Archive for the ‘songs/tracks’ Category

Collaborating with Eddie Tadross Part 2

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Eddie and I finally finished writing and producing “As Long” as part of our three track project. The track ended up dark and moody in a cool cinematic way. We had an imaginary scene in mind while producing the track: a guy walking down a road while far behind him a city lay in ruins. Maybe a zombie apocalypse kind of thing. I’ve been seeing a lot of this kind of imagery in sci-fi/thriller/horror movie posters in the subway, specially ones using iconic New York City sites. I recently saw one showing a fallen Manhattan Bridge sitting on the bottom of a dried up East River. These ideas played into the feeling for this track.

The vocal production in “As Long” is interesting because the reverb and echo levels are constantly changing, almost word by word, for emphasis or embellishment. It’s something that you hear a lot these days in pop production, although in less extreme fashion. I also implemented a technique of using the main vocal to duck out the effects so that when the vocal is happening the effects are quiet but as soon as the vocal stops the effects jump to the foreground. This keeps the intelligibility of the words intact while filling the space between the vocal phrases with a deep ambience.

The track also has an interesting arrangement feature. The second chorus starts out with just vocals and mallets and then it slowly builds back up part by part with the guitar and bass being filtered in DJ mixer style.

“As Long”:

	

 

After re-listening to the three tracks I decided that maybe
“I Never Knew” was a little too clunky and too repetitive rhythmically and harmonically. We wrestled again with the issue of how minimal can a track be while still having enough material to carry the listener thru the end. Having listened to it so many times we were running the risk of having lost creative perspective. So we really considered the track carefully before deciding that it did make sense to revisit it.

I improvised some new chords on guitar over the verse and came up with better chord changes. Only some minor vocal melody tweaks were needed to fit the new chords. I also added electric bass guitar which rounded out the track sonically and allowed me to implement some more chord movement which was missing from the original choruses. Now in hindsight I see that the choruses were always a bit too long to stay in one place harmonically.

The last thing I added was reversed harmonic guitar notes on top of the mallets. The motivation being to make the mallets different from the ones in “As Long”.

Here’s the new version of “I Never Knew”:

	

 

Here’s the previous version:

	

 

Studio 54 minus the velvet rope: Sampling a faux 70′s disco recording.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Producing music based on pre-existing recordings can be inspiring and great fun. But it can also be legally complicated and expensive (look up the legal troubles of the Beastie Boys, Biz Markie, Negativland, MC Hammer, Notorious B.I.G., and The Verve to name a few). In order to sidestep the legal issues of sampling, one can produce homegrown faux recordings of songs/bands that never existed and use them as “samples” for producing new tracks.

On a collaboration with singer/recording artist Javier Bernard, a fictitious disco record was created to sample for the track “Situation”. It wasn’t necessary to create an entire track to sample, just a main section with some variations and instrumental breakouts. The main section contained string, guitar, and bass parts. Drums were not included in the fictitious sample so they wouldn’t conflict with the new track’s drums parts. This underscores a benefit of this technique: you can really control the material to fit what you are working on.

After the section was composed/programmed authentic EQ, compression, and effects were employed to achieve the correct sonic vibe. Check out the audio of the main “sampled” section and variations. Then hear how it was used in “Situation”.

the fake disco recordings:

	

as used in “Situation”:

	

Early 1900′s era bluegrass/country/swing gets a Hip-Hop treatment

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

“Remix America Megamix” expands on the production techniques discussed in the Peaceful Day June 24th post by further  processing and morphing various acoustic instruments to created material for a new piece. The original tracks were recorded/produced by composer Chris Hanson for VideoHelper’s ScoreHelper series.  These early 1900′s era bluegrass/country/swing style recordings include guitars, fiddle, harmonica, and clarinet parts that offer lots of possibilities for re-mixing/re-contextualizing.

The instruments were processed/combined/morphed/edited and then individual phrases/riffs were cut up and loaded onto a software sampler. Parts were programmed against a mid-tempo Hip-Hop instrumental track.  Right at the top of the piece you can hear an example of the processing/morphing of guitar and fiddle. Another example can be heard at :32 where a phrase starts as a clarinet and ends with a harmonica.

	

It’s great to hear the music when it’s set to picture by a talented filmmaker/editor. Alex Luster (www.shooteditsleep.com), aka PR!MO, a documentary filmmaker, Promax/BDA & Emmy award winning television producer based in Houston, Texas used this track in a short film he made called “Hope Mural”. It’s about Texas area street artists painting a 15′ Obama mural designed by Shepard Fairey (ObeyGiant).

	

Here’s another short film by Alex called “Graffiti Proposal” that uses a track of mine called “Love Letter For You”.

	

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Thanks Alex and great work.

Peaceful Day and Guitar Sampling

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Peaceful Day is a breezy summer Brazilian electro/hip-hop inspired track featuring the talented Elin (www.elinmusic.com) on vocals. The acoustic guitar part employs a sampling production technique which I use quite often.  I record myself improvising and then I edit short sections or phrases out of the longer jam and transfer those to the EXSampler in Logic. Then I play around on a MIDI keyboard, triggering the samples to come up with interesting musical passages/patterns. It’s a typical Hip-Hop technique which goes well with the track’s Hip-Hop beat programing.

	

Beyond Ipanema announced as Official Selection at the SXSW Film Festival 2010

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Beyond Ipanema: Brazilian Waves in Global Music is a feature documentary that delves into the fascinating topic of the impact of Brazilian music and culture around the globe.  From Carmen Miranda in the 1930′s to present day Baile Funk, the world has always embraced and been influenced by Brazil’s music.  The documentary stars David Byrne, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Devendra Banhart, M.I.A., Thievery Corporation, CSS, Seu Jorge, Tom Ze, and Bebel Gilberto.

The film premiered at MoMa in New York City in 2009 and was an official selection of the Rio International Film Festival, the Chicago International Film Festival, and the AFI Latin American Film Fest in Washington D.C. It has travelled the world to many other festivals screenings including New Zealand, Spain, Germany, and Argentina.  Now it has been announced that the movie will also be an Official Selection of the SXSW Film Festival 2010.

I had the pleasure of working with producers/directors Guto Barra and Béco Dranoff on this project and wrote six tracks especially for the film and licensed two pre-existing tracks.

“Sol No Mar” was written for the scene where Milton Nascimento is commenting on how the film Black Orpheus first introduced Bossa Nova music to the world in 1959:

	

“Tamborim” was written for the scene where David Byrne is talking about Brazilian music and its influence on his work: