Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2 New Tracks Released "You Really Got Me" "Das Modell"

I released 2 new tracks today. One is a remix of Kraftwerks "Das Modell" and the other is a remix of The Kinks & Van Halen's "You Really Got Me". Both are available on my website at http://www.frobot.jp



Monday, June 28, 2010

Trackitdown.net (My Fav Music Download Website)

Recently, without naming names, I know a lot of people are getting fed up with certain electronic music download websites. Either they are run by sort of "elitist" groups who only display the same featured artists...or seem to hide all the good, undiscovered artists deep within a pile of tracks. One website, in my opinion, that is standing out on top of all the rest, is Trackitdown.net

This website is run by a group of level headed musicians and is based out of LONDON. Their website is easy to navigate, has nice top chart selections, and seems to have those tracks by a few undiscovered artists and labels that will def make your set stand out on the dance floor. Help support this website and and some of the less known artists who are coming out of it.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Japanese Musical Instrument Makers Direct Energies Into Hybrid Pianos

 Original Link - http://japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/musical-instrument-makers-direct-energies-into-hybrid-pianos

Japanese musical instrument makers are pouring their energies into the development of hybrid pianos combining traditional skills with digital technology.
These manufacturers include Yamaha Corp and Kawai Musical Instruments Mfg Co.
Yamaha’s latest product is the AvantGrand, a size smaller than a grand piano. Kawai has a piano which emphasizes a soundboard speaker. Roland marketed the electronic piano V-Piano last year.
Their competition for the development and sale of hybrid and electronic pianos is expected to intensify against the backdrop of declines in the number of acoustic pianos sold in the country.
According to the Japan Musical Instruments Association, the sale of acoustic pianos amounted to about 300,000 at their peak but plummeted to about 20,000 last year.
Piano makers are trying to find a way to put their technology to use in new instruments that enable musical lovers to enjoy a genuine sound and a sense of playing a grand piano, which they cannot own because they live in a small space or it would be too noisy.
Pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi played ‘‘Love’s Greeting’’ composed by E.W. Elgar at a gathering held in Tokyo by Yamaha Corp to publicly unveil AvantGrand, a new product in its hybrid series. Those present at the performance listened to the rich sound of the piano.
Speaking highly of the piano, Nakamichi said the feel of it was the same as that of a grand piano, adding its sound responded to different touches she made on the keyboard.
A musical composition like ‘‘Love’s Greeting’’ with a refined tune as its distinctive feature could bring out the quality of a piano and the ability of a performer. Yamaha is confident in the success of the AvantGrand in its first hybrid series.
AvantGrand’s volume control is made from the sound coming from the speaker in a mechanism akin to an electronic piano. Its keyboard system is similar to that of a grand piano.
The maker installed an exclusive speaker and pedals to reinforce the sound quality of a new piano.
A 14-year-old junior high school student in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, who is getting lessons playing a model piano priced at about 1.52 million yen, said the sound is close to that of a grand piano.
Yamaha President Mitsuru Umemura said his company wants to respond to diverse consumer needs and hopes to increase to five times the sale of hybrid pianos five years from now.
Like an acoustic piano, Kawai’s soundboard speaker produces sounds by shaking wood but vibration comes from electric signals instead of strings. Kawai said sound control is possible and the expanse of sounds has remarkably improved as compared with conventional speakers.
Kawai also said that without using headphones a sound source has made the improvement possible.
Roland Corp, a major electronic musical instrument maker, marketed V-Piano by enhancing a change in smoothing sound color, previously considered a problem for an electronic piano. V-Piano players can also make sounds to their liking.
Kazuya Yanase, a board member, said the piano has been accepted by classical music pianists ‘‘beyond our expectations.’’

ASCAP Assails Free-Culture, Digital-Rights Groups

Special thanks to zeeman from the ableton forums for bringing this article to my attention.

Original Link - http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/06/ascap-assails-free-culture-digital-rights-groups/

The association representing 380,000 composers, songwriters, lyricists and others associated with the music industry has begun a fund-raising campaign to stifle groups that support free culture and digital rights.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is urging the membership to donate money to battle the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge and even Creative Commons.
In a letter sent to members this week, ASCAP said those groups and unnamed “technology companies” are “mobilizing to promote ‘Copyleft’ in order to undermine our ‘Copyright.’ ”
The letter continues, saying “the truth is these groups simply do not want to pay for the use of our music. Their mission is to spread the word that our music should be free.”
The fund-raising campaign came a day after Victoria Espinel, the nation’s copyright czar, outlined an intellectual-property enforcement plan that did not include a call to push internet service providers to adopt policies to cut service to repeat copyright scofflaws. Such a policy, referred to as “three strikes” or “graduated response,” was strongly backed by the motion picture and recording industries, and opposed by EFF and Public Knowledge.
Instead, Espinel said the nation’s “intellectual property-enforcement efforts should be focused on stopping those stealing the work of others, not those who are appropriately building upon it.”
The ASCAP, which also distributes royalties, said those groups are “influencing Congress against the interests of music creators. If their views are allowed to gain strength, music creators will find it harder and harder to make a living as traditional media shifts to online and wireless services. We all know what will happen next: the music will dry up, and the ultimate loser will be the music consumer.”
ASCAP did not return messages seeking comment.
ASCAP’s attack on EFF and Public Knowledge are farfetched. Those groups do not suggest music should be free, although they push for the liberalization of copyright law.
But the attack on Creative Commons is more laughable than ASCAP’s stance against EFF and Public Knowledge.
While lobby groups EFF and Public Knowledge advocate for liberal copyright laws, Creative Commons actually creates licenses to protect content creators.
The non-profit has issued various licenses to approximately 350 million pieces of content to writers, musicians, scholars and others. Flickr, for example, is filled with pictures licensed by Creative Commons.
The licenses allow the works in the public domain, with various rules regarding attribution, commercial use and remixing.
The group’s creative director, Eric Steuer, said nobody forces anybody to adopt the Creative Commons credo. “I think it’s false to claim that Creative Commons works to undermine copyright,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s an opt-in system.”
Following Wednesday’s fund-raising letter from Paul Williams, ASCAP’s president, Steuer said several ASCAP members who also use Creative Commons licenses have donated money to Creative Commons.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why Do DJs DJ? The "Cool Factor"

Before I start this controversial article, I want to say that I am far from a hater, and to all of those who want to start DJing, or are interested in DJing because you love music and love the art of mixing, more power to you....rock on!!!!

That being said, recently, I have been noticing that you cant piss without hitting a DJ....especially in Osaka, Japan. There are thousands of DJs in this city of only a couple million, and only a HANDFUL of producers. This is got me to thinking about this, why it is, and why it is that everyone wants to be a DJ. What makes a person want to be a DJ? A lot of thing I am about to say are just things to think about.

When you think about WHY someone becomes a DJ...most musically un-educated people would say it is because "They are musicians". This is far from the truth as most musicians know. Most DJs have no musical background. There is a very big difference between artists and DJs in that artists are "musicians", DJs are "good listeners" and "good selectors" (that is arguable too...haha). But lets talk about what makes the person WANT to get into DJing in the first place.

