Pathways to music composition (tech and otherwise) in 2013

My Lab

Just yesterday I was having a chat with another musician/producer over Gmail. We were talking about related topics regarding music production. Part of the discussion was about his loose timing of the hi-hat in hip hop to give that “bounce”, another was about using Battery 3 vs Battery 4 as a drum plugin in your DAW of choice, we switched to using Reason 7 vs Live 9 for production, yet another topic was about knowing when not to succumb to gear lust (he has a modular synth being delivered next week) and to make music with the tools (gear) you have. Yet another topic was the bass guitar track I recorded on a recent song and his enjoyment of how it sounded in the mix. The gist of all those topics made me think of a related blogpost I wrote about a year and a half ago on the subject of music composition today.

Ironically, this evening, I visited the blog of David Frank, of The System. He and Mic just released “System Overload”, all brand new tracks and a new edit of their hit “Don’t Disturb This Groove”. I, like many die hard fans of The System, was excited to see and hear them come back together to record brand new music, music which was defintely worth the wait.

Back to David’s blog. He posted (yet another) very interesting article that shares his insight on how some of the ways he composes music for The System. David is classically trained, as well as technically sharp in electronic music composition/production. If you’ve ever (especially) heard live interviews, with David, he continually talks about how his musical training and use of gear, over the years, play their distinct roles in his composition. It’s insight like this that I don’t ever recall seeing in any other similar interviews I’ve read.

I’ve had many discussions with artists/songwriters/musicians who use digital audio workstations and sample libraries to compose their music, with regards to how urban contemporary and pop music is often arranged and composed today.

  • Is there less “musicianship” due to feature laden DAWs?
  • Are arrangements of today that are getting heavy rotation just basically loops?
  • Are sample libraries solely being used over actually playing and recording actual instruments?
  • Is the music of these two genres, for example, too simplistic due to simply stringing pre-recorded tracks together?
  • Are song elements such a bridge, modulations, key changes greatly absent (as opposed to what was heard decades ago) or are songs more attibuted to just a hook for the entire tune?
  • This can be debated, most certainly. The use of DAWs today, undoubtedly, make popular music composition easier (for lack of a better phrase) because of the features built in. I personally find David’s approach not just insightful, but very interesting (but of course this is due to my own journey and level of musical training as a musician). What say you?

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::


    The Sunday Soundtrack – 14 Apr 13

    Greetings Listeners….

    Welcome to another edition of The Sunday Soundtrack. “It’s been a long time, I shouldn’t have left you…” (a little hip hop lyric reference there). It’s great to be back with another edition, albeit overdue, of the podcast. It’s about 12:37 am here in studio, but it’s done. I hope to stay on a regular (to be determined) schedule. Starting with pre-production on Monday for the following Sunday helps, doing a little everyday helps even more. The plan is to finish Saturday evening 🙂

    For my new listeners, The Sunday Soundtrack podcast is geared towards giving you an alternative listening experience to the standard Sunday afternoon commercial smooth jazz formatted programs and expose you to independent artists with tunes that provide that same smoothness, but in such genres as electronica, nu jazz, downtempo, experimental, chillout, instrumental jazzy hip hop, and the like. Please feel free to take a listen and leave comments, if u like. You can also reach The Sunday Soundtrack at (301) 458-0499

    Without further delay, let’s get to the playlist.

    1. Moon Beat – LTJ X-Perience/Moon Beat
    2. Consequences (Late Night Mix) – Blank & Jones/Relax 4
    3. Gutenmirgenduft (Morning Scent) – dZihan & Kamien/Gran Riserva
    4. Subsolitude – Hypoetical/Pendulum
    5. Try Me – J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science f/Goapele & Capitol A/J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science – OM Records 2003
    6. Square Purity – The Jazzment/Beats – Old Stuff
    7. Sunbeams – Uko/Cafe Del Mar – Vol. 7

    Some special shout outs:

  • My entire podcast massive: Fave, Big La (Todd Kelley), DarrenKeith, Anji Bee, Nikki, BSOTS, DJ Diva, EJ Flavors (The Sensei), and T. Grundy (Mr Brilliant). All excellent podcasters whose episodes range from smooth jazz to soul to hip hop to R&B to chillout to funk. My hats off to all of you, thanks for the encouragement
  • All the podcast drops done by the crew above AND listeners – thank you!
  • Ray Garraud – The Garraud Files Podcast, a versatile tech enthusiast, author, blogger, podcaster, public speaker, and good friend with whom I’ve had several great conversations with on his own thoughts of mobile podcasting and the evolving tech out which allows it. Thanks for the push, Ray!
  • Calandra and Madeline for the re-encouragement
  • @DVSJr, @Upright for the re-tweets/favorites about the return!
  • I hope you’re enjoying the tracks. Please feel free to follow the The Sunday Soundtrack on Twitter

    Take care and have a great week.

    ::: oceans of rhythm :::