Honours Degree Show

I finalized my Honours Degree Show layout and submitted the infrastructure form to Abertay University. This is the finalized version;

   

A Study Into The Aesthetics Of Electronic Dance Music

  1. Headphones.These will be used to let the visitor hear the music they are creating in Ableton.
  2. Computer with Ableton 8 Suite. This will be set up with an Ableton 8 Suite Project and will be an interactive feature for the visitor.
  3. Step-by-step guide to producing electronic dance music. This will be the project artifact which the visitor can follow using the computer provided
  4. Projector. A video produced by the author will be played on repeat and shown on the projector.
  5. Second computer. This computer will be used to play the video produced by the author of the project.
  6. Second Pair of Headphones. These will be used to let the visitor hear the video.
  7. Stack of business cards.
  8. 4 foot long table. To hold computer
  9. Chair. To allow the visitor to sit down while testing the step-by-step guide.

 

 

Recreation and Analysis of Calvin Harris – I’m Not Alone

Practical EDM Analysis 2: Calvin – I’m Not Alone (Original Mix)

I)             Structure

[Figure 23. Screenshot of Calvin Harris – I’m Not Alone (Original Mix) Waveshape in Ableton]

Although this track conveys the same structural syntax as the previous analysis object, there are a few distinctive differences.

[Figure 24. Zoomed in Screenshot of Calvin Harris – Happy Violence (Original Mix) waveshape in Ableton]

As can be seen from the above image (a zoomed in version of the previous waveshape) the track does not start on the first beat of the bar, it comes in a beat before. The song lasts three minutes and thirty seconds, one and a half minutes (53 bars) shorter than Dada – Happy Violence. Thus the entire structure is condensed, however more interestingly it does not start with drum beats. The track starts with a vocal and guitar riff and the drums do not begin until the 33rd bar, one minute into the track (section 5). This is contrary to the previous track where the instrumentation ended at 1 minute as the chorus started. The structure also bears obvious similarities to the timing. It develops through addition and subtraction of layers and follows the four bar – change pattern similar to the previous analysis object. It breaks down in a similar fashion, for example it develops from a couple of layers to seven layers and finishes with six layers. The breakdown (chorus) sections of the track at bars 25 to 33 and 81 to 89 closely resemble the breakdown sections of Happy Violence at bars 33 to 48 and 81 to 112. They both eliminate the percussive and low-end bass instruments keeping the listener in suspense, waiting for the song to drop back into the drums and bassline.

(Figure 25. Table shows the instrumental layers over time in bars)

II)           Tempo

[Figure 26. Calvin Harris Top 5 Selling Tracks On Beatport29-12-11]

Clearly 128bpm appears to be the go-to tempo used by these professionals whether consciously or subconsciously. Another interesting finding was C Minor appears to be a popular key choice among both producers.

III)          Timbre

Timbre: Synthesizer Chords

The synthesizer patch was taken from a tutorial video by electronic dance music producer enthusiast, Timofey, (2010) who worked out how to produce the same sound. Timofey’s recreation was produced using three oscillators playing simultaneously; a white noise wave and two saw tooths.

[Figure 27. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows the oscillator circuit]

The author then tweaked some of the settings to produce a patch which seemed to more closely resemble the original sound. Timofey’s version lacked the edge that Calvin Harris’s original track had. This was combated by adding a fourth oscillator (oscillator c) producing white noise. Although Timofey’s version already contained a white noise oscillator, this different type of white noise added a harsher edge giving the track more bite.

[Figure 28. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows the fourth oscillator]

[Figure 29. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows frequency setting]

The filter frequency was set slightly higher to allow the bright high end of the white noise to shine through. This helped it to sound closer to the original recording and also enhanced clarity.  (Hear the recreation on the blog).

[Figure 30. Ableton’s in-built reverb unit]

A reverb unit was inserted on the channel which created a sense of space. This effect unit makes a huge difference to the sound of the channel, it sounds dry and ‘box’ like when it is turned off. The in-built chorus adds a slight shine to the reverb. This is a quintessential sound effect for this particular synth, without the reverb unit the synth sounds too dry and loses its distinctive character.

