A work in progress

I’m a little hesitant to post this, but here goes. :D

This something I’m working on right now - I’m just fleshing out the ideas a bit at a time (when I’m not driving truck 14 hours a day), and happily I have more of a roadmap in my head than I started with.

Thing is, I thought I had a decent mix - tried listening on a couple different systems, and while I know it’s not perfect, it truthfully didn’t sound half bad. Today however, I burned to CD-R along with a bunch of official tracks (Bowie, Gino Vanelli, Rufus, etc.), and brought it to work to critique it. Our 18 wheelers have pretty crappy sound systems in them - they seem to have a real honk or bark to them at moderate volumes, and I already knew that. I had everything set flat, balance right down the middle as far as front/back speakers - the other stuff sounded as okay as it could, but when my tune came up…holy carp! The bass drum, with which I was attempting a Bonham thing via General Midi, was totally awash in reverb, and completely muddy. I knew I went a little overboard, but this was the first time I heard it like that! Uggh.

So I know I have to review that aspect of it, but I’m wondering how the rest sounds to better ears than mine. A couple things I’ve been tearing my hair out over - is there a specific frequency band that I can pull to get rid of that gawd awful “stick tick” on the high hat? I know it’s the nature of GM, but I’ve tried to kill it and it still sounds like someone’s throwing darts at the bell. :laugh:

Another thing that’s been bugging me is the pattern at 2:09 - the triplet hit on the hats with bass drum following. I’ve worked that down to 64th note scale, and it still sounds…not quite right. Almost like there’s a brief stutter. Again, I know it’s the nature of the beast in a way, but it still frustrates me. :angry: As well, try as I might, for some reason I could get the individual drums that you hear to sound, but never the GM splash, china or alternate crash. I wanted to do a few things with those (I love drumming fiddly bits), but no go.

Having said all that, I am planning to most likely redo it with a decent drum VST - eventually. It’s just that I hate not knowing the answers to these kinds of things. :cool:

Shaker Loop

Liked the groove, maybe a little eq-ing to bring some life to the highs may help. The flange sound on the cymbals seemed to peter out a little. (That was flange on the cymbals right?)
Made me think of Art Of Noise Band! Cool! :D

That’s a great groove and I love the analog synth sounds. I really wanted the composition to jump to another riff at about the 1:30 mark though… a slower, orchestral chorus would really complement the driving part.

I tend to have the same problem with my mixes. They sound good on headphones, and lousy over speakers. I think its a common problem with home recording. That said, I listened to this over headphones and thought the mix was pretty good. Maybe a little boomy on the low end if anything.

For drums I’ve recently switched to using the Gold Drums soundfont … I think it sounds pretty good if you want a realistic acoustic drum set.

Thanks for the replies.

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Liked the groove, maybe a little eq-ing to bring some life to the highs may help. The flange sound on the cymbals seemed to peter out a little. (That was flange on the cymbals right?)
Made me think of Art Of Noise Band! Cool!


I tried to notch up the high end a little bit, but unfortunately I think I might be too focused on that damn high hat ticking, because it seemed like anything I did would bring that out more, and I want to lessen it. And yes, there’s flange on the cymbals - I was struggling with whether or not to bring that up in the mix. Thing is, I have flange on the cymbals, as well as the “bass” part (strangely, I’m a bassist, and yet I think this piece will end up with no bass guitar on it!), the Mellotron parts, and possibly one of the rhythm guitar parts I’m thinking of, so I was concerned it might be a bit too much.

Art Of Noise - I’ve heard of them, but am not familiar wit them at all. That’s actually cool though - my biggest concern (probably no different than anyone else) is that I’d work so hard on something only to have someone note that it sounds exactly like Song X from any of my favourite groups. I already have a few really old ideas (just bass & drum machine on cassette) that I love but are way too obviously rips of something else (like a takeoff of Yes’ On The Silent Wings Of Freedom - I just don’t want to scrap the idea though!).

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That’s a great groove and I love the analog synth sounds. I really wanted the composition to jump to another riff at about the 1:30 mark though… a slower, orchestral chorus would really complement the driving part.


Thank you. For the record, that’s basically GForce/M-Audio (whatever they’re calling themselves) M-Tron and the second melody is M-Tron with a couple Minimonsta sounds mixed together. It was one of my happiest days when I discovered the M-Tron. :D I could totally see myself way overusing it though. :cool:

When I started, the plan was for the musical portion to be basically static (the rolling ostinato) and for the drums to carry the actual interest - I didn’t think I was going to come up with any more ideas at that point. But I did, so now the plan is to maybe find a better place for that second melody (@ 2:10) a little earlier, and I’m also thinking about extending the front part of it so I can fade it in rather than have it start abruptly - thoughts on that? I’m all of a sudden undecided, but I think that’s because I’ve lived with it for a few days. Then, nearer the end I want a sort of reprise with both the first Mellotron string melody & and that 2nd part playing simultaneously towards the outro.

