Rhythm Creation - Music Production and Sound Reocording

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TheSixtyOne is a new site to appear that allows artists and bands to upload their music to promote it to new listeners. People can bump up items (tracks) that they enjoy and these tracks can then go on to make it to the front page if they get enough bumps. I wanted to let you know about this site because it is new, they seem to have a reasonable number of visitors and lesser known music gets listened to. As that is the main aim of TheSixtyOne to let listeners discover new music.

Listeners can also earn points which acts like a game, more points means you achieve a higher level. Which means you can give more bumps to tracks and have more control on which tracks make it to the front page. It also works like a social networking site as members can listen to what their friend are listening to and see what tracks each other has bumped. Listeners also have the option of of buying the track from Amazon if you music is on available on to buy from there (Just un-click the download option for the track your uploading and it will find it on Amazon automatically). If you currently don’t sell your music on Amazon check out my feature on how to sell your music on on-line stores.

I liked TheSixtyOne a lot which is why I have made it this weeks site. I have even placed some of my tracks on TheSixtyOne, so if you like them go and give them a bump :-).

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Found this brilliant little video of a Drum & Bass band called London Elektricity. They show you how they play Drum & Bass live which can seem a strange concept at first to musicians who use computers for composition. I like the way in which they describe about how they use instruments such as drum pads to clearly show that a sample is being played by that particular musician. Sometimes when watching electronic music artists and bands it can just look like the musicians are just standing behind some equipment and your not sure what they are actually doing.

What else can we learn from this video? Well for a start we can also learn that regular backing up of the sounds that are in samplers and synths might be a great idea.

Original YouTube Posting by dizrespect.

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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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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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