[Figure 31. Sidechain compression in Ableton]

Finally a compressor was inserted and from the image above it is possible to see that it is applying approximately 2db of gain reduction. This dynamic processor glued the sound together and maintained a stable and punchy dynamic.

Timbre: Synthesizer Melody

[Figure 32. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows the oscillator circuit]

A modularised synthesis method was used to create the melodic synth patch. It was created from a sine wave and two saw waves.

[Figure 33. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows LFO]

The unusual shimmer like sound was created using a sine low frequency oscillator (see image above). The rate was set high and the amount was low creating a slight bend to the sound. The track had a wide spread creating a wide stereo image and the filter was left open to 4.18 kHz. The filter was inserted to filter out an unusual high pitch distortion which occurred when the sine wave was added to the oscillator chain.

Timbre: Synthesizer Bass

[Figure 34. Ableton operator synthesizer, highlighted area shows the oscillator circuit]

The bass synthesizer was created using two oscillators playing simultaneously. It was created by amalgamating square wave and saw tooth wave oscillators.

[Figure 35. Highlighted area shows the envelope shape of the saw tooth oscillator]

The saw tooth oscillator had a slightly later attack time and provided a fuller low-end buzzy type of sound.

[Figure 36. Ableton Saturator]

 Ableton’s in-built saturator (analogue compressor emulation) was inserted to add a harsher edge to the synth.

[Figure 37. Table shows synthesizer make-up]

IV)          Rhythm

Rhythm: Drums

Unlike Happy Violence there is no deviation of the original drum loop, the focal point of the track is the chords and vocal. It used a very basic 4/4 house syntax as described by Eric E as detailed in the literature review.

 Figure 38. Ableton view of layers over time in bars in drum pattern 1]

[Figure 39. Table shows the instrumental layers over time in bars]

Rhythm: Melodic Synthesizer

[Figure 40. Screenshot of melodic synthesizer notation]

By studying the pattern above, it is possible to see that the melody plays a five note bar followed by a three note bar consecutively for 8 bars. Whereas the first and last note of the odd bars is on the beat, the succeeding notes fall in-between the off beat and on beat.

Rhythm: Synthesizer Bassline

[Figure 41. Screenshot of bass synthesizer notation]

The synthesized bassline plays on the rhythm as the main melody with the addition of three notes between the second and third bars and the fourth and fifth bars. The bassline is essential in this track and provides a strong and distinctive groove. This rhythmic pattern will be employed in the pre-production project artefact in order to examine whether this sequence can be used in other tracks using different melodic intervals.

 Rhythm: Synthesizer Chords

[Figure 42. Screenshot of chord notation]

The synthesizer chords have the exact same rhythm as the melodic synthesizer.

 V)           Melodic / Motif Content

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Melody

 [Figure 43. Screenshot of melodic notation]

The first notable difference between this melodic pattern and Happy Violence is that the melodic pattern extends for double the duration; it plays for eight bars as opposed to four bars.

[Steps = semitones]

1.0          D > B  = 3 steps down

2.0          B > G = 4 steps down

3.0          G > B = 4 steps up

4.0          B >  E = 7 steps down

5.0          E > D = 2 steps down

6.0          D > E = 2 steps up

7.0          E > G = 3 steps up

8.0          G > B = 4 steps up

9.0          B > G = 4 steps down

10.0       G > E = 3 steps down

11.0       E > D = 2 steps down

12.0       D > B = 3 step down

13.0       B > E = 5 steps up

14.0       E > G = 3 steps up

15.0       G > B = 4 steps up

16.0            B > E = 5 steps up

17.0            E > G = 9 steps down

18.0            G > E = 3 steps down

19.0            E > D = 2 steps down

20.0            D > C = 2 steps down

21.0            C > D = 2 steps up

22.0            D > E = 2 steps up

23.0            E > G = 3 steps up

24.0            G > B = 4 steps up

25.0            B > A = 2 steps down

26.0            A > D = 5 steps up

27.0            D > E = 2 steps up

28.0            E > G = 9 steps down

29.0            G > B = 4 steps up

30.0            B > D = 3 steps up

31.0            D > A = 5 steps down

[Figure 44. Table  shows the melodic movement of the melodic synthesizer notation]

Examining the up/ down movement of the intervals it appears that these two tracks have a fairly analogous form. They start similarly with; down, down, up and although deviating from the same pattern they continue along a route of sequencing in mainly even steps (Happy Violence moves in twos and I’m Not Alone moves in fours).

