Halcyon Sky – The Regrooves EP – Day 22

HS

Greetings all…

I’ve reached what I call Phase 3 of this project and am glad to present unto you news on the development of Halcyon Sky – The Regrooves EP. This four track EP will be what is known commonly as remixes of tracks I’ve chosen from the project. Some of you have heard the remixes I’ve done over years: Philip Clark’s “Granted (the Groove 7 3am Eternal Mix) “, Mary Mary’s “Walkin” (Mr. Fresh/Bill C. Regroove), The Most Impossible Plan (the groove 7 outerbanks edit), and a few others.

I’m excited about this EP because I’ve got three other remixers on the project – Todd (The Big La) Kelley, Netm8ker, and Upright. They have their own fluid, nice moves in their respective music productions that I’m sure will bring stellar touch to this release.

Stay tuned for updates, all the way through the drop date in January!

Thanks for the read!

Fresh!

Chronicles of A Remix – Vol.2: Stop It Now/Karlina Veras – Pt.1

Greetings Crew…

Back with another edition in the series entitled “Chronicles of A Remix”. In this edition, I’ll bring you in on a song I’m producing for Santo Domingo born, London-based vocalist, Karlina Veras.

Karlina and I connected via Twitter as a result of her tweet requesting collaboration with a producer for some tracks she has. The track I’m engineering, mixing and producing is one she calls “Stop It Now”. This is strictly a barter situation where I get to hone my mix skills, get credit for and push the final tune, while she gets the tune.

So far, she’s sent me rough vocals, grand piano, vocal adlibs. and a disco-style backing drum track. This is a dance track at 126 BPM. She’s requesting “a sense of air and space and a bit of sensitivity and desperation with a search of something”. In a base collaboration like this, the more the artist can convey to the composer about the tune, the better. Already I have an idea of the arrangement and elements I plan to incorporate to achieve what she feels. The first thing I did was audition some 2-step drum loops for foundation, to give it the feel she’s looking for.

One of the first things I noticed is that the audio stems were a mix of 24-bit (which Logic Studio automatically imports) and 32-bit resolutions (which Logic doesn’t automatically import). Logic’s current max import bit rate is 24-bit. I used my “swiss army knife”, Audacity to the conversion, then import into Logic, all the time thinking “Logic Studio must have a way of doing this”. It does: Compressor. Good to go next time.

This is the kind of thing I dreamt of doing many years ago and I’m simply looking at it as creatively win-win situation: I get to hone my music production and recording engineering skills on a song within a genre I like, she gets the track…all good. I have the BPM and some other track notes on the song from her. Being that it will be a dance track, this should be fun project, since some of favorite sub-genres lie in the dance music genre.
Next steps are to augment the loop with some drum programming to thicken it up. After sending her a snippet the other day, she likes it so far. We’re both excited.

Stay tuned for part 2.

Karlina Veras Official Site

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

Chronicles of a Remix: I’m Walkin’/Mary Mary – Day 8 (The Sendoff)

Sup crew…

I just finished the final base arrangement of the mix. Added a little track automation to the acappella track, as well as a jazzy guitar riff towards the end. I tend to like using a nice combination of a clean tone with just the right delay on it. Here’s a screenshot of the arrange window:

Leveraging technology today, for creative purposes. is really quite easy. As Bill commented on the last update post here, it allows worldwide collaboration no matter where the participants are, or what time of day (or night it is). Some of you know of the collaboration by me (DC), Todd Kelley (Cali), and Fave (Houston), namely Cross Country Collective.

Another thing that helps is to know the tools you’re working with. In this case, I use Logic Studio (Logic Pro 8), and Bill is using Logic Express 9. Same software but as usual, an “express: version of software usually has less functionality than a full version, but in this case, I put together the session such that he could import it into his version and nothing would be lost…pretty much the same process used for the C3 EP (with Todd and Fave using Logic Studio 9).

It’s off to Bill C in NYC…handle it, bruh! Stay tuned for the birth sometime this week.

peace,

::: oceans of rhythms :::
Fresh!

Chronicles of a Remix: I’m Walkin’/Mary Mary – Day 7

Sup crew…

Below is a short video on the status of the remix. This is a collab between me and Bill Cammack.