I also have to consider leaving space for guitar - as I said, I plan on 2 rhythm parts, and then there’s a lead somewhere. What I have in mind is something Howe or Hackett like (definitely not blues noodling), although right now I don’t know if I want “majestic” (think the slide in And You & I) or a little more furious. Hopefully a guitarist buddy of mine will get around to jumping into the world of DAW soon.

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I tend to have the same problem with my mixes. They sound good on headphones, and lousy over speakers. I think its a common problem with home recording. That said, I listened to this over headphones and thought the mix was pretty good. Maybe a little boomy on the low end if anything.


I don’t think I stated this yet, so I’ll get it out of the way - I’m actually a rank noob when it comes to this stuff, and that includes know what equipment to have. In saying that, I checked earlier on phones (Behringer HPS5000 plugged into the soundcard speaker jack since I had no other choice) and I was horrified at how crappy it sounded! So I pretended it never happened. :D

I’m only using computer desktops right now - they’re good desktops, IMO, but they aren’t monitors, and I know I have to get some in the near future. However, like I said, through the truck speakers, everything else but this piece sounded as it should - and BTW, that included your Teeth & Claws that I burned along with a bunch of other stuff I like (hopefully you don’t mind). Mine was the only one that bummed me out. :D

The good thing is I know where I went wrong - mainly it was a total lack of planning, and that’s always been a weak point for me. Even some of the cassette ideas from long ago, I’d just hurry to put down an idea so I wouldn’t forget, then I’d come up with layering ideas, but with no concern for things being in tune etc. until later on when it was too late. Just means I created twice the work for myself. With this one, it’s partly down to concerns over CPU and crashing, but I submixed a lot instead of having one 16 track project. That’s fine, until I decide I want to change a snare pattern or an EQ setting - then I have to go back to the individual track, fix that, replace it in the (for example) drum mix, then replace that in the drum/bass submix, and on and on. What a stupid way to do things! I do see a dedicated recording computer in my future though, so hopefully that will change the way I do things (no crashing!).

Another small point - I’ve never been good at reading product manuals, and I know that’s to my detriment. Gotta learn how to do all the things I want to do (and that includes MIDI capabilities) much easier than I am. I often spend hours trying to achieve something that should take minutes. And finally, unfortunately, I think I’m one of those that has to collaborate - I have tons of idea fragments, but have a hell of a time coming up with something completely finished on my own (only 1 piece so far, which is one my soundclick page). I’m also not a singer as noted, and have hard time coming up with an overarching melody, which is pretty important.

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For drums I’ve recently switched to using the Gold Drums soundfont … I think it sounds pretty good if you want a realistic acoustic drum set.


Thanks for the tip - I’m trying to investigate any that I get. Groove Agent 3 sounds interesting, but I don’t think I found any sound clips online yet. Drumkit From Hell Vintage is another one. Do you have a track where you used Gold Drums that I can check out?

Flange on the bass? Hehehe, I also like a little flanged bass, makes it have a little growl to it. Are you using a stereo or mono flange on the cymbals? What about the bass?

You can try inserting a para eq on the total mix and find the freq to pull the high hat out a little and then try some higher highs on the upper bands to bring a little presence to the whole mix. Just a thought. Have to be careful tho, I have done it and got too tinny sounding. Home recording, ain’t this fun!

My biggest problem is all the saw dust packed in my head from years of carpentry, it’s a wonder I can hear at all with all the power tools going in a days time.

I liked the groove on this. I didn’t get Art of Noise though? Those are midi drums? Not bad; little verby. About the only thing I missed was some sort of change up to make it even more interesting. I’m quite intrigued by that flange on the cymbal…Oh, I can’t wait to use that!

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Flange on the bass? Hehehe, I also like a little flanged bass, makes it have a little growl to it. Are you using a stereo or mono flange on the cymbals? What about the bass?


I think I actually used the N-Track Flanger 1 on everything that has flange. I tried 2 and stereo, but 1 seemed to work best. Here’s a link to just the drums & bass (I’ve already changed some of the drum patterns, so this is already a little out of date) - for bass I just used the N-Track “da hornet”, although at the moment I can’t recall the setting.

drums and bass

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You can try inserting a para eq on the total mix and find the freq to pull the high hat out a little and then try some higher highs on the upper bands to bring a little presence to the whole mix. Just a thought. Have to be careful tho, I have done it and got too tinny sounding. Home recording, ain’t this fun!


