As an amateur musician for years/decades, I used to play guitar and bass in mostly punk grunge bands in Japan. I have started being serious at last with recording music since joining Weekly Beats in 2020 and am trying to continue with this good habit. :)
All work done in FL studio, and most of the samples I use come from Splice.
To be perfectly frank, this tracks bears some resemblance to some tracks I recorded in the past. The chord progression at least is the same. I had probably that in the back of my mind when I was running the other day. I love thinking about music when running, the mind is doing its own thing of taking a track, finding counterpoints, new ideas, playing with a riff and morphing it in all kinds of directions. So i had the main bass stuck in my head and built from that.
I spent more time on this track than I usually do, which allowed me to go pretty proggy there. There are A LOT of layers in this track, which may not necessarily be a good thing in itself. The mix is a bit full. Also the mid part is a bit strange, it does not flow perfectly but that's ok.
I spent some time on the intro, trying to work on this part that I usually oversee or do very simply. It's not a perfect but there is an idea there to work on again in the future.
Anyway, here's a sci fi track, with some synthwave vibe!
I had a few ideas of tracks during this week but nothing that crystallized. Sunday night, with just a few lines. I listen to it. "sounds like elevator music".
Alright, let's make REAL elevator music.
Elevator, footsteps, and ambience samples from Splice. Sakura synth for the standup bass and a free library for the Saxophone. I am kinda happy with the saxophone, it sounds more natural than what I had managed in the past. Not exactly there yet, but dynamics, phrasing and reverb helped a lot.
Will try harder next week, I promise.
This is another track that comes from experimenting with sounds and different textures. Combined with DNB type drum samples, I got into this high speed, take no prisoner kind of tracker. Made in FL studio, with mainly FLEX synth, some Harmor, and KJ Sawka drum samples.
I had to tweak this track quite a lot. I had a few of the lines on Friday night, but re-arranged the track a couple of times to find the final flow.
The name comes from how the light shifts toward the blue spectrum if you go towards a star at extremely high speed.
I have been meaning of working on this track based on the short story by a friend. As this is based on a traditional Japanese folk story, I experimented with taikos, shamisen and flutes. My conclusion for now is that I need to listen to more Shamisen based music to get the scales and feeling right. Now i end up programming pentatonic scales on shamisen, which is all wrong. :)
Done in FL studio, using FLEX, lots of samples from Splice and a shamisen soundfont.
We're halfway through the year! Let's keep on composing!
I was not super inspired this week. This track was less the result of playing with melodies, but more playing with the synths and samples I had on my system. I experimented with playing live on the keyboard instead of programming it - which gave rise to the weird layers from 1:10 onwards. I also discovered Harmor could digest samples and torture them in creative ways! I put some saxophones playing lines through it and this resulted in the weird high leads, a bit like R2D2 on LSD from 1:45 onwards. And as I was reading an article about Robin Finck (who among other thing is the main live guitar player for NIN), so I had to dust out my fuzz factory and add some apocalyptic noise guitar.
It's not a very inspiring track, but it's sometimes good to just enjoy the process and try new things.
I worked on a few different ideas this week but, for some reason, they did not seem to find their place. I ended up starting from scratch and going for a speedtrash. It's a short silly track with real bass and guitar for a change, and a lot of samples from Splice. I hesitated adding a sheep sample as well and it finally did not make it into the track. I keep it for the time I'll do a scottish disco track with bagpipe and sheeps.
Alright, I'll try harder next week.
I spent some time this week at polishing and finalizing a compilation of tracks I made for Weekly Beats last year and releasing them as an album on Bandcamp. You can check it there (it's free! :) )
So I did not get much time for a new track and went for a speed trash. This started with cool break beat samples and I added a few bass lines, arpeggios, and some Japanese percussions on top of it. Named after a PC game I used to play in the 80s., one of the first real 3d game. It was really impressive!
Have you ever been stuck at an airport in the middle of the night? Either you have a night flight at 2am or you just arrived at 4am and waiting for a correspondence that goes 5 years later. This is the dead zone of airports, you meet other zombie voyagers stuck there, people mopping up the floor. If you're lucky, you can find somewhere in the concrete maze a small open café. There is the smell of smoke lingering in the air, the ceilings have a yellow tinge and there are a few insects dead in the corner. You get a coffee that has a slight taste of bleach and feel like you're in the purgatory, drifting between worlds.
That's a bit of the atmosphere I wanted to capture in this track. Drifting between worlds. I had this melancholic and simple guitar chord progression. Recorded a one take solo - not super clean, a bit off here and there, but I felt that if I tried to capture the soap bubble it might pop.
The guitar is an Epiphone explorer. Done in FL Studio with Sakura synth for the stand-up bass, FLEX for the piano and some cool jazz drums samples and other atmospheric and jukebox samples acquired on Splice.
This one is a weird one. I started this Sunday morning with a riff in my head. Ok, I kinda knew the riff is not entirely original as it is very similar to a riff found in Big Trouble in Little China! But I went with it as it just felt really good to play.