Is it because they love hearing music? Well if this was the case, being a DJ is a terrible place to be when listening to music. Being behind the decks, you get the WORST sound placement in club....hearing part of the usually shitty booth monitors, part of your "not loud enough to compensate" headphones, and the terrible reverberation coming from the main speakers that tends to sit in the corners of the clubs. As a DJ, I would say, you get the worst sound placement in the club besides the bathrooms or something. I would much rather be dead center between the front speakers if the argument was that you want to hear quality music. And as you DJs know, you are always battling with what "you are hearing" vs. what "the people are hearing". This is an art in itself, being able to determine what is being heard in front....and something that a MUSICIAN has a better time at determining for sure.

Is it because you want to select the music that is going to be played? Ok...good argument. DJs usually tend to think they choose the best music...because opinions are like assholes right? But I would say 9 times out of 10....when I hear new DJs, they tend to spin the exact same songs I hear everyone else play....beatports top 10, the top remixes out, or that same Daft Punk song we've heard a million times. Now I guess you could argue that it takes time for a DJ to realize these things, but then what makes them want to do it in the first place?

Recently, there has been an excess of DJs that dont even have their own gear, and get a weekday night in some club to practice their skills...in hopes of playing big clubs. But why do DJs want to play big clubs? (this is all leading somewhere, just hear me out). It always seems that DJs are striving to play the big clubs, the big crowds, and show a lot less energy when they are playing to small venues with small crowds. Is that really a love of music....or a love of attention. Musicians who love music, will sometimes have their best jams ever playing to a small crowd because...thats just how it happens. Art takes over your soul, and you let it all out. Now, I know you feed off of the crowd...but a real artist plays their music when NO ONE is listening, and feels it the same as if a thousand people were there...its because the frequencies and timbres, the dynamics, the passion, the SOUND....is what makes your heart beat. Its the oxygen of your art. The sounds bring tingles to your spine and grooves your internal organs. It doesnt take ANYONE else to provide that to real musicians.

So what do I think it is?....and please, lets not start hate speech here...but, something to think about. I think it is....."The COOL factor". For some reason, DJs are seen as "cool". Something about putting a pair of big headphones on, getting on a stage, moving your hands around some gear that the normal person might as well assume is space gear, looks unarguably "cool". Maybe it started in the days of RUN DMC & old hip hop days...when everyone in their MTV music videos were looking as HIP as can be....spinning that vinyl, and breaking the barriers of what music was at that time. I think this created the "cool factor" that is still around to this very day. But with the prevalence of ableton live, traktor, and other quick DJ tools...and even the ease of the new CDJ's, being a DJ takes much less skill than the old vinyl days. Now, I am not even a vinyl or CDJ DJ, so I have no room to talk....so I am not going to start this elitist analog vs computer argument which people love to make. In my mind, its all music...no matter how you do it. But, the "cool factor" is something that bugs the shit out of me. I feel like tons of people now-a-days, go to a club, see a DJ playing (not so well), and think "I can do that"....and then i'll be cool, shag some girls, and everyone will loathe over me. You go to music HELL for this I think. It almost makes a chain reaction you know.

Musically uneducated DJ DJing - another person sees this - thinks he can do what that person is doing because it isnt so good - becomes a DJ overnight - goes to club and plays another uneducated set - another person hears his set - again - again - again.

Its when the DJs is wicked good, and wicked talented, that the people who want to become a DJ because of the "cool factor", DONT want to become a DJ because they think that it would be too hard to ever reach that level of talent. 

Now, I know we all have to start somewhere when it comes to music and DJing...but, can you honestly say, that all the DJs you know or have seen are doing it for the right reasons? For the love of music? The love of the art of mixing? The love of good sound on good speakers? Or do they generally lack any real skills and think DJing will be the quickest success story for them.

Music education is a GRUELING process which takes years, (if not your WHOLE LIFE) to even get to 1% of what is capable in all of music. It takes HOURS AND HOURS of practice, daily, to achieve what other musicians would agree upon "talent". What is SAD, is that, clubbers in general, go to clubs for the wrong reasons. I would say, that 95% of clubbers go to the club for social reasons. Now, there is nothing wrong with this...because every person is entitled to doing what they want a do. It is just a sad truth that most clubbers could care less how much talent is being presented, and rather, hear the same song that they know or is played on the radio, and pound shots, and hopefully shag someone at the end of the night. This is just the reality....so, its only natural, in our supply and demand lifestyle, that these "Sexy" & "Talentless" DJs are making it further than they should.

Now, I guess you could say "FroBot, you are being a hater". OK...call me what you will...but, since the beginning of time, music has evolved. Musicians have become better and better due to the access of knowledge, the influence of past artists, and the availability of technology. But as a musican, it is sad, detrimental, and outright discouraging, too see music DEVOLVE. Whats even sadder, is that clubs...due to their short life expectancy, are more and more going towards what sells and brings the people...than what is considered "talent".

In asia for instance, an international DJ wont even get a legitimate chance unless they are sitting somewhere high on the DJ charts. This comes from a purely business perspective....and I guess the bottom line is "making money". I guess you could say I am dreaming of some utopia where everyone talented "got a chance"....and that I am being unreasonable to think that a person with no following, yet tons of talent, is going to be wanted by clubs. Sure. You are right. But it is SAD hey! Since 2000, I feel like its the first time in all of history that music has start to devolve rather than evolve. That doesnt mean that it isnt still evolving in areas...but there has been a crazy over saturation of pure shit in the clubs.

Now, I am as guilty as everyone else. There was a time...when I first discovered electronic music...that I looked up at a DJ and thought...WOW, thats so cool, he is so cool, I want to do that. I think you are a liar if you can honestly say you never thought this. I have...and I will admit it. But, I have always had a passion for making music organically, so my perspective came from that of a musical one....thinking about HOW I could MAKE this music...not, HOW I CAN LOOK COOL by playing other peoples music to huge crowds. 

Now..."where are you going with this man...your just rambling". OK, yes, I am rambling....but it eats away at my heart watching this process. So what can we do about it. We cant start being haters...and trashing all these wannabe DJs....because that does no good for anyone. What we CAN do...is try to associate ourselves with the right artists, the right clubs, the right promoters, the right people....and try to help music evolve the RIGHT way. Dont ever fake yourself and be friends with other DJs or clubs just because you think you will get a shot at playing to a big crowd....that is selfish, and again...you go to music hell for this. Dont ever compromise yourself, your beliefs, or your love of what what you love most "MUSIC". Find the right people to associate with, start communities or scenes of people who think like you...and try to change this terrible process. Also, help other DJs who are inexperienced but HAVE the passion....and dont care about the "Cool Factor". Help music evolve in the right direction....so that in the future...the children of tomorrow will be listening to the BEST music in the world....and not some re-hashed garbage supplied by business minded or self indulging DJs. 

Also...if you REALLY love music....study it!!! You cant just start playing around with CDJ's, or launching auto warped songs in ableton and think you are ever going to be talented. Get you head in the books, study sound, study sound design or engineering. Listen to THOUSANDS of tracks....treat it like a job. Music is funny in that, the more you study, the more you know...the more you WANT to study and the more you WANT to know. Its one of the best catch 22s known to man!

Lets help music, and in particular, electronic (club) music become better tomorrow that what it is today...and this means stripping it of its ego, its self indulgence, and "cool factor".

