This month I took a new leap from artist to producer.
For my piece, I wanted to challenge myself to go a little outside of the norm of my typical style of producing. I wanted something that would work well for a video game or music genre. I thought maybe some television also. More than just the genre, I sought out to challenge myself with different tempos, meters, and feels of music. From there I can formulate exactly what direction I want to go. As I got further into the piece I realized that this song could work well with a few different types of media and styles. I categorized it as being a pop piece because I can definitely hear pop influences in it, and potentially an artist putting some vocals onto it. It also is malleable and can be formed into a bunch of different things, and/or manipulated and change to easily fit whatever an artist is going for. If it wasn’t for the music medium I would definitely go with a video game or commercial vibe with this song. It will work well for racing game or even something like a Snuggies commercial. The reason I say it’s flexible is because I can easily change out the synths for vocals and guitars to fit some different genera. I could even add orchestral things and make it feel entirely different. That’s why I like this song. I could hear it go on many different directions.
For the meter I decided to make this song incorporate different structures. I started out with 6/8 timing, went into 5/8 timing, and then back to 6/8 timing. I wanted to challenge myself to rhythmically pull out of the box of the typical rock or R&B genre that I normally go for, and get something that would trick my ears and cause interest. I also wanted to find a way to make the drums not be entirely straight but pull the listener around through the musical melodies and atmospheres like a ride through some nice scenery. The 5/8 timing helped lend itself to that. I decided to use synths for now because they relate to the current pop genre of music, as well as, sensing that synth sounds would be as close to a vocal that fits this track as possible. That way if I wanted to switch it out with anything else it wouldn’t be very difficult process to accomplish. I actually very much enjoyed the sound of the synths once it was in there. If I were to put this on my own artistry I would leave the synths how they are, and then write vocally and instrumentally around them. I also found that the feel of the song could lend itself well to video game in commercial appeal with the seventh sounds. It can be background enough, but also still interesting enough to add presents to whatever the audience is looking at. On the bass, I definitely knew that I did not want the bass to sit still, but be as interesting as the drums are without being too complex. The drums and the bass, in my opinion, need to go well together, so I wanted to find a way to make it move and cohesiveness with the drums yet still stand alone as it’s own part. Almost like a solo bass that fills in the lower portion that the rest of the song sits on. The drums and the bass fit well together and in harmony with each other. I almost wanted the bass and all the other instruments be their own solo while at the same time fitting in with the entire choir of instruments.
For the key, I decided to do the track in a minor key and use the relative chords also. I chose Em and pulled chords from G also. I chose a minor key because I wanted it to have a darker feel, while at the same time moving around. Like a star flying through the night sky. As the song move forward in being created, I decided to try to pull a lighter more vibrant feel from the minor key. This became even more challenging but ended in quite a unique result. The chords I use were…
A Section | Am7 C7 | Em7 | F# dim | Am G | Am7 C7| Em7 | F#dim | Am C|
B Section | F#dim Am| G | C Em| C | F#dim Am| G | C Em| C |
C Section | Am | G | Em7 | F | Am |G |Em7 | F|
D Section | D | F | F# dim | G | Am | B | C |G |
I particularly liked how the F sharp diminished chord made the song have dissonance and pool to make you feel like you are still on a journey and haven’t arrived yet. I threw a lot of seventh chords in there as well to fill out the chord progressions a little. Since the A section and B section were a little busier, I wanted to use the C-section and D section as a simpler progression that builds momentum higher and higher until it arrives back at the busy A section again. Like a roller coaster. Up and down and building back up to the top. Melody wise, I was thinking as a vocalist. I decided to play what would sound like the lead singer singing. I wanted it to be an actual song in itself. I want to be memorable enough for a listener to be walking around humming it as if it had been written and sung by their favorite artist.
I also decided to add some nylon string guitar to the song. I recorded the audio through a microphone instead of plugging the guitar in because the quality sounded better. I didn’t want the guitar to be strummed or to stand out too much. I wanted it to be almost like a sound effect. Just something extra to sit under the mix and add little hints of sound here and there. The obstacles I ran into were keeping the guitar tuned, and how to best fit all of it in the song without taking away from the piece itself. The tuning actually ended up being a benefit for me because I found that it being slightly detuned helped in the dissonance feeling if it was buried a lot in the song. I also added effects to it to keep it more spacey and lowered in the track. I didn’t want it to stand out too much but just add another layer. I found that recording acoustic guitar through a vocal mic actually works quite well. It all depends on how it is placed. A little something I learned and will continue to use.
For my mix, I started with a noise gate on the recorded acoustic guitar. I wanted to take out any noise that was not associated specifically with what I wanted the hits of the guitar to be doing since it’s playing was very sporadic. It wasn’t in the whole time so when it was in, I wanted it to be in. When it was out, I wanted it to be out. I also added a reverb through a bus and used that reverb on the drums and acoustic. I put it higher in the mix for the acoustic to make it more spacey. Drums I kept it low or just to add a little bit of presence. I also put a compressor on the kick, snare, acoustic, and bass guitar. The compressor added a bit more presence to all of them, while keeping the harder hits pushed down and pulling the lower hits out. I really like what it did for the sound of the bass and the drums together. It made them even more cohesive, which is what I was trying to do. Finally, I put a delay through a bus onto the acoustic to add even more of a space like feeling to the acoustic guitar. From there, I mixed my track. I started with the drums, then I put the bass in, then from there mixed and panned the rest of the instruments to fill the sound space. I quite enjoyed this project and new endeavor of production.