Full four bar melody (interval size)

Full four bar melody (up / downs)

[Figure 45. Table shows the melodic movement of the melodic synthesizer notation]

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Bassline & Plucked Synthesizer

[Figure 46. This is the notation for the bassline and plucked synth and does not change for the entire duration of the song]

[Steps = semitones]

1.0               A > A  = 0 steps

2.0               A > B = 2 steps up

3.0               B > B = 0 steps

4.0               B > C = 1 step up

5.0               C > C = 0 steps

6.0               C > C = 0 steps

7.0               C > C = 0 steps

8.0               C > C = 0 steps

9.0               C > C = 0 steps

10.0            C > C = 0 steps

11.0            C > D = 2 steps up

12.0            D > E = 2 steps up

13.0            E > E = 0 steps

14.0            E > G = 3 steps up

15.0            G > G = 0 steps

16.0            G > C = 7 steps down

17.0            C > C = 0 steps

18.0            C > C = 0 steps

19.0            C > C = 0 steps

20.0            C > C = 0 steps

21.0            C > C = 0 steps

22.0            C > C = 0 steps

23.0            C > D = 2 steps up

[Figure 46. This is the notation for the bassline and plucked synth and does not change for the entire duration of the song]

[Steps = semitones]

1.0               A > A  = 0 steps

2.0               A > B = 2 steps up

3.0               B > B = 0 steps

4.0               B > C = 1 step up

5.0               C > C = 0 steps

6.0               C > C = 0 steps

7.0               C > C = 0 steps

8.0               C > C = 0 steps

9.0               C > C = 0 steps

10.0            C > C = 0 steps

11.0            C > D = 2 steps up

12.0            D > E = 2 steps up

13.0            E > E = 0 steps

14.0            E > G = 3 steps up

15.0            G > G = 0 steps

16.0            G > C = 7 steps down

17.0            C > C = 0 steps

18.0            C > C = 0 steps

19.0            C > C = 0 steps

20.0            C > C = 0 steps

21.0            C > C = 0 steps

22.0            C > C = 0 steps

23.0            C > D = 2 steps up

Full four bar melody (up / downs)

[Figure 47. Table  shows the melodic movement of the melodic synthesizer notation]

Full four bar melody (interval size)

[Figure 49. This is the notation for the chords  and does not change for the entire duration of the song]

[Steps = semitones]

1.0               A2 + B3 >  A2 + B3

2.0               A2 + B3 > B2 +D3

3.0               B2 +D3 > B2 +D3

4.0               B2 +D3 > C3 + E4

5.0               C3 + E4 >  C3 + E4

6.0               C3 + E4 > C3 + D4

7.0               C3 + D4 > C4 + D3

8.0               C4 + D3 > E3 + G4

9.0               E3 + G4 > E3 + G4

10.0            E3 + G4 > B3 + G4

11.0            B3 + G4 > C3 + E4

12.0            C3 + E4 > C3 + E4

13.0            C3 + E4 > D4 + C3

14.0            D4 + C3 > D3 + C4

Full four bar melody (up / downs)

Unfortunately the results of the interval sizes do not bear strong similarities with the Happy Violence track. However, analysis of more tracks could provide insightful.

