May 2011

Article: Minimal House and Techno Production Tips

Article courtesy of Sounds to Sample

Minimal house and techno production tips

A choice selection of bite-sized tips for deep, pared down minimal productions

All in the groove

It is vital that every rhythmic element has a place in the groove. Be critical when adding elements and choose samples carefully. Start with the kick and bassline and bring in other elements around them. One good technique is to imagine the elements in the groove having a discussion with each other. Introduce one sound and then counter it with another a few beats later.

Kick & Snare

Generally the key with Minimal House beats is to keep the kick nice and deep without too much mid or high-end energy so the high frequency elements can ‘breathe’ and inject life into the groove. Choosing drum sounds that fit each other well is also extremely important – if the kick is heavy the snare should feel light and toppy. For this reason 808 and 909 sounds can work particularly well.

Mono vs Stereo

It is always advisable to keep the kick (and other bass elements) in mono as these backbone elements of the track are often the most prominent and many club systems are still wired in mono. Having a stereo spread on hi-hats and other percussive elements helps keep the beat interesting and merges the rhythm nicely with synth loops or fx patterns.

Evolving effects

Keep effects changing constantly by automating them, especially reverbs and delays. Turn up reverb sends occasionally on percussion tracks to give your track big reverb splashes at key points. Automate the reverb size too. Put a short slapback delay on the melodic hook and automate the feedback slider and delay times.

Ride the 808

You can make deep minimal basslines by using nothing but an 808 kick sample with a long decay. Tune the kick so that it combines well with your main kick drum and add a volume envelope with the attack turned slightly up, so you keep the boom and not the snap of the kick. Adjust the decay to get the right length. Add a little pitch envelope to the sample with pitch shifting either slightly up or down. This kind of wobbly sound is heard in many minimal productions today.

Odd bars

Try looping percussive sequences at odd numbered bars, like the third or seventh bar, instead of at the regular 4/4 marker for interesting, ever-evolving percussive lines. To build towards a drop insert a ping-pong delay for an instant building carpet of sound.

Stabs

When choosing a sample as a raw sound, look for complexity; something which is rich in harmonics and overtones – an obscure jazzy chord is the classic example. Vocals and organic sounds also work well. Try running your sound through a bit-crusher to add some dirt, then apply a low pass filter controlled by an envelope to give the sound some shape. Saturation and compression will really start to bring the sound alive and give it the classic punchy-techy sound.

Assign tone-shaping parameters to various controls to get as much variability in the sound as possible – the velocity mapped to the volume, cutoff and decay for example, and the mod wheel to a pitch LFO and reverb send. Some 3/16th delay will help give a strong rhythmic emphasis to the stabs.

White hats

Make a free-flowing techno hat pattern by using a white noise oscillator playing a shuffling pattern (short 16th notes with some triplets thrown in) with the volume envelope decay/release controls constantly changing using automation.

Less is more

Your track is destined to be rocking a big club system. If you cram in every idea and then some more, the track will soon sound messy on a big rig. At some point you should sit back and selectively delete parts that don’t add much to keep everything simple. This is minimal dance music: having a few choice elements that work well together is your ultimate aim.

Infinite pads

Soundscapes and pads give depth to a mix and play an essential part in intros, outros and breakdowns. To make extending pad sounds insert your chosen pad sample, then insert the same loop again after the first and reverse it. Join the two together using your sequencer’s crossfade function. Instant ever-changing pad variations!

Wobbly synths

To create the classic ‘moving tuning’ synth line, pull up a sawtooth wave on your preferred synth and automate the tuning knob so that it moves slowly up and/or down. Another way to do this is to assign an LFO to the tuning of the oscillators. This kind of technique is also often heard used on other elements such as percussion and even basslines.

Tidy percussion

Keep percussion hits neat and tidy by adjusting the decay of the samples according to the groove of your track. In general the percussion hits in minimal techno are short. Also remember to check the decay of your kick drum sample. Too long a decay and the kick will interfere with the bassline and too short a decay will not yield enough punch.

