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Holy Bot

Bedroom music production, gaming and random shit

Month

May 2013

Forgot About Gamers

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Okay, so a new generation of Xbox was revealed the other day, presented as an all-in-one entertainment system. But why, do we really need that?

We don’t sit on the sofa in front of the big screen to browse the web or to chat with friends. We got smartphones, pads/tablets and laptops for that. We got Facebook for social networking on our mobile devices. And guess what, I’m already able to watch TV (and video streams) on my TV. I don’t need an Xbox One for that.

All-in-one systems – now that’s just retarded. Focus motherfuckers! In short, I don’t need a single gadget for all this crap.

I want a dedicated gaming console with top notch hardware from the future.

I’d rather have stunning 4K resolution running at 120 frames per second, SSD drive with no loading times, multiplayer where I can actually find and join my friends, perhaps talk to ‘em over some high quality in-game VOIP, and play without lag. Bitch please, no more lag!

In my humble opinion, this whole centralized multimedia concept isn’t the right path. Gimme something shiny, solely to play beautiful games on.

P. S. It’s not like I’m a PlayStation fanboy or something; I think both of the next-gen consoles will include a great deal of social networks and perform quite the same.

Much Ado About Nothing

I’ve been wondering if I should write a post about nothing. Fuck it, let’s do it.

You see all those reblogged GIFs on Tumblr – some funny though – and 99 problems in young people’s love life. I’ve got respect for your struggle, but my blog ain’t about that thing.

PS3 Upgrade

So I upgraded my fat PS3 with a new hard disk drive. With just a few months away from the launch of PS4 this might seem a bit stupid right?

Anyway, I got a WD Blue 500 GB for less than 60 bucks (including VAT). It runs at 5400 RPM and is enough for all my installs. Beforehand I read some articles claiming those SSD not being worth the price tag, and that speeds at 7200 RPM may cause some overheat issues. Also the PS3 has a SATA revision 1 at 1.5 GBit/s, so there’s no need of higher rates.

For the most part, I play FPS multiplayer, you know, so a fast HDD wouldn’t make much sense. But sometimes I dig into single player RPG, such as Fallout or The Elder Scrolls, and spend quite some time on opening every fucking chest on every fucking remote location.

And I mean, one third of the “game time” on Skyrim, is in reality spent staring at the loading screens, alternatively flipping through shit on your phone.

More Games

Recently I downloaded some retro games from the PSN Store: GTA 3, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas. Of course I’ve played ‘em all back in the days on PS2 and PC. But 23 dollars for all of ‘em, well to me it’s a small price for a trip down memory lane. And while the technical aspect of the graphics is dated, the stories and gameplays are just great. In my book, the GTA series are the very best video games ever made.

I also got the new Call of Duty Uprising maps. Can’t tell you much about ‘em, haven’t yet played enough. Some reviews do say this particular map pack is more about the zombie part of COD. And I know a lot of you like zombies and stuff, but I never really got it. Maybe I’m too old.

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And New Studio Gear

Some month ago I’ve invested in a subwoofer, the Yamaha HS 10W to complement my studio monitors HS 50M. While the monitor setup sounds (and looks) good and rich, I’m not sure it suits a corner of a small room in an apartment. Actually, it doesn’t. I don’t have space for this, but it’ll do for the time being.

And I got the new Reason 7 (after I participated in the beta testing). And for those not yet persuaded, check out this workshop.

Right, so there you have it, a post about nothing really.

Bass Sick Instinct

Bass, the low end theory, everybody’s at it. Here’s a brief walkthrough on the subject.

Many types of bass are similar; Wobble, Reese and Neurofunk in essence, share many features. This tutorial could be used as fundamental ideas to any of these types.

Firstly, if possible, turn on Mono retrig and set the Polyphony and Release Polyphony to one (1) on the synth. You may add some Portamento or Glide if you wish.

Now set up some oscillators, separate ‘em a few octaves apart. Any old (virtual or real) analog oscillator with a Saw waveform will do. E.g. set up three Saws, spread them apart with Unison effect, add two voices and a little Resonance. There you go.

Have ‘em run trough a Low Pass filter, or use a Band Pass to get a different effect. Turn down the filter’s cutoff a bit. Connect a LFO to alter the cutoff. (Some producers change volume instead by routing the LFO to the Amplitude Gain or such.) Tempo sync the LFO and Key sync so it retriggers the start of the sinus waveform.

You could assign knobs on your keyboard/controller to influence the LFO Rate, or use a Step Sequencer to automate the wobble speed. (Eight note triplets are nice.)

On the Amplitude Envelope, set the Sustain level to full so the sound doesn’t lose volume over time. Adjust the Attack, Decay and Release as you see fit your sound.

