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.

 

 

 


Critical Framework

I met with Dr McAlpine to discuss the critical framework (for the analytical study of the analysis objects). His response was mainly positive, however he was concerned over my wording of ‘dance-ability’ and suggested that I find a more suitable / technical expression to more accurately convey the aspect of analysis. Initially I thought it would be better to construct a framework using terminology that would be easy to understand by the users (participants of the study), however I came to realize that these participants are predominantly professionals in the EDM field and will have a good understanding of electronic music language. To clarify any misunderstanding with the terminology, I wrote a small description for the user to better evaluate the analysis object. I think that the critical framework is nearly ready for use, however I intend to rephrase some of language (including ‘dance-ability’). Here is the critical framework I designed;

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ratings System

This critical framework is based on a ratings system. Please review the tracks using following guidelines;

More details can be found in the Literature Review of the Research Proposal.

Mind Map

I reiterated upon the Project Map by adding a further two methodologies. This is the final project Mind Map which I intend to employ to carry out the investigation;

[Project Map]

In order to prioritize my time and project manage effectively, I considered the time scale available and decided the number of days that I would allocate each task. I detailed this time schedule as a Project Gantt Chart;

Deeper Analysis Into Electronic Synthesizer Programming

After my experimentation into the recreation of Dada – Happy Violence, I thought of alternative methods to better my understanding of the production of the tracks (namely programming synthesis) as this was the defining component of the last experiment that was poor. I found video tutorials explaining how to recreate the timbre of the sounds of Bodyrox – Yeah Yeah and Deadmau5 – Ghosts N’ Stuff.

Deadmau5 – Ghosts N Stuff

This video does not explain the processes that the tutor carrier out, however the ableton 8 file with the set is provided. I was extremely impressed by the similarity between the original track and his recreation. This will provide a valuable source for analysis as I will be able to dissect the synthesizer settings and describe them accurately by being able to see them as opposed to the trial and error approach that was applied to the Dada – Happy Violence recreation.

Bodyrox – Yeah Yeah

This tutor detailed how to programme the bass synthesizer sound used in Bodyrox’s ‘Yeah Yeah’ track. These videos were interesting as they explained the reasons why he chose to make the sounds the way they did. By watching two tutorials of the same sound, it provided me with a better understanding of how the sound was produced. The synthesizer produced on Reason’s Thor did sound closer to the original in my opinion than the version produced on Ableton’s Operator synthesizer.

These tutorials provided me with a better understand into the key components used in the analysis objects. I intend to follow the tutorials to recreate the same synthesizer patches as detailed by the tutors in the videos.

Recreation and Analysis of Dada Life – Happy Violence

Practical EDM Analysis 1: Dada Life – Happy Violence

I attempted to recreate Dada Life – Happy Violence using Abletone 8 Suite as the digital audio workstation. This was intended to better my understanding of the composition and production processes that were involved. I identified and re-wrote the bassline, melody and drum patterns which I think are very close to the original, however the production does not carry the same level of quality. I am still configuring the chord and organ patterns and I intend to complete these within a couple of weeks.

Despite the same drum patterns and melody, this track lacks a lot of the aesthetics of the original track produced by Dada Life (listen to link below).

Although there are clear differences in the sound quality, I used this initial reconstruction to perform the first attempt of analysis to better understand its construction and also to identify effective methods of analysis. Using Ableton Suite 8 as the platform, the reference material was loaded onto the ‘Arrangement’ page where the waveform of the music is visible. By looking at the waveform, it is possible to see visually where the sections of the track are divided and the structure can almost be determined visually. However, it was also necessary to listen to the track for changes in the instrumentation (such as the kick dropping out or percussion being added in). These changes signaled a new section and were identified and noted using Ableton’s locators. The locators in the diagram below (1 to 12) indicate the twelve sections of the track. Using Ableton as the visual interpretation.

[Screenshot of Dada – Happy Violence (Original Mix) Waveshape in Ableton]

At first glance, it is possible to identify 10 main sections equally spaced out on the waveshape (11 if you look closely). It is possible to see that there are four beats (kick drums) in a bar and four bars in a phrase. The track begins at locator 1 with four elements; a kick, bassline, clap and percussive snap sound. This develops and more elements are added after sixteen bars (at locator 2). The first ‘chorus’ comes at bar thirty three at the third locator (01:00 minute) when all the elements playing in the first thirty two bars end abruptly and two new synthesized sounds are heard. This section in EDM terms is called a ‘break’ (Quote) and lasts for a duration of seventeen bars (00:30 minutes). The break builds up to a climax and drops back into the initial elements with the new synthesized sounds playing on top, at locator four. This pattern continues for 16 bars. After 65 bars, at locator 5, a few elements are dropped out and the motif is cut short which plays for 15 bars. On the 16th bar, all the elements are dropped and only the synthesized chords a white noise sound effect is heard. This leads into bar 81 (locator 6) which is the main chorus or ‘break’. This break begins with just the synthesizer playing a melody and another synthesizer playing a chord on top of it. The tension builds at bar 97 (locator 7) when a snare drum starts playing a 4/4 rhythm on top of the melodic sequence and the sequence is pitch shifted towards the higher octave. At bar 113, the instrumentation stops abruptly and a chord sequence is played for one bar. It is slightly surprising that the beat does not come back in on the 113th bar (locator eight) which would be another 16 bars after the initial, but comes back in at bar 114.3, making the initial section 17.3 bars. The following two sections, between locators 9 and 10, are exactly the same as the sections between locators 4 and 6 (just repeats). The next section, between locators 11 and twelve, is the outro and has the same construction as the previous section 10, however a low-pass filter was applied to the bassline which leads to the final phrase.

