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Creativity Competition - Second Place

A post by David Mellor
Monday May 01, 2006
Every competition needs a winner, but sometimes its a matter of opinion whether the second place contestant should really have come out top. Listen to this track, see what you think...
Creativity Competition - Second Place

Second place in the Audio Masterclass Creativity Competition is taken by Blair Joscelyne. You can hear Blair's track here...


Here's how the track was made...

Blair Joscelyne - "When I was composing this track, the first part of the process was giving myself a time limit to keep it (and myself) under control. I allowed an hour to get the sounds made and the track down. Sometimes the most important part of the process is the pre-production - have a good game plan of what needs to be achieved before you start. This is the ethic that use while producing music for other people which is my full-time job. There is some brief info about me at the end of the text.

"During this explanation I hope to give some detailed information, as well as some tasty tricks to try yourself!

"I decided that I wanted to showcase the sounds close to their raw form, and then have a contrasting section showing how these sounds could be used for something more interesting. I wanted it to be obvious the these sounds were the original source - I think it would have been easy to really make something that sounded nothing like the original files but I wanted them to be referenced in a way that was aurally comprehensible.

"I knew that I would start out the piece with something mellow and emotive, before moving into something a little more nasty, and then a return to the niceness for a simple A-B-A structure.

"As a composer I normally prefer to get into depth in relation to the music and programming but today I'll talk about the more technical side of creating the track. Probably due to listening to David's track and being influenced by his way of doing things, I decided that I would go a bit more old school also. I used hardware for everything except for laying the final tracks to encode into MP3's."

Equipment used:

  • Yamaha QS300 Synth/Workstation (which I use as a hardware sequencer)
  • AKAI S3000XL Sampler
  • Moog MS20 Modular Synthesizer (used as a filter bank rather than a sound source)
  • Mackie D8B 72 Channel Mixing Desk
  • Lexicon 'ALEX' Reverb Unit
  • Lexicon 'Reflex' Multi FX unit
  • Behringer V-AMP Pro (Guitar Amp Simulator)
  • Pro Tools for tracking (no plug ins - just to track sounds and then encode MP3)
  • Genelec Monitors

"The beginning of the track starts with the raw sine file just put into the sampler. If you pan hard left and listen to the opening of the track you'll hear it is just the sine tone played as chords. No tricks here - just a keymapped sine tone.

"To fatten things up a bit the same file is triggered to play on the same midi channel but it is panned to the right and has resonance added and an LFO controlling a slow sweep. This gives a nice wide spread and enough difference in sound to create a lush sounding pad.

"Hall Reverb added from the Lexicon ALEX and some beat matched delay is added from the REFLEX. Pad is tracked with all FX on it and complete, apart from some volume mutes which are mentioned later.

"Drums were also very simple in their sound design. Starting with the white noise I played a small portion of the file into the sampler and re-tuned and EQ'd to make the kick drum sound, snare sound and hi hat sound.

"Kick Drum sound was tuned down about 2 octaves and cranked with shelving EQ at 80hz by about 12db. Hat sound was tuned up and then had a hi-pass filter on it so as to not allow anything under around 3K get through. Snare was somewhere in the middle and was played out of the sampler on a different channel so it could be processed with some reverb.

"The drum beat was played into the sequencer by hand and then quantized If you listen carefully you will hear that there are actually 2 drums beat sounds playing together. At 0:19 you hear the basic drum sounds as described - but it has been slammed with the limiters on the desk and been severely filtered with EQ.

"This drum sound stops abruptly with a time-stretched snare (0:23) and the second drum sound comes in which is the same programming but they are going through the distortion pedal, delay added and panned left. This distortion was EQ'd to accentuate the snare and you hear at 0:10 that it gives the snare a real musical feel.

"One of my favorite tricks and I urge you all to try it if you haven't before, it to use your desk as an amazing instrument, and you can do this in a very musical way.

"With these drums, once they were programmed, I fed them through the desk into the computer. BUT, I did NOT mute the channels on the computer that were recording and I brought this return back up on 2 more channels on the desk. In this way, when the computer return faders are down, all the computer is recording is the sound you are sending it from the original source. As soon as you raise the computer return faders, a feedback loop is created which you can control in a very precise manner with the faders, as well as the EQ. By sweeping desk EQ and bringing the faders up and down you control what frequency the feedback it and how loud it is. I have used this simple and quick trick in numerous remixes and commercials for a sound that you could never achieve with a box or plug-in. Things get even more interesting when the computer return faders have FX units hanging off their aux sends. Then you can start playing the feedback through the FX and if set the FX pre-fader then even when the faders are down, if you are using a delay, the feedback delay with continue to fade once the faders are down giving a nice transition.

"I used this in a very, very subtle way on the drum sounds and it most notable on the hi-hats. (listen from 0:32 - 0:38) It's hardly noticeable but let me know if you'd like a more extreme example from a piece of commercially released music and I'll ask David to post it up.

"Halfway through the track (just before the drum 'solo' at 0:17) the pad is played percussive with the beat. As the attack was slow on the sampler for the pad, and the release was long, this had to be done on the desk by punching the 'mute' buttons as the Pad channel was recording into 'Tools. This gives a nice little syncopated feel.

"I used the white noise file as a replacement for cymbals. This sound was also kept raw and just filter swept through the filters on the Akai Sampler.

"The bass is nothing but the sine file mapped out on the sampler.

"The main distorted lead line was the sine file in the sampler that was used for the pad. It was fed into the external input on the old MS20 and I used the filters to crunch it slightly, before sending it through the distortion with some delay. It makes up the melody and the distortion helps give it a range of colors not present in the original file.

"This same sound was then held on with the sustain pedal with my foot as I fed it into the MS20 again and made a variety of moves on the filters to get some interesting sounds recording into the sampler. The extreme kick drum sound at 0:09 was made in this way as where all of the analogue style blips at the end of the piece that start at 0:48. These were created by assigning the LFO to pitch and then playing with the LFO speed to get the variety in sounds.

"Any more details or questions please feel free to contact me."



Blair Joscelyne is a composer, producer and engineer. He works for GASinc in Sydney, Australia who are one of Australia's largest audio post production and music composition companies, with studios all over the country. www.gasinc.com.au

His original music has been used by companies such as BMW, Subaru, L’Oreal, American Express, Loveable, Discovery and Microsoft.

He also produces albums and collaborates with artists from all areas of the arts. With his various band projects, and remixes there are currently approximately 90,000 CDs in print containing his original music.

His training was completed at the School of Contemporary Arts (UWS) where he gained his Music degree with a double major in Composition and Music Technology. He then went on to secure his Honors Degree in Music Composition.

Blair teaches composition and music technology at The Macdonald College Performing Arts and is the recipient of the Rotary 'Pride of Workmanship' award and the 'Centurion Excellence in the Arts in the Field of Music'. He is a regular speaker at colleges and universities and enjoys the japanese art of ninjutsu.

At 27 years of age, Blair is currently making an album called '1978' (his year of birth) using only instruments that were made in that year. Blair has a number of instruments he is using, though most notable is a 78 Fender Rhodes, a Korg MS20, a '78 Strat and a German Melodica.

Your comments on this track please...

A post by David Mellor
Monday May 01, 2006 ARCHIVE
David Mellor has been creating music and recording in professional and home studios for more than 30 years. This website is all about learning how to improve and have more fun with music and recording. If you enjoy creating music and recording it, then you're definitely in the right place :-)