Spend time to make wicked transitions.

When producing a song I can spend a good 20-30 minutes working on creating a single ear tingling transition. Usually I make transitions when the song is almost finished. The reason I wait until the near end of the song’s creation is two fold. First, I like to hear the entire song from beginning to end and as I do so my brain tells me, “This is the spot where something is needed!”. Second, I use the audio of the full song’s mix to create the effect. You can here the kind of transition I am talking about at :06 seconds right before the vocal starts:

Here’s how it was done using Ableton Live:

  • I rendered one bar of the full song exactly where the transition is going to be placed.
  • I created a new Audio Track.
  • I delete the audio on all the channels where the new transition will be (cut a hole).
  • I drag my rendered clip into the arrangement on the newly created audio track and place it horizontally where I created the hole.
  • Now I play back the song. It should sound just like you have not done anything yet.
  • I experiment by loading different effect plug-ins on the new audio channel where the rendered clip sits. I try and find some heavy mangling plug-ins to really make the transition stand out.
  • I re-render the clip with effects on it. I will usually do 4 different variations.
  • I delete the plug-ins and the original plain rendered clip leaving a blank channel again.
  • I drag in each of my rendered variations one by one replacing them with each other and listening to figure out which one is the most interesting fit.
  • I also reverse each variation (in the Clip View) and listen to how that sounds.

Usually by this point I have a wicked sounding transition. In the audio sample I above I also cut and repeated the last 4 sixteenth notes and automated Ableton’s built in high pass filter to sweep down.

This process may seem like overkill but its the minor sweet effects that are the icing on a good song.

Stamba remix with Creative Commons samples.

The next release on my record label is by French DJ and producer Stamba. I am remixing one of the songs called Deviation. All the tracks on the release are what you would call darkwave, ebm, techno. Don’t you love all these sub-genres? Take a listen:

I recreated his original song in Ableton Live, keeping his vocals but using all my own sounds. Some of the gear and plug-ins used include a Jomox Mbase-01, Vermona DRM1 MKIII, Audiorealism Bassline, Korg Legacy, PSP Nitro, Fabfilter Volcano 2, assorted TC Powercore dynamics and Sugar Bytes Effectrix.

We have released the remix samples under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License. If you want to grab the samples for your own fun head to the discography page for this release at Things to Come Records:
thingstocome.com/discog/TTC-017

The full release will be available on August 4, 2008.

A video of the Effectrix plug-in from Sugar-Bytes.

Here is a Wire to the Ear video of an absolutely must have plug-in that has just been released. Effectrix is a VST/Audio Unit which sequences effects such as XLoop, Scratch, Reverse, Stretch, Tonal Delay, Stutter, Vinyl, Crush, Filter, Phaser, Chorus, Delay and Reverb. Sugar-Bytes from Germany has done a really fantastic job here.

Tweak your beats, create new rhythms, turn your stuff into colorful grainclouds….reverse parts, stretch others, apply delaylines or even create melodies out of atonal material. – Sugar-Bytes.de

I’ve been waiting for a plug-in like this to appear for Mac OS-X. On the PC side there has been Illinformed’s Glitch. In this video I set up a simple Roland TR-808 drum loop using Audiorealism’s ADM. I added the Ableton Compressor and Saturator to make the 808 more like “hot chrome”. I go through some of the presets, adjust a few parameters and alter some Effectrix sequence bars. As I recorded this I noticed a few parameters I need to figure out. For example, how to adjust the sequence step length and have one effect line modulate another. I also see there is a random function which I absolutely love.

There is a 30 day demo. Be warned: to try is to buy!