By looking at the structure of these tracks it is fair to state that the elements can be seen as layers like building blocks. Studying the diagram below, it is possible to see how the structure develops in layers of instrumentation. The diagram demonstrates simply how the analysis object begins with five layers, progresses to seven layers and evolves by adding and removing layers.

Rhythm: Drums

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

As discussed earlier in this blog the kick fundamentally plays 4/4 in a house track, and this analysis object is no exception. This is the solid foundation of the track, it creates the greatest impact out of all the instruments when it is dropped or when it comes back in. The clap rests on the second and fourth beat of the bar. This clap creates the feeling that the drum loop is complete and arguably has the second greatest impact when it is dropped from or added to the pattern. The second clap is layered on top of the first clap on the fourth beat and creates a subtle change of the clap sound that might not be heard unless listened to from an analytical perspective. It makes the drum loop more interesting by taking away the monotony of using only one clap. The off-beat kick drum at the end of bar snaps the drum loop back to the start completing the groove.

Drum Pattern 2. This was the drum pattern used between bars 17 to 32, 65 to 80 and 129 to 164.

The only difference between these patterns is the addition of the percussive instrument in the second pattern. This subtle change in instrumentation drives the track and helps maintain engagement. It also acts as a signal to the Dj playing the record that the section has finished which he can use as cue points to begin mixing his next track. The percussive hits act in a similar form to the conventional high-hats of a typical house track. However the first and third percussive hits are played slightly in-between the beat and the off-beat creating a slightly jerky almost tribal like rhythm.

Rhythm: Melody

[Image shows main melodic motif]

ON = on the beat                             OFF = off the beat

The image above displays the full melodic motif that is repeated throughout the track. The initial three notes are played on top of the kick drum which arguably gives them more impact and creates a more aggressive sound. The notes on the off-beat create a snappy rhythm and makes the track sound more interesting. When experimenting with the track on all down-beats, it has a completely different sound –  less aggressive and much of the energy is lost. When  the notes are all played on the off-beat, the energy carries better, however it does not have the impact as when they are mixed between off-beat and on-beat. Clearly a combination of off-beat and on-beat combinations is vital to conveying an effective rhythm.

Rhythm: Bassline

The bassline is very simple; four sustained notes on the beat. The notes are sustained just long enough to decay just before the following note is played, thus making the notes more distinct. It plays well against the melody is predominantly on the off beat.

IV)          Melodic / Motif content

Analysis of Intervals

The melody was analysed for the movements between the notes i.e. the intervals.

[Steps = semitones]

1.0          C > G  = 5 steps down                      8.0          G# > G = 1 step down

2.0          G > C = 8 steps down                       9.0          G > D = 5 steps down

3.0          C > G = 8 steps up                             10.0        D > D = 0 steps

4.0          G >  A # = 3 steps up                        11.0        D > D# = 1 step up

5.0          A# > G# = 2 steps down                  12.0        D# > D = 1 step down

6.0          G# > D# = 5 steps down                  13.0        D > C = 2 steps down

7.0          D# > G# = 17 steps up

Full four bar melody (up / downs) =

Full four bar melody (interval size) =

V)           Timbre

The timbre of a sound is identifiable through its harmonic content. The timbre of the instrumentation is crucial for making the track sound interesting. It plays an important role in formalizing the characteristics of the sounds; whether generic, unpleasant, exciting etc. Synthesizers are complex instruments used in electronic dance music and are capable of creating interesting and identifiable sounds. However if there are too many effects or the timbre of a sound is overpowering it can result in the mix sounding muddy and lacking impact. (Snoman 2009i; Hewit 2008i). Timbre (in music) is defined as;

                “The quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices or musical instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that mediate the perception of timbre include spectrum and envelope. Timbre is also known in psychoacoustics as tone quality or tone colour.”

–              Anon (No date)

The most important timbre of an electronic dance music track is arguably the synthesizer patches. However, this presents a challenge in process documentation. It is extremely difficult to replicate a synthesizer patch without being able to see the method the artist used to produce the sound due to the vast number of possible settings the synthesizer can be set to. Despite this, the author attempted to recreate the sounds as accurately as possible for the purpose of the project.

Timbre: Bass Synthesizer

[Figure 17. Bass synthesizer in Ableton]

The bass synthesizer is comprised of two oscillators; a saw tooth and a sine wave each one octave apart.

The synthesizer attributes which seemed to define the sound most closely were identified by the author as the oscillator wave shapes and their amplitude and filter envelopes. The synthesizer information was then collected in numerical data format which allowed results to be compared with other productions. Thus this table was devised to showcase the results. (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release = ADSR).