Melodic / Motif Content: Chords

[Figure 50. Table shows the melodic movement of the melodic synthesizer notation]

Summary of Analysis Experiments

The most challenging aspect of the recreation was the synthesizer patches. The remake of Calvin Harris – I’m Not Alone was made easier through the online tutorial, however the accuracy of this attempt is questionable as it is was not possible to produce an exact replica of the original track. This could pose a threat to the validity of the project however a more credible approach has not yet been discovered – it is hoped that a new method will be used during the actual analysis stage of the investigation. As well as the challenge of recreating identical sound, the analysis methodology used to collect data from the synthesis patches may not be efficient enough to produce a similar synthesizer patch. However, the melody and structure did not prove problematic and were easily recreated with certainty. As stated above, the analysis of the interval sizes did not highlight anything, but it is possible further analysis of other tracks could prove more insightful. This analysis will be carefully assessed to determine the best method for dissecting the data. Finally the information collected from the analytical research, in the form of numerical data, will be assessed to find the average for the synthesizer settings i.e. number of oscillators, envelope size, etc. The analysis methods will be refined, however, it is hoped that some of the data recorded will be suitable for application in the project artefact. The results of the analysis were tested in the electronic dance music pre-productions in the following section in connection with objective 4.

Honours Degree Show: Layout Plan

I thought about my honours degree show display and re-designed the layout slightly. I decided to incorporate two computers so that more than one visitor could approach the display at one time, thus reduce waiting time for visitors wanting to see my display. The computer on the left (no.2 of image below) will have Ableton 8 Suite installed with the relevant project which the visitor can interactively test the step-by-step guide. The computer on the right (no.5) will be capable of video play-back and connect to the project (no.4). This computer will show a fifteen minute long documentary style video compiled by the author, and will play on repeat during the exhibition. Headphones will be provided in order to not disrupt any other exhibition.

Pair of Headphones. For the visitor to use when they try the step-by-step guide.

  1. Computer with Ableton 8 Suite. This will be set up with an Ableton 8 Suite Project and will be an interactive feature for the visitor.
  2. Step-by-step guide to producing electronic dance music. This will be the project artifact which the visitor can follow using the computer provided
  3. Projector. A video produced by the author will be played on repeat and shown on the projector.
  4. Second computer. This computer will be used to play the video produced by the author of the project.
  5. Second Pair of Headphones. These will be used to let the visitor hear the video.
  6. Table 1. To hold computer
  7. Table 2 and chair. To hold second computer and allow the visitor to sit down while testing the step-by-step guide.

Project Production 4.0

Project Track 4.0

This was a short practical experimentation into electronic house music incorporating the theoretical and practical research carried out in the first semester.

Like the Happy Violence track, the chorus rests between bars 17 to 33 . It has same instrumental development as Happy Violence, it starts with drums and bassline and develops a new percussive layer at bar 9. This transitions into a chorus break at bar 17 with a white noise rise effect. The chorus plays for sixteen bars and breaks back into the main drum loop and bassline, like Happy Violence.

White noise effects;

Rising and falling white noise effects are commonly used in electronic dance music to build tension and create atmosphere. This white noise was taken from a sample pack, however they can be created using a white noise oscillator on a synthesizer and riding the filter envelope to to create movement and control the number of frequencies passing through (or the loudness for untrained ears).

Kick

Dada Life advised that they only look for “razor sharp” sounds that can cut through the mix. With this in mind, the kick was selected and composed to the generic 4/4 house rhythm.

Snare

The snare was placed on second and fourth beat, as used by Calvin Harris in “I’m Not Alone” and Dada Life’s “Happy Violence”.

Bassline

The bassline was based on the bassline used in Happy Violence. Like Happy Violence, it plays on only one note. The crucial element of the bassline, as mentioned by Dada Life in their interview, was the rhythm (timing). The length and spacing between the notes was critical to producing the right groove.

Melodic Synthesizer

The melody was based on similar up/down melodic movement of I’m Not Alone (see pre-production essay for more detail on I’m Not Alone pre-production analysis).

High-hat Loop

This high-hat loop was found in the Vengeance House Samplepack, a popular source for many electronic dance producers. This high-hat created a strong groove on top of the track. The notes of lower velocity (smaller waves) were slightly late creating an upbeat and relaxed groove.

