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Archive for October, 2007


Digging deeper: examining good music to discover techniques

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Cheesy stock imageHere at emusictips, I’m always on the lookout for fresh new electronic sounds. Artists such as Shulman, Bluetech (Evan Bartholomew), Kilowatts, Pitch Black, and Shen have piqued my interest because of the technical mastery evident in their sound. Here’s a short list of the things I think make their music great:

Conscious use of space: just like any good graphic designer will tell you, space is important. In design, space comes in the form of white space, which is one of the most important elements in creating aesthetic compositions. The same thing applies for music. Allow your listeners to breathe, so to speak. You give them space and they will appreciate it.

Conscious use of effects: One of my favorite things to add to any synth is a series of effects and processors that polish the sound and make it pop out of the track. Delays are great for filling in empty space that you’ve created between elements in the track. Try adding a 3/16th delay to any sound and then adjust the feedback to your liking. This will create a sound that repeats every third sixteenth note, and will gradually fade out. But do not overdo it! If you have a lot of feedback, only play a note every so often so that you can still retain that space that is so important. Also, if you’re going to add effects such as phasers, flangers, distortion, etc., make sure that not all of the instruments in your track are layered with these kinds of effects. The purpose should be to make a particular sound stand out from the rest to create contrast.

Automation: To keep me interested as a listener, you need to develop movement in your song. Movement requires changes along time. The best way to achieve this is to automate knobs and sliders in your software sequencer. When you’re tweaking knobs on a synth or sampler and you find that turning a certain knob sounds cool, hit record and then record those knob movements in real time. Go back over the song and repeat the process as necessary to create a multi-faceted track with lots of movement.

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Free Sound and Sampling Sites

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

I was recently contacted about some sample web sites and decided to put a little review of the best ones here.

SoundSnap.com has a nice collection of sounds categorized by large icons.
Pros:

  1. Built-in audio player with a picture of the waveform makes browsing through sounds quick and easy.
  2. No signup required
  3. User-contributed sounds
  4. Tag cloud with popular categories of sounds
  5. All samples free for use under license similar to Creative Commons
  6. MP3 and WAV formats

Cons:

  1. None that I can point out so far

Soundsnap.com screenshot

The Freesound Project has been a personal favorite of mine for a while now. It’s got loads of sounds, from high quality field recordings to synthesized ambient soundscapes, they cover the spectrum of sounds, and best of all, they’re all Creative Commons licensed.

Pros:

  1. Built-in audio player with a picture of the waveform makes browsing through sounds quick and easy.
  2. Geotagging capability
  3. User-contributed sounds
  4. Remix tree shows sounds that have been remixed by other users
  5. All samples free for use under Creative Commons
  6. Sample Packs offered for quick acquisition of multiple sounds

Cons:

  1. Free signup required
  2. Design is a little dated

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