Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MicroSong Fail

So Folks,

I've been failing at my own blog... But if you're going to fail at something, it might as well be your blog.

Anyway the good news is I have actually been spending some time working on music, so sorry for the delay, but we're back to our regularly scheduled programming.

One thing I always wished I was better at was orchestral composition. I love the way the each instrument in an orchestra has it's own part, but the congregate of all those instruments has a wholeness that makes it sound like it's all coming out of the same giant instrument. That sound isn't as present in a lot of more modern music where we make sure everything has is place and is very distinct. After all, we wouldn't want anyone to get their feelings hurt.

Ultimately, if I were really interested, I suppose music composition is the sort of thing they teach at schools. However, I usually go for something a lot closer to the trial and error technique. The above is an example of such an experiment.

It started with me playing around with the Malstrom synth in Reason. This is another synth I've never really clicked with, but have been trying to get more use out of recently. I spent some time and got this scraping textural patch dialed up on it, and mated it with a synth bass loop I had. I was digging the overall sound so I dialed some drums using some fun samples of an 808 recorded to cassette tape I got from GoldBaby and ran that through Logic's Guitar Amp "Pro" and a filter bank plug-in that have for some crazy sounds. I dropped a kick in and that's what you hear for the base of the track.

Next came the fun part of building the orchestra. The orchestra stuff in here is still a work in progress, but so far I'm using 15 NNXT samplers all loaded with sample sets that shipped with reason. I'll spend some more time talking about that part tomorrow and since it's all Reason stuff, maybe I'll post the .rns file as well.

Till Next Time,

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Authors

Hey Guys,

Please welcome a new MicroSong author, Alan Chaput! He'll be sharing some of the music he's been working on as Nyquist Serum.

Welcome Alan,

MicroSong Audience Participation

OK Folks,

I'm gonna be looking for some audience participation on this one.

Here's another Transit161 song I've been working on for a little while. It's kind of an upbeat maximal electro style tune, because screw that minimal shit, sometimes you just want to dance. The problem I'm having is that along with the Kick, Snare, Bass, and Lead parts I've been playing with a pad to fill in some space in the upper registers, but I'm having the damnedest time figuring out if I like it or not (not usually a problem for me). I've gone back and forth with different pad sounds and parts, but I can't tell if the sound gives a nice contrast to the driving beat, making the song drive harder; or if it just releases all the musical tension being built in the song, making it boring. So below are 3 versions of LunarEclipse, first without the pad sound, then with the pad sound, then with the pad sound cranked. They all start at slightly different points and have other small changes, but let me know which you like best (if any of them at all ;-) ).

LunarEclipse No Pad:

LunarEclipse Pad:

LunarEclipse Loud Pad:

Just some notes on general production. This song was written using Ableton Live and Reason rewired into Logic which is my usual method for composing. Even if I start in Reason or Ableton I always end up rewiring them into Logic on my macbook, it ends up making a great portable studio. Kick drums is from Reason sent through some outboard compression and distortion, bass is currently coming from Thor though it might be replaced. The two leads are actually both from the free softsynth Crystal which isn't bad but horrendously processor intensive (in ways it seems it shouldn't be). The other drums are a loop that has been chopped up in Live. The Pad actually comes from my Korg MS2000R run through my Eclipse. Finally the flanged out sound at the end came from an effect I built in VSig on my H8000, I'll probably end up putting that sig file into a future build.

Friday, February 6, 2009

PitchFactor Part 2

When we last left off I was jamming with PitchFactor and a drum machine. I had fun, and ultimately I had a recording of some wacky drums; but I had to go on testing, and on testing I went.

A couple days later was one of those perfect summer days where it's just warm enough that you want to wear flip flops, but not so hot that you go shopping for stuff you don't need just to get some A/C. So the wife and I headed to Washington Square Park to sit on a bench. While she read, I took the recording on my laptop and started finding and chopping out the sections I liked. It was kind of slow going, but it was a nice day, and I was having fun.

After I sorted and labeled a fairly large number of 1, 2, and 4 bar loops I started loading them into Live and cutting them up and re-arranging them. Here is what I ended up with:

I love Live for this sort of arranging, it's interface is incredibly quick for making all kinds of stutter edits and time-stretch effects. What I'll usually do is open 2 audio tracks, import all the loops into the first one then grab them and arrange them in the second one. I'll keep the first one muted and just use it as a depot for the unused audio.

At that point it was fairly easy to start throwing synths and things in there, I grabbed some samples and some softsynths and started playing with things that would work together. I might go back and go into that process a little more at some point, but I wanted to give you a sense of how the drums fit into the context of the song once I started building up around them.

There are still some things I want to do to this track, but then I'll mix it and hopefully it'll be part of an upcoming Transit161 release.

Hope You Enjoyed It,

Thursday, February 5, 2009


So since I get to design plug-ins, guitar pedals, and rack gear all day, I get to spend a lot of time playing with and testing new effects. I've been spending most of the last 6 months on a product we just announced called PitchFactor which is a guitar pedal that has pitch shifting delays along with it's other goodies. While I was testing at home one day, I got bored with the usual guitar input and decided to fire up the trusty old Korg ES-1 and run some drums through the PitchFactor to see what I could see.

I started with a drum pattern:

As I've already mentioned, I love distorted drums, so I patched the ES-1 into a Epiphone Valve Jr -> Weber dummy load I have wired into the patch bay to get this sound:

Then finally patched the PitchFactor in between the two and started tweaking...

As you can hear, I had a lot of fun. This is all from the HarModulator effect, which includes 2 pitchshift voices with feedback delays and modulation. This allowed me to sweep the pitch with the pitch knobs, create stutter effects with the delay and feedback, and pan between all those sounds with the various mix controls. Tomorrow I'll show you what I did with the output of this jam and the song that resulted from it.

Till Next Time,

Post No Bills

Hi Guys,

Sorry about the super light (read no) posting this week. I need to get better at that.

As most of you know I'm a DSP engineer at Eventide and we've just been slammed with the PitchFactor release we have coming up. The good news is it's coming along quite well, the bad news is that I haven't gotten a chance to work on music at all this week, hence the lack of posting.

So I've decided that even though I want to keep this blog forward looking and showing what I'm working on currently, I will dig into the past to keep the posts coming if nothing new is happening.

So Here It Comes,