For some reason this track takes me back to the 80s when I was little boy watching WWF (the wrestling, not the panda preserving organization), enjoying weird movies like Big Trouble in Little China and having my brothers play synthwave on their speakers.
The guitar is an Epiphone Explorer, plugged into Bias FX2. Some cool drums samples by KJ Sawka and a lot of FLEX synths.
I enjoyed making this one. Short. To the point, with little repeats. FL Studio tells me I spent 2 hours 30 minutes on this one. I really need to start working on tracks earlier in the week.
Here's a speedtrash. This started as a slightly funky track with bass and drums and then took a weird turn at a dimly lit crossroad into industrial/electro territory.
The core is around the bass, with only one take per riff, which explains the mistakes, the creatively inaccurate rhythm and just general amateurish sound.
I could use the excuse that I started a new job, was busy, was thinking of something else. But the truth is that I'm just lazy. Alright, will do better next time.
I also realized my numbering in my filenames is off by a week. Oh well.
Here is a simple track that came to me during the week, really more or less as it got recorded. The full thing appeared in my mind - this is usually the red flag that I am plagiarizing something and have been turning it in my head over and over unconsciously. After listening to it again, indeed the main piano riff is a variation of the piano lines used in the track of a few weeks ago, Deathslingers.
I went for a more noir feeling (noir, like film noir), but it has this pirate/jig feel with the triplet rhythm. Everytime I think about film noir, it takes me back to the wonderful movie Le Samourai. Great movie but the thing that fascinates me the most with it is the sound recording, especially the sound of footsteps in Paris metro. I just love this sound, hence the footsteps in this track (and in other tracks I did last year like https://soundcloud.com/ked136/the-hour-of-the-tiger ).
This is mostly FLEX synths for the piano, Sakura for the standup bass. Samples are from Splice and also from some cool drum samples provided by Music Radar (check that out if you were not aware of it: https://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/free-music-samples-royalty-free-loops-hits-and-multis-to-download ).
This is a bit of a speedtrash, short and simple but I kinda like it for its simplicity and not too much overthinking.
This track actually started as a jig with a piano and violins. I was stuck in the process and started playing with variations of instruments, vibes. A few iterations later I ended up with this glitchy breakbeat dark cyberpunk industrial track, closer to Atari Teenage Riot than to Irish music. It also reminds me a little of the great glitch tracks that TQI would make for weekly beats 2020 (check him out there, he's just so good: https://weeklybeats.com/tqi )
I kept it rather short and noisy but I think it's appropriate for this track!
Done in FL Studio with lots of samples from Splice and some FLEX synths.
For some reason I had been thinking about aborigines and the dreamtime. Dreamtime is a mythological time at the creation of the universe - a time for gods and where the reality was not the same as it is now today.
This inspired this didgeridoo and jaw harp filled track. Add some Native American flutes and Tibetan tuvan singing, some Japanese percussions and you got an international mix of trance music.
Done in FL studio, using a wide range of samples from Splice.
A western inspired horror soundtrack!
The song started as this dark melody about exploring a cave and going into the lair of a giant spider. But it kinda pivoted in this western inspired horror like trailer soundtrack. I guess playing red dead redemption too much lately has had an impact.
A stormy night, the sound of hooves in the distance, figures slowly emerging, weird shapes, the number growing and the tension increasing. This is the image i had in my mind.
Some experiments for this track - I used quite a lot of inverted keyboards here. Some are for risers but one of the section has an inverted harpsichord where I wrote the melody, then inverted the melody and then inverted the resulting audio to go back to the original melody but with this inverted effect on it. There are also dissonant violins in the high range to create that weird tension towards the end. And of course samples of gallops and horses, courtesy of Splice.
Here's a funny, funky and kinda cheesy track but I had some fun with this one. It started with a jam on the bass that led to the main bass lines. It was then mixed with some funky jungle/drum and bass drums samples from Splice. I added some eletric keyboard, like a EDM version of Ray Manzarek (not as good obviously) and finished with some other synths and brass. I think the brasses that are both from FLEX and Sytrus are the cheesiest part of the track but they do add some dynamic so here they go.
For some reason, the electric keys and the general weird silly vibe of the track reminded me of the blue elephant in Return of the Jedi, in Jabba's palace. I could see this guy jamming this kind of weird stuff with his octopi friends.
I started a few tracks this week, including but not limited to a disco track with bagpipes and a rock track about stupidly inebriated evenings but in the end nothing really motivated me so I was playing around with samples on Saturday morning. I enjoyed the combination of drum n bass like staccato drums and guzheng and shamisen. I have used that in quite a few tracks last year during weekly beats, but hey I think it deserves more investigations and experiences!
