Archive for the lessons Category

Production 101: Making your own sounds easily

Posted in electronic music, lessons, music, music production, sound design with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by finerethan

As I get more and more into the electronic music and DJ world, I find that sites like djtechtools.com write a lot about being a producer and making your own music.  There are a huge amount of excellent software synthesizers out there, ranging from the free plugins in Logic and Ableton to paid ones like Massive and Absynth from Native Instruments.  I’ve never been a big fan of presets, mostly because of not wanting to have sounds like anyone else; so I spent an obscene amount of hours learning the ins and outs of each soft synth that I had.  What I found was, every synth basically follows the same principles in the way that they are designed and knowing how one works can lead you to figure out another one.  So, I decided to simplify the learning process and teach you how to understand any soft synth and build your own sounds.

Almost all soft synths have a uniform way of generating sound, known as subtractive synthesis.  An oscillator makes a sound (or noise), a filter removes frequencies from that sound, then the result is modulated (changed over time) in some way.

For today, I will be focusing on recognizing the oscillator section of a soft synth.  I have expanded the definition of oscillator to include anything that makes the sound.  A synth using samples or physical modeling is not technically “oscillating,” but it still generates a sound and then filters and modulates, so it’s just easier to look at them all the same.

The first way to locate an oscillator is to look for wave shapes.  In the example below, I’ve put an orange box around the three oscillators of this Logic synth.ImageNotice the wave shapes that you can choose from by turning the dials.  Sine waves, square waves, triangles, pulses, and sawtooth are very common.  I would recommend trying them out to learn what they sound like.  I can also make a video demonstrating the different sounds if anyone asks.  While the layout can be quite different, the idea of having a thing generate the basic sound will always be there.  Here is what Absynth 5 looks like if you go to the Patch tab.

ImageInstead of turning a dial, you choose waves from a drop down menu in Absynth, but the idea is still basically the same.

Ableton went one step easier and actually included the word oscillator in Operator:

Image

Armed with that information, see if you can locate the oscillator section of this synth:

Image

And now try Massive:

ImageMy last example is a physical modeling synth from Logic, if you have trouble, try comparing this one to the Logic example above.

ImageSo the homework is to try out some different sounds and learn what the character of each wave is.  Next time we will look at the different types of filters and how they modify the sound from the oscillators.  If you would like me to cover a specific soft synth or subject, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.

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Back with a vengence!

Posted in bass, jazz, lessons, music, rock, scales, soloing with tags , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by finerethan

Okay, now the long delay is over.  I will be doing two video blogs a week, starting with some basic technique and working my way up!  Here’s lesson #1

Another ii V I substitution

Posted in bass, jazz, lessons, music, music theory, rock, scales, soloing on April 30, 2009 by finerethan

Let’s look at the second half of Blue Bossa.  The chords go to: Ebm7 for one bar Ab7 for one bar  then Dbmaj7 for two bars.  Anytime you have a longer ii V I setup like this, you can compress the two and five chord into one bar, then put another two five a half step below into the next bar.  In the example of Blue Bossa, it would look like:  Ebm7  Ab7 in one bar, then Dm7  A7 in one bar, resolving to Dbmaj7 for two bars.

Try this out with any tune that has ii V I progressions with long harmonic rhythms.  Take a look at All the Things You Are, which is riddled with long ii V’s and enjoy making them chromatic!  This is another sax player trick for how they play so many notes at a time without running out of ideas.  They are chromaticizing the ii V parts of songs.  Enjoy!

turnaround substitutions

Posted in bass, jazz, lessons, music, music theory, rock, scales, soloing on April 28, 2009 by finerethan

Ever play Half Nelson or Ladybird and wonder where those chords at the end come from?  Let’s take a look.

