An update on “As She Passes Through The Storm” The Grand 3 rework

I think I’ve managed to get the notes to sound like I want them in terms of how hard they’re hit and such, making it sound fairly close to how it was originally played. I got a pretty good velocity curve setup inside The Grand 3 now, that took care of most of it, and then tweaked a few notes that still didn’t quite fit compared to the original.

The problem I’m facing now is that somehow it sounds very “boxed in”. It’s lacking some “openness” and I’m not sure why, but I’ll take a look at that tomorrow and find a way to open it up again, making it sound like it should. 🙂

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Serum, a new synth

Remember when I said I had too many synths already? Yeah well, I need to get another one… Dan Nealy just pointed my attention to this new synth by Steve Duda of Xfer Records called Serum. Holy crap this thing is amazing! Just watch the video below to see what this thing is capable of and how easy it is to work with. The sonic fidelity is fantastic!

It’s being sold for $129 until October 31st where it will be set to its normal price of $189. I’m so getting this, no doubt about that. Absolutely amazing work by Steve. 🙂

Why trance music?

Trance music is sort of special in a few ways. Some people absolutely love it while others aren’t exactly fans – there’s often no middle ground (from what I’ve seen). In my experience a lot of the dislike comes from the lack of variation in the beat for instance, which I can understand, but it is a building block of trance in the way it works. Basically people will go “it all sounds the same” which is partially true unless you listen with ears that love the genre. Granted though, some stuff does sound the same, but there’s plenty of variation to be found.

Trance is also special in other regards. It’s the only genre of music I’ve experienced that has the connection between the fans that it has. There’s the popular #TranceFamily hashtag and you know what? It’s not that far from the truth. If you love trance you have a family among everyone else who does, because trance music just creates something special, a sort of connection, between all the people who like it.

I usually say that I’m happy that I “get” trance, because it truly is magical. However saying that it could sound like I’m saying that people who don’t “get it” are “stupid”. That’s certainly not the case – it is after all just a music genre and it’s not for everybody, as with all other genres of music. But if you “get” trance and get past the point where you think it just all sounds the same and embrace what it really is, you are in for something special. But if you don’t and don’t like it, that’s perfectly fine too – we’re all different, after all, and that’s not a bad thing. 🙂

It’s hard to describe trance music to someone who doesn’t “get” what it means, but easy to someone who does because you share the connection of what it does to you. Trance is standing in a crowd of 10,000 people and when the climax in the song hits you know every single person in that crowd is feeling the exact same thing as you. Then repeat that for a few hours. It’s a release of happiness – it’s just pure joy (even without drugs, mind you). Dash Berlin, a trance DJ and producer, for instance does not use drugs nor even drink, but when you see him doing shows he’s the most energetic and life-affirming person you will find there. Why? Because this is a man doing what he loves to do. He’s being fueled by sheer enjoyment of being in the position he is and the energy from the crowd. It’s inspiring to watch and we need more people like that, because that’s what life is about – it’s what trance music is about; enjoying life.

So how did I come across trance music and how did I end up wanting to make it? Honestly I can’t really say. I’m a rocker by heart and I probably always will be, but I’ve always had an interest in electronic music (add to that my broad taste in music) with Euro Dance way back when, as well as of course Faithless, The Crystal Method, Pendulum, Astral Projection, Prodigy, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Sneaker Pimps, Olive and so on…
I think when I started trying to make music I sort of went for Drum & Bass, and then talking to other people making music in various communities I got introduced to more EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and trance that way, which ended up with me really taking a liking to trance.

As I said I’m happy I found trance music because it really is rather special, if for nothing else it’s at least special to me. The things I feel listening to trance music is also why I want to be able to make it. If I can create those feelings in someone else through my music, well shit, that’s just ultimately fantastic and so incredibly powerful.

I should of course note that I don’t think trance music is the only powerful genre that’s able to create emotions in people, because basically all genres are able to do that. It’s all in the eye (or ear rather) of the beholder and we relate to different things, because we’re different people. 🙂 I just wanted to write something about what trance music means to me and why I want to be able to make it.

Just a quick update

Figured I’d write a little update on what’s going on.

