It's been over 6 months since I last finish a track. Felt pretty lost for a while because I didn't know how to create the music I was hearing in my head.
It was actually when I started hearing dubstep in quite a few game trailers that I became intrigued by the style of music. More importantly I knew creating that music would help me solve two problems I had put up with for ages
The first problem was every piece I had written using Reason was always using preset sounds. My latest track I did add a scream filter to one of the sounds but that was the extent of my experimentation. I didn't feel in control of the sounds I made and had no clue how to alter or change certain aspects of the sound. That was frustrating.
The second problem was mixing a track. I honestly didn't have a clue and even the advice I got, it was still very difficult to know how to do it right.
What I did?
Can't tell you how amazing youtube is if you want to gain knowledge on something. The first step was to start listening to dubstep and more electronic music.
A great youtube channel is UKF dubstep as any great dubstep track is probably there. Also if you have Spotify there was a good dubstep playlist I found by Henrikwils so check that out.
After filling my head with wub wub it was time to learn how to make this music. MixPanMasterClasses was the first youtube tutorial dubstep channel I discovered. These really are master classes by the guys at the top of the dubstep world.
What surprised me was how open they were about telling you how they made their tracks. I come from a jazz background and I felt at times there was so much secrecy and closed doors to learning that music. So electronic music was very refreshing to learn because those guys love what they do and are happy to share their experiences with you.
Another youtube channel which I would recommend you start with is Dodge & Fuski tutorials. These guys do a tutorial every month, have a twitter page to ask question and live stream too. The tutorials are brilliant break downs of every aspect of dubstep, answered lots of questions I personally had and have given me enough knowledge to try making a track myself.
Lastly Reason which is the sequencer I'm using at the moment. Well Propellerhead has a tutorial youtube series for how to side chain and loads of handy tips.
What I discovered?
The main thing that stood out to me was that producers really do put a lot of time in creating sounds. They start with something that sounds so basic like a square wave. Basically imagine the sound of a melody line in a NES tune. I was amazed how that simple sound changed when they play the end result after all the filters, EQ, layering, LFOs have been added. I finally understood how to create a sound whether it's a lead noise or that "wub wub" synth. Here's a few of the top things which stood out while I was learning.
All the time I had listened to dubstep I had never noticed this. When you here a kick drum, synth etc it is usually multiple sounds put together. 2 or 3 sounds layered together and it helps to add character and a uniqueness to the sound. After you learn this you start to hear the different layers of sounds, it's weird XD
How to mix a track
I had been doing it completely wrong. These producers EQ as they go along, every sound gets EQ, or they put sounds in a group bus (drum group) and mix that. By the end of the track there's little EQing to be done because it has been an on going process throughout making the track. Will definitely being doing it this way from now on for the simple fact that you don't have any major balance issues at the end. It's like remembering to reference the quotes you use in an essay instead of finding all the references at the end. That's a nightmare.
Automation or live editing to bring life to your sounds
The best dubstep tracks have life and the sounds have life. You would be surprized how much work you have to put in to make an electric sound less, well like a machine. Automation is basically setting something to do something at a certain time. So I might want a filter to turn on at one point in time and then off at another point in time. This gives character to a sound and makes it more interesting.
Another way of creating life is live editing. Check out Glimpse as he's the master of this. He will record 7-8 minutes of him twisting different dials on 3 filters he has on the desk. It creates some really interesting sounds. On top of that he layers actual recording such as when he went for a walk in the park. The characteristics of those peaks of the audio will then influence other sounds. Acting like a filter to change those sound constantly, making it become alive.
Producers create a lot of sounds but they don't make everything. Thing is if an amateur creates a dubstep track it sounds dry. There's a tone of samples of "wosh" noises, white noises all sorts to really fill the spectrum of the track. These are straight from sample packs you can buy or get free. Again you will start hearing them in dubstep after you learn this.
The drop and structure
So much to talk about XD Best to check out my notes or check the videos that Dodge & Fuski have done. You get all the answers along with some great tricks to pulling off a great drop and have the right structure for your track. 16 bars sections are the key :D
I'm very excited right now because I feel more confident about using the tools I have available to me. All I got is a crappy laptop, a copy of Reason 5 and some headphones. With these tools there's a ton I can do and experiment with that I didn't think was possible before. I thought I needed a high end PC, top notch speakers and a ton of sample packs. That is the dream but for now I can still make great music with what I got.
