Get Your Own Sound Signature
Written by Tekinovah
Nowadays requested skills for an electronic musician are a bit overwhelming. Designing your own sounds (Sound Synthesis) gives the opportunity to get our own sound signature. It helps a lot for the Mixing if you design « in the context » (meaning compared to the other tracks) it’s position better the sounds in the spectrum.
As far as i can say, it represent a certain amount of time to invest to understand Sound Synthesis. Because there’s not one type of Synthesis and it’s grow up with the progress made in this field other the years. The clever ones who have a teacher will make a tremendous time saving because the teacher will know regarding the music genre what’s type of sound synthesis works the best.
Now it depends also how you value « your own music ». We’re in an Era of impatience, time is money and all people wants to reach their goals as fast as possible. Time flies and we all know that ! That’s why people tend to use soundbanks, expansions of presets design by sound-designers and also in the sample area : collection of samples.
In my own regard in term of valuing my music i develop a strategy in that matter.
I heard so many stories regarding copyright with sampling in this decade and decided we’re not in the sampling era anymore. Expecially with recent copyright infringment algorythm who detect anything in use. Then, i’m not a huge fan of taking primary or very important parts. If i have not the feeling to be the creator of my primary parts i feel more to make a dj work instead a producer work (without critizing the dj work, because i’m a dj too).
So what’s my strategy regarding the use of 3rd parties material, it’s really simple. I try to not use more than 30% of 3rd parties presets or samples for each track. 70% is from me (heavily rely on drum programming, chord progressions, sound synthesis and experiment, but it’s not a course here) and i feel comfortable with that ratio (more or less in the numbers of course).
I remember one time, i found a loop and i really like it but there’s too much inside it. I manage to build the beat to suit the loop but i remember if i mute the loop, there’s no longer a track i have. So i let the idea goes. Even if i really like the basic idea of it.
When you establish your own main parts and the 3rd parties elements are secondary it’s easier to get comfortable with it, depending how you value your music and what you really make inside of it by yourself. I must admit there’s a part of subjectivity here. But buying collection of samples, presets, midifiles and only arrange it in a daw, it sounds like playing a puzzle game to me. And as music is important to me i don’t like this idea, i feel that i have to produce something from my heart, at least this 70% i’m talking about.
I’m perfectly comfortable with one-shots and sampler program. As it’s sounds like to me as a Drum Machine or a Synth we’ve just custom to suit our taste.
But with Loops, it’s another thing. I tend to not use Bass line, Synth parts, Chord Progressions except for inspiration. From that perspective i can recreate it and made adjustments to it. But quite franckly it’s very rare i go that way.
Also, the loops if not delivered with variations lock you up. Stuck in the loop syndrome! remember? that’s part of it …
I really like therefore when Loops are related to groove we can inject in our music. Let’s say you’re not good at rhythm and you can’t pay a instrumentist to play percussions you have in mind, here i think, sample collections are a great opportunity to add value to your music.
Voices can work too the same way, but it’s very hard to find something you like. Something not too cheesy ! i would say. So if you know a soul woman singers or a man with a a super duper dark voice, prefer this road really and record them. You will not regret it, and your tune will be very personnal trust me. Because that’s also a cons when it comes to sample collection, if you can buy it : everyone can !
Coming back to the main topicSound Synthesis can help to modify Sample collection and to make more your own. Don’t forget processing ! Like vocoder on a beat, Granular or Spectral synthesis to experiment and take 3rd parties sample materials to a next level. Then there’s no shame at all as it’s unrecognizable and it’s completely became your own results.
Try to find little gems like TC-11 on iPad or Borderland Granular and record the results for further processing… don’t forget to use it for what’s it’s design first : touch controls and playing
As a VST to me the one who’s the most close to Borderland Granular is The Mangler but there’s quite a few capable as well…
Extract Stems from the only Loop you haveTechnology made great progress also in the stems separation. Today there’s tools to take a loop and decompose it in frequencies with very advanced algorhythm. You end up, with some efforts, with 3, 4, 5 or 6 extractions by nature and you can choose to not use all, or processed it independently. You can really end up with something very personal.