One last thing...if you are a DJ, and you think you are cool....there is nothing LESS cool than being a DJ. We provide no REAL SERVICE to the people...besides creating an atmosphere for others to enjoy themselves.

I have this written on my wall beside me at my studio here to see at all times. I wrote this in my notebook one time when I was thinking about all this, and I like to read it and remember it every time I make music - 

Being a DJ aint shit
Doesnt make you cool
Doesnt make you better
Youre just playing some music
There are real people out there
Like doctors, teachers,
People that work at McDonalds and shit
They do the REAL shit
Your only job as a DJ
Is to play some funky shit
So they can forget all about their lives
And dance
You aint cool

This helps smack me back to reality when I myself, feel on my high horse.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Less is More (and Layering is Dangerous) in the Club

Yesterday, I went to the club to test out my newly mastered tracks....and learned some big lessons I wanted to share.

When making a track, be careful with layers. When you are at home, and you are making a track, things definitely sound different than when they are in the club. Specifically, bass levels are really important...but I dont want to talk about that. What I want to talk about is when you are layering sounds to make them more powerful. Sometimes, you may feel like a sound is not loud enough, or not strong enough, so you put another layer on top of it just to make it louder. This is REALLY dangerous in the club.

One of the most common times that you may layer sounds is during an explosion or crash at the beginning of bar. You may throw in your crash or white noise sound, and then decide it is just not powerful enough, so you add another crash or another explosion sound. This is BAD BAD BAD. You are destroying the dynamics and timbre of the sound when you do this. Now, im not saying that you should never do it, but it can be really dangerous in the club. Sometimes, the club can really destroy high frequencies, especially when they are being played really loud. Here is a mistake I made in one of my tracks that I had to go back and fix.

If you look at bar 61....you can see 2 explosions, followed by a crash. This was WAY too much sound for this part. It sounded nice and powerful at home, but in the club, it just sounded noisy and really bad. I ended up removing one of the explosion, and then side chaining it with the crash so it cuts out a little bit while the crash hits so it doesnt sound as loud. Remember when using samples...that the sample itself sounds GREAT, but when added with other things....you are really making the timbre of the whole sound messy and def lacking harmonics. Be careful when doing this....even with white noise sound which lack any harmonics. If you were to analyze the 2 waves together, even 2 white noise sounds together, it is just a mess of frequencies. Do your best to EQ and your explosions, and maybe even EQ the other sounds in your track....to cut their frequencies to let the explosion cut through...so you dont have to add other sounds to it.

Another thing to do, especially when dealing with low frequencies that may be battling it out for space, is to use track on/off automation to cut one sound, then let the other one stand through. Leaving 2 or 3 low frequency sounding elements playing together, can really make a mess in the club. In the next example, I had a 2nd bass sound that I wanted to cut through the track....but originally, I had the OTHER bass sound playing at the same time. This was REALLY BAD!!!!! They just sounded terrible in the club, but not so bad at home. Look here -

If you look at 91....I cut all the other sounds to let the track called HARD SYNTH stand through. Now, you dont really have to cut EVERYTHING (I did it artistically here)....but, especially the bass track....needed cut to let the hard synth bass sound stand through. This really cleared up some sounds on club speakers.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is where your high hats are sitting, and make sure that 2 HH sounds are not conflicting or sharing the same space. There is no real reason to do this, because you can destroy the sound of your high hats by doing this.

It is really important to think about each spot in your track, and listen to what is going on that exact second. In general, its good to space out your sounds (and stabs especially) in separate parts, instead of on top of each other. Unless you are REALLY good at EQ cutting, and can get those sounds to have nice equal space, it can be really dangerous in the club. As a rule of thumb, at any given moment, you should not have too many sounds battling for space. This brings me to my next point.

LESS IS MORE in the club. Im starting to notice that, even though I feel like busy sounding parts sound more artistically creative, that doesnt mean that it will sound good in the club. I am finding, that my more simple parts of the track, when stabs have their own space, the bass sits nicely and not interfering with anything else....sound the BEST in the club. I am noticing this with my own tracks, but also other peoples tracks as well. If you watch the crowd, the crowd seems to go nuts when a nice simple beat is layed down. One that they can identify each part of the track, and groove to it. This may not be for ALL genres, but is def true for house...when it sounds good at home, doesnt necessarily mean it will sound good in the club.

Oh yea, and always test your tracks in the club before releasing them. You will hear so many things you didnt hear on your home speakers!



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NOTES FOR 6.23.2010

(Todays Session Above)

Another great session this morning. Got about 4 hours in...and have this track mostly finished besides EQing. Got all the little mistakes cleaned up, panning finished, and vocals added. This track is called "House Sucks"....ironically a house track. I found this AMAZING funny sample from youtube of this guy talking about how much he hates house music and house clubbers. It worked perfectly!!!! This is one of my fav tracks right now. Notes - 

The youtube sample had some really bad mid noise in it...which was hard to remove without destroying the intelligibility of the vocals. I tried playing with EQs and gates...but it still sounded bad. I would have to say that I am not the most knowledgeable person about cleaning up poorly recorded vocal samples...but I did find some magic within the multi-band dynamics presets. I used the "REDUCE AMBIANCE" preset, and removed some of the mids...and it really cleaned it up. I mixed that with gates and EQ 8, and it ended up sounding great. There is still a smidge of noise in it...but really unnoticeable. My engineer should be able to clean that tiny little bit....hes really good with vocals.

Its really nice to remove ONE KICK within a bar, and replace it with a slightly advanced reverse snare sound. It really throws the swing especially when there is already a heavy swing within the track.

Always remember to pan your shakers....but remember to do it symmetrically. It really FILLS out the song.

I have recently have had a desire to use 2 separate bass sounds in different parts...but you must really take care of masking. I actually tried something new today...cutting the kick, and the other bass...and threw a one shot bass sound in that spot. Used track on/off automation on some other tracks....and it created a really nice bass SLAM.

When adding a delay to vocals (which is quite common in all electronic music) to the end of a vocal line, its good to separate your vocal track into 2 tracks, then apply the delay to the 2nd track which only has the part you want to delay. Ive found then when delaying a vocal sample, its really hard to get the timing of the delay right without it scooping up parts preceding the part you want to delay. If you separate it, the delay will only capture EXACTLY what you want it to. I have done this a few times in the past few tracks, but didnt really note it.

When panning a main part of your track (something that sticks out)....its good to only pan it a little bit. I really like to pan even my main parts (besides bass and kick) because it really helps with masking....but too much really takes away from the power up the center. I have been finding that 10-13 left and right can help with masking, but still keep the power up the middle.

Dont forget the power of AUTOPAN. Most of the time, when I am panning (stabs especially), I use the normal automation within the track. But sometimes, using autopan can give you some really swirly revolving pans. Its good to mix those with arp sounds or pads.

Also, up until now, when I was panning a long synth sound that I wanted to go from left to right or vice versa...I started from the left and went to the right or vice versa. Today, I started in the center...and then went left...and then symmetrically balanced it with a 2nd one starting at the center and going to the right. It kept the power on the first hit of the bar, and then moved it away. I even added a little reverb to it so it disappears nicely.

Reverse snares (or reverse anything) can really add nice swings almost anywhere in a track (not just beside the snare or clap). In the future, I definitely want to experiment with the placement of reversed samples. I just recently got into using them....and never realized the power until now!

