Module Task 1: Audio Effects

I started off my sketch by recording a basic drum rhythm with Impulse. I then recorded a vocal ‘fly away, fly away my dear’ and used the transpose control to pitch it down an octave and I used the complex warp tool to create an eery male vocal sound. I also added some reverb to this vocal and a slight delay.

I then created another audio track which I applied a resonator (set the first note to D#) and looper to and just said the word ‘fly’. This created a robotic bell kind of sound which complimented the drum rhythm.

I also created another audio track which I applied the saturator, reverb, ping pong delay and EQ to. I made a ‘shhhhp’ kind of noise with my mouth and the saturator emphasised the ‘shhh’ part of the sound while the reverb dragged it out which then streamed into the ping pong delay. I played with the automation of the delay and wetness of the reverb in the envelopes tab, so over 8 bars of the sound relating, there would be a subtle build and increase of the amount of reverb.  When this sound sits in with the rest of the mix it almost sounds like an atmospheric drain with water droplets of some kind.

Finally I finished by creating one more audio track. I wanted this to be the actual melodic   understandable vocal so I didn’t do too much to it. I applied EQ, some compression and reverb. I brought down the mid frequencies in the EQ as my vocal was becoming a bit distorted in the mid range and the reverb helped it sit well with all the other sounds I had made with the audio effects.

Mapping a track to Ableton

The track I decided to map to Ableton was my track ‘Shadow’ as there’s a large number of different elements which in a performance setting would be hard for me to perform without something such as Ableton and rather than just having a backing track.

I exported all my different channels from my Logic file as audio files and saved them in a folder called ‘shadow stems’.

I then imported these audio files into a folder I made in Ableton. I selected the files and dragged them into an audio channel in arrangement view. I had a lot of problems at this point as some of my audio files had imported and been set to the wrong tempo. I realised I had not turned the ‘auto warp long samples’ setting off in preferences.

I selected all the tracks and having altered the global BPM to 85, I clicked the warp button which then altered all tracks to match the global BPM. I also went through the tracks deleting any blank tracks that had been imported.

I then began to segment the tracks according the different sections and used the loop brace to help me split the sections. Having the individual section selected I was then able to drag them into session view and create a scene of clips out of this section of my track which meant I was able to individually trigger clips from that section and play around with my track a lot more.

I then created a new midi channel and dragged a guitar sound onto to the channel. I then tried creating an instrument rack by grouping the guitar sound with another sound (synth).

This meant I could layer as many instruments as I wanted and play them together or I could control which instruments would be triggered with different parts of my keyboard. I also had a go at applying some audio fx to the individual instruments.

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I also had a go at creating an audio effects rack.  I dragged two different audio effects onto one of my audio clips and grouped them (I used the Flanger and reverb audio effects on the bell clip of my track). I then wanted to map particular aspects of my effects onto one of the macro controllers so I could manipulate the audio clip during performance with just one control rather than having to alter lots of different elements with a lot of different controls.

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I created an audio effect rack with the Flanger and reverb effects on my audio clip. 
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I mapped some specific features of both audio effects onto the Macro controller 1 which would mean I could alter these effects all at once very easily during a performance. 

I played around with the minimum and maximum figures for each mapped element and reduced the maximum amount of decay time and wetness on the reverb as my bell sound became too saturated at the point of distortion if I turned the macro controller 1 up too much.

Finally I experimented with the Simpler. I created a new midi track and dragged the simpler onto it. I then took my audio clip of the bells and dragged that into the simpler. When I clicked on the slice tool, it then split the clip at all the transients and immediately let me play the same piece of audio but with my keyboard chromatically.

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I’d love to perform one of my songs such as ‘shadow’ implanting the use of audio racks and the macro controllers along with using the simpler to map some of my more complex parts onto a keyboard quite simply. It creates so much scope for more experimentation with performance it’s exciting. It’s also such an opportunity to bring some more life and character to parts of a song, which although might sound good on a recording, might need some more oomph in a live setting.

