To all the music makers out there


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South of Bristol
Do you create all your samples 1st and then put them in the sequencer in an order that u think sounds best or do you create a few samples and start building up the tune, then add more and more samples as the tune starts taking shape?
Basically do ya have all ya tools ready before u start building or do ya introduce more tools as you go along? :hehe:
I start from a single idea, be it a kik/bassline or a movie sample, loop, sound fx or whatever, and keep building on that. I tend to work in sections, getting one section mostly ready before moving on to the next. Once the tune is getting to the 5-6 mins point then I start polishing the arrangement, adding fills, fx and twiddly bits. As I go the tune will pretty much dictate the direction it wants to go in and I try to stick with that and not really plan where the tune's going to go.

More importantly, the set of VSTi's and effects that I use is fixed. I think its more important to have a set of useful tools that I know really well than spending time trying to get something useful out of unfamiliar gear. Having a nice big library of standard sounds like kicks, hats, basses and so on is really useful too.

Sadly my stuff is still pants however
:lol: :lol: :lol:
I tend to start with a loop of 2 or 4 bars, usually just a kick and bassline to start with (occasionally kick and percussion if I'm having trouble figuring a bassline out), then layer things on the backbeat.

Stuff that works stays, stuff that doesn't gets dragged away and I start again until I get something that I'm reasonably happy with, then I start to build a section out of those sounds (I experiment by muting channels, then build up a section using the parts that sound good together). Depending on how the tune works out, I do it for two or three main sections, trying to make the sections fairly distinct from one another. If I run out of ideas I bring the stuff that didn't work in one section and try it out on another, and if I run out of ideas after that I put the tune to bed for a bit, then pull it out again a few days later.

Generally I just add noises as I go, and throw in random shit later on, but if I have a section fully formed in my head, I usually keep going at the session until I've got it roughly right.

I always have all of my main sounds and ideas ready before I start arranging. I set a 32 bar loop and just keep adding layers and layers until I think I have slightly too much, and then I sketch out a rough shape. Then, once I have my shape [the equivalent of "writing a song" I suppose...] I go back and work on each bit in detail.

I find it is easier to know what section A should sound like if I know what section B is roughly going to be and so on. Intros and outros are usually the last things to be done cos thats where you get to use all the weird bits and pieces that you can't fit anywhere else.

I used to have a bit of a mental block on arranging in the sequencer, so I would just build a 64 bar loop of everything, give it a seperate channel on the mixer and then arrange it on the fly [only really works if you have an external mixer, but I'm sure its perfectly do-able if you have some kind of control surface like Mackie Control or Houston etc...] with the faders and mute buttons. I'd get it all sounding right and then stick the DAT into record and do a huge hour long live mix - and then edit it down to 7:30 or whatever. Its fun that way cos you don't get bored with hearing your arrangement over and over [the arrangement happens at the editing stage and so is the very last part of the process...] and if you're stoned enough, you make lots of mistakes - press the wrong buttons and twangle the fx units in inappropriate ways - which usually become the best bits of the tune. "Somersettler", "Escape From Tulse Hell", "Spiritual Antiseptic" and "Gamma Goblins" were all done this way, as well as lots of others.

I've since got into arranging in Logic and I enjoy that too now cos there are things you can do that you can't do if you arrange on the fly - little sections where it all goes inside out and falls to bits - and then rescues itself with half a second to go...
"Splitting an Atom", "Smoked Glass and Chrome" and "Angelic Particles" were all done this way.

Alternate is right - a big library of sounds and patches is invaluable. Theres nothing worse than being totally immersed in your tune but having to pop out of your bubble to find a bongo sample on a CD somewhere. Dull. I have a 60gb drive stuffed full of sounds and samples and chunks of audio I have built up over the years and it contains 90% of what I could ever need. The other 10% is stuff that gets made up along the way.

I always start with a hi-hat. Its where the groove lives.
Ott, I like your idea of making your layouts live with just muting and unmuting.
I used to do that when I wrote all my music on a digital 12track recorder, but since I've been immersed in Logic I've slowly moved away from any live tactics, and I think my music has suffered somewhat as a result.