Well thats it for today. My final track came back from mastering today....so this weekend, I am going to go to some of my friends clubs and test them during the early hours before opening....sit with a chair dead center between the speakers and take notes. Hopefully, I will be uploading them next week.



Music and Speech in the Minor Third

Here's a little experiment. You know "Greensleeves"—the famous English folk song? Go ahead and hum it to yourself. Now choose the emotion you think the song best conveys: (a) happiness, (b) sadness, (c) anger or (d) fear.

Almost everyone thinks "Greensleeves" is a sad song—but why? Apart from the melancholy lyrics, it's because the melody prominently features a musical construct called the minor third, which musicians have used to express sadness since at least the 17th century. The minor third's emotional sway is closely related to the popular idea that, at least for Western music, songs written in a major key (like "Happy Birthday") are generally upbeat, while those in a minor key (think of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby") tend towards the doleful.

The tangible relationship between music and emotion is no surprise to anyone, but a study in the June issue of Emotion suggests the minor third isn't a facet of musical communication alone—it's how we convey sadness in speech too. When it comes to sorrow, music and human speech might speak the same language.

In the study, Meagan Curtis of Tufts University's Music Cognition Lab recorded undergraduate actors reading two-syllable lines—like "let's go" and "come here"—with different emotional intonations: anger, happiness, pleasantness and sadness (listen to the recordings here). She then used a computer program to analyze the recorded speech and determine how the pitch changed between syllables. Since the minor third is defined as a specific measurable distance between pitches (a ratio of frequencies), Curtis was able to identify when the actors' speech relied on the minor third. What she found is that the actors consistently used the minor third to express sadness.

"Historically, people haven't thought of pitch patterns as conveying emotion in human speech like they do in music," Curtis said. "Yet for sad speech there is a consistent pitch pattern. The aspects of music that allow us to identify whether that music is sad are also present in speech."

Curtis also synthesized musical intervals from the recorded phrases spoken by actors, stripping away the words, but preserving the change in pitch. So a sad "let's go" would become a sequence of two tones. She then asked participants to rate the degree of perceived anger, happiness, pleasantness and sadness in the intervals. Again, the minor third consistently was judged to convey sadness.

A possible explanation for why music and speech might share the same code for expressing emotion is the idea that both emerged from a common evolutionary predecessor, dubbed "musilanguage" by Steven Brown, a cognitive neuroscientist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby (Vancouver), British Columbia.  But Curtis points out that right now there is no effective means of empirically testing this hypothesis or determining whether music or language evolved first.

What also remains unclear is whether the minor third's influence spans cultures and languages, which is one of the questions that Curtis would like to explore next. Previous studies have shown that people can accurately interpret the emotional content of music from cultures different than their own, based on tempo and rhythm alone.

"I have only looked at speakers of American English, so it's an open question whether it's a phenomenon that exists specifically in American English or across cultures," Curtis explained. "Who knows if they are using the same intervals in, say, Hindi?"

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Best Books About Ableton Live

I know a lot of people want to wrap their brains around ableton live & music production. Most all of the tutorials I write about come from books that I have read, and relentless trial and error in ableton live. I have put together a books section on the right hand side of my webpage now that will help you along on your musical journey. Just mouse over the book to get more info. I have hand selected these books, and can honestly say, have read 90% of them from front to back and own most of them. I have a huge book collection of audio material, and I try to get an hour of reading in everyday, not including my train rides to and from work everyday. Most of the books are either about ableton live, music production, music science, and music psychology. I highly recommend, if you are attempting to be a solid producer, to get your head in some books about the science of sound before randomly pushing buttons and creating un-educated songs. Just 20 minutes a day reading about something new, and another half hour applying it in live, can make all the difference in your art. Remember to share your knowledge with everyone!



NOTES FOR 6.21.2010

(Todays Session Above)

Well, for the past 2 weeks, I have been busy working with my mastering engineer on my last 10 tracks....trying to get them all finished up. Also, I had some ear problems and had to see the doctor a few times...and he said it was best to take a small break from music until my ears cleared up. So the last few weeks have been filled with organic jams in the park since the weather is nice. However, I got back in the swing of things last weekend and started a new track. This one, is a lot different than my others. My other songs really have a "complete" sound, where notes resolve and calm the listener. This track, does not. Its more of a warpy electro song. I tried some new ideas on this track. Notes - 

Shutting your record quantization OFF can make for some really cool, less robotic sounds. This track is full of hits that are JUST OFF a little bit....even snares and claps. It made some "2nd swings" in the song which were really cool.

I also experimented with putting the claps in different places than the 2, and the 4. Then I brought them BACK to the 2 and 4 later in the track. It added a lot of power in contrast with the other clap.

Up until now, I was mostly using side chain compression on synth sounds with a really low threshold to get that pumping sound....but on this track, I experimented with using gates instead. I even bounce between side chain compression and side chain gating really quickly....which ended up sounding really cool.

I also tried coming in on the 7th bar instead of 4 or 8. It made from some unpredictable changes in the song.

Its good to cut your kicks out sometimes in odd places...and use on/off automation on other tracks at the same time...so sometimes, when it comes back it, it slams a little harder, and makes it less stagnant.

I use pitch LFO modulation on some synth sounds just like I mention in my percussion tutorial...and it made some really warpy sounding synth sounds.

Oh yea, and steel drums are SWEET!

Well thats it for today!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

365 Ableton Tips in 365 Days

I have been reading this blog recently, and it is a great one. It is run by Jon Margulies at heatercore.net
I am specifically impressed with his 365 Ableton Live Tips for 2010. The link can be found here - http://www.heatercore.net/livetipslist.html.

This blog is definitely worth a peak! This guy really knows what hes talking about!



Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Ok. So you guys know how much I love reading about music and neurology, so I wanted to let you guys know about another great book Ive been deep into for the past few days. Its "Musicophilia" by Oliver Sacks. This is a lot different from the last book I was talking about "This is Your Brain on Music", in that, this one has some more extreme stories of people who have been effected by music at extreme degrees. There are stories of people becoming overnight prodigies due to head trauma, people having musical epilepsy, musical seizures, musical hallucinations, etc. It is a great read and highly recommended!!!!

MORE INFO - http://www.musicophilia.com/

Musicophilia, a New York Times bestseller, has been named one of the washington post's best books of 2007">Best Books of 2007 by the Washington Post and the editors of Amazon.com

Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can persuade us to buy something, or remind us of our first date. It can lift us out of depression when nothing else can. It can get us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does--humans are a musical species.

Oliver Sacks's compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains, and of the human experience. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people--from a man who is struck by lightning and suddenly inspired to become a pianist at the age of forty-two, to an entire group of children with Williams syndrome who are hypermusical from birth; from people with "amusia," to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans, to a man whose memory spans only seven seconds--for everything but music.

Our exquisite sensitivity to music can sometimes go wrong: Sacks explores how catchy tunes can subject us to hours of mental replay, and how a surprising number of people acquire nonstop musical hallucinations that assault them night and day. Yet far more frequently, music goes right: Sacks describes how music can animate people with Parkinson's disease who cannot otherwise move, give words to stroke patients who cannot otherwise speak, and calm and organize people whose memories are ravaged by Alzheimer's or amnesia.

