Following the studio session on Friday, I took to FL Studio to make a basic MIDI mock-up of the song. That afternoon and part of the weekend was spent working on this first demo version.
The first thing I did was work on the structure of the song, by putting in a combination of drum loops (that I had made previously from an old demo of mine entitled “Mithril”) and programmed drum sample “patterns.” The reason I did this first is because I believe a song’s structure is it’s foundation – if I can solidify the different sections in the song (chorus, verse, etc) early on, it seems easier for me to write the music in those sections with that in mind. The structure is obviously subject to change, but it’s what makes the track a song, or rather a “pop” song.
This first demo starts off with the short 2 bar Mithril drum loop as an intro, with the last beat in the second bar cut off to signify a change. After this, the acoustic guitar comes in over the drum loop for another 4 bars, to introduce the feel and atmosphere of the verse. The drum loop keeps going and programmed kick drums are also introduced as Rachel’s vocals come in for the verse. 8 bars later and harmonies are introduced in a 4 bar pre-chorus section, where the chord progression on the guitar and bass synth change.
The first chorus section is introduced with a second Mithril drum loop, which includes open and closed hi-hats, and some syncopated claps. More programmed percussion is introduced such as hi-hats, tambourine hits, and a snare drum. The chorus has the same chord progression as the verse. I also tried playing around with Rachel’s chorus vocals here, adding a send from the vocal track to a different mixer track allowed me to create a subtle, distorted, walkie-talkie like effect on Rachel’s vocals, which I then panned to the right channel. More elements such as a pad synth and an arpeggiated lead synth are introduced in the later chorus sections.
The last beat in the first chorus ends on a reverberated clap sample which has also been compressed to give it more of an ambient feel rather than a distinct “clap”. Everything except the acoustic guitar pulls away for a 4 bar pre-verse solo. The guitar performance in this section is out of time at the moment but I’ll get to editing that for a later version (this is supposed to be a mock up after all).
The second verse has another different Mithril drum loop which is similar to the chorus loop, except the open hat and claps are removed. The second pre-chorus section has the pad synth (mentioned in the last paragraph) fade in over the whole pre-chorus using a low-pass filter (Fruity Fast LP). The pad synth is gated using Gross Beat. To quote Image-Line’s website, Gross Beat is “a time and volume manipulation effect designed for repetition, scratching & gating effects”, and I chose to use it to help duck the synths behind the drums in the mix. I already use it often on bass synths in my FL Studio projects.
Finally we have the last chorus, which is double the length – 16 bars – and introduces the arpeggiated lead synth which is also gated using Gross Beat. The outro section is a 16 bar repetition of the chorus lyrics, with a much more gentle feel – all elements are stripped back to reveal quieter vocals, a quieter guitar performance, and a bitcrushed version of the first Mithril drum loop, with a low pass filter on it to make it sound more muffled and consequently softer.
Not much else happened through the week project-wise, except for discussion about interdisciplinary opportunities. Considering the project is due in three weeks, we may be too late to organise anything, and it might just be easier and “safer” I guess to stick to what we have and at least do a good job of delivering to the brief. We’ll see, though.
Next week, I hope to have another version of the track ready so we can A-B the two versions and pick the best. Also looking forward to getting some decent feedback from the tuning session.
Image-Line (2016) Gross Beat [Website] Retrieved 7th October, 2016, from http://www.image-line.com/plugins/Effects/Gross+Beat/