(photo by Michael Bodnar called Reflections of the Needle)
During a snow day last month I had a change to rip some samples from vinyl and this morning I had a chance to mess with them and make some patterns. I use Maschine for the chopping and editing, what you see in Ableton are the exported individual tracks and how I processed them.
Everything is 100% native Ableton.
In the video you'll get some quick pointers on mixing like making sure the the full mix is mono compatible, using the Ableton EQ to roll off low end that's not needed etc. You'll see how I set levels and used several tracks for back ground atmospheric sounds.
Some nice percussion parts. Nearly everything is all from sampled vinyl except the hi hats, synth and subby kick.
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Or if you want something more in-depth my production course is still at the reduced introductory rate. For the first 30 students, 13 spots are left.
It's the most wonderful time....of the year....the hap happiest season of all.
OK not going to Christmas Carol for you.
Here's the thing.
Retailers around the globe just pounded us with sales and that includes your favorite places for buying gear, software, samples and other musical goodies. And if you've been waiting to pull the trigger on something or looking forward to being gifted some new gear, by all means enjoy it.
But, once the season is over and we get back into the normal swing of things, our shiny new toys won't be as shiny. The buzz of newness wears off, and it's like being at square one. Sure a new piece of gear may help you start some cool new ideas, but what about finishing them?
You see, those that make gear want you to believe that buying their shit will do all sorts of magical things for you. And they're right to a certain degree, but they also have to sell product to stay in business. Because life isn't black or white, and us big boys and girls need to see the sort out that sometimes elusive middle ground.
For example both of these statements are true. "A good carpenter never blames his tools" and "You have to have the right tools for the job."
Do you see what I mean? It's both skill and tools. And it's more important to master the skills before accumulating tools or gear.
Here's what I mean.
The skills are generating original polished ideas (even if they are just your own short loops)
Arranging those ideas into fully fleshed out interesting songs.
Mixing all of those individual tracks so they sound like 1 cohesive file.
And finally mastering your song so it has that professional sheen and sparkle.
These are the skills. And you can do all of this with a few choice sample packs and your favorite DAW - and maybe like 1 synth. And you don't need to know all the bells and whistles of the DAW to do this, nor do you have to know everything a mix engineer does to mix down your own tune. And you can totally get by with just a solid pair of headphones.
It's also totally fine to send your finished track out for mastering. It's super time and cost efficient and this is what the majority of artists do. Arranging and mixing can be so time consuming do you really want to give yourself more to do by trying to self master? If you like to be smart with your time I'd think the answer is no. And if you believe in your music, spending $25 for a pro master isn't a big deal.
Taking your track from loopy loop to arranged & mixed does take some work, but if you break it into phases the whole thing is more approachable.
And here's how I can help!
For the past few weeks I've broken down what I know about each phase and made videos, and samples so you see me go through each phased of the production process.
Final Mix and Master.
If you can master each phase the whole game of production gets easier. Especially the arranging part, that's skill just like mixing. You have to know what to do, and then practice it.
My course gives you skill set in each area.
This is the un-sexy but needed stuff that you don't see makers of gear and software promoting. It's always about features and stuff.
And by and large the end result is people become masters of features but still don't have songs done.
I'm eyeing the Maschine Jam, and Native Instruments just put out some videos about how it integrates with other DAWs like Ableton, Logic & Bitwig.
And what do you see people doing in the comments? Bickering over minutia.
"Push is better"
"Ableton Better Watch Out"
"Are the drum rack pads randomly colored"
"Hmm.. I can do almost all of these things in my scripted APC mk1 P.S Basically i can do more"
And for all of these people commenting and yammering on, I couldn't find more than 1 who had their own original songs out.
Remember there's a million things you can do with electronic gear other than making music. Shit like making controller mappings takes time, which maybe be helpful to a point but in the end is fuddling w/ tech is not making and finishing music.
The good news is that these are learned skills, you just have to pony up and invest the time to learn them.
More on that coming soon.
As you make goals and plans for 2017, think about acquiring or sharpening your skills.
Here's a quote if you like that kinda shit.
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
I see this a lot in forums. Someone in the early stages is like "I'm new what should I do?"
And a common answer is to watch tons of tutorials. There was a point in time where there was no internet and people just had to start tinkering and figuring stuff out. Like just tray and do it. No instruction no nothing.
Not all tutorials are bad, I've seen some good ones and paid for others. My main issue with tutorials is that its easy to go tutorial-ing away down a rabbit hole watching video after video of random techniques.
Any sort of school or professional course has a natural sequence and flow to it. You know 101, 202, 303 and with free online tutorials there's nothing stopping a beginner from watching advanced stuff they are not ready for yet.
Also there's no quality control. Anyone can upload a video online.
And lastly, most videos just talk about tactics and techniques. Stuff that's nice to know, may help your workflow a little but at the end of the day they won't make or break your track, won't help you finish a track, and won't help you make your own music sound original and unique.
I know this stuff is interesting to talk about and watch. It makes the user feel kinda good and productive for watching and it's easy for the creators to make it. So that's sort of a vicious cycle.
If you truly want to make your own tracks that stand out, forget about free tutorials. The only free ones you should watch are free versions of paid tutorials in order to try before you buy. People value what they pay for. When you pay for something be it software, a premium tutorial, or sample pack you're saying to yourself, I'm plunking down say $30 and I'm going to get the most out of this."
You're also limiting your choices which is huge in this digital world which seems infinite.
People who mindlessly flitter from one free thing to the next seldom finish anything and if they do I doubt it's good. You don't need a library of 400 tutorials, every sample pack known to man, and a library of thousands of plugins. The opposite is someone who pays for a handful of tutorials, packs and VSTs. This person commits to learning things and getting the most out of what they purchased. They've limited there choices for plugins - they know how to use native plugins and know why they bought a 3rd party one and how to use it. One only needs a handful of tools for the job.
What you need in the early stages is to learn how to get kick, bass, and drum sounds that fit your genre working together nicely. This doesn't mean you need to create them, you can do this with 1 quality sample pack.
Layer the kicks if needed and find a bass part that works. This could mean finding a sample and chopping it to your liking.
Way easier said than done of course. And then you'll need to learn how to process the kick and bass part to glue them together and give the low end extra punch and thickness as needed.
The kick and bass is the foundation of a track and the hardest thing to nail down - you'll also want to be sure your low end sounds translates well from your set up/studio to the car and other sets of speakers.
Working on your low end never ends - however getting the basics right is the first step towards completing your first track.
If you're a beginner this is your starting point - this is the thing to focus on.