Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

The place for musicians to share their knowledge and ideas about music and remixing, and to post WIP snippets and feedback. Also suggest tunes for remixing, here.
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Mordi
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Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mordi » 07/03/2016 - 18:54

Human Race - Subtune 4
Project diary

Image
Here's the original SID, composed by Rob Hubbard:
Here's a picture of my little basement studio (back when it wasn't cluttered with stuff, and before I built my desktop PC). I use a StudioLive 16.0.2 as an interface into my DAW, which is Reaper.

Intro
I wanted to find something that I could add some vocal elements to, since Lea (the missus') was up for it. Usually, I start by converting the individual channels of the .sid into .wav files, but in this case the tune was simple enough that I went by ear. It doesn't even have chords. Just bass, snare and leads. I started the project on saturday night.

Step 1
I started by figuring out the chords. I decided to go with four-note chords, as I feel like that gives it a more somber feel - as opposed to regular triads. I went with hi and low strings and a slight brass bass. I used Albion One for this.
I then added a rhytmic element using a nice bass sound using Zebra 2. The preset is called "Gloom guitar+". I found it here. It's played in a bo-diddley beat.

Here's what the project looked like at this point:
http://i.imgur.com/9uVG8uE.png

Step 2
I have a thing for palm-muted funk guitars, so I added that. :arr: I also played around with playing some higher note chords on the electric guitar. I felt these takes turned out kind of iffy at the time. I believe this is how the tune was left on saturday night. The guitar I used is an Epiphone Les Paul, going through a Boss GT-001. I used a slightly edited version of its' "Retro Funk" preset.

Step 3
Now it's Sunday, and for some reason I felt like the guitars sounded better than the night before. I made a little intro out of it and added some FX to it (A self-programmed preset called "TechnoDrips #3" in Zebra 2). Now I've got a little arrangement going. I added some "chugga chugg", which always works for beefing up the sound.

I decided to go with a 80's type of sound at this point. For some reason it always seems to end up in the 80's. The drum sounds are mostly from the Korg M1 keyboard. I don't actually have the keyboard, but I have its' drum samples in .wav form. To make it as 80's as possible, I added that typical pre-delayed, slap-back-ish reverb. Makes it sound like it's in a concrete room, or in Phil Collins' basement. The shaker is actually a patch I programmed using Zebra 2, and its' noise-modules - using the arpeggiator as a sequencer. Works really well as a background shaker, I find.

I also recorded some bass guitar, to fill out the low-end of the bass part. Zebra 2 takes care of the high end, the "chugga chugg" distorted palm-muted guitars take care of the mids, and the bass guitar handles sub-bass. This makes for a really thick sound, especially added on top of the strings and brass. I used a Yamaha TRBX304, just going cleanly through the Boss GT-001.

Step 4
I added the worst guitar solo ever to the intro part, and we recorded Lea singing into a Røde NT-1. I did the arrangement. The first part of the vocal arrangement was later scrapped. At this point there's no EQ or FX on the vocals, and the takes haven't been pitch-edited. In the second lead part I had her sing "bap bap".

Step 5
I was playing around with the acoustic guitar when I recorded the intro part, which was not intended to be put in the final mix. :P
A saturator/distortion plugin was added to the drums. This makes them more "in your face" and they sound louder. I used the "Warm Tape" option in FabFilter Saturn for this. I also added/changed some of the samples used.
I recorded a lead-guitar version of that recognizable lead-part of the tune. That was a no-brainer. I added a plucky synth sound to the second lead part, on which the vocals are meant to fit. I think the "baps" and the synth blend nicely together.
I added some acoustic guitar in the background, but I could never get it sound quite right. I might have to re-record that.

Step 6
Added some effects to the intro part. Some of them include myself closing a door, banging inside a tumble-dryer and Lea pouring a glass of soda. I'm not sure if I'll keep the soda-FX, as it might seem a bit out of place. :P
I added some compression and volume to the master track, so the song is a bit louder than before.
I discovered that by adding even more reverb to the drums, it sounded even more 80's. Who knew? :duh: Now it's really starting to sound like 1986 to me.

Step 7
Made some changes to the arrangement. Made it longer. Scrapped one of the vocal parts (I'll need to think of another vocal arrangement). I have the original SID in there to spark some inspiration for what to add next.

Here's how the project looks at this point: http://i.imgur.com/PP1fLli.png

Step 8
A bunch of changes. Added some more acoustic guitar. Changed the intro and added some bits here and there.

Step 9
I changed the intro again. Tried to bring in the rhythm of the main section to make the transition less jarring, and added some strings. Added a saw-pad to the main sections. Recorded the middle lead part using acoustic guitar, and changed one chord - it seems to fit better with the melody. The SID doesn't actually have chords in it, so they are only implied.
Last edited by Mordi on 22/06/2016 - 22:31, edited 2 times in total.
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Dumper
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Dumper » 09/03/2016 - 10:06

Love the step by step previews Mordi, a really interesting read. Sounds damn good, too.