Ableton Live – Creating Beats

After reading through the Ableton ‘Creating Beats’ lesson, I had a play around with Impulse and the drum rack to get used to it and explore it a bit further.

I started by creating some empty clips in an empty midi track. I selected one of the Impulse pre-sets ‘Backbeat room’ and used it to create some basic beats. I started very minimally with just a kick drum and added more detail with each new clip I recorded to follow the typical build within a song.

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I started with a simple kick drum pattern… 
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I filled my last clip with a more complex pattern having also adjusted the velocity of some of the midi notes. 

In total I made about 6 clips which progressed until I had a more complex drum beat which I also applied a groove to.

Having had a play around with Impulse, I then went on to look at the drum rack and read though the ‘Instrument, Drum and Effect Racks’ lesson.

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I enjoyed having a play with this as there is a lot more creative scope for sound design. I particularly liked how easy it was to make a simple beat hold a lot more depth and sound a lot more hand crafted. For example, the kick in my first few Impulse clips was quite plain and I really love a strong bassy kick with a bit of reverb and a real presence. I was able to play around a lot more with elements like this in the drum rack looking at modulation and reverb.

Here is a small snippet of a combination of clips playing some of the beats I created with Impulse but also using some of the sounds I created in the drum rack.

 

FINAL VIDEO

Evaluation of final video

For my final video, I decided I wanted to create a lyric video for one of my original tracks ‘Undone’. A lot of artists I like increasingly are creating lyric videos for their songs and I believe they’re becoming more and more popular.

One of my inspirations for my video was the lyric video for a song called ‘Oceans’ by Hillsong united. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw ) I particularly like the depth they create through a variety of layers and how it draws you in to look deeper. I also loved the contrast between the slow movement of water with quick sample like layers.

As my video was showing the lyrics for my song, I needed the imagery & aesthetic of the video to almost represent the lyrics and create a certain ‘vibe’ which was coherent with the ‘vibe’ of the song.

I wanted to keep it quite simple and leave space at times but also leave the video up for interpretation. I didn’t want it to be obvious, I wanted it to be mysterious/intriguing. Being a huge fan of photography, I had previously taken a series of photos around the topic of depression which is one of the subtle themes within my song. I wanted to incorporate these photos some how into my video and they inspired me to keep the colour theme very minimal; black’s, white’s and some minimal blue, grey’s.

Above are a few examples of the photo’s I wanted to incorporate in my video. As these were photos and not videos, I decided to try some kind of stop-motion video. I created a sequence of all my photos but reduced their span to about a third of a second each. I then repeated this sequence. I played it with my track but it felt way too frantic and too fast paced for the speed and feel of my song, especially for the beginning which is probably the most chilled part of the song.

I therefore decided I wanted some kind of quite captivating footage which was soothing at the same time. I looked through my lyrics again and one of the things that kept coming to mind was some sort of smoke, fog or steam. It’s slow moving and quite abstract and one of the theme’s of my song is how people can get caught into cycles of self hurt. They can become dependant on things which they don’t realise are hurting them and leaves their outside friends to be hurt in the process. One of the main topics is drugs as part of this process, so I felt smoke would be a very fitting visual for part of my video.

I found some stock footage of some slow moving grey smoke and created a nice frame on a black background for the foundation of my video. I then experimented some more with my sampled photos. This involved me duplicating a lot, creating some random patterns, deleting some, and also playing around with the individual effects of each photo. I played around a lot with their opacities and the scale and positioning of the photos. I wanted them to feel quite random and sporadic, especially at the chorus as this is where instrumentally in my song there is also a lot going on. With a few of the photos I also created some masks and used the feathering tool so they layered more smoothly over each other.

After watching my video back and having added lyrics for whole song, I wanted to change a few things. I felt there needed to be more light and shade between the different parts of the song. I deleted a lot of the tiny little samples within the verses and made them just very sharp and quick but not as often as in the chorus. I also made sure within the verses there were only the two images (one left half of the screen, the other the right half of the screen) taking it in turns to flash on and off, whereas in the chorus’ I had smaller photos within the centre of the screen and some randomly positioned photos as well as the halves. After watching back with the lyrics, I decided I wanted to make the lyrics appear one word at a time rather than a line at a time. I added a cross fade to all the lyrics and made sure they appeared when the lyrics were sung. This added more depth as they layered over each other at times and all had different times that they would eventually fade away.