You can probably tell I'm not a pro on dubstep from just reading this. I made this blog because I wanted to let people know that the tutorials, music and tools are there to be used. All you need is the focus to put in the time in to learn it and experiment with sounds in a sequencer of your choice.
In my next blog I will show the stages of how I made a dubstep track. Not sure if it will be purely dubstep, but it will have influences from that style of music.
I do these music blogs to kind of keep a diary of how far I have come in learning all things Reason 5 and if nothing else it will probably make me laugh in a few years. If you find the track interesting feel free to leave a comment. I'm most curious what games you associate with it because I like writing for game trailers too and there are plenty of ideas to use from this.
I put this up on the ND Forum and thought I would put it here too. All the pictures were done by me in the UC2 cinema editor.
How do you keep things fresh and interesting while playing UC2?
I think I have got most of the basics down now on how to play and thought I would set myself some challenges to get me out of my comfort zone and keep things fun. There really are endless possibilities you could come up with to test yourself. Thought I would share one I came up with and tell you about my new favorite playstyle which came out of it. Hopefully you will come up with your own challenges and find new aspects of the game which you never noticed before. If you already do stuff like this leave a comment, it would be cool to read what other players do.
Challenge: Only use what everyone else doesn't use.
1) Most enemies I come across usually use two of these boosters.
DTI, SA, Rapid Hands, Fleet Foot.
The first challenge was easy enough, don't use these boosters at all and try out some of the boosters most players have disregarded entirely.
2) Use the pick ups players hardly ever use. Such as the micro pistol which always there when I go past the spawn.
So with my challenge set I started by looking through the boosters I had left to choose from. After trying most of them out I gravitated towards bandoleer and turtle. Most matches no one hardly ever picks up the shield or micro and it seemed a perfect fit to complete my challenge.
With the easy part done it was time to actually master the shield. For two years of playing I had barely touched the shield as I thought it was a death trap. No one I knew used it more than five seconds a match and so I had no experience on how to be good with it. Here's my magical journey in to becoming UC2 shield master XD
The first couple of matches was quite weird. You have a new perspective of the map as your low down to the floor. I found myself staring at parts of the map I hadn't noticed before which didn't help my K/D. What was quite fascinating is how players react when faced with an enemy with a shield. If I had any chance of coming out the winner in these situations I was gonna have to learn quick.
Low level players seemed to do a combo of these;
1) Stop moving 2) Shoot at me and then realize nothing was happening. 3) Throw a nade which usually missed due to poor aim. 4) Continue shooting sometimes while in cover 5) Try to melee.
High level players as you can imagine are **bleep** hard to beat but they did seem to follow a pattern too;
1) They always start with a nade. 2) Shoot at you when you're shooting at them as this is the point when the shield isn't fully covering your front. 3) Try to flank you either by using the environment to climb above and round or just bunny hop from mid range till they can get a good shot. 4) Run off to get a power weapon and come back. 5) Just leave the situation and find other enemies.
To adapt to these situations I started obviously by learning where all the cover was around the shield spawn, along with always being aware of how far away I was to the nearest secondary weapon pick up. Running out of ammo or being caught off guard usually ends up in death and just because you have a shield doesn't mean cover stops being important. Field of vision on the left side is a limiting factor while behind cover as you lose the ability to press L3 to switch views.
In combat the primary aim is to get in close while facing towards the enemy. This is your strongest advantage as they're helpless to a melee attack. Being obsessed with achieving this will usually end up in you being dead though 85% of the time you will kill them with your pistol.
Nades will become your new best friend and I actually had to give up the extra ammo bandoleer gave me and switch to sure foot. Weirdly if you do survive a nade and have sure foot equipped the shield blown back animation still happens. Nades usually will be the end of you but there are two tricks which seem to work. The obvious one is face the nade while moving back and that sometimes keeps you alive. A more likely way of surviving is bunny hopping out of the shield, nade explodes and bunny hopping back to pick it up. This can go horribly wrong if you're next to an ammo pick up and instead of picking up the shield you pick up ak ammo 0.o
A good way of outsmarting high level players is being a one bunny hop away to a high box cover. You can corner shoot from behind the box and then pick up the shield to shoot behind that. It's a good way to confuse them as they don't know where to focus their fire.
If the enemy has no nades then that is already to your advantage. If I'm getting a full clip being fired at me I don't pop my head out and fire back because they will win. Wait till they are half a clip done or reloading and then unleash the pistol or micro.
