Turn of the Wheel
The first idea I had this week was to concentrate on bass and drums, emphasizing toms and avoiding the snare. Initially I wasn't sure if I'd include guitar at all. I'd come up with some syncopated rhythms in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz drum rack, and put a long-decaying Echo send on it. (At the end, I gave the drums a bit of Max Humanizer.)
I put down some bass lines with my usual Epiphone P-J bass (with EQ-8 roll-off below 120 Hz), and then realized I wanted another track of bass, higher on the neck, to respond to the first track. (That second track of bass got EQ-8 bass rolloff with a higher shelf.)
Then I'd thought I should have something else in there for sonic variety, but wanted to change things up a bit from recent tracks. So I grabbed the Heit Deluxe I keep in Turkish baglama tuning (Gg DD Aa), and put down two tracks of improvisations against the bass lines. (It's going through an EHX LPB2ube with the left and right channels cascaded into one output.) One channel got some high-pass Auto-Filter with drive, and the other didn't have any additional in-Ableton processing. Both got sent to a room-sized convolution reverb (along with the drums and bass).
In arranging, I thought to do some reversing of some of the Heit chords, and sent that track to a return channel with Valhalla Supermassive. And the stereo mix got multiband compression with Ableton's Full Chain effect rack.
Title comes from the number of years in three Saros cycles of solar and lunar eclipses; this is apparently called a Triple Saros or exeligmos--the turn of the wheel.
Early in the week, I had a funky drum beat in my mind, and threw it together with Ableton's 64-pad rock kit. I didn't have a chance to put guitar on it right away, so I temporarily filled the track in with a looped field recording from my back yard. Gradually, keys went on (filtered Analog), and I added bass. Finally, late Sunday, I had a few minutes to put guitar (Res-O-Glas, Vox Wah) on, and then I cut down the field recordings significantly, as well as slowing speed and dropping pitch.
Drums: Drum Buss, vinyl distortion. (I'd got it into my mind that this would add character.)
Bass: EQ-8, with bass rolloff.
Guitar: Auto-Filter high/low pass with drive.
Field recordings: Auto-Filter high/low pass, auto-pan
Sends: convolution reverb, Echo ("A Bit Tipsy" with time changed and noise/wobble reduced). Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from Fermi's name for element 94 (plutonium) when he'd thought he'd discovered it--"hesperium." (He didn't.)
This is a weird one. For a while I've been thinking of doing a piece composed of gestures on guitar, rather than playing notes--building a piece out of a vocabulary of incidental sounds. So this is a step toward that. I did several passes of Res-O-Glas (direct into the board) and several clips of Moog guitar through Vox Wah for drone texture. Arranging it...I shortened a lot of the Res-O clips to focus on scrapes and clicks (leaving in the switch-pop of a pickup selector switch, which still kind of sounds wrong...), time-stretching some clips, compressing others, and looking for repetitive patterns in them.
Four Res-O tracks are panned to fixed positions, while the Moog got auto-pan. Sends: two different convolution reverbs--a smaller room for the Res-O, and a concert hall for the Moog. Full-Chain Master on the 2 buss.
Title from this week's element, gold, apparently formed in the Earth's mantle.
Another piece that accumulated organically: I'd started by putting up a few drum racks against each other (64-pad rock kit, bongos, Hilda kit), and then put a few chords and figures of different keyboards (Live's MkI3 Mellow Piano and Puremagnetik's CP-70 pack, on the electronic-only setting). I put down Epiphone P-J bass, and then Res-O-Glas guitar through EHX LPB2ube, one pass through a mild overdrive, and another through more extreme boost.
Inline effects: M4L Humanizer on drums and MkI3, Drum Buss on percussion. EQ-8 for bass rolloff on bass, various combinations of Auto-Filter (for drive and to roll off weird direct-sounding harmonics from the Alumitones) and Cabinet on guitar. Sends: Convolution reverb (studio room impulse) and Auto-Filter with LFO into Echo on Tweezy Tape preset. Various auto-pan, and full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Title from one method of growing symmetric crystals of samarium, this week's element.
This week's track came together in little sessions during the week (new job and travel), so it was easier to do an in-the-box thing--I had the drum patterns (a synth drum kit I came up with, a 909 kit, and Ableton's AstroPlay) and an abstract ring-modulated keyboard line (Ableton's Electric piano). It seemed to need a layer of noise, so I added Ableton's Analog's Coptor (sic) preset, and then did a quick improvisation with my randomizable pitch shifting network in Max/MSP (which begins the piece and continues throughout.)
Effects/sends: Drum Buss on the synth drum and 909, and Frequency Shifter (in Ring Mod mode) on the AstroPlay. One Echo send, and one convolution reverb. Full-chain master on the stereo mix.
Job-search stuff took up a lot of attention and energy this week, but I did carve out a bit of time to throw some drums together--Ableton's 32-pad jazz kit and their 64-pad Dub Techno kit, in the parts you hear in the middle section. Saturday night, I added some rhythm patterns (for beginning and end) and Epiphone Moderne with the output going only to a convolution reverb (with the Dan Harpole Cistern impulse). Then I added some sparse lead lines in another channel, and finally put down some Epiphone bass.
Sends: cistern convolution reverb, and one studio-sized convolution reverb, along with a tweaked Echo plugin. Auto-pan on the Dub Techno kit and guitars, and automation on the jazz kit for hitting the echo at the ends of phrases. Full-chain Master on the mix buss.
Title from the French name for the precipitate of barium sulfate, since barium (atomic number 56) is this week's element.
