Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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Great little video showing the talented musician SaReGaMa playing a Kalimba Solo from his track Air. The Kalimba is an instrument I don’t see often and this video shows off the instrument very well.

If you are interested in hearing more music from SaReGaMa you can visit his personal site.

You can also find his album Inward Journey available now on both eMusic and also Napster.

Original YouTube Video.

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Searching through some videos on YouTube and I came across some videos of some very talented Glass Harp players that I wanted to share.

Here is a selection of my favourite ones I came across.

It must take a while to set up and tune these everytime, but the end result is a very nice sound. I wonder how often the glasses crack whilst being played. enjoy!

Original YouTube Posting by MetricSuperstar.

Original YouTube Posting by adamrcath.

Original YouTube Posting by cooterwillis.

Original YouTube Posting by BSICollision.

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

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VSTi instruments (also known as Softsynths or Virtual Instruments) are plugins which are run by a VSTi host. A VSTi host which usually comes in the form of a sequencer and some of the most popular VSTi hosts are Cubase, Ableton Live, FruityLoops Studio and Cakewalk Sonar. The VSTi instruments add a new instrument to the VSTi hosts which allows for more and different sounds to be produced. If you can't get your head round it then the best way to look at it is to imagine the VSTi host acts like an operating system such as Windows which runs programs which are the VSTi instruments.

VSTi instruments come in different forms but are usually in the form of a softsynth, a synthesizer made in software as opposed to the classic way of making a synth in hardware. Some softsynths can be just as good if not better than their similar hardware versions as softsynths allow for unlimited saving space for presets and sounds as well as the ability to run multiple instances of a single synth allowing two sounds to be played simultaneously.

To allow for ultimate control over a softsynth it is best to use a MIDI controller which allows the softsynth to be used with a hardware interface. This allows for ultimate control of both playing and adjusting the sounds. Settings can be controlled on the screen using a standard mouse easily enough but playing the notes you want will be a bit more tricky.

The great thing about VSTi instruments is that they are cheaper than hardware and you won't have to find more room to store them in the place you use for music making. You don't need any extra cables, plugs or stands. The downsides are that they can take up a lot of system resources on your computer so lots of ram and a good processor are needed, especially if you plan on running multiple VSTi instruments at the same time.

VSTis designed for Windows come in the the form of a .DLL file and for the MAC a .VST file. This file needs to be placed or installed into your VSTis plugin directory or into an appropriately named folder within that directory. Your VSTis plugin directory can usually be set in the preferences of your VSTi host which will then be able to be located and load it up into its own channel ready to be sequenced.

If you don't currently own a VSTi host then I would suggest trying a small piece of software called Savihost created by Hermann Seib. This free software enables you to basically run a VSTi in a standalone state. Whilst this is not the most ideal way to run a VSTi host compared to a sequencer, it does allow you the chance to try out VSTi's before investing in a sequencer or to run them in standalone mode without loading up a full sequencer . To use Savihost just rename the Savihost.exe to the name of the .DLL file of the VSTi Instrument you want to use which should be located in the same directory as the Savihost.exe file.

Download Savihost

If you want to try out a brilliant and free (yes free) VSTi Instrument then you can't go wrong with The Claw from ReFx. You can download The Claw for the ReFX links below.

Download Claw For Windows
Download Claw For Mac
Download Claw Manual

You should hopefully now be well on your way that you can start using VSTis in your music, there are some great ones available and it opens up new doors to lots of new sounds.

Tutorial written by Edward Cufaude for Rhythm Creation.

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The Thummer from Thumtronics, I came across this new piece of kit via a post on Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog and I was quite impressed by it. The Thummer has lots of buttons in a new styled layout combined with the abilities to manipulate the sounds it creates via it’s internal synthesizer.

Whether this will take off I’m not sure but but according to Thumtronics they say that it is easier to learn than most instruments due to the layout of the buttons. The layout enables all chords to have the same pattern (shape) of notes and not differing shapes such as on the piano (which have various patterns of black and white note patterns depending on what key you play) or on the guitar with different finger shapes for the different chords.

They also say it is more expressive (than current synthesizers) as the design allows you to hold it in your hands and control the sound via some joysticks where your thumbs are located. It has pressure sensitive buttons and you can also change the make up of the sound it creates via motion sensors. (Wow!) - Check out the vids below to see this in action.