I can honestly say that my method changes everytime that I write a tune, almost. Quite often my tune ideas or concepts come from a method more than a musical idea.
Er, at the mo i get a big amount of samples (all m own mangeld ones) if i find something that cool then i put stuff around that. But, my sequencer is pretty much an arrangement tool, its a bit boring like that cos i feel cheated that just move sections around!

Pro tools for recording, Sample editors for mangling, cubase sx for vsts and arranging!

much love


At this point i have 1 week to do an electro acoustic piece using vocal samples, oh dear god!

But i can't complain cos i set myself the work!
starting with the hat eh? im gonna try that one!
its pretty different for me each time, but usually with the kick and bass. i dont really do the 32bar loop thing but build the track where i think it needs to go...... adding sounds to and for the arrangement.
It does take a little while longer this way though - but helps me to build the journey!
A lot of the sounds i use are from synths so the pallete is not there when i start, the sounds are made as i go to fit the song.
I wanna have a bigger and better selection of samples to bung into samplers, which is the way i used to work.
But now every sound is in a synth or VSTi waiting to be created.

I tend to work quite er um... linearly. I kinda get stuck, if i can't get everything sounding absolutely perfect. I can't move onto the next bit, as the bit before doesn't sound right... Though I'm not really very happy about this, as it tends to mean I don't finish things! If I could just drag myself onto the next section, i'm sure i would be more inspired to go back and sort out the mess i just made.

I am very fond of starting with a kik and a bassline together. It doesn't matter how groovy you get, if these two aren't right, it's gonna sound like shite. I definately have a hard time doin' anything if these are bad. Constant fiddlin' over microscopic details normally ensues, when actually, I'd be much better off starting over.


Once i get going, things tend to get done very quickly indeed. Like i might well spend (literally) days faffing around with a kick and bass, but if I'm happy with them, the actually writing normally only takes about two to four days max. Any shorter than this, and I reckon you don't get to live with the track long enough to see its faults, and invariably, i spend days in between, tweaking and tarting around, and really getting to know my tracks.
For trance, I generally start with a bassline and kick drum... then it tends to go kind of blank and I wake up a few days later surrounded by empty noodle packets, with a Cubase arrangement in front of me, the monitor volume up full-blast and my hand on the spacebar.

Seriously though, I tend to follow whatever inspirations I have at the time, whether it's spending 3 hours getting the bassline sitting right with the kick, or sketching out a rough structure with whatever sounds are in the current pallette. This tends to lead to me alternating between microscopic detail and the big picture, generally spending more time on the detail, it has to be said... which is where a collaborator comes in handy, as having someone else working with me tends to make sure I don't focus exclusively on whatever's going on between 2.5 and 4KHz, or whatever. Sections tend to be written in the order they appear in the tune, with the intro being written after the first main section has taken shape. The tracks generally seem to know what they want to do, and grow fairly organically from the initial seed of kick/bass, but tweaks generally happen along the length of the track right up until it's finished.

At the moment tracks tend to take between Friday evening and Monday evening to write, from first principles (ie minimal sound library) to playable, semi-mastered mix. From there it might take a couple of weeks of tweaking here and there before a final version is decided on. The odd track (such as Free Range, the lastest Unconscious Collective track :Grin: ) might take two weekend sessions to come together.
my routinme's gone out the window, i cant create tunes like i used to, wheer every part came naturly, i'm always trying to be one step ahead, lazy.
</div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Colin OOOD @ Apr 21 2004, 10:26 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> The tracks generally seem to know what they want to do, and grow fairly organically from the initial seed of kick/bass [/quote:58b45463fe]
Nicely put Colin :Smile3:
I have a strange way of starting beats. To me, I can never translate rhythmic ideas to workable loops fast enough and I'll lose the magic that I think of on the spot (note: "the spot" usually means some scale of marijuana intoxication)

