Putting things together
Last updated: Nov 12, 2019
I am an amateurish producer, to the point where even using that term is pushing it. So when how the night came asked me how I had put a track together, I had to actually think about it.
The track in question is Obsidian:
I do not go around pushing buttons, despite what it may sound. Still, I have not yet streamlined the process of getting a track ready to ship, and every track is different. In this particular case, there are a few moving parts:
- A generative patch running on an Organelle and feeding MIDI to…
- A patch running on an 0-COAST.
- A tape loop with a recording of the Organelle patch.
- Some live playing of reverb and delay pedals.
- Live mixing and feedback control for these.
- Analog to digital conversion.
I do not do any mixing in the DAW if I can avoid it, which is 99% of the time. It is also very satisfying to juggle the effects feedback. So there is a lot of fader pushing, both on the main mixer and in the 4-track recorder. I end up using the 4-track as an outboard mixer most times.
Back to the start, though. Once I was happy with the generative percussion, I recorded 5 seconds worth of it to a tape loop. This was then fed to the 4-track recorder, paused.
Before hitting start, I worked on the 0-COAST patch for a while, until I was confident it would behave well with the MIDI coming in, and knew what I could change live. This is a simple patch, making use of 2 LFOs and some audio rate modulation between the 2 envelopes.
Some time after getting things started, I bring the tape loop in, and fade out the real time percussion. At this point I could let it run, but it’s when I can have fun with the pedals and feedback. Not to mention fiddling with the drone coming out of the 0-COAST. Timing wise, I try to stay close to the golden ratio, but if I am in the zone and very much play live, that goes out the window. The track ends once the tape loop goes out, with the drone replaced by feedback.
I recorded the main mixer output to tape, which needs converting to digital. I do this with a trusty Sony Walkman and a Zoom H4n. I then process the stereo file with Audacity, to remove the high end of the tape hiss. I love tape hiss, but too much for too long can be quite tiring. I then do the mastering on Ableton Live.
All in all this took around 2 to 3 hours, what with a couple of false starts and whatnot. On top of that there was the initial sketching on the 0-COAST and Organelle. Considering I didn’t write down any music (those take a few days), it was quite a laborious one.
But that is the best I can do right now.