It will also help in the arrangement - building of the track, as it’s another cons of Sample Collections. When you don’t have separated tracks and want to use a loop wich reprensented a Beat and a Texture together for example. What you can do with it in terms of arrangement, except with some advanced sample techniques like slicing, converting as midi, you will not be able to get out this part if it suck the listener mind. Because when you drop it, the track seem to fall and it miss something…
Accusonus Regroover Pro, is for me a tool that i can not live without it. It’s not usually works regarding what you have in mind. But depending on your goals and experiments, you can succeed or find new interesting parts. Like weird things or textures, and of course you can processed it further by experimenting with other VST effects.
Fast Processing and Experiments
By choosing the good tools you can save time !There’s way to get satisfying results with some clever VST effects. Pay attention, therefore it can be time consuming as you don’t know what’s you’re looking for as an end results. But throwing things through some Effects Processors can give you interesting results or even better inspire you something precise !
I remember a very nice plugin from Native Instruments, nope it’s not Reaktor ! It’s Kore 2 ! They sale expansions with it and their attempts with Processing packs was very top notch. Speaking about Kore Sounds « Deep Transformations », « Deep Freq » and « Deep Reconstructions ». Throw one shots through it or loops and sometimes you will end up with something unrecognizable, usable or better very inspiring.
Another interesting things from Kore 2 was the possibility to build multi-sounds. Of course, that’s not new at all, in fact, in a lot of hardware synths you have multi. It tend to be forgot by musicians but if i may advise on this topic don’t ! It’s very nice to build you own pads, soundscapes or texture to mimic that technique. It’s in fact Layering so when you heard someone speaking about Layering Sound-Design it’s part of it. As well as for Drum Synthesis, drum layering another interesting to end up with your own personal drums.
Chance parameters and Conditions, if harnessed ...Can be a very nice way to get variations, to make things more organic. PolyRhythm, Fugue machine - there's a lot of tools you can use on software (chance %) or hardware (Trig Conditions on our beloved Elektron devices)
Unfiltered AudioThey make great things too** with **Byome** and the even better **Triad**
And all the other you already know it like : iZotope IRIS 2, Trash 2, FXpansion Etch, Bloom, Maul, Camel Space, SoundToys, Fabfilter, Granite, The Mangle, Quanta , Icarus, Movement, and the list goes on ! Effects list are usually huge...
WarningYes i have to warn you with processing. Because, sometimes it can be too much and it will cause issues on how parts gel well togethers and with mixing parts. It’s really something you learn with time. But maybe you will notice that fast and it’s good for you because at some point droping the experiment phase and move forward is a good thing too.
Don’t forget to make break in your own advancement in the track producing. Stop and take a break, even stop purely and simply and come back to it in a day or more with fresh hears and distance from it. You will see how much of a difference it can make.
Learn from your favorite producers
Analyse their tracks, understand the elements in used !Try to recreate part of their tracks or in full can really help. of course, i hope for you at some point the student will surpassed the master. That’s a proverb we all know for sure. But this must not represent a psychological castration. I even advise you to release music before being proud of it because reaching this expectation can take a considerable amount of time. And if you listen to your masters (if you have some), there is an obvious progression between the beginning and the more recent tracks of their discography. We all progress with time, learning and experiment. Our taste evolve too (better if it’s for the good i presume)
That’s mine here - as i told you don’t put the goal too high that’s the key, so don’t do what i’ve just did
Ron Trent - eDancer - Dj Duke
Stacey Pullen - Carl Craig - RedShape
I hope you liked this little text that is close to one topic that I had created on elektronauts, as I am writing a lot right now and that I give courses. I allow myself to share it. As I said before, I am not trying to convert anyone, it’s just my subjective point of view on some topics that are important to me. And i make some additions regarding to what’s i writed by the past i guess for the good as i give some hints now, rather to just expose my point of view.
Another good thing is my students understand and are spot on, and i have not predicted that. They value their music so i guess all is not lost in this ERA and Tracks who became anthems is not something from the past. Even if the music flies monthly or worst in the dj bags._
Long life to music
And of course not only electronic music for sure !