Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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Looking back on the music that I've made in the past and there is one thing that annoys me which is that the drum beats sounded a little weak. You can hear my previous tracks on my website. So before I get really down to work with this album I wanted to improve the sound of my beats as well as give them a certain style of my own and then also fit it into the niche I've chosen which is to make a modernized version of 1990 - 1992 Old Skool/Rave as I described in the post entitledFinding a Niche for the Album Project.

I'm pleased to say that I have come up with a style of beat that I am pretty happy with, I feel it is an improvement on my previous attempts, it has a nice feel to it and is also a dancey feel to fit into my chosen niche. But it also sounds quite modernized.

One thing I have wanted to do with this album is to make sure that I am not breaking any copyrights and this could be tricky as the Old Skool style of music was basically made up of samples from various places. Many of the drum beats are sampled breaks from classic records where the drummer would do a solo, such as the popular Amen Break. Because I prefer to make everything myself and also to stay fully within copyright law, I decided that I would basically make my own breaks by using a single shot sampled drum kit and also some of the techniques to make the drums more human like. Here is my own made drum break made using one shot samples...



It's just a basic sampled kit from some royalty free samples I've found, kick drum, snare and ride cymbal complete with some parallel compression (which I will explain in a separate post) and some room styled reverb on to make it sound more of a live drum sound. Different intensities of the drum hits were used to make it sound more human like.

Secondly I created a similar beat pattern to this break but this time I made it in a similar way to the beats that I have made for my other tracks by using various samples of different drum hits and a bit of drum layering. This came out sounding like so and is quite a simple drum pattern to make.



The only thing I did with this which may not be obvious is that I layered up quite a few different hi hat patterns and then made them just audible with a bit of distortion on. This fills the higher frequency range with an almost white noise sound. Also notice that I didn't add any hi hats to the previous fake break I created.

Next came the interesting part as I am now going to add both these drum parts together to make one beat.



They fit well because they are basically the same drum beat pattern and I have to say that I a pretty pleased with the results. The drums sound full and contain elements of both real sounding and processed drums. I felt I wanted to write this post as this is the way of making drums that I have decided to use throughout the album project. The final drums will have a lots and lots of variations in drum patterns and due to the style the drum beats are going to be a very big part. I feel that after the experimenting I have been doing am now a little further to starting my first track. I might even use this beat for the first track.

This layering technique should work extremely well in other genres such as Hip Hop and should go some way to helping some people out who are looking for fuller and tougher sounding drums.

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As you may be aware I have started a project where I make an album completely from scratch and you can follow me as I make my album as I am blogging here on Rhythm Creation about it every step of the way. So far I have announced my project and improved my work area. Today I am going to look at what makes a great album before I actually start work on mine, hopefully I will be able to take some thoughts about what makes them great and carry them through to set myself tasks that my final album should be able to achieve.

CD Cases - Image from Stock Xchng (www.sxc.hu) User:Meow Everybody's idea of the perfect album is different and based upon their taste in music and many other factors. Their idea of the perfect album now may not be their perfect album in a few years or even a months time. Many people's perfect album probably doesn't even exist. Rather than looking at specific albums and why they are great, I feel that it is maybe better to look at the reason why any album could be classed as great. Here is my 10 things which I think make a great album.