The trick I've found to get the most out of the groove that is in my head is just to basically beatbox/sing it into a mic, record that, get the M-points and then convert M-Points to Groove (Cubase VST32). I do this for virtually every part - basslines, melodies, percussion. For some reason I can hear the notes and melodies in my head but I've never had good results sequencing them. I'll always lose what I was thinking of halfway into it or mess up on the key or notes. If I record it first then I just take a couple minutes tanslating it into MIDI.
</div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Reconstructed @ Apr 21 2004, 11:58 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> The trick I've found to get the most out of the groove that is in my head is just to basically beatbox/sing it into a mic, record that, get the M-points and then convert M-Points to Groove (Cubase VST32). I do this for virtually every part - basslines, melodies, percussion. [/quote:a12f463e72]
What a cracking idea..!

Thats so brilliant.

Consider it nicked.

It is particularly helpful for percussion grooves because you can just analyze the velocities and timing in the recording.

I always had trouble getting realistic velocities, particularly on snares and hi-hat grooves, that sound organic and lively by sequencing. This way, you get that natural feel with little nuances that comes from actually vocally grooving or recording a live drumset.
</div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ott^ @ Apr 22 2004, 01:09 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
What a cracking idea..!

Thats so brilliant.

Consider it nicked.

:Grin: [/quote:ee6008983f]
high praise indeed! isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery?
that is indeed a very cool idea...
OK, so OTT do you fancy explaining how to go about this in Logic then or is it a Cubase only type of affair..... I also have many incredible riddims in my head but am absolutely crap at programming/playing them but can hum like a bastard :Grin: Is there a Logic equivalent of an 'M Point'?

Oh, here's a tutorial for Cubase I found if anyones interested:

How do I convert M-Points to MIDI?

Have you ever encountered the situation that you found a certain drumloop extremely groovy, but at the same time did not like the appendant drum sounds? You would like to keep the groove, but alter the sounds being played? No problem.

If you want the groove to be played with a completely different set of sounds (e.g. by a LM-4 or an external sound module), you should convert the Audio material into MIDI events. To do so, proceed as follows:

- doubleclick the Audio event in the Arrange window
- select the Audio part in the Audio Editor and in the "Do" menu select "Get M-Points"
- again under "Do" select "Match Audio and Tempo": the Graphical Mastertrack appears
- select M-Points (small bars at the bottom of the screen) (Ctrl/A)
- go to the "Audio" menu and select "M-Points to Groove"
- go back to the Arrange window and to the menu "Functions" and select "Groove Control"
- in the Groove Control panel the created file appears under the name of the Audio part
- click on this file and after having chosen the Editor and the Measure of the beat click on "Open"
- copy the MIDI events in a MIDI track using Copy/Paste

The first MIDI event will always be copied to the current song position in the MIDI part. You have to be aware of the fact that the first Audio event (e.g. bass drum on the first beat) will not be automatically converted, because the first M-Point will always be created after the first event. While copying the Groove template to a MIDI part you have to beware of the following: regardless to what part position it belongs, the first MIDI event will always be copied to the current song position (which would practically be the first beat at the beginning of the part), so that the original feel of the groove is destroyed. To avoid this, after having created the M-Points, you should manually include an M-Point to the first beat using the pencil tool. Even if there is no Audio event on the first beat, it is always recommended to manually include an additional M-Point at the beginning of the part, in order to have the Groove copied into the MIDI part without any offset. Another, more painstaking solution would be - after having found out to what song position the first relevant M-Point belongs - to set the song position pointer to exactly this song position and then copy the MIDI events into the MIDI part.

If you are dealing with Audio material consisting of (Live-)recordings, containing crosstalk, it might be useful to boost the relevant frequencies and to damp those not needed, then export the EQed Audio material before you get the M-Points.

If you need to keep a few of the sounds included within the loop, you might as well isolate and extract the desired segments using ReCycle! or snip the loop at M-Points and delete or mute all dispensable segments. For further information regarding this issue read the article "(Drum-)Loop Flexibility" under
OK, forget that *blush* RTFM eh!!

Audio-to-MIDI groove wasn't really hiding under a fancy name was it?