January 20, 2011
Desk (by Paul Gibson)

Desk (by Paul Gibson)

December 28, 2010
Sample-heavy songs:

From a “Which song makes the best use of samples” poll:

Beastie Boys - Rhymin & Stealin Okay, didn’t blow me away - sounded the way I expected a basic BB’s tune to sound.

3rd Bass - Sons of 3rd Bass The deep bass sound was the best part of this song.

The Prodigy - Smack My Bitch Up One of my favorite songs. Great groove and tons of energy. I never thought of it as a ‘sample’ song until I saw it on this list.

The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper’s Delight Totally classic. So many funny lines. Felt like it went of for a long time though.

M|A|R|R|S - Pump Up the Volume True to its name…the recording was substantially quieter than the other songs on this playlist. I just listened to it, and I can barely recall what it sounded like. 100% boring. I could have slept through it.

Madonna - Hung Up I didn’t hear where the ‘sample’ element came in on this track. There’s an annoying mid-high pitched synth line that repeats through the first part of the song…maybe that’s it? Very low energy for a ‘dance’ song - not in a purposely chill way either…just generic and repetitive.

Boards of Canada - Aquarius I’m a fan of some of Boards of Canada’s other work (In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country), but I wasn’t crazy about this track. The repeating spoken word ‘orange’ sample sounded laughably sarcastic every time it played. Around 5:20 something musically interesting started to happen…then the song ended.

Paul Hardcastle - 19 Like DJ Shadow + Howard Zinn + Disco…strange.

Public Enemy - Show ‘Em Whatcha Got Didn’t sound like a full song - just the sax sample (from ‘Darkest Light’ by Lafayette Afro Rock Band) over and over and over…I liked the sample better in Jay-Z’s ‘Show Me What You Got’.

Spiller - Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) Basic generic disco…yawn.

DJ Shadow - Midnight In A Perfect World "Insight, foresight, the clock on the walk reads a quarter past midnight…" Another one of my favorite tracks. Love the mood of this track. The trashy drums with lots of deep metallic reverb, the ostinato style slow build of the musical elements, the haunting ahh-oooh vocals floating in the hazy background, the slight vinyl record crackle, and the gradual removal of instrumental layers bringing the stutter-edited vocals to the front of the song at the very end. Tres cool.

Notorious B.I.G. - Mo Money Mo Problems Brings back elementary school memories. I’ve heard this so many times it’s hard to judge this with any perspective.

Styles P - Good Times (I Get High) The opening processed, minor-ish, ’70s sample sounded like something Jay-Z was about to rap over…until some descending synth chords created a harmonic left turn towards a major sound. The two pieces of the song didn’t feel like they worked together. The song also doesn’t really 'go' anywhere - more like an idea than a completed track.

Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock Felt sonically empty during the verses - just a programmed beat, a couple of dissonant rapping voices, and a thin synth line. Sounded like someone selecting a beat on a Casio keyboard then playing around with a synth melody line… for 7 minutes.

Beastie Boys - Sure Shot Finally some energy. A staple BB’s song. A little repetitive, but the arrangement keeps it interesting and danceable with samples coming in and dropping out.

Young MC - Know How “Tough like a bone, sly like stallone…”  haha, and OMG this starts with a sample from Shaft!!! Yes! This track also keeps the energy going. I love the cuts on the samples (the sample diversity and density reminds me a bit of Girl Talk) - and the left/right panning on the record scratches about 2:30 min in are pretty cool… I’m surprised I’ve never heard of this track before. Worth a listen.
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 Which track is your favorite? What else would you recommend for great sample-based tunes?

December 28, 2010
Totally Faded: Chris Coady | XLR8R

An interview with the guy who engineered Beach House’s Teen Dream.

 It was cool to see that he uses a lot of the same equipment I’ve had a chance to use - the SSL G Series, the 1176 compressor, Pro Tools (of course), Neve 1066 preamps, and even the NS-10s.

November 8, 2010
Social Sound Design

From the site:

SSD is a Q&A site encompassing all the wonderful disciplines of sound design: film, game, art and installations, sound effects, new media, software, programming (Max/MSP; Pd, etc.), Arduino and micro-controllers, gear, feedback, recording, techniques and tips…as long as it involves sound design it is welcome here!

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I’ve been gathering online sound design resources and stumbled upon this site.

It seems to be a really great resource for sound designers - whatever your level. All of the posts I’ve read so far have useful answers from knowledgable people. It’s active  - new posts are created and answered on a hourly/daily basis, and there’s a good variety of topics (foley recording, how to find work in sound, software reviews, technical audio engineering questions, etc.). Also, I really like the tag cloud on the front page and the ‘related posts’ box on the thread pages - very helpful for reading deeper into a topic.

November 8, 2010
37 Music Production Tips from the Pros

My favorites:

4. The Stafford Brothers: “Use high-quality sounds. If you are over-EQing a sound to try and make it fit it’s the wrong sound. Move on and find a new one. Plus, always try and read reviews about gear and then download demo versions of plug-ins to get an idea of what they are like.”

12. Luke Vibert: “Depending on what mood I’m in, I can get loads of beats going or just do tiny little bits if I’m not in the mood to do full-on tracks. You should keep everything that you do then there’ll come a day when you finish 20 tracks in one day because all they needed was a little bit of arranging.”

19. RJD2: “One of the hardest things to learn is when not to compress something. I always thought that I should be struggling with compressor settings to get them right but if the instrument sounds fine exactly as it was recorded, just bring up the fader.
"Having a globally objective perspective is also really hard - forcing you to listen to something in the context of the song, not soloed out, and loud. Sometimes, I still have to fight the knee-jerk reaction to process everything and compress it all."

26. Karl Hyde, Underworld: “When I’m writing lyrics and need inspiration, I go for a walk and look at everything around me. I carry a notebook and write it down. When it comes to recording, I sing them straight from the notebook.”

35. Gui Boratto: “Most people usually solo things when equalising. I never solo a track when EQing. I’m also a grid freak. When I create something in MIDI I always record and transform it into audio, to have total control of time and to have other options such as EQs, dynamics and effects.”