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How I Did It

Burning The Micro Waves
by spinmeister
Recommends (16)
Sun, Jul 31, 2016 @ 11:09 PM

Uses samples from:

Samples are used in:


Tools I Used

My technolgy stack for this project included a guitar, a keyboard controller and otherwise only my music computer and a bunch of software:

DAW: Cubase Pro 8.5

Guitar Amplifier, stomp boxes and rack FX: NI Guitar Rig 5

Drum Kits and Machines:
- Spectrasonics Stylus RMX,
- PluginGuru MegaMacho Drums (a soundset for NI Kontakt 5),
- Izotope Breaktweaker

Bass: Spectrasonics Trillian

Synths / Keys: Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 (with some patches by PluginGuru), Steinberg Padshop Pro

Guitar: PRS 513 configured in single coil mode using the bridge pickup

Samples I Used

Took 3 portions from each of 4 of the Blue Wave Theory tracks, representing the main chording guitar, 2 drums (Kick, Snare) and bass parts for each of the 3 different chord progressions, thus ending up with 12 multi-bar parts/samples of the original Blue Wave Theory song.

Original Samples

Additional synth parts:

Added some jazzy synth backing chords using 3 different synth sounds to follow the main original guitar chords and a few melody lines repeated with different sounds from dreamy piano to a slightly Keith Emerson reminiscent mono synth lead.

Additional guitar parts:

Just me noodling on a real guitar - albeit through a software amp and fx stack.

Additional Drum parts:

A straight 2x2 beat for the heavy drums and a few percussive slightly glitchy electronica loops.


Mangling of Blue Wave Theory Guitar Parts

For these parts, I time stretched/compressed each note/strum into a fixed grid of 8th notes at a fixed tempo.

The resulting repeated/looped guitar samples then were run through a software guitar amplifier and effects stack, with a highly customized set of effects and amplifier settings to create a more dreamy ambience while maintaining the driving rhythmic quality of the track.

Mangling of Blue Wave Theory Drum Parts

Here I performed a "drum replacement" process to end up with midi sections of kick and snare, created from the audio tracks, and also adjusted the timing of each hit to fit the fixed tempo, some of it by quantizing, some of the hits moved manually to their corresponding place in a fixed tempo grid. Side note: The original hi-hat track had a lot of relatively straight 8ths in the sections I wanted to use, so I just created a straight 8ths midi hi-hat track from scratch.

Then I used the resulting midi drums to drive two different software drum kits: A gentler electronic drum kit I custom programmed, and a ready made heavy drum kit.

Mangling of Blue Wave Theory Bass parts

Here, I first performed a monophonic audio to midi conversion, and again adjusted the timing of each note to fit the fixed tempo similarly to what I had done to the drum parts.

Then I ran the resulting midi track into a a software synth using a sampled Marcus Miller inspired compressed and chorussed deep bass sound (it's actually too low for tiny speakers in mobile devices, but sounds rather fat on decent headphones and speakers), and for a second track driving a Jean Michel Jarre inspired arpeggio synth bass.

Arrangement choices

To begin, I shortened the opening of the original arrangement which has a very interesting but uneven time signature (kind of feels like alternating 6/8 and 5/4 signatures). Interestingly enough that adds up to the same time as two 4/4 bars repeating. But as I was running very late towards the deadline of the remix event, and it would be more of challenge to create additional parts around that unusual time signature. I decided to keep that section very brief - as a short intro rather than a longer mini-movement.

For the main 8 bar chord progression, I decided on a "build" and "subside" type of flow to the piece with the crescendo about three quarters of the way through the song.

Other Notes

Ended up simplifying my original idea by a lot, because

a) The given sample pack, seemed to be a raw export of the original studio project including (partially?) discarded takes, which would have required quite a lot more time to sort through.

b) The original recording was live without click-track, so in order to add structured midi and arpeggiated tracks, and moving parts of tracks around would have taken a lot more time, because I'd have to first tempo map the entire song (which I actually did), but then convert pretty much every track to sliced samples, which I ended up doing for just the small selected subset.

c) The opening odd time signature of the original is super cool and was intriguing to dissect, but also more challenging to fit into a more midi, looped, dancable approach, so I shortened that.

Technical side note: The original pack was also very challenging to work with, because the FLAC filenames get auto assigned by the ccMixter software and I had to rename each of those tracks manually after downloading using the file description as a guide. This is a big time investment when there are a lot of FLAC files. This is where the ccMixter file size upload limit, large FLAC files, the way the ccMixter upload renames files and not having a simple multi-file up or download make things a lot more time demanding work-flow for both uploaders and downloaders.

Thus for larger sample sets, zipped mp3 files are a lot less work for uploaders and downloaders than large FLAC files.