain of these until something starts jamming. That was how I stumbled across the main rhythm that is playing ableton’s collision (more on that below). I record the output of the chain into another channel and work the chain again to see if I can give the original riffs some brothers and sisters which I can use to develop the track.
This collection of new midi clips have all the excess fat trimmed away and the idea I respond to in each is extenuated as much as possible. The acid part was an existing midi pattern I had from a few weeks earlier when I spent a night just doing acid lines. Except for the acid melody that occurs after the first break which was written to complete that part of the track and the breaks themselves which were edited copies of the midi going on in the other channels. Later when the clips are arranged notes get endless punches back and forth and up and down until the whole thing flows. Nearly every time I sat down to work on this track something would sound off when the track played through and nearly all the instrument and sound design was done at the same stage as the final note changes and transposes.
The sound design itself pretty much fell into place in most cases. The main pad came out of another night where I just sat there and did sound design because I didn’t feel inspired to do anything else. It’s a single instance of operator which I tripled so each voice had it’s own chain and saturation within a rack device (with the D oscillator doing FM duties for all three). Surprisingly one voice set to Sw8 and a bit of detune gave that Aphex style pad sound the other oscillator’s were on attack duties but in higher octaves with delays and autopans. The collision instrument is providing that clanging riff. I chopped and changed this sound a lot finally settling for a Library preset (the shame!) called skull canyon which I of course edited along with an instance of Omicide which was tweaked until everything bitted but sat in the mix and rang out like a hammered piece of scrap metal.
Beat wise this track was 4/4 for a night or two but I was happiest with the almost Meat Katie sounding electro pattern which fitted snug with the acid sound. Tuning, decay, side chain compression and a gate reverb were used to give it a confident strut. The hats were a funny one as they are just a little off grid and can sound badly off beat when the beat is heard by itself but with the pad in particular it all seems to work. Personally i think that’s a good thing, it’s interesting, I know I’ve left awkward beats in tracks before when I shouldn’t so I hope I don’t regret this and have to change it later. The kick and snare are being played from Xfer’s Nerve which allowed me to modulate in a few roles which I controlled by having a separate midi channel feeding it information and the hats and cymbals are from D16 Nephton (fed through an amp/cabinet combo). Of course lots of other plugs were used but I think I’ve covered the larger strokes.