Obviously being shot in the back is a disadvantage to someone using a shield. It isn't any worse without a shield as the damage is still the same. I found trying to get my back behind cover while always turning round to face them sometimes worked. Once again if your reactions are quick, bunny hopping left and right until they reload or are half a clip will keep you alive. Facing the right way and grabbing the shield again will put you back in the action.
Dealing with power weapons mainly the hammer and rpg is an interesting one. Sure foot will save you sometimes just like if you didn't have the shield. You can take a direct hit to the front of the shield and survive but most high level players know to hit from the side. Close quarters is where you do sometimes come out on top. Players usually blindfire at that distance and either blow themselves up as you reflect the blast or get knocked back which gives you time to finish them off.
I would say the main thing I have learnt is that you have to have patience. Most players follow the patterns I wrote above. With enough practice you will have enough experience to deal with most situations. Sometimes you might get lucky as most players very rarely expect to come across a shield and those few seconds their thinking what to do, you have already shot them with the pistol.
**bleep** this turned in to a tutorial XD I think it just shows there's loads of things to do to challenge yourself and improve as a player. Learning to be good with the shield is just another string to the bow. I might use it exclusively for now but once I'm good I will add it to my normal way of playing. Even if you get your ass kicked hearing the other teams reactions over the mic is a right laugh. On one occasion after I killed one player four times in a row with the shield, he resorted to glitching. Thankfully the shield repels glitcher fire too XD
It's about time I did a positive thread about this game and hopefully you will find a breath of fresh by making challenges for yourselves in UC2.
Try the challenge I made up if you want as using the shield isn't the only way to beat it. Maybe equip treasure bearer and get your BBQ mastery on
Update on the shield:
I've continued to use the shield and have discovered four more tips while using it.
1) I was playing a match with Dai and you know those little boxes with a nade in either side of each temple in the Sanctuary? Well he had got a shield in there and I was puzzled how he did it. Watching the cinema if you're a step up from the shield and press triangle you will lift the shield to your level. Repeat that process and you get in to new areas with the shield you never thought possible.
2) Another surprise tactic is to use the shield with the booster launch man/ rocket man. When you see an enemy while behind your shield press right on the D-Pad, L1 and then R1. I recommend practicing your aim in machinima as I think the reticle starts further left than you would expect when popping out from the shield. Anyway it's a brilliant surprise tactic and I promise you no one will expect a rocket to come from a guy with a shield. Do not pull this trick if you are already being shot as even if you're fast firing the RPG the 1.05 health will kill you faster in most cases.
3) Shotgun jack in the box- Pick up a shotgun and a shield and get in close to an enemy just out of melee distance. If he is behind cover this is a perfect strategy. Bunny hop forwards and blindfire with the shotgun he wont know what hit him.
4) The 180 degree spin is something I discovered yesterday. It will help you turn around faster and might even save you from being shot in the back. To pull this off you press square to melee while holding left on the left stick. The reason you always press left is because that is the direction the shield goes when you melee.
There you go I can't wait to try out the shield in UC3.
Last thing here is a video of me trying to put some of this into action.
I wrote something and would very much like your input on what type of game genre you think it would fit with and any game trailers that come to mind. I'm still hopeless at writing music that fits with material so I thought I would do it the other way round and write the music first.
Once I have picked a game trailer I will use the ideas from this piece below to make something that syncs up with whats going on in that trailer.
I would like to thank everyone who commented in this blog as I was struggling to find the right game to go with this track I wrote. One Makoto_Mizuhara_Sakamoto suggested was Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness and after doing some digging I found a trailer for the game. Editing videos isn't my strong suit but I think I hit enough of the sync points to make it fit so I'm pleased.
Let me know what you think good or bad. I do this as a hobby and only want to get better at it so any feedback is welcome.
I have always been intrigued by music on old systems and the distinct sound it created. I set out to research how the game music of that time was created and how I could best go about creating my own piece in that style. After a lot of listening to my old favourites I discovered a link to a video which outlined how to create this type of music. What fascinated me was the rules which composers had to follow. Before I get ahead of myself here is the video in question.
It seemed confusing at first but after writing some notes on the different areas of discussion and reviewing something clicked. Today we have the resources to do whatever we want but with that it's hard to set rules to follow to improve. Chip music forces you to abide by certain rules or your music wont play on that chip found in all those game consoles. Thought it would be beneficial for me in the future and maybe some of you if I to write out the notes here that I made on the lecture.