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Doddsy » 09/03/2016 - 12:07

Cool sound Mordi and like the step by step development previews. Have to say I'm not entirely convinced about the lead guitar though. It sounds slightly out of tune in places but maybe that's just my ears. Have you thought about patching a zebra 2 lead through a distortion fx with reverb/delay?

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mordi » 09/03/2016 - 17:49

Doddsy wrote:Cool sound Mordi and like the step by step development previews. Have to say I'm not entirely convinced about the lead guitar though. It sounds slightly out of tune in places but maybe that's just my ears. Have you thought about patching a zebra 2 lead through a distortion fx with reverb/delay?
Thanks. I just did a test of the guitar lead (http://i.imgur.com/hX60RlP.gifv). It seems to be mostly in tune. I actually adjusted the intonation just before recording, which has been a problem before. It's not quite perfect, but I don't want to tune it with melodyne unless it's necessary. Zebra 2 actually has a distortion component built in, but I haven't messed much with it.
Dumper wrote:Love the step by step previews Mordi, a really interesting read. Sounds damn good, too.
Thanks, Dumper.
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mano- » 11/03/2016 - 16:00

And nice studio btw. Now days I only use virtual instruments. I had a old Pearl drumset 5-7 years ago but it took up too much space :D

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mordi » 19/06/2016 - 22:50

Mano- wrote:And nice studio btw. Now days I only use virtual instruments. I had a old Pearl drumset 5-7 years ago but it took up too much space :D
Thanks!

I put a new version in the OP as "Step 8".
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Chris Abbott » 20/06/2016 - 8:29

This would have been great on the original Remix64 project... not sure about that acoustic guitar though...
Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by o2 » 20/06/2016 - 9:01

Interesting Reading Mordi :)
All ET's arent nice!!

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by empee » 24/06/2016 - 12:57

Hi Mordi,
Thanks to your step by step description I can see the hard work and decisions behind the process.

First, I feel, that you are getting further away from the original (less chiptune, more 80's) but that's the path you chose and it's allright.
The tune is really lovely. I have some ideas though.
- The blending of the "baps" sounds to me a little peaky (pointy, loud in one tiny moment). I would prefer softening the synth at its peak, so the voice is heard in front of it, and there's no ear-disturbing moment.
- Then, did you consider adding an opera singer voice in the background?
The right time would be, when there were enough baps, so it looks like the opera singer comes to help Lea :)
- And a little one. I like, when there's some spoiler of the main melody somewhere during the first half. Something like: "listen, this beautiful part is coming soon". I mean, maybe use two rectangles of the bap sound (soft without synth) and then stop it. It will come in the full force in the second half.

I hope I wrote it so, that it's understandable.
And please, take it as "target-shooting of a blind man", I never made anything and this already is a beautiful piece.

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Mordi
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mordi » 25/06/2016 - 23:49

Thanks for the feedback empee.

- I tuned the synth on the baps bit. I didn't notice that until I turned down the volume to a very low level. That's when you notice what sticks out in the mix. It was a bit loud, thanks for pointing that out.
- There is actually an operatic voice following the main lead in the second "chorus" part. It's quite hidden by the guitar, but adds a nice backdrop for it.
- I like the idea you are proposing, but I feel like the arrangement is good enough as is, for now.
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by LMan » 09/08/2016 - 12:58

Waaaaaaaay cool!!
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by LMan » 09/08/2016 - 13:28

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by dr j » 10/08/2016 - 20:56

Hey Mordi , first of all your step #9 work is simply amazing...top notch work!! i don't have really remarks, further more
i am totally a newcommer here and in music composing either , and you are top league but still i have some a little bit advice/a "nice to have" tip. i think the usage of the "metal" guitar is a bit rough for the sheild of the cover , i would go to a soft synth like Lush or Zebra 2 strings. they have light/soft strings which may fit better than the "metal" guitar which for me a bit spoil the gentle care you made previous to 1:10 . the introduction is a blast and soft ,
but later its going to "rough" path. is that what you are heading? if so - you got my voice and its a total blast!. if you can check up
other alternative with a soft leading like e.g. Lush 101/ Zebra 2 strings , its could be even cooler to my humble opinion.

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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by LMan » 22/10/2017 - 7:29

Would it be asking too much to make another ambient / chillout version of this? Basically just strip the drum section hehe (the first steps you posted is the directionI had in mind).
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Re: Human Race (subtune 4) [project diary]

Post by Mordi » 27/10/2017 - 19:54

LMan wrote:
<span class="hotdate" style="color:#888;">22/10/2017 - 7:29</span>
Would it be asking too much to make another ambient / chillout version of this? Basically just strip the drum section hehe (the first steps you posted is the directionI had in mind).
That would be cool, but I do not want to devote time to doing that right now unfortunately. :P
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