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Beat slicing - has this reached the status of being a new 'instrument'?

Chopping up beats from pre-existing drum loops has long been a standard part of the production process. But can you be a Beat Slicer for a living?

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There's always a fight at Audio Masterclass Towers when the latest issue of Sound on Sound drops onto the mat. It's a great read and anyone who wants to keep in touch with musical technology would do well to invest in a subscription (disclaimer - no-one here works for Sound on Sound, although David Mellor has written many articles for them over the years).

There are some types of articles we find more interesting than others. We have a philosophy here that it is the mastery of the basic techniques of audio that will get results. There is so much complexity around, and more and more every month, that you have to consider whether a lot of time spent learning something complicated is going to pay dividends.

So we tend to skim over articles about anything complicated. Recording is essentially all about learning the basic processes, then attaining - inevitably over a long period of time - an artistic mastery of what those processes can achieve. Complexity is sometimes a necessary evil, but it most certainly is an evil if it gets in the way of the music.

So when we came to Geoff Smith's article on beat slicing in Logic 9, on page 174 of the March 2010 issue of Sound on Sound, instinct said, "turn the page."

But the article had some nice colorful graphics so some 'coffee time' was dedicated to giving it a thorough read.

And...

Well normally we recommend anyone who wants to experiment with beat slicing to do it the long way - by editing, rearranging, level setting and any of the other processes that a DAW can do as standard.

There isn't anything that can't be achieved in beat slicing by using standard DAW techniques, so why go to the trouble of learning potentially complex software aids to make the process possibly only a little faster?

But having read the article, it does seem that beat slicing aids do have a lot of potential for anyone willing to climb a potentially steep learning curve to get the hang of them all.

The advantage would be that if you can beat slice more quickly and efficiently, once the specialized tools are mastered, then you will be able to let your imagination and creativity flow more freely than if you were doing it the long way.

If you have never tried beat slicing, then you owe it to yourself to discover how much potential for creativity it has. And we consider that possibly it has so much potential that anyone who was really interested could consider becoming a specialized 'Beat Slicer', learning all of the significant beat slicing softwares, keeping up with developments and all-in-all becoming a master of the art.

So, we ask whether anyone is doing this already?

Is anyone out there in RP-Readerland already a professional Beat Slicer?

If so, please tell us your experiences...

By David Mellor Friday February 26, 2010
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