Last track of 2017, here's a kind of funky thing that came together gradually over the week: drum rack from various sources, couple of Analog synths, Ableton's Electric, guitar (Res-O-Glas) and Bastl Kastle synth. Three convolution reverbs, delay, and full-chain master.
Title from the use of tellurium (element 52) in phase change memory chips.
This week I bought an old DOD 545 Wah Filter pedal (the beige one), otherwise known as the Bill Laswell pedal, and built up a little groove in anticipation. Initially I used Korg Minipops samples (thanks, Chris!) but there was a bit-depth grit around them that didn't seem to fit with this particular track, so I ended up replacing it with a drum rack of Analog synths. To supplement the kick, I added 606 kick in one track, and then some DR-660 percussion samples (thanks again to Chris! I remember my old DR-660 fondly; traded it for an MXR EQ...). I added a track of vibes, some of Analog, some Operator...but took them all out in favor of two tracks of Live's Electric plugin. Then I tracked bass through the DOD, and it was enormously low--so much so that I decided the kick should occupy a higher frequency range, and spent time fiddling to get a kind of balance. Saturday night I tracked guitar (Epi Moderne, through Vox Wah and Reuss RF-01, but also just through Vox Wah), and put a rough arrangement together. Some further fiddling, and here we are. (Sends: two convo reverbs, one amp spring and one room, and a delay. Full-chain master on the master channel.)
Title from the Kola Superdeep Borehole, for obvious reasons.
This started with a little drum pattern I was hearing in my head, and which I thought I'd (once again) have in a drum rack of Analog instruments. (I tweaked the kick from last week, and it's sounding a little closer to what I want.) I added another channel of Analog ("Canadian Boards" preset) for a warbly little melody fragment, and put down some Simpler with a Mellotron single-note sample to accompany it. This seemed to suggest a kind of 80s-technology aesthetic, so I also put in a Simpler instrument with a Fairlight sample (the "Swanee" airy pipe), and for extra percussion, a Drum Rack of PAiA drum machine single-hit samples.
Saturday night, I tracked bass (Epi P-J straight into the board, Cabinet plugin and reverb send to give it air, some EQ-8 to roll off sub-100Hz), some guitar (Epi Moderne through Reuss Repeater Fuzz and Vox Wah straight to the board). While I tracked some melodic lines, I ended up relying more on dissonant harmonics and fragments than full lines. For a final x-factor, I tracked some noisy Bastl Kastle.
With the bass, I'd thought to keep up the 80s theme and flange it, and then took that out...but brought it back as an automation that I bring in every so many bars. Sends were just a room-sized Convolution reverb (Auto-filter in front to roll off bass and reduce boominess) and a simple delay.
Title comes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirty-Six_Dramatic_Situations
I wanted to try a different approach to things this week, and built up a track with some layers of evolving/developing/heavily processed sounds. There's a simple kit of Analog-synth drum hits (this also goes through parallel vocoder processing), Ableton's Light and Shadow Operator synth preset, Collision with the gong preset (going through the filter taps effect), Collision with the Pitch Pad preset, bass (parallel processed with different Auto-Filters: one a low pass only, and one low and high to give a band from 100Hz to 1KHz), and Kastle synth. There are three send channels: two convolution reverbs, and one Max Spectral Delay; there's a lot of send automation as well as auto-pan on almost everything.
Title from the fact that the Triangulum galaxy is M33.
(Track art: By Alexander Meleg - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31...)
I thought I'd do a house track this week, but the drum pattern was kind of boring...until I cut the tempo in (nearly) half. I'd written some synth parts that I ended up taking out, and then adding piano and Rhodes, along with bass (Epi P-J) and guitar (Epi Moderne, with Vox Wah and occasionally Reuss Repeater Fuzz). There's a drum rack of dry funk drums with a 909 kick (auto-filter on everything to emphasize percussiveness and distort), impulse hand claps, a drum rack of single-hit tabla samples, a drum rack of Rhythm Ace single hits. Lots of things got high-pass auto-filter to carve out some space, and the bass got a sidechain from the 909 kick. M4L humanizer on drums, tablas, and hand claps. Sends are two convolution reverbs (one long for almost everything and one short for the bass and drums) with high-pass auto-filter to keep it from booming, and a chain of simple delay and filter delay with an LFO band-pass auto-filter in front. Nearly everything got auto-pan and the percussion got some delay automation.
Title from the fact that I slowed everything down.
This week I wanted to hear something dubby and bass-heavy, with two bass lines going, and this is the result. Tracks: Drum Rack of a trap set played with brushes, with Auto-Filter for tone-shaping. Also a Drum Rack of hand drum hits, Impulse instrument of hand claps, and a 909 kick, all of them going through Auto-Filter to varying degrees as well.
Keys: Electric piano (MKI2 Crunchy) through LFO Auto-Filter for a wah effect, and Operator (Funky Organ).
Bass: two channels of 80s Epiphone P-J (P-pickup only) straight into the board. One channel got 50% of a Cabinet plugin, and the other got Auto-Filter (high-pass with drive) and compression to tame some variance.
Sends: convolution reverb, and a channel of LFO band-pass Auto-Filter into Simple Delay into Filter Delay. The percussion got automation to go to the delay channel at different times, while that was nearly constant for the electric piano. All MIDI instruments got M4L Humanizer, and everything except the trap set and primary bass got Auto-Pan. The master channel got Full-Chain Master for compression/limiting.
Title from the dub feel and ride cymbal.