Recreation and Analysis of Deadmau5 – Ghosts N Stuff

Practical Experimentation of Music Analysis 4:

Deadmau5 – Ghosts N Stuff (Recreation)

7.1          Structure

This AO develops using a similar structural template as Happy Violence, opening with the same basic drum pattern and developing in bars of 8 and 16. The chords which provide the main melody for the track start at bar 9 (section2) and lead to the first short chorus break, occurring between bars 17 to 25 (section 3). Although this track has a similar structural syntax as Happy Violence, it differs from Ghosts N Stuff in that it has four main sections; 1 to 3; 4 to 8; 9 to 12 and 13 to 22, whereas Happy Violence has just three main sections. It also has only two chorus breaks one which last for 8 bars and the second for 17 bars. Ghosts N Stuff has three chorus breaks which last for 8 bars each, demonstrating that although these AO all share similarities by working in bars of 8, there is not a global structural template which all producers adhere to.

7.2          Tempo & Key

Ghosts N Stuff is in the key of  A # Minor and the tempo is 128 bpm.

Although the tempo appears to  fluctuate between 126 and 140 bpm, two of these are remixes by different producers and the actual mixes produced by Deadmau5 are between 127 and 128 bpm. It is also apparent that Deadmau5’s preference is to work in Minor, with the exception of “Wheres My Keys”.

7.3          Rhythm

Rhythm: Drums

Like the other AOs, this track implements the same generic 4/4 house style beat.

A second high-hat with a softer velocity was added between bars 38 to 57, 73 to 81, 113 to 129, 137 to 169. This high-hat variation created a swing effect strengthening the groove.

This drum pattern implemented on the last sixteen bars of the track is essentially a breakdown of the first drum pattern; a 4/4 kick drum beat with a clap on the second and fourth. However the high-hat  been removed indicating the track is breaking down as it approaches the end of the record.

This drum pattern implemented on the last sixteen bars of the track is essentially a breakdown of the first drum pattern; a 4/4 kick drum beat with a clap on the second and fourth. However the high-hat  been removed indicating the track is breaking down as it approaches the end of the record.

Rhythm: Synthesizer Chords

ON = on the beat                             OFF = off the beat

The chords are long sustained notes. The first two bars of each phrase play on the beat followed by two sustained notes which start on the offbeat. These offbeat notes act in a similar way to Fedde Le Grand’s Put Your Hands Up For Detroit bassline. It creates a snappy rhythm and the variation may also partly be responsible for maintaining the listener’s interest.

Rhythm: Synthesizer Bassline

ON = on the beat                             OFF = off the beat

The bassline has the same basic style of syntax as Dada Life’s Happy Violence and contains the same number of notes. Although deceptively simple looking, the positioning of the notes has a significant impact on the rhythmic groove of the track. Moving the position of the notes to be slightly earlier or later transforms the rhythm. Dada Life discussed this bassline phenomenon in an interview with Future Magazine issue (Dada Life 2011), unfortunately they did not offer any magic answer, but they did admit to spending hours positioning the notes of their basslines to ensure they sounded exactly as they intended them to sound. By comparing Ghosts N Stuff to the rhythm of Happy Violence, the similarities are clear;

Rhythm: Plucked Synthesizer

Similar to the plucked instruments implemented in the other AOs, this synth only plays three notes. Through experimentation with the plucked synthesizer, it transpired that convoluted and excessive counter melodies distracted attention from the main lead line thus the overall rhythmic feel of the track was lost. The plucked synthesizer acts as a decorative or percussive element rather than a melodic sequence.

ON = on the beat                             OFF = off the beat

7.4          Melodic / Motif Content

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Chords

[Steps = Semitones]

1.0               A#  > G#  = 2 steps down

2.0               G# > F# = 2 steps down

3.0               F# > D# = 3 steps down

4.0               D# > A# = 7 steps up

5.0               A# > G# = 2 steps down

6.0               G# > F# = 2 steps down

7.0               F# > D# =3 steps down

Full Four Bar Melody (Interval Size)

Full Four Bar Melody (Up / Downs)

Melodic / Motif Content: Synthesizer Bassline

[Steps = Semitones]

1.0               A# > A# = 0 steps

2.0               A# > A# = 0 steps

3.0               A# > A# = 0 steps

4.0               A#  > C  = 2 steps up

5.0          C > G# = 4 steps down

6.0          G# > A# =2 steps up

7.0          A# > A# = 0 steps

8.0          A# > F = 5 steps down

9.0          F > A# = 5 steps up

10.0        A# > A# =0 steps

11.0        A# > G# =2 steps down

12.0        G# > F# = 2 steps down

Full Four Bar Melody (Interval Size)

Full Four Bar Melody (Up / Downs)

Melodic / Motif Content: Plucked Synthesizer

1.0          C > A# = 0 steps

2.0               A# > F# = 0 steps

Full Four Bar Melody (Interval Size)

Full Four Bar Melody (Up / Downs)

7.5          Timbre

Timbre: Synthesizer Chords

This synthesizer is produced using only one Sawtooth oscillator. It has an instant attack, long sustain and short release. No effects were applied to this synthesizer.

Timbre: Bassline Synthesizer

Timbre: Plucked Synthesizer

This synthesizer comprised of only one Sawtooth oscillator. Similar to the plucked synthesizer analysed in the other AO, the plucked sound was produced by setting the ADSR to a fast attack, medium sustain and short release.

The plucked synthesizer was produced using two sawtooth oscillators detuned slightly apart. The amplitude envelope was fast attack with short sustain and a medium release. This envelope shape produced a plucked type of sound.

A saturator was inserted to sharpen the high-end.

A compressor was used to glue the sound together and maintain a consistent loudness.

An EQ was inserted to low-cut the low end frequencies and bring clarity to the high-end.

Timbre: Drums

7.6          Panorama

Through the study of these four AOs, clear similarities in the production methods can be drawn which indicates producers do use a set of production guidelines, through structure, drum patterns and choice of instrumentation.

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