Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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Another site worthy of being on Rhythm Creation. OurStage is a nice site with a great concept in creating charts of submitted music from various genres. It has features for both listeners and musicians that make OurStage a worthwhile visit for both.

OurStage is unique due to the way the charts are worked out. Listeners or Judges as they are known have to choose between two tracks in their chosen genre, voting on a scale which one they prefer the most. All these votes are then worked out and the chart is updated. This system seems to work well because it stops people from being high up the charts just because they’ve got lots of friends who they have asked to become fans and it is more down to the actual music (Although it probably isn’t flawless at preventing this).

There are some great Prizes available too for musicians and bands which are very successful in the charts. I have been using OurStage now for a couple of months and have heard some good tracks and my track Overdrive managed to finished 7th in the electronic category for January. I asked no one to vote for me, so this shows you can get high up in the charts with no sneaky votes, showing their system works reasonably well.

OurStage is definately a place for musicians to get some free and also exciting publicity for their music.

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Every now and again on Rhythm Creation I feature a web site which is of great use to us musicians. This time is a great little site which I have personally started to use called Jamendo.

Jamendo is a site which allows visitors to discover, listen to and download Creative Commons licensed music thanks to the large number of extremely generous musicians who place their personally made music on there for you to listen to and download for free.

At the current time of writing there are over 7000 albums waiting to be discovered and over the past few weeks I have been discovering new musicians and have also been impressed with the quality of some of the music I have heard. I have even taken the trouble to upload some of my own tracks. As a musician you will find that they offer some great tools and services to help you get your music out there and get people listening. You will get some honest feedback on your music from the enthusiastic Jamendo community, can see stats on how many people have downloaded or starred your album and listeners can even support your music with a optional donation if they want to.

Jamendo is a breath of fresh air compared to most sites and provides a good service for both listeners and musicians. I’ve enjoyed listening to peoples music knowing it’s legal and that they want me to as well as knowing people might be enjoying my music. It is certainly a site I will be regularly visiting, listening and reviewing other peoples music on as well as uploading my own stuff to.

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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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Releasing your music on the bit torrent network for people to download can help get you some free publicity and I have a few tips for those who are starting to upload their own music through the torrent networks and sites such as The Pirate Bay that can help distribution and get people downloading your tracks.
  • 1. Write a readme file and include information about any of your releases and where you can get them from, include web addresses, myspace accounts and any other way in which they can find out more about your music. Save this as a txt file so everyone can open it just by clicking on it.
  • 2. Place a good track as the first one in the torrent by numbering them in the order you want them in. I’ve noticed that most people download the first track to see whether they like your music before downloading the rest of torrent, so make it a good one that shows off the style and quality of your music that you produce.
  • 3. Make sure you can seed the torrent well and ask friends to help you seed it. Also encourage other people to seed for as long as possible in your descriptions and readme file. If you don’t want to leave your computer on over night, make sure you upload the torrents to these sites early in the day, so some other people can seed through the night to other locations around the world.
  • 4. Describe your music to people by telling them the closest style of your music in the readme file and the descriptions on the torrent sites and even in the title of your torrent, try to go as broad a style as possible to get the most people downloading it. For example I used Electronica as my category. Also maybe give a few bands that your music sounds like, for example some of your musical influences.
  • 5. Encourage people to distribute your tracks, tell people they can use your tracks for podcasts, youtube videos, radio stations etc as long as they credit you as the artist. Tell them that it’s legal to distribute for any free and uncommercial projects. You never know you might just get someone who wants to use your tracks on their popular podcast or radio station. It’s free exposure for your music.
Hopefully these quick tips I have learnt and thought about may go some way to helping you make the most of using torrents for promotion. If anyone has any other tips they think will be useful to others that should belong here, please add them to the comments of this post.

Article written for Rhythm Creation by Edward Cufaude

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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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