We start with the standard diatonic turnaround: C Am Dm G7.  This is I vi ii V for those of you who like to think of it this way.  The first substitution is to make the turnaround chords dominant, because a dominant chord has more momentum than a minor 7 chord: C A7 D7 G7.  The next step is to play tritone subs for all the chord: C Eb7 Ab7 Db7, and voila! You have the Half Nelson turnaround.  This substitution will sound great even if you play it over the standard turnaround, and any piano or guitar player with experience will be able to catch it the second time around.  Especially if you use some kind of melodic sequence like: 1 2 3 5 of the chords, or an arpeggio.  Sometimes I’ll also walk this underneath a solo to try to push some tension or to try to push a soloist in a direction.

Fun blues substitutions

Posted in bass, jazz, lessons, music, music theory, rock, scales, soloing on April 27, 2009 by finerethan

Sorry for the long delay, I’ve been on the road with the Max Allen Band for several days.  Today, we’ll look at a way to play Giant Steps changes over an F blues.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Giant Steps chords move in a sequence of up a minor third and then resolving to the new one chord (down a fifth).

The same thing can be done with a blues progression; we’ll use an F blues.  The first four bars of a 12 bar F blues are an F7 chord, which gives you a lot of time to play different substitutions.  Putting Giant Steps changes makes the first four bars look like: F7 Ab7 Db7 E7 A7 C7 F7 B7 then the four chord of Bb7.  Each chord lasts two beats until you get to Bb7.  Notice how the sequence works: F7 up a minor third to Ab7 then resolve down to Db7, then up a minor third to E7, then resolve to A7, then up a minor third to C7 then resolve to F7; at this point the sequence is done, but I put in the tritone substitution of B7 to keep the feeling of the chord changes moving two beats at a time.  The beauty of this is that the sequence is strong enough that it can all be played over an F7 chord.  If you’re playing with a piano or guitar player that can hear this substitution, even better.

The best way to approach these changes is to sequence your melody line too.  You can use John Coltrane’s lick: 1, 2, 3, 5 over each chord, which would be F G A C over F7, then Ab Bb C Eb over Ab7, then Db Eb F Ab over Db7, and so on.  What I found on the bass is that I have to have an ascending and descending lick to make it all fit comfortably; so I usually play F G A C over F7, then Ab Eb C Ab in a descending arpeggio, then Db Eb F Ab over Db7, then E B G# E descending over E7, and so on.

This is a really nice substitution, and actually fits a lot of places where you have a static dominant chord.  If you change the last chord, in this case the B7, you can basically make this resolve anywhere.  Enjoy!

new gig footage

Posted in band shows, bass, jazz, lessons, music, music theory, rock, scales, soloing on April 20, 2009 by finerethan

I had 7 gigs in 3 days, so I haven’t had much time to write.  Here’s some gig footage.  You’ll see my strategically placed foot keeping the bass drum in place for most of the show.  The bass solo is over E to C to Dmin, which is a perfect opportunity to use E spanish phrygian: E F G# A B C D, which gives you the essentials of those three chords.  You’ll hear me switching the G# to a G over the C chord to stay in the key, and sometimes playing the G# over the C, just to get a little outside.  Enjoy!

Diminished scale fun

Posted in bass, jazz, lessons, music, music theory, rock, scales, soloing on April 17, 2009 by finerethan

Actually, the diminished scale most commonly used in jazz is called the auxiliary diminished scale.  It’s really the second mode of a diminished scale.  A normal diminished scale is eight notes and goes whole step, half step, whole step, half step until you reach the octave.  It’s Yngwie’s favorite scale!  The auxiliary diminished scale goes half step, whole step, etc…

The way you use this scale is on a chord that looks like: X13b9.  Actually any dominant 13 flat 9 chord is pretty much a guaranty to use this scale.  It’s a nice substitution over any dominant 7 chord.

Let’s take C13b9.  The aux diminished scale that goes with this is: C Db Eb E F# G A Bb.  This scale is such a nice choice because it gets the natural 5th, the flat 9, the dominant 7, and the thirteenth (A) that are all important parts of the sound of the chord.  This scale would also sound nice over a C7 chord.

To transpose, just take start from the root of the chord and play half step, whole step…