I like the look of this, which is why I wanted to bring it to your attention. I would absolutely love one of these, especially if it had MIDI capabilities (I can’t find anything on the site about this) so it could be hooked up to any piece of software such as VSTis. It’s also a very visual instrument too, due to the motion sensors and so I think it will work well for live bands as the audience can see the sound being manipulated.

Enjoy the videos and check out the The Thummer site for more info and some more videos.

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One thing I try to do when creating drums for my tracks is to really try and get a BIG sound. I love big fat drum sounds. The drum tracks are the first part of a track that I lay down and I believe that if I can get the drums to sound great to me before putting any other sounds on, I know that my track will sound great to me also. One way I try to get a great drum track is by manipulating every single drum sound and layering it up so for example my main snare sound could have as many as five or six different snare samples in there. These are my tips and also my routine that I use for creating multi layered drum samples.

I use the Redrum in Reason for my drum layering because if you flip it over you can link the gate out on one sample to a gate in on another sample. This means that when sample one gets hit all the samples linked through these gate outs/ins will play together. This means that I can then manipulate each drum sound individually on the front of Redrum and play them together very easily. Whatever software or hardware you use, you need some way of editing each drum sound you are going to layer as well as some easy way to play all sounds together. This should make drum layering a much easier process.

Now you need some samples and there are loads to be had for free around the internet (Free Sound Samples). I doesn’t matter if some of these drum sounds you download sound weak or sound too much like a drum machine as when we layer them up they will sound stronger and very different. You need a good selection of different hits organised into categories (Kicks, Snare etc) so that you can choose a few that you like to layer up easily.

I start off by loading a single hit and manipulate it to how I want it to sound. Usually this is by pitching the drum sound up or down, changing the length, change the tone etc. Just do what sounds good to you for that particular drum sound. Don’t be afraid to change it drastically, or edit it in a audio editor either.

Now I find another drum sound that sounds nice with my first sound, I link the samples together (explained above) and listen to them together. You want to get a nice sounding mix between these two drum sounds so you can hear them both at the level you want to hear each of them. Now edit our new drum sample exactly like we did with the first by changing the pitch etc until we find something that sounds like what we want and mixes nicely with the other drum sound (re-adjust the levels if you have to). Now repeat this by layering up even more samples until you are happy with the overall sound of all samples together.

After this add any processing (for example a bit of compression or EQ). The example above shows a very basic drum layering technique and the more you do this yourself the more you will find different combinations of samples that will sound great with each other and find your own techniques that give you your own sound.

Here are some more of my tips that I use for multi-layering certain drums.

Snare Drum layering - Image from Stock Xchng (www.sxc.hu) User:sonofwil
  • Multi-layering kick drums can be trickiest as when we add more and more kicks our drum sound can actually sound weaker and more muffled as they are all fighting for space. You can stop this from happening by EQing each kick to have different dominant frequencies. For example if you are layering 3 kicks, on kick one increase the volume of 30Hz to 60Hz (or decrease the frequencies outside this band), on kick two increase the volume of 80Hz to 120Hz and on kick three increase say 150Hz to 180Hz. This will give each of our kicks a different space in the mix between them.
  • Try layering bass sounds with your kicks. Create a very quick bass sound so it’s the length of your kick, filter out any high frequencies and then layering it together with your kick can give a nice low end sounding kick if done properly.
  • For snares reduce one sample in length so it’s very short with hardly any tail (a snare that sounds poppy or cracky at the start) and layer this with another sound that has a nice sounding tail will create a very nice effect. This works great too with layering different crash and ride cymbals as well as other drums.
  • Pitch up and down the same sample. For example take sample one and pitch it down, then take the same sample in another channel and pitch it up. Try this with already layered samples, by exporting your multi layered samples then reimporting.
  • and finally experiment with different drum sounds as much as you can, drum layering seriously increases the number of samples and styles of drum hits available to us for music production and is well worth having a mess around with.
There is a lot to the art of drum layering, but I think once you know the basics you will develop your own techniques and way of doing it and in the process the sound of your music will benefit and you will create your own sounding style by creating different drum sounds that others don’t have.

Tutorial written by Edward Cufaude for Rhythm Creation.

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