Subliminal Automation Kalamazoo MI

By applying what I call "subliminalautomation," you can hold listeners' attentionwithout resorting to abrupt shifts. The idea isto use very small brush strokes to keep a partchanging continuously but subtly.

Western Michigan University
1903 W. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI
 
Kalamazoo College (Kalamazoo College Music Department)
(269) 337-7000
1200 Academy Street
Kalamazoo, MI
 
Community Music School of the Music Center of South Central Michigan
(269) 963-1911
Battle Creek MI
Battle Creek, MI

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Michigan State University, College of Music
(517) 355-2140
East Lansing MI
East Lansing, MI

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Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute
400 Renaissance Center Ste. 2550
Detroit, MI
 
Western Michigan University
(651) 291-0177
Kalamazoo MI
Kalamazoo, MI

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Western Michigan University (The School of Music, Western Michigan University)
(269) 387-4667
1903 West Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI
 
Flint School of Performing Arts
(810) 238-1350
Flint MI
Flint, MI

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Arts Outreach Program at Grand Rapids Community College
143 Bostwick NE
Grand Rapids, MI
 
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
1100 Baits Dr
Ann Arbor, MI
 
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Subliminal Automation

As one of Brian Eno’s ObliqueStrategies cards states, “Repetition is a formof change.” For dance music, this isn’t merely astrategy, but a mantra. However, the fact of thematter is — unless your audience’s intoxicantsare extremely good — too much repetitiongets old fast. Too little, and you risk breaking the spell you’re casting on the dance floor.

The most common technique for keeping a riff interesting is to dramatically morph the synths and effects, creating crescendos andpeaks to enhance the listener’s journey. Thisis well-suited to progressive dance, sometypes of house, and of course, trance. Butdrastic or sweeping changes don’t always mesh with the tech and minimal genres.

By applying what I call “subliminalautomation,” you can hold listeners’ attention without resorting to abrupt shifts. The idea isto use very small brush strokes to keep a part changing continuously but subtly. To illustratethis, we’ll automate an analog-style square wave riff over a beat from Loopmasters’ JoeyYoungman library. The end result is a cyclingriff that keeps tickling the ear, while leaving sonic space for embellishments in the drumsand other synth bits.

0.001_StrobeStep 1. Create a simple riff with a sound that’s not too complex and has a bitof room to morph subtly. Here’s the isolated square wave riff, created withFXpansion’s Strobe synth from DCAM Synth Squad (reviewed Nov. ’09).

0.002_FilterAutoStep 2. Let’s start with a touch of filter automation. Inthis example (using Ableton Live), we’ve lowered thecutoff ever so slightly, then put a slight peak at themiddle of the eight-bar loop.

0.003_SawAutoStep 3. To change the wave shape slightly, we’llblend in a bit of sawtooth twice, with peaks atbar 3 and bar 7.

0.004_SustainAutoStep 4. Another useful parameter to automate is theenvelope sustain level. Large shifts are great forbuilding peaks and crescendos. A tiny amount addsjust a dash of flavor.

0.005_NoiseAutoStep 5. As a final touch, we’ll blend in a bit of noise. Aswith sustain and filter, a little goes a long way. For thepeaks, you can get a lot crazier, as we’ve discussed inprevious columns.

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