Of course you can replace the Saws to other types of oscillators, like or Square or a Triangle pulsewave, or even a sample based Wavetable. (With a Wavetable, you can have a LFO controlling the sample position.)

In Neurofunk there’s usually a lot of movement and change in timbre along with the beat. You can achieve this by adding a couple of EQ notches and automate them with different LFOs at different (usually quite slow) speeds. Depending on your DAW, you might have to route the LFOs to the EQ via CV (Control Voltage). 

Sometime you wanna control the opening and closing of frequencies not by a LFO, but by an Envelope, for example on a Growl bass. Then connect a Modulation Envelope to the filter cutoff and try to have a longer Attack to open the frequencies, making it talk.

Experiment with different distortion effects to saturate your sound, like a Tube or a Waveshaper. Use Tape saturation to fatten and to warm up the sound, as well as to cut some harsh frequencies at the top. Also try some Flanger effects if you wanna.

As for every bass, put a Compressor on, to keep the transients and shit tight.

FM

A FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis could be really nice for your mid-range bass. FM makes distorted, complex sounds.

FM works in a way that an oscillator’s pitch (carrier) is controlled by another oscillator’s frequency (modulator). Modulators and carriers are called operators, and most FM synths include a number of fixed structures or algorithms.

An envelope can be used to determine how the FM is applied to the first oscillator.

FM doesn’t use filters per se, so a technique is to automate an EQ band (notch) for texture and modulation.

Sub

Put a High Pass filter on your main bass to filter out the lowest frequencies, and layer it with a standalone Sub-bass. (Remember that you can route the LFOs on your bass to work the same way on the Sub.)

Resample

A trick for sound design as well as for songwriting is to resample the bass.

Compose a funky bassline – and don’t be afraid of jumping between different octaves. Bounce the MIDI track to Audio, cut it up, and rearrange it. Put the sliced up samples on different Audio tracks with different filters and EQ.

Note: Soon after I started to put down notes for this text, I realized it could turn out long as hell, therefore I made the decision just to scratch the surface. Please feel free to ask me any questions on this, or to fill in the blanks.

How to Dominate

So we had this PS3 LAN session this Saturday. We were six guys gathered at an office to play Call of Duty for 13 hours straight. Nerdy? Yessir, very much.

We played Black Ops II for the most part, but also some Modern Warfare 3. We fucked around in some private matches, such as Free-For-All with sniper rifles or semi-automatic handguns only. And then we went out on public lobbies and kicked ass on Domination.

We did try out some tactics with pretty good result – we won every single match.

The strategy was pretty basic: two guys capturing the A (or C) flag, while the other four run directly to the B flag. Then everyone tried to defend the seized flags, ignoring the third flag.

If the enemy team happened to capture our initial flag (A), and several of us were more at the other side of the map, then we shifted our focus from A to C flag.

We just held two flags, camping style, throughout the whole gaming.

Usually the most firefights were around B, so we put a little more effort there, playing more offensively.

And if the enemy team was really bad, then we pushed our front line further, to between B and C, and spawn trapped the shit outta ‘em.

I’m not sure this tactic would work against a good clan, but in a public lobby – with no real co-op or communication between the enemy players – this approach did prove to be successful. And my personal stats were okay, with an average 2.17 K/D over the last 20 matches.

And do recall that none of us are really good players, we just had a plan and stuck to it.

Tempo Rubato

Tempo is the speed or pace of a given music piece. For bedroom producers, different tempos can really alter the mood of a track. And for a DJ, knowing the BPM makes beatmatching much easier.

In modern day music, a beats per minute (BPM) system denotes the tempo. And in our club-orientated context – based on a four to the floor time signature – conventionally a quarter note (crotchet) is specified as the beat. Here are some corresponding, relative BPM ranges:

  • Trap: 65-85 (or sequenced at 130-170)
  • Hip hop: 85-100, prominent 96
  • House: 120–128, prominent 126
  • Trance: 125-150, prominent 130
  • Dubstep: 138-142, prominent 140
  • Drum and bass: 150–180, prominent 160
  • Speedcore: >180, prominent 250

These values should not be taken too seriously though.

When mixing music, you can use the underlying tempo; e.g. a dubstep track at 140 BPM mixes well with a trap track at 70 BPM, due to the same underlying tempo. Recall that the standard dubstep rhythm patterns anyway are syncopated at this half-time tempo – the snare usually hits every third beat in a bar.

Furthermore, regarding dubstep, a wobbling LFO rate synced at 1/32 notes, is double the speed at 140 BPM compared to a tempo marking of 70 BPM. In theory, this means that you could program at 70 BPM, but then your LFOs may not allow you to reach 1/64 wobbles.

When I compose music, I usually don’t shift tempo, but I do accentuate the underlying tempo on parts of the track.

P. S. If you’re into Italian tempo markings and other musical terms, go to college or read Wikipedia.

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