The mighty whoosh

Plain white noise hits and sweeps are common in minimal techno. Slap a compressor over a white noise effect with your kick drum feeding the sidechain input for some solid pumping action. Remember to cut out low frequencies using a hi-pass filter on the white noise sound to keep your mix clean.

Complex rhythmical textures

Take a vocal sound, set it looping but with a relatively short loop size. Now, map the loop start position to a rhythmical step sequencer. This means the start point of the loop will jump around in sync with the steps in the sequencer, by however much you set on each step. Immediately you will notice your sound has transformed from a stuttering sound, to something much more complex.

Try sending the cutoff to the step sequencer also, and maybe the sample rate too – you’ll quickly start to see how incredibly rich complex sounds can spring out of nowhere.

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Video: How To Produce Alex Metric and Steve Angello’s Open Your Eyes

Article courtesy of Sounds to Sample

How To Produce Alex Metric and Steve Angello's Open Your Eyes

Discover the synthesis techniques which make Alex Metric & Steve Angello’s relatively simple chord and pad sequence pump, shine and cut through the mix.

Goal: Synthesise the mainroom progressive lead chord and pad patterns in Alex Metric & Steve Angello’s ‘Open Your Eyes’.

You will need: A polyphonic synth with at least 3 oscillators (we’re using FXpansion’s Strobe) plus reverb, compressor, EQ and stereo spread plug-ins.

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Video: Reloop Jockey 3 Reviewed

Article written by Ean Golden courtesy of DJ Tech Tools


Today we have a special video for you, my first “Samurai Review” of the Reloop Jockey 3. DJTT looked at this controller at NAMM and gave it our “Best of Show Controller” Nammie award based on its looks, layout and feel. Now that we have the controller in the studio for extensive testing, does it still deserve that title? Hard to say- there are a few big bugs, but several great features as well. Continue reading for all the specs and check out my video review above!

Price: $699

Available: Soon!

Included software: Traktor LE 1 (Upgradable to 2)

External dimensions: 26.8 in (W) x 3.7 in (H) x 12.5 in (D)

Weight: 11lbs

THE GOOD

  • Multiple audio outs include master, booth and headphone
  • Nice grippy knobs
  • Ample controls for multiple cue points, effects, looping and more
  • Professional looking and well-built
  • Replaceable crossfader

THE BAD

  • Poor scratch performance with the jog wheels
  • Requires power supply
  • Heavy for its size
  • Requires an upgrade to Traktor Pro to use 4 decks (an extra $150)
  • Jog wheel sensitivity can cause accidental music stops

THE BOTTOM LINE

The jog wheel problems aside,  you have a well-constructed controller that does most of the things that the VCI-100 did and more.  There are no amazing built-in effects features, and the pre-labeled buttons make different mappings and overlays somewhat un-realistic. Then again, the back-lit, well-labeled buttons make them easy to see in the dark.  If this controller came in at around $499, I think it would make a really great first DJ option for those looking into Traktor LE.

For those that want a control solution for Traktor Pro 2, you will probably get a lot more value out of the S4, which will wind up being roughly the same price after software upgrades. I see this being great for those bedroom DJs that need a integrated sound card, 4 deck control, and a small portable size. In that range, this controller is certainly one of the best in its class, provided Reloop solves the jog wheel problems.

HANDS ON CONTROL

The jog wheels look and feel great. They are low profile with a large 5? platter surface that turns smoothly with adjustable tension resistance. Unfortunately, they did not fare so well under testing. Scratching proved to be impossible and even cueing up a down-beat was equally un-wieldy (this was tested with Traktor Pro 2 and the official Jockey 3 mapping available at press time). Reloop told us:

“the mapping we have currently is not the 100% final one. For Traktor 2 we are still working with NI on a Hi-Res Implementation of our Jog Wheel (4096 Imp/Rot) – as this cannot be accomplished with a simple mapping.”