How To Write Electronic Music

Original Article - http://analogik.com/article_writing_electronic_music.asp

What does it take to make a fine piece of electronic music?

How many times have you had that special inspirational moment and thought that that was it – you were going to write a piece that will leave its mark in the whole genre? If the answer is ‘never' then perhaps, you should stop reading this article and start doing something else, as it probably will not make the right kind of connection with you.

For all of you out there, who are going to keep trying, read on. This will be so obviously familiar that it might actually surprise you that you will find it helpful with stimulating and reassuring your inner cacophony of impulses about what is right, and what is wrong.

Firstly, let us clarify two things. If you are going to be an electronic music genius, keep in mind the two most likely scenarios. In both, the world of arts and the world of science, there are two types of geniuses. First one is like getting lucky with lottery numbers, which means that you might hit the spot quite randomly and produce something special without much structure or planning. Second scenario though, is not so Hollywood-movie-like sounding, however it is much more likely as it puts you in control over your faith.

So what is it then? Well, this model consists of hard and persistent work with appropriate education or acquisition of knowledge that makes you fit for handling a vast variety of variables that make the special kind of music. Do not get discouraged by the fact that most of the famous artists and scientists have dedicated their entire lives to, often, one line of research or style. Remember that we are talking about electronic music here and should not detach ourselves too much from the scientific, as this is one music style that unites science, futurism and art, and that is what makes it so special and beautiful.

So what do you have to do?

  • Life is busy, so you have to make time for your music or give up right now.
  • Be innovative, but research as lot. Knowledge is a good catalyst for inspiration.
  • Organize your files and samples, keep history of your progress and track versions.
  • Do not give up. Take a break and compose when you compose yourself first.
  • Mistakes should not discourage you if you simply try to avoid repeating them.
  • Others might not always understand. If you are sure it is good, then it is good.
  • Do not slave to equipment and software; it is an idea that you are hunting.
How not to write electronic music

None music way #1

Before you even start to make any music, make sure that the Internet is turned off. If it is a computer that everyone uses, make yourself a new user account without internet connection - this was my problem, so I turned off the Internet and saved myself 4 hours per day (surfing adds up)! If everyone is using that one computer, make sure that you have a secure section on it (passworded- so you can back up your section) as you can bet alot of money on something getting deleted. Even have a rota as who can have the computer at what times. You don't want to be interrupted in mid-fantastic-never-been-heard-before-number-one-hook making.

None music way #2

Do a mini spring clean and make things user friendly. I have a Temp Store, Downloaded Folder, VST folder (subfoldered into beats, FX etc). This makes my computer work well, quickly and makes my time in music making more efficient. If your computer is not efficient, or you have to have time to find a piece of software that holds the secret to your humming tune, then you will forget that hum before you find the folder. Having things at hand is a practical way of music making. I know of top artists that go around with a tape recorder or writing pad all the time just in case they get "inspiration". The 2006 UK Football World Cup Song came to the artist in the bath.

None music way #3

How about invest in another monitor? This may seem odd, as we all have been brought up with the idea of one monitor leads to one computer. However, leading computer music artists are leading the way in utilizing 2 monitors at once. In one monitor you have your sequencer running, in the other monitor you could have your software instruments, or mixing deck or any combination that you want. Making music this way is much easier than having to minimize, maximize all the time- you need the computer music making phase to be as realistic as possible, rather than stop starting every few minutes to maximize a window.

None music way #4

Make sure that you are using what you should be using and that you know how to use it. A hotkey function sometimes is much quicker than if you use the mouse, but if you do not know how to use them properly your work can be deleted within a key stroke. Knowing your software, and how to use it properly will save you a heap of precious time, and will also show you functions that you never thought that you had. I have read somewhere that there are secret functions within the Ableton software that you will only find by experimenting. Take time out once every 6-12 months and read up on your software. Keep it refreshed within your head, don't assume that you know it. Make yourself a practice screen and just mess around, nothing is going to get wiped out. By experimenting you will find some great sounds and work much quicker.

None music way #5

If you have something that sounds very good...save it. I shall repeat...save it! Unfortunately there are many bits of software out there that do not have a "undo" button, so getting back that classic sound is impossible. Repeating the process will give you a sound that sounded 90% close to your long lost original. I tend to store good sounds into a folder called "experimentation", and thats where it stays. If I play the same sound after a day or two later and it doesn't sound the same, then I tweak the sound. In the past I used to write down all the values on how I built up particular sounds. I would even have a "sound day" where I would just make sounds of various types, and this kept me away from tinkering at music making time.

Before you make any type of music, stand back and just think, have you actually done all your none music making tasks?

The One Thing That Can Set You Out From the Rest to Make Better Techno!

Listen. This is vitally important. If you do not listen then your track will be very poor indeed . Listening is what most musicians have forgot to do and that is why we do not hear from them again. They have lost their roots, what ultimately made them famous. Trying to move away from your group roots is very risky. The Prodigy made fantastic rave and deep techno, then starting to go into a rock phase. It didn't work out too well, now they are trying to get back into their old territory but its hard. Their fan-base has shrunk as new groups have come up. The Prodigy are now releasing their classic hits to try and re-energize themselves to grab back their old fans, telling them "remember this, you liked it and now we are going to do the same".

Alot of money spent, alot of marketing time used. With example 2, Elton John has constantly chirped out piano tunes for along time now, always variation on the same theme and he is still lasting the time.

Listening to your audience , your dedicated audience (that will buy from you regularly) is the life-line to your selling. Go off-track and some will not like it but then again you might attract some new customers. For me, I would stick to what you know , you are good at it so why change? Sure re-invent yourself or adapt to the ever changing music market , but never change style. Case in point. Kyle, pop queen and the lady who brought us the Locomotion and I should Be So Lucky. But instead of keeping with cheesy pop she has slowly re-invented herself- pinnacling at Can't Get Your Out Of My Head. Same pop, but with 21st Century twist.

Listening also means you should listen to other tracks , go to concerts, clubs, wherever they play your music. DJs are always, and have to be, up-to-date with "whats hot and whats not". They listen to their audience, and they know sure well that if they get it wrong they either won't work again or they will get booed at!

Listen to other peoples comments . I had a real hard time listening to other people rip my music apart but I realised it was for the best. You must make sure that the people who listen to your music is your audience. If you do Drum and Bass and give a track to your grandparents to hear they might not like it. Playing a track to your friends of similar style liking, or a group of people is much better. A group increases the reliability of your "little study into your tracks" , more people increases the reliability and gives you a better opinion of how your tracks will be accepted. If one person says "ohh I didnt like that sample" keep it in mind, but if alot of people say the same, change the sample. It is a rare opportunity to see how your audience will react to your tracks, in the real world your sales would reduce, and you would just scratch your head wondering why.

Listen to the best in the genre . If you want to know what excellent and top techno tracks sound like ask your target audience who their top artists are, sometimes you might get inspiration from artists that you haven't heard from before, then surround yourself with the tracks. Listen to the tracks and bathe in their coolness.

Listening can sometimes mean not to listen . Sounds strange I know. But if you have been listening to your tracks day in day out, then listen to other peoples tracks, you can get a bit bored, tired, and to a point the tracks get samey. Have a day out in the week for a no music day . When you come back to your work you will be refreshed, your ears will be willing to take a pounding and you will listen to your music differently, tagging pieces that don't fit, sounding strange or having a better idea to implement.