  • 1. Ground Breaking - At the time that the album is released there should be something that sets it apart from all the other albums currently available. It doesn't have to be a completely new style of music but it could be a new fusion of things that no one has yet thought to bring together or have a certain new take on something done before.
  • 2. Listeners Want To Listen Again - The album should make listeners want to re-listen again and again. To do this there should be sounds and instruments in the background that upon a second listening they hear but they may not have heard the first time. There should be sections which make listeners want to quickly rewind and re-listen to a section again.
  • 3. No Skipping Through Tracks - A great album makes you want to listen through it without skipping a track, each track should add something to the album. The saying "quality over quantity" should be used here as many would agree that having a 40 minute album of quality is better than a 80 minute album of bad tracks. When the album is sold on iTunes this means that people will want the whole album, not just a couple of the tracks.
  • 4. A Flow Throughout - There should be a certain flow throughout, like a cohesiveness between the tracks that make them sound a part of the collection. They should sound like they have been produced by the same person(s) and have a kind of feel like they belong there.
  • 5. Longevity - The greatest albums will still be a part of peoples collections in 10 years or even 20 years from now. This comes down to good music, good sound production and also individuality of the album.
  • 6. Generate Feelings - Music stirs certain emotions, a good album should generate lots of different emotions throughout whether it is happiness, sadness, memories, etc. This is usually done through the lyrics which could be linked in to do with current events, a lot of people say that good music is written during hard times. A album which comes out about the right thing at the right time can make it greater than if it came out at the wrong time.
  • 7. Artwork - The albums artwork should complement the music and should also be artistically creative and as much of a talking point as the music. People remember album covers quite well, sometimes even more so than the actual music.
  • 8. A Good Ordering of Tracks - The album tracks should be in a order where the next track complements the previous track. The starting track should be either an intro or a track which gets the album off to a good start and the ending track should be one that sums up the album as a whole.
  • 9. Memorable - The album should be easily remembered, this could be the lyrics, melodies or anything else that will mean that people will be singing or humming different tracks to themselves after listening.
  • 10. General Appeal - A good album is one that you will want to share with your friends, therefore it should have general appeal and greatl enough to make most people want to listen to it.
These are what I think make a good album. It doesn't mean that an album has to have all of these 10 things but a great album will at least have many of them as a feature. For my album project I will need to find ways to make my album excel in some of these areas if it is to stand out from the crowd of other music makers.

Anything that I have left out that you think makes a good album and should be added? Please write them in the comments!

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Here I have chosen 10 really great synths which are not only pretty decent for various sounds, but also free for you to use. I haven't written anything about each one, but I have tested and used them all out myself and I wouldn't put them here if I didn't think they were useful for use in your own music. Personally I feel the more VSTi instruments that you can call on to use in your music the better and these should be some of the first that you try out.

Click on the name of each one to visit the homepage where you can download them for free. I have provided a screenshot of each one for you. If you are new to VST Instruments then check out our Beginners Guide to Using VST Instruments, if you need a free VSTi Host check out SAVIHost.

Enjoy your new collection of soft synths, by using this wide variety you should be able to make some pretty good sounds for use in your music.

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I don't think anyone will disagree that your music working space needs to be comfortable, but we also want to make it so that everything in our workspace is easy to use, easy to reach and make us want to be in our music studio. To achieve this our music making area should be clean and free from clutter and also keeping it that way too. Sort out all your wires so that you don't have to keep going behind your equipment, if you have some cable ties it could be a good idea to use them to declutter too.

Most of us will be using software on a computer to make music and therefore clean and free from clutter doesn't just apply to the physical world, it also applies to our desktop environments too. To declutter our computer we should make sure that our software is easy to startup and get going quickly. Solve those computer problems and make our applications quick to get going by setting up the preferences to our liking. It might be worth creating a template file in your software too to allow you to get going as quickly as possible. We basically should streamline our computers ready for knuckling down to making some beats.

Whilst we are making music one thing that could improve our productivity during our precious music making time is to take away all the distractions from the room. For example games consoles and telephones could be removed and also internet could be disconnected to stop you from checking your email and social networks and getting distracted.

I'm not one to plan specific times to make music, but if your area is comfortable and it is quick and easy to start making music you are going to end up spending more time actually making music when you are in there and you won't have to plan specific times. You'll just be able to go and do it. By making your music making studio more comfortable and time friendly, you will probably improve not only your music making productivity but also your music too.

What do you do to improve your music making studio/area to improve your music making time usage?

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Over at our other site Remix Comps we have teamed up with Zenhiser to offer you the chance to win $150 worth of samples from their exciting and affordable range of sample packs.

Just head on over to The Contest to find out all the details of how to enter.


Simply download the samplepack on the page which contains drum loops in various genres, bass loops, pads, fx and crashes from Zenhiser's sample libraries. Then using your music abilities cut them up, play with the samples and rework them into a 1 to 5 minute track using as much or as little of the provided samples as you want.

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