On Wed, Aug 22, 2007 at 02:33:17PM -0700, Ken Restivo wrote:
> What do you use to get those crazy breakbeats? Is that Hydrogen? Some custom PD/SC/CSound/ChucK stuff?
The beats themselves are 'classic breaks' which you can source just
about anywhere, but one great place that has a whole list of them in one
spot is .
is an absolute classic which
you can hear everywhere. Once you know it well it starts to jump out at
you in advertisements and all kinds of music, but I digress.
Once I've selected the break I want for the particular tune I am working
on, I load up a tracker program (Soundtracker, Cheesetracker, or ModPlug
under Wine) and get it playing at the right pitch/speed for the track. For
jungle/drum and bass this is about 180 BPM, and for breaksbeat, big-beat,
etc. this is often about 140 to 160 BPM. You can also pitch shift,
time shift, add distortion, clipping, compression, whatever to give it
more life. There's something about the sample-accuracy of trackers that
gives this kind of music an exactitude that I've found missing when
using midi sequencers.
Next I chop it up into bits by hand. This really depends on the break,
and on the song. One way to chop it is into a section starting with the
bass drum, a section starting with the first snare drum, and a section
starting with a snare drum that leads into a fill. This gives you an
arsenal of 'rolling' sounds that you can string together into various
interesting phrases. Which is basically what I do next - I put together
an interesting base phrase using the pieces, and then from there I spend
many hours (sometimes days) writing variations on that phrase for
different bits of the tune. I like to make it so that no two bars sound
exactly the same, and this gives the tune an improvised, 'jazzy' feel
(though I use that word extremely naÃ¯vely since I have had no jazz
training whatsoever). One way to ensure that no two bars sound the same
is to re-write the phrase by hand each time instead of copying and
pasting and doing a kind of 'chinese whispers' in your head so that the
beat changes each time you write it.
In Pd I have actually come up with some algorithms for shifting
breakbeats around so that they make interesting sounding fills.
Basically this entails playing each 16th of the breakbeat separately in
time with your tune (so that the beat is re-constituted) and then
shifting those sixteenths forward and backward from the position they
are supposed to be at, in time with the beat. It's kind of complicated
to explain, but if anyone wants I could dig up a Pd patch to do it. The
algorithm just tries to codify, and attach to a midi knob, what I do
manually in a tracker so that it can be done live in realtime.
>From there, there are lots of little tricks to making variations in the
sound to get that intesely sequenced feel like chopping samples short,
looping bits, putting delay on, and other effects. One great thing about
ModPlug is that you have very fine grained control over effects which
you can program to change parameters every single tick. So you can make
your effects as exact as the beats and have them changing in time in
response to what is going on in the song.
Sorry about this long email; I hope I answered your question!