I really liked my finished video. I liked how all the elements kind of fed off each other. I felt the lyrics worked nicely along side the smoke and the photos added a quite disturbing yet interesting element to my video. The overall effect I was going for was quite abstract and weird but captivating and I think I was able to achieve that.

However, if I had more time I would work more closely with some of the colours of the sampled photos and perhaps work even more closely with their timing and the music. I would also focus on adding even more light and shade within the video for example, looking at when the smoke footage came in in comparison to other elements and if it was needed.

DIY Performance Video

For this task I recorded using my iPhone 6s and set it up at one end of the piano I was playing to get a nice perspective of the keys. I also gently overlay another shot which is more focused on my head to get a different perspective.

I’m quite disappointed with this video. I think I could do a lot better and with more time would have created something much better. There could be a lot more variety of the shots rather than just the very side angle of the keys (you can’t even properly see my hands) and even the shot of my head is quite transparent so isn’t garishly obvious.

I tried to organise filming one of my friends who’s just released an EP, playing the grand piano in the chapel with my DSLR Canon camera for this task, however, we were unable to find a time before this deadline in order to record.

I tried to make do with the footage I had by creating a nice looking faded adjusting the colours slightly to be a bit less intense. But If I would have managed to record in the chapel, my main shot would probably have been of Ben’s (the musician) top half sat at the piano and then I would have played around with some closer shots of his hands on the keys, some shots of the inside of the grand piano and also some further out shots of the chapel of the piano and his silhouette with the huge stained glass window behind.

A Capella cuts video

For this video I recorded people making some different sounds which I would then be able to play around with, layering and sampling them with each other to create a piece of music.

What I liked about doing this was the fact I was able to have complete control over what I was getting as content for my video rather than having to rely on certain things on youtube e.g. I could decided what noises I wanted the people to make.

If I had more time and worked back on this particular task, I would take more care over the aesthetic of the different clips being sampled and the final overall aesthetic of the video. For example, I would have people stand in front of plain backgrounds or in front of a green screen so I would be able to merge the samples and layer with some moving visuals. I’d also perhaps consider creating a more melodic video with harmonies and different parts of an arrangement. But I feel this task taught me more about premiere in regards to certain effects you can play with and working with lots of different components and layers at once.

Samples Task Video

For this task I wanted to use sounds that could be layered in a variety of ways. I first started looking for people playing tutorials of certain instruments or playing unusual instruments so I would somehow be able to create a song with all these different elements joining together. However, in order for it to sound coherent, I wanted to find the clips with the melodic instruments in the same key but this became a very impossible task quite quickly.

I then remembered watching some funny youtube videos where people had used politicians speeches and phrases to create a song. This gave me the inspiration to try and get Donald Trump to sing ‘Reach for the stars’ by S Club 7. Having looked through the lyrics ‘When the world, leaves you feeling blue, you can count on me, I will be there for you etc’ it would seem quite ironic for Donald Trump to be relaying them.

I began cutting samples from hoards and hoards of Trump speeches and interviews. This was quite enjoyable at first as I was able to find quite a few phrases quite quickly, but this soon became very difficult.

After listening to over 30 hours of trump’s incredibly annoying and monotonous voice, I decided to call it a day with my attempt at this sample video and have a bit of a break. I got quite a way with it, however there were still a lot of gaps where I was finding it extremely difficult to find words such as ‘rainbow’ or ‘stars’ and I couldn’t find the will in me to listen to any more trump to even find words which sounded similar.

I therefore made this 30 second snippet sampling some youtube videos to at least say I’d done this task and show that I could cut up video and layer it…

I still aim to finish my trump ‘Reach for the stars’ video, I just think I need some more time.