Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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Recently I completed a remix as an entry into a remix contest. I haven’t done too much remixing before but I think I did pretty well with the track I remixed and thought I would share my thoughts, tips and ideas about the remixing process and what seemed to work well for me when remixing.

The track I remixed was called Nude - Dreams for their remix contest. You can hear the end remix that I came up with on my MySpace Page.

I found myself approaching the remix very differently to the way I would normally go about making a track completely from scratch. The reason is that most of the musical ideas are already there in front of you in the original and it is less about musical creativity and making sounds and more focused towards musical arrangement.

The main aim I started with was to take the track, try to keep the main elements and feel but add my own style to it. It is a balance I think you want to try to get right. You don’t want to sound too much like the original mix, but you don’t want to stray too far from the original that it wouldn’t really be classed as a remix. To achieve this aim I think it is a good idea to limit the amount of times you listen to the original. Listening too much could slow your creativity as the original might stick in your head.

In the contest I took part in, you were given the loops of each part/instrument of the track and the vocals. The first job I did was to cut these loops up and save individual hits of drums/instruments ready for import into Reason. For example I took kick, snare, and hat samples from the drums, a few bass notes from the baseline etc. I then cleaned all these individual hit samples up slightly by fading in or out the first and last few milliseconds to remove any of those nasty clicks you get.

Next I decided I wasn’t keen on the original 135bpm as I found that speed slightly too fast for my style of drums so I slowed it down to 124bpm. I noticed that most of the other current entries had stuck to the 135bpm and that is just fine, but if you do want to change the bpm your going to have to do either some time-stretching of any loops or your going to have to cut up each note in the loop and retrigger the samples.

It’s probably best if your using the loops to decide on a bpm and stick to it, otherwise it can be a real pain going and re-timestretching loops later. Timestretching can introduce some unwanted effects such as echos so you don’t want to go too overboard with huge changes in tempo (unless you want these effects).

I found that cutting loops into phrases allowed me to be a bit more experimental as you have more control over when each phrase will get triggered. It’s better than just putting the full loop over the top as you can start to add your own timings and variations of these phrases much easier later on.

Once I had the loops and samples in the shape I wanted them in, I started to import them into Reason. Using a sampler such as those in Reason which allows multiple samples to be allocated to different keys on the keyboard really worked well here. You can set out all your cut up loop phrases so they can be played in order. You will also find it easier if you tune any of the individual samples to their appropiate keys at this point too.

As you can see I spent lots of time preparing the samples and importing them before even trying to lay any sort of track out. I had basically setup every part of the original mix and made it possible to play every part easily on the keyboard too. This can be a bit time consuming at first but once this is done the fun begins.

I started to play with the drums as this is where I usually start with my own tracks. I wanted to try and keep as many of the original drum samples in as possible, I think this is a good way of trying to achieve the aim of not go too far away from the original but the drum tracks is the place in a remix where you can really give a remix your own style. I only introduced a few new drum sounds when I couldn’t get the sound I wanted by layering these new samples with the originals.

For each of the instrumental parts I was to play along to the original track and then to go and play along to my own beat and try and vary it slightly in both timing and note sequence but sticking to the same set of notes used in the original. It seemed to work for me and the track built up reasonably quick.

Adding your own parts to make the track stand out from other remixes in a contest is I think a good idea. Use the same scale/notes as the other instruments and try to make it fit well. As long as you don’t make it too different and have enough sections from the original you should be ok. I added two new main sections that were not in the original.

Firstly a synth line that just went for 16 bars, it is smack in the centre of the track but it fits well, uses the same scale, it’s short as I don’t think you should make any personalised sections that stand out too long as that would have broken my main aim. Next I added a guitar sound but I faded it back into the mix a lot to disguise it. Putting a sound further back in the mix allows you to make a section go for longer without going too far off track.

When adding your own sections it is a good idea to not use any copyrighted samples that you don’t own if your entering a remix contest which has the possibility of release. It saves hassle later and there are loads of great sites for free sounds.

Effects is where you can again add your own mark to the track so you will want to do this similarly to how you would normally. Careful not to add too many effects especially if the samples you were given already have a lot of effects on. During mix down stage try to emulate the original in terms of overall frequency levels, if the original mix down sounds brighter than yours, then your remix is going to sound dull. Same goes with overall volume, use a limiter to bring your track up to the same volume levels without distorting your track.

Anyway those are my thoughts on producing a remix that came out of personally doing one. If anyone has anything to add that they think is important or different views on remixing please add them to the comments of this post. If your looking for a remix contest to have a go at, try our other site RemixComps.com.

Article written for Rhythm Creation by Edward Cufaude.

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When I was looking for ways to promote Rhythm Creation over the internet I came across Seth Godin’s Blog and I noticed this facinating article today about lessons that can be learnt from the current music industry. It is a very interesting read and I thought I would point out this article because I think it brings up some very good points and also some ideas for us musicians.