I was trying to edit my other post to add that I might just go back and redo the drum track (since I want to fix that boomy bass drum anyway) and pull the high hat down even more. I thought I was getting a little quiet with it, since I want the open hats to be heard, but now I think it could stand to be brought down a little more after all. But I will play around with the para on the master and see how that goes. In the end I’ll probably ditch the GM drums (heard a demo of Natural Studios drums and they sound great!), but it’s good practice, IMO.

Yeah, fun & frustration go hand in hand with this hobby, huh? :)

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My biggest problem is all the saw dust packed in my head from years of carpentry, it’s a wonder I can hear at all with all the power tools going in a days time.


I hear ya (no pun intended). Same thing for me, except I drive tractor trailer. Even when it’s quiet it’s noisy. ???

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Those are midi drums? Not bad; little verby


Yup, just General Midi that I played around with a whole lot. Basically I started with the whole kit in piano roll and did up the track. Then I cloned it 4 times, and for track 1 I eliminated everything but the bass drum, then track 2 left only the snare, etc. I then converted each to wave and then reimported them to do my drum mix. That’s where the reverb problem came in, I think - I neglected to keep track of what I was doing, and I think I put verb on the bass drum initially, then I probably put it on the drum/strings mixdown I did a few days later, etc.

And for the record - not that it’s good, bad or indifferent, but everything I’ve done to this point has been drawing lines in piano roll. Gotta get around to tracking real instruments eventually. :D

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About the only thing I missed was some sort of change up to make it even more interesting. I’m quite intrigued by that flange on the cymbal…Oh, I can’t wait to use that!


Yeah, it’s really far from done, which was why I was hesitant to post it. But I figured I was ready for some feedback on it. I agree with the idea of added interest - I plan to keep the structure the same (drums, bass, riff), but try to add interest by developing those strings etc., plus some guitar.

As far as the cymbal flange - I was gonna try flange on the snare a la Kashmir, but that didn’t work at all. Tried it on the high hat, but no go there either. Cymbals were the last thing I tried on a lark, and I ended up really liking the sound.

EDIT - HOLD THE PHONE! Those are actually the N-Track drums!! All this time I thought I was working with the GM sounds! I was having such a hard time with them - at one point everything defaulted back to the GM kit (which I’m sure was something I did wrong) and I ended up losing track of things.

just went into N-Track right now and called up the GM kit - made a few hits, heard how crappy they really sound, and realized my mistake. :cool:

Art Of Noise , YouTube, do a search. They re-did a couple tv theme songs, Peter Gunn, Dragnet. Pretty cool stuff from the early '80’s.

I add my “ditto” to the “bit too much reverb on the drums,” but the keyboard sounds are groovy.

Why is it called shaker loop? There is that piece by John Adams of almost the same title…am I being thick? :)

Hmm…front end of a Dodge Charger there if my memory serves? :D

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I add my “ditto” to the “bit too much reverb on the drums,” but the keyboard sounds are groovy.


Yeah, I’m still kicking myself from yesterday when I discovered that I actually had been using the N-Track drums all along - and by playing around with it a bit more, that there are a whole lot more possibilities with that VST than I realized. Like I said, I don’t do very well with the manual reading thing, simply due to laziness I guess. :D

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Why is it called shaker loop? There is that piece by John Adams of almost the same title…am I being thick?


I actually googled the title in the hopes that it wasn’t taken (of course, now I know otherwise, I guess!) - the loop refers to that repeating rolling ostinato, and shaker is for those cool muscle car shaker hood scoops. I suppose I could’ve called it Hemi Loop, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue the same way. :) After I lived with it for a bit, it made me think of an old Mopar launching from a stop light, or perhaps one of those Bullit type chase scenes.

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Hmm…front end of a Dodge Charger there if my memory serves?


Yup - and as luck would have it, it ain’t mine. :( Of course, I took a little creative licence there as well, since the pictured car doesn’t have a shaker scoop either - but I liked the angle of the photo. Looks mean. :)

Mean Ass Cars and Music, hmmm, could there be song in that somewhere?

A very good friend of mine wrote a biography of Bobby Isaac - “What Speed Looks Like” - that has interesting info on the rocket scientists Doge hired to design that car. The marketing folks thought it wouldn’t sell! Ha!

review of book here:

http://www.speedtv.com/articles/auto/nascar/21346/

Hey pretty cool relayer. I’m listening on crap speakers right now so I can’t comment on the mix. For some reason it makes me think of the band Ozric Tentacles. :)

Thanks, HDW. Ozric Tentacles - another band I’ve heard about often but not heard. :D

Don’t worry about not hearing the mix properly - I’m gonna be changing it anyway, and in fact just yesterday I ordered the Natural Studio kit 7 from the U.K. I will be anxiously awaiting it’s arrival! I already have a PDF of the user’s manual - I wonder what the odds are that I’ll get around to reading it? ??? :D