Listen to the worst music . Now this isn't an exercise of laughing at poor techno, but it is to train you to what is poor and what is good . For an example, if I sat in any Ferarri I would think it is pretty cool, but top motor journalists would always give a downside, will always compare it to something else. Why? Because they have sat in poor cars and they have sat in the best, now they have a scale to use to judge any car. This is what you need to do. How do you know a good song is a good song? Subliminally you cross-reference it with something poor. But instead of doing it in the back of your mind, dig out the poor songs and (unfortunately) listen to them. Another example. I have seen on some websites they give away cassettes of their work. I know that this is poor practice because I have seen MP3s being offered for download (quicker, free and better quality).

Listen to other styles . This may be triggering the "what is he talking about" response, but hold with me. On my site I have demonstrated a fundamental fact through alot of top techno acts. They all have elements of different styles intertwined within their own . For example, The Shamen and The Prodigy have most noticeable rock influences. The great thing about rock is that there is only a few things that you can do with an electric guitar. So their tracks have to be really catchy, employing good lyrics, cool bass and hook able leads. It is no wonder then that other artists from other styles look to rock as an influence. If I was into ambient music, I would listen to classical music for inspiration. Both are similar to each other in that they have long sweeps and can go on for a while but still sound fresh, evolving, and can still use hooks. Classical music has been an influence for William Orbit (helped Madonna with her Ray of Light CD, including that cool track Frozen), and he technoified Barbers Adagio for Strings, a cool classical track in itself and was brought into the light when it was played in Platoon.

Finally Listen to yourself . Why did you make the track in the first place? Were you going to build it up into a cool chorus, or was there an idea that you wanted to tinker around with that sounded really cool? Not knowing where the track is going, not seeing the light at the end of the tracks tunnel, or the loops are just not sitting right can have a negative effect on your confidence and moral. Write down what you would like to see from this track. Maybe even before you start get all the basic loops, or downloading website names all collected before setting off. If the track is just a notepad, make it so, don't spend too much time on something that is just a sketch pad. If it doesn't work, fine, but why, if you have no joy, leave it. Go back to it later on, don't make yourself too angry or involved in something that can have a negative impact on all your techno making.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Original link - http://www.synthtopia.com/content/2010/06/15/ableton-live-voted-the-best-digital-audio-workstation-in-the-world/

Ableton Live has been voted “Best DAW In The World” by readers of Synthtopia.com, one of the leading Internet destinations for electronic music information.

Over 5,000 votes from around the world were cast in Synthtopia’s Best DAW In The World Poll. This poll is thought to be the largest poll of its kind.

The top position was hotly contested by FL Studio, which garnered 24% of the votes, compared to the 25% of Ableton Live.

Other popular DAW’s included Apple Logic, Cockos Reaper, Cubase, Propellerhead Reason/Record & Cakewalk Sonar.

The Top 10 DAW’s In The World

  1. Ableton Live - 25%
  2. FL Studio - 24%
  3. Apple Logic - 13%
  4. Cockos Reaper - 12%
  5. Cubase - 6%
  6. Propellerhead Reason + Record - 5%
  7. Cakewalk sonar - 3%
  8. Avid Pro Tools - 3%
  9. Apple GarageBand – 1%
  10. Sony Acid – 1%

Other options, including Steinberg Nuendo, Renoise, PresSonus Studio One, MOTU Digital Performer, Ardour, Adobe Audition, Dr T’s Keyboard Controlled Sequencer, Nanoloop, Mackie Tracktion, got 1% or less of the votes.

Write-ins were also allowed. (See the complete list below.) Some of the stranger write-in options were “iDunno”, “the one you use” and “mama’s cake.”

The Best DAW poll results are sure to be controversial – so weigh in with your thoughts on the results.

And if you’ve got ideas on how we could improve future polls, let us know!

About The Best DAW Poll

This poll represents the subjective opinion of readers of Synthtopia.com, rather than an objective comparison of features of the various DAWs. As such, it is influenced by the makeup of the readership of Synthtopia & the relative strength of each DAW’s online user community.

For the purposes of this poll, options were presented in random order for voting.

Some evidence of ballot-stuffing was identified early on, so voters were limited to one vote, by cookie & IP address, for the majority of the poll.

Write-ins included:

  • amplitude 6
  • Orion 6
  • Samplitude 5
  • Audacity 4
  • Reaper 3
  • Fork 2
  • reaper 2
  • Bhajis Loops 2
  • EnergyXT 2
  • Buzz 2
  • Mixcraft 5 1
  • lmms 1
  • Mixcraft 1
  • Question is non sensical 1
  • reason 1
  • Protools 1
  • Sawstudio 1
  • sequoia 1
  • Studio Vision Pro 1
  • Energy XT 2.5.2 1
  • ars ‘n’ Pipes (amiga) 1
  • maschine 1
  • bars and pipes 1
  • iDunno 1
  • synapse orion platinum 1
  • proppellahed 1
  • Mu.Lab 3 1
  • only know ableton, but it’s not a base for decision 1
  • lsdj 1
  • Jeskola Buzz 1
  • orion 1
  • Cool Edit Pro 2.1 1
  • Acoustica Mixcraft 1
  • presonus studio one 1
  • Orion Platinum 1
  • the one you use 1
  • Maschine 1
  • Nuendo 1
  • Zynewave Podium 1
  • Sensomusic Usine 1
  • Audiomulch 1
  • cock 1
  • SawStudio 1
  • there is no ‘best’ 1
  • iSequence for iPad 1
  • Podium 1
  • soundscape 1
  • MINE! 1
  • TESTasto 1
  • gary numan 1
  • Synaspe Orion 1
  • The Law Of Miracles 1
  • mu lab 1
  • energy xt 1
  • soundation studio 1
  • DAWson’s Creek 1
  • pro tools 1
  • ensoniq Paris 1
  • Magix Music Maker 16 Premium 2009 1
  • RaXnTraX 1
  • LMMS 1
  • Project5 1
  • The DAW Of The Dead by Romero 1
  • Sequoia 1
  • mixcraft 1
  • Mixcraft5 1
  • Sony Soundforge 1
  • max/msp 1
  • Pro Tools 8 1
  • cooleditPRO 1
  • Opcode Vision 1
  • Accessible for blind people. Sonar and Reaper come close but not great. 1
  • Propellerheads Record 1
  • mama’s cake 1

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Check You Mp3 Audio Loss via Subtraction in Ableton Live Tutorial

In todays digital world, the mp3 has become a consumer standard among audio files. This is very sad considering the loss that comes due to compression of the audio file. For many everyday audio users, it doesnt make much of a difference, but to those of you who care about your audio, and want it to be as clean and high quality as possible...I am going to show you a little trick in determining how much audio you are ACTUALLY losing when converting your audio to mp3. By using reverse polarities of your track...you can basically subtract the lossed audio simply by looking at it in ableton compose view.

When converting to mp3, its good to keep in mind that about 90% of your audio is making up the track...so you are looking at a roughly 10% loss of audio. These apply directly to your highest and lowest frequencies pretty heavily, but also affects other parts of the track as you will be able to tell soon.