In the last update, I had just started chopping up samples from the timestretched vocal acappella. Analyzing the acappella is where I always start. Knowing the BPM is always helps, but if that isn’t readily available, you could always import the original track and use Logic’s BPM counter to determine what that is. Here’s a video he did on beat mapping for this remix:

There are a few ways to timestretch an audio file. What I find easiest to do (without using any external plugins) is to use Logic’s Time and Pitch Machine. Once you know what the BPM is of the original audio file, you enter the new BPM, and let Time and Pitch Machine run the Complex algorithm selection to stretch (or sometimes called time compress) the audio to the BPM you want use. The Complex algorithm setting seems to work the best in dealing with any problems from any audio aliasing resulting from the time stretching.

From that point it was adding some other elements from my sample library and arranging how I wanted them to be. My thought, throughout, was to have the mix include some dynamics to it…in terms of audio effects, at minimum (after all, this IS a dance club remix). THe first thing was to incorporate some delay on the samples. This is pretty much where I ended up going, while keeping focus on how I wanted the drum track to be.

Fast forward to some back and forth discussions with Bill on FB, and a collaboration was born. Bill has a good working knowledge of just not Ultrabeat, but Logic in general. I sent him an mp3 snippet of what I had so far and we went to work on it! The video clip below gives a lil background on how it’s been going so far.

That it’s it for the moment…stay tuned.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

Chronicles of a Remix: I’m Walkin’/Mary Mary – Day 2

Day 2 – Ok, I have the first two tracks kickin’ off this tune. I know that at some point, I’ll probably chop the vocals up, and some track automation, etc. As mentioned in the audio clip above, I’m thinking of some specific vocal samples to add, if I can find them. For this version of the remix (I will probably do three max), I’ll maintain the original tempo.

I’m using a standard software Apple loop for the basis of the drum track, but may program my own at a later day…I’ll see how the overall track flows….

More later…

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

Chronicles of a Remix: The Intro.

Greetings readers…

Hope all is well. The audio clip in this post much summarizes what this series is about, however, for those of you who can not listen to the audio, here we go.

This series is created out of a desire to share with you, a musically journey of creativity or deeper still, re-creativity. I’ve been a musician for over half my life and ever since I discovered the concept of “the remix”, I’ve been interested on the entire approach of taking an original song and birthing something new from it.

Though I’ve heard countless remixes in many genres over the years, I didn’t really become fascinated with it, until I heard certain artists/remixers take tunes from my favorite group, Incognito, and create remixes of their songs. What fascinated me was the particular style and approach of a handful of remixers (my favorites), who took the essence of the song in an ENTIRELY different direction, while creating an new sense of depth and width to the arrangement. All the genres that these remixes fell into were mostly of the house, chillout/downtempo, breakbeat, and jazzy hip-hop veins.

Who are some of my favorites? Jazzanova, Atjazz (Martin Iverson), Little Big Bee, Masters At Work, Ski Oakenfull, Mark de Clive-Lowe, MJ Cole, Roger Sanchez, Pete Rock, Just Blaze, Pepe Braddock, etc.

The first “official” remix I did was last year, fora track called “Granted” by Philip Clark. You can read about that here . So that being said, Chronicles of a Remix will be a behind the scenes look at everything I consider when doing a remix: the tools I use (hardware, software), my inspirations, my thoughts (large and small), the direction, etc. I will include some audio footage at any point in time: in studio, while I’m at work, en route somewhere, whatever. They’ll be sometimes where I’ll include some video footage as well. Don’t expect either types of footage to be polished to some great extent, as I prefer to give it to u as it comes, without any great post-production effort…I guess you can call it “keeping it real” (simple).

That’s about it. For those of you who are friends with me on FB and have paid any attention to the few comments I made over the last week, you may already know what the first remix project is (if you’ve heard the audio clip above, you know already).

Stay tuned for the first post in a day or two.

Have a great weekend

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

Sample Library Organization – Making Workflow Efficient

Greetings…

Thanks for stopping by. Some of you may have read a three part series I did recently on Sampling and Music Compostion. Over the last two days (Thanksgiving morning and evening, and this evening), I decided to gather up all the downloaded sample libraries, construction kits and various samples spread out over two Macs to add and categorize them onto a 250 GB portable HD I use for music production. While there are many software apps (Redmatica, etc) out there to do just this, I needed a solution that would work best for the way I intend to work. One solution I thought (and still do think) will work great is using iTunes to categorize samples. It has smart folder capability and search and can be used across Windows and Mac. While multiple playlists can be set up, I’d have have the app installed on my computers (which it is) as well as the external drive. I decided I wanted to be app independent.

