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Bedroom music production, gaming and random shit

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dubstep

Understanding Hip Hop Production

I imagine that most readers of this blog are aspiring producers of electronic music. Its subject are not limited to only electronics, but I haven’t mention the word “flute” or “acoustic guitar” even once since the start of it all.

Anyway, electronic music is such a wide genre and has more to do with gear and techniques rather than a certain style of music.

So I’m into music production and old analog hardware. Here’s the thing, I’m into hip hop, and mostly trapish contemporary shit for the time being. And as a vintage gear head, I feel kind of alone.

Of course I’m influenced by Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, older Depeche Mode, Warp Records, Hyperdub, Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and so on, but equally so by hip hop producers, such as J Dilla, DJ Premier, Timbaland, RZA, The Neptunes, Dr. Dre, DJ Shadow, RJD2.

And right now, I think my favorite producers/songwriters are Noah 40 Shebib and PartyNextDoor. And Noisia, and Zomby, and Burial, and perhaps Datsik around 2011.

Many electronic producers don’t seem to appreciate or understand hip hop production. I’m not talking about these people mentioned above, but about hte generic bedroom electronic music producer. They might think of hip hop as turntables and loops. But modern hip hop production uses the same gear and share many point of contacts with electronic music. (Of course, it’s kind of banal, because so do all popular styles of music.)

I don’t know, I don’t have an agenda here, I’ve just been thinking about this when browsing through different forums and groups. Most connoisseurs and nerds of synthesizers make techno, electronica, house, synthpop, industrial, edm or synthwave, not many make hip hop.

https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/216289044/stream?client_id=3cQaPshpEeLqMsNFAUw1Q?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Thought I’d finish this track, but I didn’t and I won’t.

It’s a half-baked attempt with some analog hardware (Moog Music Minitaur versus Arturia MiniBrute versus Gakken SX-150 Mark II) and sampled drums.

It’s less than a minute.

A microKORG Growl Bass

Hi, here’s how to make a dupstep wobble/growl bass on the microKORG. Or at least a good starting point. The raw sound is pretty standard, still full and with some fine overtones, that you should be able to take a step further with compressors, saturation and effects outside of the microKORG. Just resample an process.

You can manually change (or automate) the wobble speed with LFO 2 > Frequency, which is tempo synced to the BPM set on Arpeg. A > Tempo. Alright, start with initializing a program on the synth and follow the money.

Edit Select 1
Voice: SYT, SGL, MON, SGL, –
Pitch: -24, 0, 0, 2, 5
Osc 1: DIG, -, 61, -, –
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, –
Mixer: 127, 100, 10, -, –
Filter: 12.L, 38, 53, 0, 0
Filter EG:  0, 64, 127, 0, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, ON, 0, –
Amp EG: 0, 64, 127, 8, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, –
LFO 2: SIN, VOC, ON, 1.3, –

Edit Select 2
Patch 1: LF.2, CUT, -40, -, –
Patch 2: LF.2, PTC, 0, -, –
Patch 3: LF.1, CUT, 0, -, –
Patch 4: LF.2, CUT, 0, -, –
Mod FX: ENS, 20, 12, -, –
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, –
EQ: 60, 7, 1.00, 3, –
Arpeg. A: 140, 1.16, 80, UP, 1
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, OFF, 8, –

Album of the Year

It’s the end of the year. What has happened? Well, talking about music, I think this year brought us quite a few good records, hip hop records that is.

In my humble opinion, album of the year is Drake – Nothing Was the Same. The production and sound design are extraordinary. And Drake is in his zone. More rapping, less singing than on Take Care from 2011.

Another great album is J. Cole – Born Sinner, it’s more traditional styled, but most definitely a finely crafted piece of work, except for the album cover.

The Weeknd – Kiss Land is one of this years favorites. It’s the best record since the House of Balloons back in 2011. Now sounding like an explicit Michael Jackson on a glitchy soundtrack. Real good.

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels, oh man, both Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music and El-P’s Cancer 4 Cure from last year were good, but this shit is even better than the two combined. And El-P’s production hasn’t sounded this tight since 2002. Free download here.

A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP is a great album, Big Sean – Hall of Fame is a great album.

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All released two really heavy albums. Earl Sweatshirt – Doris and Tyler, The Creator – Wolf.