For Prototype I’ve sent some MIDI off to Arjen Lead and he will get back to me with some examples of how to get a bassline to match the lead melody. It’s something I’ve seen talked about, having the bassline match the overall melody, but I have no idea what it actually means in detail – how to do it. Luckily Arjen is there to help me, so I’m just waiting for him to get back to me once he’s had time to look at it.

I’m almost where I want to be with the conversion of As She Passes Through The Storm to use The Grand 3, but there’s still a bit of manual tweaking to be done to get it to sound like I want and how it sounded when I was playing it.

But yeah, that’s about it for now… More soon! 😛

Some thoughts on the Prototype breakout part

Figured I’d share a few thoughts I’ve had working on the breakout part of Prototype and where I’m sort of at in regard to progressing on it.

As could be read yesterday I’ve fixed an issue with distortion in the lead synth, which gives me a bit more freedom to do things with it (push it harder for instance).

It’s still (the entire breakout part) sounding a bit too hollow and thin, but I’ll deal with that (more) once I get some low-end into it as well, since that alone should help a bit. Never the less I’m aware and it’s of course something that needs to be dealt with. The problem I’m facing (and will be facing) is getting a full, open and “hands in the air” sound going while making room for the other things as well. However I won’t really do that too much now because it will change as I add more elements (as I have to juggle frequencies to give them each a spot in the frequency spectrum).

I’m thinking of making the lead synth progression an 8-bar loop instead of the current 4 just to give it some more variation. But on the other hand this is trance and sometimes simple is just fine. Once more elements are added it’s also likely to be less of an issue, as opposed to now where it’s really the only attention-grabbing thing and thus stands out a bit more.

In terms of how it’s progressing overall I think it’s coming along nicely. I might shift some things around and what not, but it’s certainly not sounding too badly at this stage. I also think I know how I want to go into the breakout part, but you won’t hear that yet.

I need to make a bassline that fits it (the lead melody) which will likely require me to bug Arjen Lead and make him tell me about practices for doing just that (as opposed to me blindly trying to just do something). 🙂

On a small side-note I’ve also managed to configure my new PreSonus Eris E8 studio monitors so they’re playing pretty good for the room. Think there’s still a few tweaks left to be made, but I’ll get to that. 🙂

Anyway I’ve made another WIP render of it which just has some minor tweaks and the non-distorted synth. For instance I’ve removed the vocal effect again because it was crowding the frequency range of the lead synth as well as being very repetitive. Conclusion is that I just don’t have the samples to do what I want.

Prototype (WIP 62)

Converting “As She Passes Through The Storm” to The Grand 3

Looks like doing that will take a bit of work as there’s now notes that are “too hard” (because of velocity) and such, compared to what I was using before, so it just doesn’t quite sound the same as when I played it. Tried playing around with the velocity curve but couldn’t quite get it there, so manual work adjusting things seems to be the way forward at this point.

I’ll play around with it the next couple of days and hopefully have that final version ready very soon! 🙂

It’s another grand day today!

Why grand you ask? Simple; my Steinberg The Grand 3 arrived today! Time to make that final version 6 of As She Passes Through The Storm. =)

Steinberg The Grand 3

A zebra, a compressor and some distortion walks into a bar…

Working a bit on Prototype yesterday I finally found the cause of some distortion I was hearing in the lead synth. Most noticeably it could be heard in the beginning as the filter opened up in the lower/mid frequencies as well as in the reverb tail, which was a bit noisy. Most of it was masked by the EQ’ing which is why it didn’t really stuck out all too much, but could still be sensed.

I decided to take a bit of time to find the cause, as it was actually quite a lot of distortion (which could really be heard if I disabled the EQ) and it was getting on my nerves and causing some issues. The cause? The compressor within Zebra2 was set to “strong” and changing it to “smooth” cleared it right up – no more distortion. Not sure why the distortion was there in the first place with the “strong” compressor mode, because I wasn’t hitting any CPU limit or anything, but maybe I pushed it harder than I was supposed to.

I’ll probably do a bit of investigating and see if this is something I should report to the kind people at u-he or if it’s just me being clueless. 🙂

Never the less having done all of that requires me to reconfigure the synth a bit and get it back into shape – not to mention do some of the stuff I couldn’t do before because it was problematic with the underlying distortion in the sound.