I read and viewed a very good video by my man St. Joe over at Sounds and Gear entitled Organizing your samples and sound libraries for better workflow. I like his thought process, but since I am not primarily a sample based musician, I really don’t care about the manufacturer connection to the samples I use (unless of course they really suck, which none I have come across do), instead, it’s more important to me that I choose my samples by sound category, genre and bpm (if they are loops). So I set out to categorize them in that fashion. While I prefer to program my drum tracks from scratch, I do find loops useful for quick and dirty tunes or for something fast I may need for a client. I most likely would use an audio drum loop for something backing, though there are a few songs I’ve used straight loops for. In any event, being able to choose loops of any sort by bpm first is easiest for me because the tempo of a song is one of my first considerations, along with genre. I keep my genre list basic because frankly, the industry is out of control with genres, sub-genres and the like…I just can’t keep up.

That being said, here is a screen shot of what my sample organization looks like. There are a number of sample loops aside from drum loops with bpms so having that as the primary search criteria makes composing, from a sample standpoint, very easy.

I still have a ton of sample CDs that I haven’t categorized yet, but at least I’ve got all the ones from the various hard drives done. Aside from adding the sample CDs over time, the next project is to burn all of these current ones….to CD, then incorporate the iTunes solution into the mix. Between the CDs, my portable drive and Logic Studio, I shouldnt ever want to see another sample or sample loop ever …lol. (I know that it itself, is unrealistic…ha!) I’ll continue to look out for the info I get from Primeloops, Loopmasters, Platinumloops, Siliconbeats, P5 Audio, and a host of other fantastic vendors that grace the music production community with free demos and samples…but at least now, I can categorize them in an order fashion.

Sample users (this means you especially Big La ha!), I’d be interested to read about how you categorize your samples, if at all.

Thanks for the read…

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

Workin’ (well semi-workin’) in studio tonite

The CD project is moving forward, though Dan and I have two more songs to record, and a few to mix. I’ve laid out a schedule of things to be done, but right now, I’m playing around with these

In the meantime, I pulled out of the vault, a house music track that was originally written for a female vocalist. Think I’m gonna spruce it up some (I actually forgot I had it until tonite). Stay tuned for a post to my Soundcloud page.

Anyway hit us up on Twitter and Facebook .

Have a good night.

peace,
F!

Sampling and Music Composition – A “Fresh” Perspective. Pt 2 – Sampling/Interpolation/Legalities


Photo Credit: Akai MPC 2500 w/black pads by: ficusrock

Greetings crew…

Hope all is well with you. I’ve finally gotten around to Pt 2 of this series. In Part 1, I gave a brief history of sampling and, specifically, the tools used in the early days; and the explosion of sampling in the 80′s and 90′s that was fueled by the music of James Brown. Since then, not only has sampling evolved greatly with the advent of sampling technology, both in hardware and software tools, but it’s also taken on the form of a different kind of sampling – taking a song’s basic arrangement and feel (usually the hook) and creating a new song from it. One example that immediately come to mind in the last decade is Kirk Franklin’ s radio version (remix) of “Stomp”. When this release first hit the airwaves, it was quite noticeable to the listening public that the song’s groove was reminiscent of a very popular song by Funkadelic, namely “One Nation Under A Groove”. The interpolation comes into play as the tempo of “One Nation Under A Groove” (the verse section) was slowed down and the bass track was extracted for the main groove for “Stomp”. Whosampled.com shows a side by side comparison of the two. In this particular case, Kirk took the obtained permission and provided reference and credit to Funkadelic in the liner notes of his release. Before, during, and since then, there have been many instances were permission was not granted, resulting in copyright infringement lawsuits. While I’d venture to guess hip-hop holds the record for the highest count of sampling lawsuits, especially with the landmark case involving Biz Markie’s “I Need A Haircut” sampling of Gilbert Sullivan’s “Alone Again Naturally”, Kid AdRock of The Beastie Boys claims they hold the first sample lawsuit.

The laws of copyright infringement in cases like those above span far and wide and, to many, are still open to interpretation. I came across an interesting article (I’m sure there are many more out there) written by an artist on Twitter named Sean Grey. His article Thinking Out Loud: How to Legally Sample Songs For Free, provides some interesting questions for consideration, as well as feedback from other readers. While it’s not my intention to delve into the legalities of sampling in this post, it’s an area with depth that continues to be revisited time and time again. One of many good resources on this subject is here. Disc Makers also recently posted a good article entitled Sampling Safely – A Primer to Avoiding Lawsuits.

