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More and more musicians are choosing to build their own home studios and go it alone these days, as opposed to spending their money on only a few days in a professional studio per year or even less. And that’s great! More agency and self-sufficiency means more time spent honing one’s craft and exploring musical boundaries.
By repeating the root note of the chord a few times, the bass part defines the underlying harmony (E minor to A major, two bars each), before continuing into a funky outline of the scale.
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If we want to take this a step further and become experimenting with even more unusual sounds, we can build modes on the two other Minor scales: The Harmonic and Melodic Minor scales. The resulting modes would be the following:
Sometimes the solution is obvious. Maybe the student has a clear goal in mind, and they just don’t know how to get there. Maybe they wanted to make a bumping club track, and the beats are weak — beginner producers usually don’t know how to layer or mix drums. A lot of the time, there are some good ideas but they’re strung together without any particular structure. That’s understandable; structure is hard! Or maybe there was a misguided attempt at “realism.” Every semester, someone takes a piece they composed or arranged and outputs audio straight from their notation software. The result consistently sounds like garbage. I want them to think of the sound coming out of the speakers as the “real” music, not a placeholder for an eventual performance by humans — nothing against live performance, but my class is about making music in the box. Rather than settling for terrible fake strings or brass, we try to figure out what software instruments might sound unapologetically cool.
Student-Artist: Storm Erlingson
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s name might sound familiar to you of late as a result of her incredibly powerful score to HBO’s series Chernobyl, as well as her name being dropped recently as the composer who will score Todd Phillips’ upcoming blockbuster Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix. But she’s more than just a film composer. She’s also a cellist, singer, electronic producer, and proponent of a strange digital variant on the cello called Ómar — a six-string electric cello built with computerized signal processing hardware that simulates the sonic properties of an acoustic cello, but with infinite flexibility and zero feedback. But back to her composing. She’s written and recorded several film and television series scores, and performed solo cello on countless others like The Revenant, Arrival, and both Sicario films, and has also arranged for choirs and contributed to recorded works for bands like Sunn O))), Múm, The Knife, Skúli Sverrisson, Nico Muhly, Hauschka, and Jóhann Jóhannsson. For sure, we’ll be hearing more from her for years!
Ian is a pianist, entrepreneur and professional musician. He started Soundfly to help people really find what gets them most excited musically and pursue it. He’s toured all over the world with his experimental trio Sontag Shogun. Check out his most recent course Building Blocks of Piano or follow him on Twitter at @ianrtemple.
Finally, use an aux send to create a parallel compression chain for the vocal. Use extremely fast attack and release times, super-aggressive ratios, and excessive amounts of compression to create a pumping, slamming performance that’s full of energy. Then, gently blend in the results with the original. A common trick is to use an 1176 in “British Mode” or “all-buttons-in,” as it adds a colorful distortion that helps vocals cut through the mix.