Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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Too often today I see many musicians, magazines and web sites telling you about some amazing new piece of software or hardware thats going to magically make you into this amazing producer/sound engineer complete with this amazing new sound it can produce. Basically adverts trying to sell you equipment and I think a lot of musicians fall for this and buy into products they don’t really need. Too often I see musicians who have used vast amounts of kit to get a specific sound, they have hard drives full to the brim with plugins and VSTis or rooms filled with hardware. Every other day some new software is out and you see people on internet message boards more concerned with having the latest piece of kit rather than actually getting down to creating music.

Yet when I listen to some of todays music even though the newest equipment is being used it still doesn’t sound any better than music that was produced 10 - 15 years ago. One of my favourite bands of all time is The Prodigy and Liam Howlett’s production skills are amongst some of the best I have ever heard. Take the Prodigy’s Music for the Jilted Generation album for example, it is now 13 and a half years old, yet it sounds as if it could have been made yesterday. Now this doesn’t seem to fit in with what these adverts seem to be telling me. For years of improvements in equipment the benefits in sound quality seem to me to be incredibly small. Maybe it is not what you’ve got to produce music with, but rather how you use it?

This led me on to thinking do musicians and sound engineers (electronic music based) rely on too much equipment? What would happen if I reduced the amount of kit I use? what would my music sound like?

I then thought the best way of putting my point across in this post would be to actually make a track. So I created a list of kit I will use for a track to really limit myself in what I could use…

  • One Shure SM57 Microphone.
  • Audacity (A free open source, sound editor)
  • A Sampler (I used the NN-XT within Reason).
  • A Drum Machine (I used Redrum within Reason, this is basically a sampler like above).
  • Only the basic effects/processing of Reverb, EQ, Delay, Compression and Distortion.
But that’s not all, I also decided I would limit myself in the sounds I could use…

  • NO samples, samples CDs, or any that I have created before.
  • NO sounds other that what I can create with my own mouth.
This basically means no synthesizers, no recording of any intruments or other objects, no other body parts like hand claps. Just the oldest sound creation device us humans have, my mouth and voice (And I’m not a singer or a beatboxer). So basically I was limited to my voice, a microphone, a sampler and some basic effects (To me that is extremely limited set of tools).

And here is the track I produced

Download MP3 from EdwardCufaude.com

I have to say, I had loads of fun producing this track and it came together quite quickly (I only spent about 8-10 hours including recording the samples). I believe that considering the way I limited myself, I was amazed at the wide variety of sounds that could be produced, I was also amazed at how I made it so electronic sounding. Using this method has made me rethink about the way I produce music for the better. I will never again say or think that I don’t have the equipment to produce a sound I like.

I do think that yes a musician can have too much equipment and I would advise anyone to have a go at limiting yourself, you might be pleased with the results. Too much equipment may actually hinder you rather than help you. It will make you a better producer and if you can make the music you want by limiting yourself, when you un-limit yourself again you may just find that your music has taken a giant leap forward.

And I have also released all the samples I used which are available here.

Download from RhythmCreation.com

Copyright Info For Music and Samples
Track provided free under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported Licence. For the full terms of this license click the image button below.

Creative Commons License

Samples are released under the Creative Commons NonCommercial Sampling Plus 1.0 Licence. (Free to use and change for non-commercial uses). For the full terms of this license click the image button below.

Creative Commons License.

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In a recent post I talked about how you can make your drum tracks sound more human like if you played them in using a keyboard instead of putting in drum hits with the mouse. I then then later showed you a great little video of a keyboard drummer showing off his skills in a instrument demonstration.
Well guess what?
Here are even more keyboard drummer videos to watch that I have found on YouTube. Enjoy!

Original YouTube Posting by finakajsa.

Original YouTube Posting by DavidMeShow.

Original YouTube Posting by Somesz.

Original YouTube Posting by Stmoo.

If you find any more great keyboard videos post the urls to them in the comments section of this post.

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Came across this nice little video posted on metacafe posted by Babblin5. The video shows how you can make some 5.1 surround sound headphones. Although I haven’t tried it myself, I liked the look of this little tutorial and am sure it works quite well. If you want to have a go at producing with surround sound but lack the equipment and the funds maybe a pair of these homemade 5.1 headphones might be fun to have a go at making and using. Enjoy!

5.1 Surround Headphone Hack! - video powered by Metacafe

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This featured web site is a great little site for all us musicians who want to release our tracks for distribution on the internet (or anywhere else). When releasing our tracks most of us want our listeners to distribute them around as this is great and free exposure, but it does kind of feel like you've either got to copyright your music completely or just give it away and let anyone do what they like with it. Thankfully this is where Creative Commons comes in.

Creative commons is a non-profit organization which provides pre-written licenses for us musicians (as well as many other forms of licenses for other mediums). All you’ve got to do is go on their web site and choose a license that you feel will work best for you, allowing you to keep some of your rights intact whilst waiving certain other rights, kind of like "Some Right Reserved" rather than "All Right Reserved".

Creative Commons Logo I release all my music files and sample files on Rhythm Creation under a creative commons license. I believe people find the licenses very easy to understand as Creative Commons provide some very easy to read "Human-readable" versions of the licenses setting it out in plain English (or any other language) the rights that you are keeping as well as what you are letting your listeners do with your music.

They also provide you with some nice buttons and links so you can direct people from your Web Site, Blog, My Space to a copy of the licenses. It really is a great way for us musicians who want to keep some rights reserved and not all rights reserved or reversed.

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Here is a great list of 10 sites I have come across which you will be able to find most of the samples and sounds you require for your music production or anything else you might need a certain sound for. I have listed whether they are Royalty Free or if they are copyrighted in anyway as best as I can.

BBC OneMusic Sample Bank - Over one thousand samples to use in your music free (Free to use for non-commercial purposes).

DrumSamples.org - Download free drum samples for music production (Royalty FREE).

Find Sounds - Free site where you can search the Web for sound effects and musical instrument samples (Unsure about copyright of samples as finds sounds from multiple sources). This one seems to have disappeared since this post was made.

Looperman - Loads of loops, beats and samples for free for members (Membership is free though) (Royalty Free).

Free (Scrabble) - Image from Stock Xchng (www.sxc.hu) User:spiders Philharmonia Orchestra Sound Exchange - Loads of single hits, phrases and full orchestra samples played by the Philharmonia Orchestra (Free to use for non-commercial purposes).

SampleNet - Nice set of samples, most are in Mp3 format though (Copyright Free).

SampleSwap - A completely free and lovingly maintained collection of 10,000+ quality audio samples, drum loops and vocal snippets. (Royalty Free).

Soundsnap.com - Find and share free sound effects and loops (Royalty Free). This one is no longer free since this post was made.

The Freesound Project - Collaborative database of creative-commons licensed sound for musicians and sound lovers (Royalty Free as long as you specify sample maker in credits - Creative Commons License).

Worldsamples.com - Loads of sound effects, most are free (Creative Commons License). This one seems to have disappeared since this post was made.

If you know of any others, post it in the comments of this post. Hope you enjoy searching these sites and find the sounds you want.

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