Jog wheels do take a lot of iteration to get right, so it is possible with some back and forth they could solve the issue. I am concerned, however, that there might be some hardware issues at play, as is the case with the touch sensitivity. One of the problems with scratching is how rapidly the platter responds to touch. As you saw in the video it is either way too sensitive (turning on without even touching) or not sensitive enough (slow release). Reloop commented:

” This technology is the same as on our CD-Players. The touch sensitivity of the Jog platters work with’body electricity’. Once the platter’s sensitivity is set to very high, the Jog’s can even detect this electric charge when your hand is very near - and not even touching the platter directly. You can try this out, for example try touching the platter with a plastic item and you will see that the Jogs will not respond. ”

SOLID CONNECTIONS


One solid aspect of the Jockey 3?s offerings is their I/O selection. Reloop appears to have listened to DJs on our site and others and provided several of the features folks have been screaming for. They include:

  • Discrete headphone, booth and master outputs
  • Dual analogue inputs that support line and phono sources
  • Microphone input that works without a computer connection
  • Switchable mixer channels that can mix external sources like a standard analogue mixer

These features make the Jockey 3 a well equipped little controller. The only downside is that they do all require external power from a wall wart, but given that this is one of your only power requirements, it is not the end of the world.

CONCLUSION

The Jockey 3 is a solid upgrade from Reloop’s previous efforts at controller manufacturing. While it is not yet perfect, they now have a serious contender for controllers in the two deck class and the market has a real alternative to the VCI-100 MK2 at a reasonable price.


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Ableton – ReWire to Reason & Recording Audio

Following on from our recent article regarding recording Midi in to Ableton’s session view.

http://www.funknaughty.com/2010/11/ableton-recording-midi-in-session-view/

This next article, will show you how to ReWire with another of FunkNaughty’s favourite piece’s of software, Reason and how to record Audio.

In the recording Midi article, we used Ableton’s built in library of sounds, with our Oxygen 8 keyboard to start making our own sounds, rifts and chords.  Well essentially, ReWiring allows us to do exactly the same, only this time we’ll be using Reason’s library of sounds.

First up, you need to open Ableton, then Reason. It has to be in that order as the ReWiring is going from Ableton to Reason.

Next up, arm your Ableton Midi track, by pressing the button at the bottom of the Midi channel, so that it goes red.

Then go to Reason and select the Thor Synth.

Now back in Ableton, you can send Midi to Reason by selecting Reason in the Midi To section and by selecting Thor from the next drop down.

Next you need to be able to hear the instrument you’re playing, in Reason, back in Ableton.

To do this, you need to ensure that the Audio From drop down, is set to Reason and click on IN within the monitor section.

Now to record from Reason, you’ll need to arm your Ableton Audio track, you do this by selecting the record button at the bottom of the channel, so that it turns red, then click on the circle within one of the audio clips.

This will then create an audio file of the sounds you have been playing in Reason.

You could then drop this Audio file in to Sampler or Simpler, in Ableton, to manipulate the sound further, a topic we’ll be covering later on at FunkNaughty.com.

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Ableton Tutorial: “InKey Instrument Rack” Never hit a Bad Note Again!

Ableton tutorial for advanced users courtesy of music software training.

Ableton Tutorial: "InKey Instrument Rack" Never hit a Bad Note Again!

A great tutorial explaining how Ableton DJs can use midi loops whilst djing or playing live and keep them in key with the main track playing, even if the loops are a different key or speed.

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How to Succeed at Djing – Part 3. Get Involved In Your Local Scene

Article courtesy of Phil Morse at Digital DJ Tips

how to succeed at djing pt 3

In the last article, I spoke about how you have to play the popularity game in order to move up the ladder of DJing and get the more lucrative gigs. Part of the success of many local DJs who get a good start is the fact they were social butterflies. To illustrate what I mean, let me start with a story.

Back in the late 1990s, my hometown’s club scene (I’m from Chicago) began a large change that forever redefined it.

To read the rest of the article please go here

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