For this tutorial, I will be using SWITCH to convert my files, and ableton live to view and change the polarization of them. You can download SWITCH at http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/audio/switchaudioconverter.html

So, let me give you a run down of what we are going to be doing. Basically, we will be converting one of your master files from its original form, into an mp3, and then BACK to a linear (wav) file...and then comparing them.

I am starting with a .flac file which came from my mastering engineer of one of my mastered tracks.

Now I am going to drop that wav file (which I had already converted using switch) into switch and turn it into an mp3.

Now, I am going to convert it back to a wav file -

So now I have a file that has been converted to mp3, and back to wav. Now what we want to do is compare those 2 tracks in ableton live. We need to drop both tracks into ableton live compose view -

Now this is TRICKY, but a key part of this. You need to make sure you line up the audio so it is EXACTLY ON. If one files starts shifting away from the other, it will make this whole idea pointless because no cancellation will occur.

Now what you want to do is add a UTILITY PLUG to the converted file, and push both the PHz-L, and PHz-R buttons (they should turn yellow) -

Now simply play back the 2 audio files together, and you should be able to hear ONLY the audio that has been removed when it was converted to mp3. You are basically subtracting the audio from one another, and the only audio that should be left is whatever was REMOVED from the mp3 file. This is the simple concept of cancellation. Whoever told you mp3's only remove inaudible parts of the audio....was totally full of shit huh!

If you want to understand this concept in its true form....put 2 of the same tracks in ableton, and phaze shift one of the tracks. Play them together. You will hear absolutely NO AUDIO come out. The only reason you are hearing audio with this idea is because the mp3 removed certain parts of the audio...leaving only that audio left when you subtract the 2.

Now, sit back, and cry every time you have to convert it to mp3 just to upload it to a website.

This just reiterates the point of using lossless audio (like .flac) or pure linear files like .wav or .aif.



Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pushy Producers & Spam DJs

In this day an age, with the internet being as prevalent as it is, and communication with the world happens with the click of a mouse, its easy for a person to promote their music to the world. With social networking sites like facebook, myspace, twitter, etc...it is easy to connect to thousands of people in an afternoon of marketing. But, this has quickly become an over saturated market, and a way to become "just another pushy producer". I know many of you who have large facebook accounts might find it tempting to share your music once, twice, 3 times...or even more per day in hopes that your music lands in the ears of listeners...but I want to talk about why this is not a good idea, and how other methods may help you in the long run.

First of all, lets talk about facebook....probably the biggest social networking site and the easiest way to get your music to other people. Now, I understand that keeping your music on the top homepage of other peoples facebook will keep your music in the spotlight, but is that always a good thing. First of all, lets think about all the other artists connected to your facebook who do the same thing. Do you listen to every amateur DJ mix that is uploaded to your facebook...especially those "LADIES NIGHT...the best fuckin mix ever made, blah blah blah, you should have been there...blah blah blah...you should have seen the girls..blah blah blah". Well, one word...NOT COOL. End of story there. If you are going to release a MIX (not a track), at least put some interesting comments that explain your mix that might make people want to listen to it. And, please....POST IT NO MORE THAN 2 or 3 times total...and not within the same day! After that...it becomes annoying really. There are other methods to go about promoting that same mix...which I will talk about in a minute.

On facebook, have an artist page where you can keep all your mixes just incase someone actually does want to listen. You can also post it to your homepage...but remember, that counts as 2 posts for any people who are members of your group and also your friend. Another thing to do is to send an UPDATE to the members of your group announcing a new mix or track. That way, the people who want your info, will get it.

A total DOUCHEBAG thing, in my opinion, is people who TAG other people in their video mixes just so their mix shows up in their pictures or videos. DOUCHE DOUCHE DOUCHE!!!! DONT DO IT!!!

Another totally douchebag thing to do is to just send a mix to someone via FACEBOOK messaging....especially if you arent even replying to people. Remember, these are REAL PEOPLE, and you are nothing more than a spammer at this point. If you really want someone to listen to your mix, make conversation with them first, then offer your mix. However, its still a pretty selfish thing to talk to someone JUST to promote your mix.

Another idea, if you are a DJ, is to start releasing weekly, or bi-weekly charts selections. Offer the top new songs you think are worth listening to...then offer that link in the same place as your mixes. That way, you are offering a nice service to the people...and then they can find your mix if they choose to. This will definitely make you look less pushy, and actually be providing a nice service to those who are like minded with your genre.

Next I want to talk about another great way of helping the music world...and in turn, people actually WANT to hear you because you have helped them. START A TECH BLOG!!!!!! Talk about things that are useful to helping other musicians, or other listeners. Start a blog detailing the clubs in your area. Start a blog listing all the good parties in the area. Start a blog talking about the newest and hottest producers. ANYTHING that is not helping you, but instead helping everyone else!!!! Karma is real people. And in this day and age...people are really quick to call bullshit....and by bullshit, I mean spam artists...or people with ulterior motives. Be honest and genuine, and provide a nice service to people...and people will then in turn be more likely to actually WANT to hear your art...rather than shoving it down their throats. Also, you should be wanting MORE out of life than just promoting selfishly...you should be helping the evolution of music, and the evolution of your local scene (if that is your intent). By doing these such things, mixed with the following ideas, you can get PURE music enthusiast to listen to your music...and listen to it with their ears AND brains, not just skipping through a track to see if "I AM BETTER THAN THIS ARTIST" (which I know we have all done at some point....listened to a mix of someone just to think that we are better than them). You go to music hell for this you know.

Anyway, if you are providing a nice service, then the next thing to do is to make sure your music is available on ALL POSSIBLE outlets. Make sure you are uploading your tracks or mixes to all the websites that fit your genre...even if you dont think it will be listened to on that website as much. The reason for this is because of google. Googles algorithm has become so good and powerful, that it takes into account every little thing on the net. If you are providing nice blogs that are receiving hits, and especially return hits...google is going to start ranking you higher within the search engines. Having back links on other websites is really helpful for this...and will help the likely hood that your music is found by accident via google searches. Make sure to put TONS of text info pertaining to your tracks. Also, if its a DJ mix, put track listings so that when people go to search for other artists...they may stumble upon your mix and give it a listen....possibly becoming a fan. People, and especially other artists, tend to like artists that they find themselves...rather than being spammed to. The more relevant info you put around your mix or track, the better chance google has to find it. Also, be careful with punctuation around your tracks name or artist name as google tends to have problems finding things surrounded by punctuation.

Remember, the old days are gone. The days when record labels made tons of flyers, sent mass emails, and put thousands of dollars into the release of one track (im sure some still do it, but from a more amateur point...no). It is easier than ever to make a track and show it off to the world, but that also comes with its downsides too (being sent music that isnt even worth listening to). If we take a more humble approach to promoting ourselves, I think, in this day and age, in the long run, it will prove more fruitful. We need to stop being so selfish, and forget about being "STARS"...because that isnt what music is about. Its about music. Period. Its about sharing it with people who want to hear it, and possibly....if you are REALLY LUCKY, REALLY GOOD, AND REALLY PATIENT...you can make a living out of it. But I dont think you will get very far being pushy and spammy. That just makes you a douchebag.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

To Sample or NOT to Sample

Sampling has its roots deep within the old HIP HOP days, and the very early days of house music. It even goes back to some of the funk days, and even further. Now-a-days, for sample collectors, you can easily fill up multiple hard drives full of samples from free websites, or premium sample packs. The only thing that seems to shine a bad a light on sampling are all the music purists who say "You must make all your own sounds". I want to discuss this idea, and my opinion on it.