[Figure 18. Table shows synthesizer make-up]

[Figure 19. Ableton overdrive]

Ableton’s overdrive (analogue compressor emulation) was inserted on the synthesizer to add slight distortion and give the synth a grittier edge.

[Figure 20. Ableton compressor]

Finally the sound was put through a compressor using very hard compression settings, which resulted in a gain reduction of approximately -6db. It was intended to maintain the perceived loudness of the bass and act as a amplitude envelope control.

As mentioned above, an exact replica of the synthesizer settings used in the original production was nearly impossible to reproduce, even for an expert, due to the limitless number of effects and synthesizer settings available. The table above shows the settings for the bassline following the original as closely as possible. Although not perfect, these synthesizer settings match the original settings as much as possible and provide an insight into how the original synthesizer patch was created.    

Timbre: Melodic Synthesizer

[Figure 21. Ableton analog synthesizer]

The melodic oscillator was constructed using two oscillators; a square wave and saw tooth. As displayed above, a high pass filter was only applied to the saw tooth oscillator and intended to take just the low end to allow the square wave through.

[Figure 22. Table shows synthesizer make-up]

Summary of First Analysis Attempt 

Although the structure and melodic information could be replicated accurately, this experiment encountered a few difficulties which could prove to be a threat to the project. It was extremely difficult to reproduce accurate synthesizer sounds due to the complex nature of synthesis and the endless setting options. If the synthesizer sound is not able to be replicated without an ear for synthesis production then it could demonstrate that the art of synthesis is too complex a process and therefore not be included in the step-by-step guide. However, the reinterpretation did appear successful so with more practice and further research, these issues can hopefully be overcome.

Experimentation of EDM Production

I experimented by looking at how to produce Dada – Happy Violence. This was necessary to fully evaluate the composition and production of the original track.Replicating the composition was fairly simple as the track is made up of a very basic repetitive syntax, however the most challenging aspect of the reproduction process was replicating the timbre of the sounds. It was possible to establish a similar sound and ascertain the definitive waveshape and envelope of the sounds reproduced, however this did not achieve the exact same as the original sound. This is the reproduction of the Dada Life using Ableton as the digital audio workstation;

http://www.soundcloud.com/lauriegoldsteincsp4

Here is a video with a talk-over explaining what I am doing

http://www.youtube.com/lauriegoldstein

Experimentation of Music Production

I produced a short 30 second first attempt at producing an electronic dance music track using the techniques that I have found in my research so far. The digital audio workstation software I used is Ableton Suite 8. I chose this software because in many of the interviews I watched and read, the producers commonly used Ableton or Logic and I have more experience using Ableton so it was the logical decision to use this software. I also used samples from the Vengeance Sample packs – these were mentioned by almost every producer I researched and appear to be the industry standard. Here is the track here;

Drums

For the drums I created three separate channels; the kick, clap and snare, high-hats. I then bussed them all to the one channel. I then applied -2 to -3db gain reduction of compression to the group channel and set the attack and decay to allow the instruments to punch through. I layered a few clap and snare samples in order to get a thicker and fuller snap sound. I applied the same technique to the high-hats.

Bassline

I created the bassline using Ableton Suite 8’s Operator synthesizer. This was the most challenging aspect of the music production as I don’t have a lot of experience programming synthesizers and required a lot of experimenting to get it to sound the way I wanted it. I applied the processes in this order;

  1. Some chorus to add a little depth and shine
  2. Auto-filtered the high frequencies so that it was just the low end that was punching through (255 Hz)
  3. A low-cut EQ to cut out the frequencies below 30 Hz (which creates muddiness),
  4. Side-chain compressed the bassline against the kick to create a ducking effect. I applied this because the bassline and the kick are playing in the same frequency range and they both need their own frequency space. It was also used as a compositional tool to improve the groove by bending the bassline around the kick.

Vocal Effects

I found the vocal effects from a Future Magazine samplepack CD. I chopped them up and looped them to fit in time with the track. I low-cut below 230 Hz to reduce the unnecessary low end energy.

Fills

I found the fills on the Vengeance sample pack and place right before the end of every 4 bars to keep the groove interesting. I panned them wide stereo left and right as like Umek demonstrated in his studio interview.

Mix-down / Master

I low-cut all the channels using the EQ eight and tuned the instruments (samples) using Ableton’s spectrum analyser. I applied a couple of db gain reduction using the Ableton Limiter.

[This image shows the structure of the track and the master bus channel. As you can see, the master channel only has a spectrum analyser and limiter inserted]

Finally I normalized the track to 0db in Wavelab.

Here you can see that the limit I applied in Ableton has considerably compressed the track. However by looking at the wave shapes of other house tracks, it is possible to see that this amount of compression is an a technique that is identifiable in modern electronic music production.

Although this track does not sound as appealing as the music in the Beatport top 100 charts, it contains all the core components that make a electronic dance music track identifiable. My next task will be to produce an electronic music track that contains elements that make it identifiable within the specific sub-genres that I am studying.