Synthesizer

The synthesizer playing the melody was created with a triangle and three square oscillators playing simultaneously. Oscillator A and B (square waves) were pitched down by 0.5 cents with a slightly later attack and longer sustain. The triangle (oscillator C) and square wave (oscillator D) were given a faster attack shorter duration for snappiness. These worked effectively together because A and B provided the low-end and depth to the sound, C and D provided the snap that cut through the mix which Dada Life proclaimed was highly important in electronic dance music.

A wet chorus was added to create a glimmering effect like the main lead synthesizer used in I’m Not Alone.

A reverb was inserted to make the synth sound bigger, a technique used by many electronic dance producers. The reverb was automated to create a swell at the transition into the chorus.

Dada Life stated in their interview that they implemented heavy use of multi-band compression on all of their channels. The multi-band tightens up the sound by compressing a specific frequency band as opposed to the whole sound. The high-end (2.5 kHz) was boosted by 8.1db and the low-end (120 Hz) was reduced by 24db as the low end is an unnecessary part of the the sound.

Finally the a sidechain compressor was inserted. This typical electronic dance music technique works by compressing the sound passing through when the amplitude of the kick reaches its peak volume. Dada Life claimed in their interview that they use sidechain compression on just about every one of their channel in different amounts. The sidechain compression reduced the amplitude by approximately -5db.

A delay is more typically used on trance leads, however it was used on a synthesizer in Calvin Harris’s I’m Not Alone and so it was applied to the lead of this track.

Bassline

The bassline was created using a sawtooth and square wave on Ableton’s Analog synthesizer. A white noise oscillator was added and sent to both the sawtooth and square in a 50/50 ratio. A fast attack was used to create an instant sound.

An small amount of overdrive was applied to enhance the high-mids to improve clarity and help the bassline cut through the mix.

Like the lead synthesizer, a sidechain compressor was inserted to allow space for the kick and create subtle movement.

Finally a generous amount of multi-band compression was applied to tighten all the frequencies bands and create a punchy bass sound.

Drums

The drums were passed through EQ to cut out the low end frequencies.

Master:

A subtle amount of multiband compression was applied to the master channel to glue the channels together.

Finally a limiter was placed on the master channel. The Native Instruments Oxford Limiter is highly regarded among electronic producers for its superior quality, this plug-in lifted the track and gave it new life. Although a good quality plug-in cannot substitute the technical skills of a music producer, the difference in sound quality was was huge when the amount (enhance) was boosted. Although a little too much may have been applied on this particular project experiment, compression clearly plays an important role in the production of electronic dance music.

 

Project Production 3.0

The analytical data of the analysis objects was implemented into music production projects. This was the first experiment into the application of the analysis results of electronic dance music.

I)             Structure

[Screenshot of project experiment 1.0 waveshape in Ableton]

The development structure of this track was based on the structural form of Dada’s Happy Violence. The track begins with a bassline and drum beat and develops in layers every sixteen bars. At section 2 (bar 17) a high-hat layer is added (analogous to the percussion added in Happy Violence). A short sound effect is played in the lead up to the first chorus break at section 3 and all instruments apart from the kick and white noise play. A white noise effect is used to shift into the fourth section (same as section 2). A new layer of percussion is subtly added at section 5 and again a white noise effect is applied to build up the tension for the main chorus break at bar 6. The chorus was based on the same concept as the chorus break of I’m Not Alone’s chords. The snare roll starts at section 7 (bar 97) and stops abruptly two beats before section 8 when the bassline plays again applying the same ideology as Happy Violence. Bars 113 to 144 are the same as 1 to 32 emulating the same construction as Happy Violence. This structure works well, it has a clear and defined beginning, middle and end.

[Figure 52. Table shows the instrumental layers over time in bars]

 II)            Tempo & Key

The average tempo (128bpm) and key (C Minor) of the analysis objects was used.

III)          Timbre

Melodic Synthesizer

[Figure 53. Abelton’s analog synthesizer]

This synthesizer has a similar syntax to the Happy Violence melodic synthesizer; a square wave and saw tooth oscillator each pitched an octave apart.

