Monday, 31 March 2014

Twisting and Mangling or even resampling

In terms of reverb processing, this was applied within the Reaper DAW and also in Pro Tools. Reaper hosts vst plug ins and some of these proved useful when applied to the loops.

 Togu Audio Line is a company which has emerged onto the vst plug in market in recent years, providing good quality reverb and delay plug ins in particular. At the initial loop creation stage within Reaper, the TAL 2 reverb would be inserted as an effect on the audio channel containing the main snare hit. The idea behind this, was to recreate the similar effect to those found on many dub reggae and modern dub step productions where the snare is heavily emphasized with reverb and echo effects.

 Many of the influences and research done on the production techniques of those influences would inform the majority of processing tasks that would be undertaken throughout the project. To achieve the desired settings to create this sound, some trial and error was used to get the trail of the reverb correct within the context of the loop.

Tal Reverb2 freeware vst plug in


The TAL 2 reverb, is capable of producing extreme reverb effects as well as subtle processing with a good deal of variation in terms of controlling frequencies and a fairly unique function where there is both a dry and wet control allowing for more control over the blend between the wet and dry signals.

 For the processing on the snare hit, the higher frequencies were allowed to pass through and the wet signal was set to allow the transient of the original through with a long, delayed reverb tail sitting under the main sound. Once the loop was repeating smoothly, including the reverb on the snare, the loop would be rendered as a WAV file, named and saved to the appropriate folder.

 This type of process would be repeated continually throughout the beat creation process so the naming of individual WAV files and naming of folders was also a constant process at this point, taking care to make sure that there was order and organization as the library started to build up. Vst and RTAS plug ins would be central to the majority of processing tasks and the RTAS plug ins used in Pro Tools would be used to further sculpt and change sounds in the more extreme sound processing tasks.

 The AIR reverb in Pro Tools was also effective in adding character to some of the loops that had been created in Reaper and imported into the Pro Tools session as an audio WAV file. The AIR reverb plug in is versatile and particularly effective at simulating long reverb times with options to expand the stereo width, frequency cut offs and length of delay time and room size.

 Within Pro Tools, there is the option to directly insert the plug in on the audio channel to be affected or to set up an auxiliary send where the amount of effect that is sent to the audio channel can be carefully controlled via the auxiliary send buss. Both of these techniques would be used where appropriate.

 For processing drum loops, the technique would involve setting up the auxiliary channel in order to offer more control between the wet and dry signals so as not to obliterate the original drum loop with too much reverb, creating a fairly unusable loop. In general terms, the reverb processing performed using the AIR reverb would be more subtle and the intention was to enhance the overall drum loop rather than completely changing the sound.

Air reverb plug in in Pro Tools used to process many of the chords and pad sounds

BPM and Tempo Setting in Ableton Live

As mentioned in the review, Ableton Live is at the forefront of modern sampling technology. Ableton was utilized within the project for testing the effectiveness of the samples and the manner in which they looped and also in changing the tempo settings of the loops that had been created for the project.

Many of the original beats were created within Reaper where the BPMs could usually range from 120 BPM to 100/90 BPM. Restricting the folder to just two or three BPM ranges would be limiting in appeal, so the intention was to audition each rhythmic loop and determine how the loop translated in effectiveness from 60 BPM up to 140 BPM.

 Ableton’s main strength is the flexibility of the software where samples can be dropped into the main session window, integrated with other samples and played. This is useful for creating musical ideas, playing samples together to determine how they fit together and creating new ideas for song material.

 For the purposes of the project, my intention was to alter the BPM values for the rhythmic samples in an attempt to ascertain which beats translated to the lower BPM tempos and which loops would be better suited to a higher BPM tempo. The process in this case was straightforward and involved importing the rhythmic loops already created for the library, into the Ableton session window where each sample is viewed as a clip.

A typical Ableton session page view from the project

The advantage of Ableton, is its ability to adjust the tempo of a loop in real time by adjusting the tempo value in the top left hand corner of the screen.

This immediately allows the user to set a tempo that works for the loop and can then be rendered as a WAV file at the set tempo. The advantage of this process is the license that the software gives the user to quickly audition samples, change tempos in real time and arrange samples together, creating new files quickly with immediate results.

 Ableton made the process of setting BPM values to the individual loops simple and also helped to highlight the tempos where some loops weren’t as effective. Ableton was also useful in combining 2 or 3 of the rhythmic loops together; creating new combinations of beats which would then be exported as separate WAV files with a specific BPM value.

 One of the intentions of the sample library is for it to be used in software such as Ableton where producers have quick access to the library WAV files and be able to import them into the software. By testing the project in Ableton, adjusting the loop tempos and combining beats together in the software, I gained confidence that the material from the library would be suitable for producers to use within any software or DAW platform.

Processing and Harmonics

Time domain processing was used extensively throughout the project on most of the harmonic material, including basic pads and the chords created from those pads.

 Many of the basic pads and chords created from those pads would be exported into the structure free sampler within Pro Tools, connected to a keyboard Midi controller and played through an instrument track. The original intent for this system of working was to test how much of the harmonic material would play on a sampler instrument, particularly when transposed down or up a number of keys from the original C3 note.

Some interesting sounds would occur when some of the harmonic sounds were taken out with their original pitch and played an octave further up or down.

 Playing these sounds in conjunction with using the AIR reverb plug in took the original sound files into a different area and helped to add a quality to the sounds which would adhere to the original aesthetic of the sounds I intended to create for the library.

The AIR reverb plug in was effective on slowly evolving chords and at this point, I created a click track at 80 Bpm and physically played some chord progressions that I would record as audio and later export as WAV files for the folder.

 These WAV files would be recorded as audio and stored within the sample library as WAV files, chord progressions. Within the library, the pad and chord sounds that were processed and unprocessed, were all kept within separate folders , giving the user a choice between the types of sounds that they might use and allowing the user to apply their own processing to the unprocessed sounds.

Further Processing

Many of the conventional processing plug ins such as compressors, EQs and reverbs were used throughout most of the project but there were various other more unusual processors which were capable of twisting existing sounds into completely new sounds with completely different results from the original sound. One particular type of processor that was effective in this type of processing was the glitch program by D blue. This is a vst plug in which would be inserted into an audio channel in Reaper and would affect the audio on the channel.

D Blue glitch a freeware glitch processor

The plug in works in  a similar way to a step sequencer where an audio track can be split into 32 individual steps but each step can have a separate effect applied to it, including delays, reverse, bit crusher and saturation. This created some random sequences which bore little or no relation to the audio being input into the plug in and produced some interesting results when the sequences were looped.

The next post will wrap up this blog with an overview of the Domestic Elements sample packs and a look at marketing and packaging them.

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