I particularly like this following quote…

“Many musicians have understood that all they need to make a (very good) living is to have 10,000 fans. 10,000 people who look forward to the next record, who are willing to trek out to the next concert. Add 7 fans a day and you’re done in 5 years. Set for life. A life making music for your fans, not finding fans for your music…”

When you spread that out over 5 years it makes success seem very achievable? Also check out Seth Godin’s other articles because he does have some wonderful ideas towards marketing and promotion which you may be able to utilise for you music.

Music Lessons Article Link
Seth Godin’s Blog

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Found this great little video made by a company called Animusic. It’s animated and shows some great video-music synchronization work.

Animusic has got loads of other videos using different instruments and settings available on their DVDs but this one seems to be one of the more popular ones. I’m not sure whether this sort of thing could be made for real, that truly would be amazing.

I found the video on The Internet Archive where there are also some download links if you love it so much you want to keep it. Enjoy!


Original Video on The Internet Archive

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I used to make a lot of hard house music and one of the most common sounds in hard house and similar types of hard dance music is the hoover sound. Even though it is used a lot (sometimes too much) some people have trouble recreating this sound themselves and end up using samples. The original sound was made on the Roland Juno Synthesizer and I’ve even heard of people buying that synth just to create this type of sound and spending hundreds of their hard earned cash in the process. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to make a basic hoover without a Juno. If your not sure what a hoover synth is then play the sound below.

Click Here To Listen To The Final Hoover Sound

I made that hoover style sound above as an example for this tutorial using the Malstrom and the NN-XT sampler in Reason within a few minutes and I’m going to show you how to get that style of synth sound so you can make all the hoovers you require without a Juno and also so I don’t have to hear a hoover sample that I’ve heard hundreds of times before next time I listen to some new hard house/dance tracks.

The following tutorial is done in Reason but you should be able to reproduce this sound using any synthesizer or softsynth which is good at making some sort of nice fat lead sound.

Creating the Starting Sound
First we need to create a fat lead type sound, I shall leave you to choose one yourself here as most synthesizers should be able to create sounds which are good enough. Here is the sound I used, so you can get an idea of the sort of sound that you need to start off with.

Click Here To Download The Starting Sound

As you can see it’s nothing special, it is in fact just 2 x Sawtooth like waves with one of them an octave lower than the other. There is nothing special about this sound and you can find samples of this sort of sound all over the internet for free. Experiment with different sorts of lead synth sounds as your starting point for the hoover, but to get a real fat hoover you need something that sounds quite fat to begin with. You want to aim for lots of high and low frequencies in there as it will make the hoover sound fatter and more Juno sounding.

Making The Hoover
This is the bit which most people who try to make hoover sounds and fail don’t know about. We need to use a sampler such as the NN-XT in Reason which allows you to use a mod envelope (ADSR) to control the pitch of the sound. I’m sure that there are many other samplers that can do this too.

For this you need to first export the sound from your synthesizer and save it as a sample to reload into your sampler. You want to create a very long sample or create a loop in the sampler so you can hold the sample down for a long time without it ending.

Once you’ve loaded the sample into you’re sampler, you need to make the mod envelope affect the pitch of the sample. For the example I set the mod env to pitch setting to +600cents (about the 2-O-Clock position) on the NN-XT. I increased the attack on the mod envelope to about midway up and the decay just that bit higher than the attack. The sustain, release and hold were set to none.

I also made the sound play three notes at one time to give it more substance, these were C3, C4 and C5 on the MIDI keyboard and placed a notch filter on the sample with the frequency set about half way. Now we have the basic hoover sound, you can now go and add some effects on if you want to make it sound even better.

See it isn’t that hard to create a hoover once you know how it’s done. Hopefully this has shown you that you can create Hoover type sounds very easily and quickly within Reason. You don’t need a Roland Juno or other fancy kit to create one. You can also achieve this with most synthesizers and a sampler with the mod envelope to pitch ability. Experiment with the hoover sounds too by starting with different starting synths, there are loads that can be made. If you use Reason there are some great ones that can be made with the Subtractor and Malstrom as a starting point.

Tutorial written by Edward Cufaude for Rhythm Creation.

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I learnt something new today and thought I would share it with you. The other week I sent a few tracks off to TSM Radio, a radio station which is devoted to playing unsigned and independant artists. I was rather happy to see that they added 2 of my tracks to their playlist. (Thanks TSM Radio).

I went to listen to TSM and heard my track played, in the track I panned a sound going left to right and back again in the mix. Online broadcasts need to be compressed down into smaller bitrates and one way they might compress down your tracks is to make them mono. TSM Radio does this on their 32kbps stream and what this meant was that when the panned sound was suppose to have been panned on one side the sound played and when it was suppose to be panned on the other you couldn’t hear it. Now I wasn’t that upset as it actually ended up sounding quite good because the sound wasn’t an important part of the track and it kept coming in and out. Had it been a more important part such as any vocals for example I would have been a little annoyed, not with TSM Radio but with myself for not realising that may happen.

So my tip is that if you are sending tracks off to any on-line radio stations or podcasts that may broadcast streams in mono it may be worth sending a mix than contains no fancy panning effects. It will stop any disappointment if you can’t hear certain instruments or your mix gets ruined.

TSM Radio.

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