[Figure 55. Ableton Saturator]

 The saturator used in I’m Not Alone was then applied to add grit to the sound.

[Figure 56. Native Instrument’s Guitar Rig effect plug-in]

 This effects unit is a flanger, an audio effect produced by mixing two identical signals together. Although this effects unit had not been used by the producers of the other tracks, its bending sound emulates the melodic synthesizer used in Calvin Harris’s I’m Not Alone even though it was achieved through using a different method.

A stereo expander was inserted on the synthesizer, a technique recommended by Owsinski (as detailed in the literature review and on the blog). This effect unit works by pushing the mono sound to stereo (and opposite if the slider is set in the opposite direction). It allows more space in the mix for other instruments namely the bass synthesizer and kick drum.

[Figure 58. Sidechain compression in Ableton]

 Finally a compressor, sidechained to the kick, was inserted. The attack and release were adjusted in order to make the sound move in time with the drums. This is a technique made popular by Eric Prydz in ‘Call On Me’ (2004) and has become a standard electronic dance music production technique.

[Figure 59. EQ in Ableton]

 Finally an EQ was inserted on every channel to cut out the low-end frequencies as recommended by Owsinski (see literature review for more details).

IV)          Rhythm

 Rhythm: Drums

[Figure 60. EQ in Ableton, screen shot of High hats]

[Figure 61. Screen shot of snares in 2 bars]

Drum Pattern 1. This was the drum pattern used between bars 1 to 16, 49 to 64 and 113 to 128.

[Figure 62. Screenshot in Ableton of drum pattern 1]

 Drum Pattern 2. This was the drum pattern used between bars 1 to 16, 49 to 64 and 113 to 128.

[Figure 63. Screenshot in Ableton of drum pattern 2]

 The second pattern included the addition of high-hats. These drum patterns were a blend of the Happy Violence and Calvin Harris loops. The first pattern was based on the same idea as Happy Violence, the addition of the high-hats introduced the I’m Not Alone drum pattern, however it incorporates a quieter note to convey the sense of a shuffle. This combination worked effectively, it provided a strong rhythmic framework for the rest of the track.

Rhythm: Bassline

[Figure 64. Screenshot in Ableton of Bassline notation]

 The bassline of this track also acted as the melody thus I implemented the rhythmic pattern of the melodic synthesizer from Happy Violence. I experimented with the final four notes by shifting them onto the beat as opposed to off the beat (so it repeated the same rhythmic pattern as the first bar). This flowed better sounding more cohesive in the context of the track. From the perspective of the adaptation, further experimentation will need to be carried out to understand why the melodic syntax of Happy Violence did not work for this production. This could provide an insight into how rhythmic patterns work in different musical situations.

Rhythm: Synthesizer Chords

[Figure 65. Screenshot in Ableton of chord notation]

 These chords were based on the same rhythmic syntax as I’m Not Alone. The author experimented by moving the placement of the notation around to create a groove and better understand how manipulation of the rhythmic pattern can improve aesthetics.

Rhythm: Melodic Synthesizer

[Figure 66. Screenshot in Ableton of melody notation]

The author experimented with different keyboard patterns by playing on top of the chords. This was the melodic sequence produced, although it did not directly link to the analysis data, it did strengthen the authors grasp of electronic music production.

V)           Melodic / Motif Content

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Bassline

[Figure 67. Screenshot in Ableton of bassline notation]

 The melodic content of the bassline bears some resemblance to the I’m Not Alone bassline, however it has more variation as it is also proving the melody and the bassline.

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Chords

[Figure 68. Screenshot in Ableton of chord notation]

 Similar to the rhythm, the melodic content of the chords was based on the I’m Not Alone chords. When the I’m Not Alone melodic direction was examined, it was possible to see that the notation ascended and descended in the scale in a diagonal pattern.  This was then tested on the chords and was found to have a similar uplifting impact.