As the late 80′s progressed into the 90′s, Sean “Puff Daddy (bka Diddy)” Combs took arranging and composing based on sampling a step further and actually obtained permission to use the actual masters (not samples or interpolations) of songs to compose songs for releases under his artists Junior Mafia, Biggee Smalls, Little, Kim, Lil Cease, Faith Evans, etc. Popular hip hop songs were produced that used actual hooks from Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out”, Herb Alpert’s “Rise”, The Police’s “Every Step You Take”, even Jeff Lorber’s classic fusion track “Rain Song”. You may be able to associated each song above with the hit Diddy produced.

This type of new song arranging and composing hit it very big, and still continues to do so, with the likes of Kirk Franklin using the hook to Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard” for his 2005 hit “Looking For You”.

The topic matter in this particular post is nothing new. The question I have is, as of late, is there any merit to what I call “gross sampling” (using the actual song itself, (in the case of what Diddy and Kirk have done)? I would submit that there is some skill level, maybe some would say an art, to composing new (and I use the term loosely) songs. What, if any, are your thoughts? As an artist, songwriter, composer, and producer, I have my own but will reserve them until I finish this series.

In Part 3, I’ll give my perspective on sampling, sample packs, the tons of vendors that make them, the use of them in music composition, and related issues.

::: oceans of rhythm :::

Fresh!

The Most Impossible Plan (groove7 outerbanks edit rmx)/The Basic Condition of Life – Skatterbrain

Greetings crew.

Hope all is well. A lot of you here heard me profess my love for Twitter, and for those of you who haven’t, here it goes: I love Twitter for its easy of networking and especially information push to me about things I’m most interested in. Via an actual person or a website, if it allows me to grow in areas of learning on topics that greatly interest me (various areas of tech and music production), than I’m with it. The *push* aspect is of most interest. In any event, a few weeks ago, one of my followers let his followers know that he was about to drop a release and offered the chance for other artists to remix certain songs on the release for its remix EP and a list of singles. Being as though I aspire to ALSO become a great remixer, I try to jump at the chance to remix songs when I can. This particular genre is electronica/synthpop/DnB/etc with BPM (beats per minute) faster than I usually choose to compose in. I thought, “What better way to expand my musical horizons and skills”. The EP, remix EP, and singles list has been release and I’m proud to say that my remix was chosen for the singles list. This is the first single from the new SKatterBrain album “the Basic Condition Of Life“. The artist is @dan303 (Dan Weatherall of Stoke-On-Trent, England)

This remix project was different than the first official remix project I did for Philip Clark, in that I knew what the original song sounded like, typical of remixes that are released AFTER the original song is out. Instead, Dan offered just the remix stems, so I had NO idea what his composition was like. That provided me with an open palette to create from. All he provided to us was the BPM (145) and key (Dm).

My DAW (digital audio workstation of choice) is Logic Studio. (Logic 8). I unfortunately had limited time to complete the remix because it was smack in the middle of vacation time – which meant out of the studio (if I had my Mac with me, that would have been another story ).

In the limited amount of time I had, I chose to explore the loop library in Logic versus programming my own drums from scratch or even chopping up samples to do so. My original plan was to time stretch the samples, but couldn’t remember how to until the 11th hour. Since I’ve grown to be a fan of drum and bass, and already a fan of 2-step, it didn’t take long to find a drum loop that was a mix of both and fit the stems perfectly. Dan used a number of percussive spatial synth effects that give good stereo dynamics, so those stems were added next. Listening to the drum loop, I played a percussive bass synth to lock with parts of the kick drum and counter the analog synth bass stem he sent as one of the stems. He suggested we use as many of the stems as we could, but I decided to create another synth lead part using Logic’s ES-M synth to sub for the one he sent. In the beginning of the remix, you’ll hear a four note section of electric piano, that I mirrored with a synth line created with Logic’s ES-1 synth. The synth pads I play under the ES-M lead are Logic’s “Chilled EP” pad.

Anyway, here’s the track listing:

1. The Most Impossible Plan 04:31
2. The Most impossible Plan [303 edit] 03:03
3. The Most Impossible Plan (groove7 outerbanks edit rmx) 03:38
4. the basic condition of life (ne7′s daijo mix) 05:14
5. Balance of sanity 04:41

Dan’s bandcamp page has links to all the releases.
The EP page is here .
The remix EP page is here .
The singles page is here.

My remix can be dowloaded here .

Much thanks to Dan for giving me the opportunity.

Thanks for the read….on to the next remix project.