So this is a track mainly built around guzheng/shamisen/traditional Japanese singing and then aphex twin like drum patterns. There is some neuro bass there. I wanted some more low ends but did not find the right sound and ran out of time. It's still raw, it's a draft but i kinda like it. This is one track i'd need to go back to and plunder for bits and ideas. The structure is a bit simple and would benefit from some variation as the end is really just a repeat of a previous section.
Done in FL Studio, featuring samples from Splice. I played with risers - from inverted toms to piano chords rendered as audio and inverted.
This is yet another uninspired track.
It started with a simple bass line (which I suspect I probably have used in tens of other tracks in the past) that I was playing around the other day. I was not very inspired so went for simple and efficient, if a bit sad - arps and rubber leads. This always kinda works, like doing pasta in water and instant tomato sauce.
Most of the synths and bass come from FLEX in FL Studio. I had fun with one aspect, which was syncing the bass with the drum kick and leaving pauses. That was inspired by watching a Nik West video where she was explaining her approach to bass. The drums are mostly drum samples from Splice.
Overall I am pretty unhappy with the track. It does not sound bad in itself but it's easy, unoriginal, not trying out something new - it's a bit of a cop out. I feel like a sell out, though I have never really sold anything. I'll need to get more inspiration for something more adventurous. A friend of mine said that weekly beats is like "a celebration of the act of creation". This is what I really want to do every time, hence my disappointment at doing something uninspired. But a lame track is better than no track, so here we go.
This track is still at the stage of "storyboard". I think the ideas are not bad for the composition but the execution is still very very raw. The concept was slowly walking into a dense jungle, both physical and metaphorical and ending up either at a cave or at a cenote where the trance takes place.
I like some elements of this track - happy to have found this Tuvan (Tibetan throat singing) sample on Splice, the flute is a cool sample too. The trance is a good idea in itself but kinda clumsily executed. It also misses an apex. The mix is raw. A track is a track is a track is a track.
I'd probably come back later to this track to scavenge it or build upon this flow and try to make something more interesting. Of course this is an obvious lie, I never go back to past tracks. :)
Ok here is a track I believe in more than what I have done in a few weeks. I did struggle quite a bit to get it started but after putting a lot of polishing touches, piano melodies and experimenting with structures, I feel I made a track I feel good about.
This is inspired by synthwave and a cyberpunk vibe, something between blade runner and akira, cowbow bebop and gunnm.
This week has been very stressful and I could not focus properly. Here is a synthwave like track, with some Japanese percussions on top. Not my favorite track but at least I got to experiment with different sounds and textures. If I spent more time on it, there are a few lines I would modify as there is some dissonance in this track but this is as far as I'll go this week on this one. Time to focus on next one.
It's already week 9, time flies! I enjoy listening to the range of music that the community produces, from jazz to video games music to goth wave. This is inspiring and motivating!
Here is a speedtrash that ended up a bit better than my usual speedtrash or even some tracks where I did spend some time (looking at you, Week 8 track!).
It is a pretty straightforward EDM + Guzheng (Chinese string instrument) + Travis Barker drums but it works. I learnt a couple of things when doing that track so it was really worth it in the end.
What I need to try out next time: start earlier in the week instead of waiting until Sunday morning to get started. The streak name is "weekly streak", not "Sunday streak".
I am not really happy with this track but at least I learnt a couple of things doing it. I actually wanted to do something inspired by Nintendo soundtracks for mario kart or mario brothers. I was inspired when I heard my son playing minecraft on the nintendo switch and they had a cover of mario theme, but with breakbeats in the background.
I failed at making a track like that unfortunately. There is some samba, some trumpet ideas, some bass that was live bass then became FLEX hardcore bass then became chiptune bass. And I learnt how to use Directwave to make a guzheng, though I replaced it with chiptune as well.
A track is a track, I hope next week will be better.
For some reason I had this riff running in my head, with a strong surf rock vibe. It's usually a bad sign that I have probably commandeered a riff but until someone screams, I'll still record it.
I tried to go for the surf rock guitar sound. I do not have plate reverb but it's not that bad. Played on my ibanez with split coil, it sounds twangy enough. I added a live bass and then used samples from Slice for the drums and trumpets. And cars and radio and traffic sound. This was a fun one to make!
This week I went for a mash up of Animal Planet and Zombie movies. The concept started with "What if David Attenborough narrated a documentary about zombies?". I listened to quite a lot of zombie games soundtracks (Undead Redemption) and western music.
For the voice of David Attenborough, I used vo.codes, which uses an AI to deepfake celebrities reading a script. There are quite a lot of samples also in this track, wind, crows, zombies. They all come from Splice.
This is a silly track but I had a lot of fun making it!
This track is more the seed of what might become an interesting track. I lacked the time or to be honest the motivation to work properly on the track this week but I kinda like the main melody. There is this on-the-edge-of-cheesy synthwave melody that could be reused in something epic - this will be kept in the fridge until a better idea comes! Until that time, this is a speedtrash but a track is a track!
I used FLEX and Sytrus on this one, along with quite a few different Splice samples for the flute and the drums.