Melodic / Motif Content: Melodic Synthesizer

 [Figure 69. Screenshot in Ableton of melody notation]

This melodic pattern was based on the same melodic direction principle as I’m Not Alone. This pattern clearly does not have the same appeal as I’m Not Alone, more experimentation into the melodic analysis is required to better understand the writing of effective motifs.

Summary of Production Experience

This project successfully conveys the ideologies examined in the analysis objects and demonstrates how the techniques used by the producers can be applied to other productions. Although it is possible to decipher a drum pattern and reorganize the notation to change the rhythmic pattern, synthesis is a complex and intricate process which will require a thorough analysis method.

Project Production 2.0

Pre-production Project Experiment 2.0

I)             Structure

[Figure 70. Screenshot of project 2 Waveshape in Ableton]

[Figure 71. Table shows the instrumental layers over time in bars]

The structure is based on Happy Violence, however it has some differences. Instead of having a short chorus break at bar 33 (locator 2), the track develops with more layers including the high-hat and snare. The main chorus break comes in at bar 81 like Happy Violence. The track develops back into the verse and instead of breaking down, the short chorus break plays between bar 145 and 160 (locator 10 to 11). The track breaks down between bars 161 and 225 (locator 11 to 114).

II)            Tempo & Key

The average tempo (128bpm) of the analysis objects and key of G Minor was used.

III)          Timbre

Timbre:                Synthesizer Bassline

[Figure 72. Arturia Minimonsta VST Plug-in]

The author experimented with the Arturia Minimonsta, as recommended by house music producer Dave Spoon (see blog for more details). An interesting electronic house style sound was produced through practical experimentation (as opposed to a methodology). The synthesizer patch comprised of pulse wave, sawtooth and triangle oscillators. A small amount of glide was applied which created a slight bend between the notes.

IV)          Rhythm

Rhythm: Drums

[Figure 73. Drum pattern in Ableton]

[Figure 74. Table shows the instrumental layers of the drum pattern over time in bars]

This drum pattern used has the same basic syntax as I’m Not Alone – 4/4 kick, snare and clap on the second and fourth beat and a high-hat playing the off-beat. The snare and claps were layered to create a thick and dense sound.

Rhythm: Synthesizer Bassline

[Figure 75. Screenshot in Ableton of bassline notation]

The bassline applies the same rhythmic movement as the bassline implemented in I’m Not Alone. Experimentation was conducted by shifting the placement of the notes around to better understand how the placement affected the groove of the track. It was found that a consistent and simplistic rhythmic syntax was the most effective method of maintaining energy in the track. Convoluted, complex or intricate patterns resulted in the track sounding unpleasant and rendered it jarring, lacking definition and un-danceable.

Rhythm: Melodic Synthesizer

[Figure 76. Screenshot in Ableton of melody notation]

This melodic pattern was achieved through experimentation with writing melodic content, playing the keyboard on top of the drum loop. The rhythm and melody, produced on-the-fly, does not reflect the analytical data, however it improved the author’s originality into electronic music production in such a way that could be dictated in a step-by-step guide. The author found that a relatively catchy melody was produced with little effort by incorporating only four notes. The difficulty lay in defining the process, more research will need to be conducted to understand how the analysis data can be implemented into an original composition.

V)           Melodic / Motif Content

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Bassline

[Figure 77. Screenshot in Ableton of bassline notation]

Like the rhythm, the melodic content operates in a similar form as the I’m Not Alone bassline. The melodic content is simple and much of the notation is based on repetitions of the same four notes, ascending and descending to another set of four notes. The first half of the notation ascends similarly to I’m Not Alone, however it extends for a further four bars (double the length) ascending and descending in a similar form to Happy Violence.

Summary of Production Experience

By implementing the same methods used by the professionals and experimenting with production techniques, the quality of the music produced vastly improved from the initial track produced. Clearly a method for producing the step-by-step guide has not yet been discovered and further research into the analysis and implementation of the analysis data will need to be studied. In particular, the analysis methods of the melodic content and timbre of the synthesizers needs to be improved and will be the focal point of the next section of the project.