Remixing Leigh's (Pneuman) track is simply taking me too long and the
baby's due next week so I'm just releasing this remix. It's not finished
though but I will probably never finish it, for the moment I have enough
of all the quirks of the software I'm using.
Here's the remix, hope you like it. Actually it's not really a remix but
basically a complete new song.
So sorry Leigh that I probably won't finish it but it just doesn't work.
Every time I wanted to work on this the track sounded differently again
(probably because of some rogue plug-ins, I suspect some of the Calf
ones), or the session didn't start up because JACK doesn't like some
apps loading simultaneously or too quickly one after another and there
were also some stupid actions on my side like deleting complete tracks
or buses of which I thought I didn't need them anymore resulting in a
complete mess. Next project I will make a backup of my Qtractor session
every single time I have worked on it.
Ok, what did I do? Well, I tried remixing one of Leigh Dyer's (Pneuman)
tracks, namely Move Along.
My goal was to create a nice dance-able electro tune out of it. So I had
to speed everything up quite a lot (from about 85 to 125BPM I reckon)
but Rubberband did the job marvelously. It even changed the vocal
samples in such a way that they just sounded very inspiring so it was
really fun to find the right sounds that could go with the vocals. And I
wanted to alter the melody in some parts so enter Zita-AT1 from Fons.
With this track I learned all the ins and outs of this great tool and
ended up with vocal parts that Fons will probably despise but hey, it IS
an autotuner after all! So thanks Fons! Amazing tool, especially when
you feed it MIDI stuff, it does wonders then.
Next I added a vocoder to the vocals for the chorus, the MDA one which I
like best compared to the other ones available. I wanted to try the TAL
one but somehow my setup doesn't like Juce based plug-ins. I'm having a
faint hunch that those plug-ins aren't real-time safe which may sound
weird but they seem to work better with a generic kernel. On a real-time
kernel they lock up my system within half an hour.
All the samples were fed into Qtractor by Hydrogen. Hydrogen is a great
sampler but the 0.9.5 version I used is so unreliable. One of the main
reasons I don't pursue this remix is Hydrogen. Reordering, adding or
deleting instruments, ah ah, don't even try, very often Hydrogen stalled
then and if it did work the JACK graph wasn't updated properly. And
because of this behavior and trying to troubleshoot it I had moments
when I thought, wtf am I doing? I want to make music, not filing
bugreports or troubleshooting my own system. One day my session didn't
start up anymore. It really took me too long to find out I had to raise
the number of available JACK ports. Default is 256 but this project uses
way more ports than that.
Qtractor... Yeah, I cursed at that one every once in a while too. But
that was also because of the other apps I used that just don't work that
well with Qtractor, specifically seq24. I really need to ditch seq24 and
start looking at alternatives like HarmonySEQ. seq24 is dead and staying
with JACK 0.118.x just because of seq24 is just plain silly. But
Qtractor proved itself again, dozens of tracks, dozens of plug-ins, no
biggie. Automation is still a tad fiddly but if I find a good way to
express what the actual issues are I'm sure Rui will improve it faster
than you expect.
Plug-ins, well, for softsynths I used some zynaddsubfx DSSI's and the
MDA JX10 VST, a lot of compressors (SC3, SC4, linuxDSP Pro-Dynamics,
Invada stereo compressor), the obligatory Calf Vintage Delay for the
crash, Calf Saturator for the vocals and drums in the chorus, a lot of
different reverbs, the MDA vocoder VST for the chorus and a distortion
somewhere, I think for the MDA JX10. And I worked a lot with inserts for
the vocals (to feed them into Zita-AT1) and the bass synth (sidechain
Besides the plug-ins I used Zita-AT1 (two instances, Zita-AT1 doesn't
like getting fed overlapping samples so I split those between the two
instances), Yoshimi (in some cases the zynaddsubfx DSSI and Yoshimi
sounded differently), Hydrogen, seq24 and Zita-DPL1 as the limiter on
the Master bus.
Sample-wise I used a lot of Leigh's original stems, like the crash, the
piano, the vocals, a kick here and there and some bass parts. For the
chorus I used some samples from a Sequential Circuits DrumTrax
samplepack. I got the kick from some blog, http://www.boyinaband.com/.
Like I said, the track isn't finished. The chorus lacks energy because
of unbalanced levels and missing stuff in the lower regions, some of the
samples click because they are being processed in real-time by Hydrogen
and I wanted to use some cutoff filtering in the bridge but had such a
hard time setting it up in Qtractor that I dropped that idea. And the
mix is too dry and needs more compression, it's just too tame.
So, time to move along. I probably won't be making any music for some
weeks, my girlfriend is 39 weeks pregnant so I'll become dad again very
soon. Also I have a different busier job for which I also try to study a
bit at home. Luckily it's fascinating stuff (Asterisk & Kamailio, so
VoIP telephony with SIP) and being the only one at that company with a
solid Linux background is very gratifying also, but also very demanding.
But new stems are coming my way, next project will be a remix of a The
Cut/Up track (http://www.reverbnation.com/thecutup). And I'm also
working on some acoustic stuff, so something completely different.
Despite our little family growing I do hope to release more stuff in 2012.
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