First off, I would like to say, I LOVE SAMPLING. It is probably one of my favorite parts of music, and I love trying to have a big collection of samples. Many people will say "Well, if you didnt make the sound, then its not really your music". I totally disagree. Lets talk about why.

Lets also make a distinction between ONE SHOT sounds and LOOPS. Loops...I usually tend to dislike do to the fact that someone already sequenced them. The part of "art" in music which I love the most is the composition element. Making a song from start to finish. So, when I talk about samples, for now, I am not going to talk about loops. I want to talk about actual audio files, one shots, or unique sounds that are not sequenced.

Many experienced producers prefer to make all of their sounds themselves...which is very respectable, and a great way to go about making music. But, sometimes, samples can be extremely well made, and unique in a way that you are unable to reproduce within your means. Lets talk about a few examples -

Real instruments. Now it is totally legit to say "Well, you could go into a studio a record a certain instrument, then use it...therefor making it your own". This is not always totally feasible for many producers for a few reasons. 1st being the cost of studio time to get into the studio. 2nd would be knowing a musician who plays that instrument (good luck finding a professional KOTO player in AMERICA, or a bad ass ukulele player in China). 3rd is the certain tools that the sampling artist had at their disposal while making the sample (programs, synthesizers, re sampling gear, high end audio equipment, good mics, etc). 4th is the extreme knowledge that some sampling artists have about making samples in the first place...which can make their samples extremely high quality and original. 5th is the location at the disposal of the sampling artist in which to make those samples. 6th is the time that the sampling artist may have taken to make the sound due to the fact that their artistic love comes from "MAKING SAMPLES" rather than a producer who usually loves the composition aspect of music.

Taking into account all these factors, from a composers standpoint, it might be good then to use sample one shots of these instruments. This is especially nice when someone has multi-sampled an instrument and you can then plug it in like a real instrument. I tend to like these MORE than synthesizers a lot of the time due to the more "real life" sound. Also, with programs like simpler...its easy just to take one sample, and as long as you arent transposing it too far, playing that one sample like an instrument on your midi keyboard. This is especially good for classic instruments like pianos, rhodes chords, violins, etc.

Now lets talk about synth samples, which a lot of producers will say is cheating because you can design your OWN synth sounds. Ok, yea, I get it....get off your high horse producers. Yes, you can learn how to make your own sounds with synthesizers...as you SHOULD know how to do it if you plan to be any what of a good producer...because sometimes you will need to CREATE the missing element of your track that a sample just wont provide. But, that being said....some sampling artists have spent HUNDREDS of hours just making nice one shot samples using multiple synth chains that you...in a million years, could never re-create without those exact tools at your disposal. This is especially true for old analog gear that has a special sound, especially when put with other synths, re-sampled, etc etc. There is no reason why not to use those samples if they sound good in a track. Again, with programs like SIMPLER & SAMPLER....you can make the sound fit the song perfectly, or alter it completely from its original form if you like.

***I like to think of it like this, when some producers think that sampling is cheating. Ok....so, a guitar is an instrument right. It makes certain sounds ONLY. You cant make an acoustic guitar play a piano sound, or vice versa...the science is totally different. So, you will only ever get an acoustic guitar sound OUT OF an acoustic guitar. THAT IS THE INSTRUMENT. Well, each individual SYNTH SOUND ever created is like its own instrument in a way. (I know you can say that the SYNTHESIZER is the instrument, but, from the point of what sound is being made, you can think of EACH sound as its own instrument if that sound was being made by an instrument that ONLY played that sound). So, you have this really awesome UNIQUE synth sample....a one shot. It, in my mind, is NOW like its OWN INSTRUMENT...especially when put into simpler. Now, have you ever heard someone complain "Well...Bob Dylan already played a guitar...so no one else should be able to play a guitar sound...or else that is copying and unoriginal". NO! Because it is an INSTRUMENT. It makes tons of different sounds depending on how you play it...and people LIKE the sound of guitar...so many people play it. Well a synth sample is the same way. It can be a nice sound, so, there is nothing wrong with playing it again, and again, and again...in different ways...especially if it is a really good sound.***

Now, this does not mean that you should just be tossing in tons of samples, un-altered, and making tracks 100% solely out of unoriginal samples (you could, any many people do...but that isnt a very good idea in my opinion). But, using super sweet samples made in ways that you could never create can make your tracks stand out and sound amazing.

Some dance producers might say "Well if you cant make it, then learn how to make it". Yea, easier said than done my friend. Like I said before, some of these samples come from sampling professionals...who dedicate their whole career to making high quality samples. Just like a guitar maker might spend his whole life making HIGH QUALITY guitars. That doesnt mean that a guitarist needs to go out and make his own guitar....he likes PLAYING the guitar....making it...may just not be his forte. Well, samples are the same way. No matter how good you are, some samples are just impossible to recreate. Sometimes, they are almost like magical gifts from god....in a sense...because there are so many thousands of parameter possibilities, gear possibilities, recording situation possibilities, that go into making some samples. We all need to be a little more humble, and realize that no matter HOW good we are at something, these is always someone who is a little bit better because they specialize in a small detail of music more than you do.

I love to make large drum racks in ableton full of different samples too, because sometimes...using samples can trigger neural connections in your brain...which then will trigger or spawn new ideas when you are playing. Even if you dont USE a particular sample in a track...just hearing it over top of your track (being tapped in from a drum rack) can give you an idea. And thats the name of the game....ideas.

When music first started, and even more so...music business, each person had a different role in the recording process. An artist was an artist, a mixing engineer was a mixing engineer, a producer was a producer, a composer was a composer....that was pretty much how it worked. Now-a-days, and especially with DANCE MUSIC...people are taking ALL OF THOSE ROLES, to the extreme, and doing it all! This is not an easy thing to do! Especially hard for those musicians with no music education, and for those who take up music as a hobby more so than a profession. Even if you are totally educated...there is another problem...time management. You need to be having 8 hour a day sessions everyday if you plan to do EVERYTHING yourself...from sampling, recording, composing, mixing, mastering, promotion, & on top of that DJing. Its a full time job...and unless you are rich or signed to a good record label...um...you gotta put food on the table too. So, when a purist asshole starts telling you "You sampled that...cheater"...tell them to fuck off and stop judging art. Its all art....some people have made their livings off of being a COLLAGE artist...but its still ART. Another point about the part of being rich...is that you simply may not be able to afford that sweet synth that you really want....the one that makes those great sounds you want to use. A lot of passionate artists, ones who truly love music and do it all the time, come from a poor background. Its the struggles of life, and the dissatisfaction of a 9-5 job that brings you closer to music. These people are going to make music with whatever they can get their hands on....just like Jimmy Hendrix played a guitar he found in the garbage.

Remember, its ALL music....no matter how you make it. Sampling can be an amazing way to get great sounds into your track....and...with the use of ableton live and in particular "simpler" & "sampler", you can turn high quality samples into your own sounds in no time.

Ok...bring on the "anti-sampling hate talk".....now! Haha!