Even if you can’t really compare Jay-Z – Magna Carta… Holy Grail to Odd Future’s releases, it should be noted that this is ol’ Jigga’s best album since The Black Album from 2003.

And there’s so many more not mentioned here, e.g. A$AP Ferg – Trap Lord, Tyga – Hotel California, Big K.R.I.T. – King Remembered in Time and Pusha T – My Name Is My Name… There’s no women on this list, which is strange, I’m sure it’s my mistake and next year will be women’s reign. I did like Iggy Azalea’s singles during 2013, but there was no album released. 

For me personally, 2013 has mostly been about hip hop. Electronic music, dubstep, what have you, well I haven’t heard that many good releases in 2013. Maybe those artist are occupied on tour.

But I did like James Blake – Overgrown, it’s a beautiful record.

And then we got I Am Legion – I Am Legion; I think Noisia are some of the finest producers out there, and I really like Foreign Beggar’s two last albums, but this full length album isn’t as good as expected.

Also Destroid – The Invasion isn’t what you might have thought. Excision’s X Rated from 2011 was the bomb, but this, well, we’ve heard it before and in much better shape. Maybe I’m just being grumpy.

Another big disappointment is Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience. FutureSex/LoveSounds was a perfected pop album, but this isn’t quite as inspiring. (Perhaps I shouldn’t judge this album, because I haven’t even heard the second part of the two-piece project.) Other disappointments were Daft Punk – Random Access Memories and Kanye West – Yeezus.

P.S. Also check out Chance the Rapper – Acid Rap. Download the free mixtape.

Faux Bass Textures

Here’s a little tip to make your bass gritty as fuck. I’m not sure what to call it, and I usually don’t do this myself. But if you haven’t already, I suggest you give it a try.

Well the trick is to layer a foley sample on top and process it to blend with your killer bass, this will hopefully render a high end, wet texture. The bass itself should of course be sounding pretty good from the get go and have some nice movements.

Okay then, find some foley sample on the internet or record it yourself; try fry some eggs or crumple a piece of paper.

  1. Put your sample in a sampler or on an audio track and play the sample together with the bass, try to match the spikes on the audio recording with the movements in the bass. You might as well time stretch a bit for a better fit.
  2. Filter out the low end of the sample, you really just need the high mid frequencies.
  3. Insert a vocoder on the sample, meaning connect it as carrier. Split the bass output and route the bass to the modulator input. Experiment with the band count and the formant shift of the vocoder. Anyway, the tone of the sample will now follow the bass.
  4. Add a compressor (with quite high ratio) to the process chain of the sample to reduce its dynamic range.

Well that’s all for today. As I said before, I prefer to program my synths fat enough on their own, so they won’t need these fake layers. But then again, anything goes. Now go out kill.

I used to live in Hamburg, Germany, some years ago. I shared a big ass flat near Reeperbahn with some bohemians. One of them was Moritz, who later began to rap in German. Recently he sent me some vocal stems and asked me to remix Kunstrasen’s upcoming release. This is it. Or at least a first draft.

Quality Doesn’t Count in Decibels

I find lots of good music on SoundCloud. It’s really a fine resource.

I like all sorts of music, really. There’s a time and place for everything, right? And there are good and bad shit in all genres. But on SoundCloud, I tend to listen mostly to hip hop and dubstep, don’t know why.

Usually I look for unsigned acts and bedroom producers, not indie per se but still very underground, struggling artists, so to speak. The major ones you can find elsewhere.

image

A thing that differs a good song from a not so good, is the sound design quality. I’m not talking about volume here. Of course loud tracks stick out, but quality doesn’t count in decibels.

Here’s a random list of songs (which doesn’t reflect the whole spectrum of my taste in music nor is it complete in any sense). I think this shit is fucking awesome. Sometimes it’s the songwriting skills and sometimes the production value. Sometimes the performance and sometimes everything. Shout out to y’all!

P.S. If you’ve ever wondered how a mediocre producer could have thousands of plays and comments, read Terry Matthew’s article about the exploits using bots and fake followers to juice up stats.

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.

http://www.tumblr.com/audio_file/palsen/44485999522/tumblr_mj3sz6L8rk1s3t8ku?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

Paleface is a trap exercise of sorts. Didn’t even try to master it. Put a couple of verses by Drake on top.

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