Triangle, Square & Noise (pink for Reason) - expensive option Sine
Effects: Flange - Same sound in two channels but detune one of them
Range seperation - Waves sound different in difo registers
Effect rate: Vibrato, pulse width, glide (reason mod A)
Pitch range uses to much memory
Atari 2600 -32 notes, most out of tune, f/k where f is 31.4k
Adapt - Compose with few notes
Workaround - toggle rapidly, apegio fast illusion of chords
Ignore - Out of tune and dont care XD
Ruled by the television frame rate
If track is in 4/4:
Europe 50hz - bpm - 107,125,150
USA 60hz -bpm - 113, 129, 150
150 is the overlap so most chip tunes are at 150 bpm
limit on channels (3-5)
some channels are limited in range and wave choice
workaround channel share:
arpegio fast - create chord effect - change effect rate not pitch rate
rhythm rate - two melodies on one linebut notes can't play at the same time in the bar
common to have bass and drums in one channel
Call/ response music technique
NES has 3 channels- wanted to play jazz chords which usually have four notes but you only have 3 channels. (1,3,5,7) maj 7 or m7
Famichord is a maj 7 without the 5th note. Space the remaining notes out
5th is important in normal music to soften 1 and 7 clash but chip music is dissonant so it doesn't effect it so much.
5) Further Aspects
Not much RAM - Patterns take space (2 bars) upbeats arn't used music in chip music
Game mechanics - take up one channel (coin sounds, punches etc
Instant context switch - lvl complete doesn't start from silent it interrupts the tune. Usually end jingle goes in tones to establish tonality
Limited dynamics available, switch channels with same line at different volumes.
6) Making track
Start with melody
see what goes in the gaps, arpegio, rhythm
transpose channels bass
Even if this reads like a bunch of nonsense I think it clear to see there are rules that dictate what you can do. If you have a track in 4/4 and what it to play at the same tempo in the USA and Europe then you put the bpm to 150. Limited channels means that you have to be creative with limited sounds available and use workaround techniques to make it feel like there is more going on in the track.
Below is my attempt at writing a chip tune and I will say now I didn't stick to all the rules above but definitely tried to stay true to that old style. Have a listen and see what you think and apologies for SoundCloud adding echoes to some of the notes, it must be the way they compress their files.
If you haven't received or excepted an invite to the guide you wont be able to edit the guide.
Look over to the right of the guide to see the "Table of Contents". To edit the guide you want to click on the blue box with the word "edit" in it.
Put your cursor over to the "Table of Contents" and hover the cursor over the title of the section you wish to edit. On the right of the title three boxes will appear and you want to click on the one in the blue box containing the letter "E".
After clicking "E" the guide will move down to that section and the box on the left will be open to editing. This boxes is exactly like the comment boxes in the forums so just edit as normal. If you're adding your name to the Uncharted Player List then just click in each of the table columns and type in your GB and PSN names. Step 4)
If you wish to edit the table then right click anywhere within it. Another box will appear giving you options to add and remove columns and rows. Please be careful not to press delete table but if you accidently do then just refresh the page and start again.
Once you have finished editing a section the next step is to save it. First you want to save that individual ection which you can either do by clicking "save" at the bottom left of the section or of the right of the section title in the "Table of Contents".
The final step is to publish the whole guide and to do that you want to click "publish" next to the word "Guide History" which is within the "Table of Content". Click through the next two boxes after that to confirm the changes.
Sitting in the house on my own earlier today and after getting my shit ready for work tomorrow I didn't really know what to do with the day. After listening to music and podcasts for a bit I thought I would attempt to write some music.
Started with five ideas on the piano and after trying to make them fit together I got pissed off and went down stairs. After staring out the window for a few minutes I went back upstairs and had another crack at it. Looking through some sounds on Reason I found one I liked and picked one of my ideas to go with it. It seems to take a long time for me to find a sound which fits with what I'm hear in my head. Guess the more I use the sound bank the better idea I will have of what to use in the future. Anyway things were starting to look up and after another hour I had three ideas which worked quite well with each other. It was at this point I felt something was missing so after more sound searching I found an epic choir with some interesting EQ added to it.
Drums were a bitch as I found a glitch in Reason that was pretty cool. When the track played I could mute the drum track and it would hang on the "dung" noise if I timed it right. After 20 minutes of having fun getting good at manipulating the drum loop I realised I couldn't automate the mute button while recording. Went down stairs again for a cup of tea thinking how I could get round this annoyance. When I returned it clicked I could set up different drum loops that would play different things so just as you write variation of a melody I could control what the drums did. The result was nothing compared to what my live recording could of been but at least the fix was some what successful.
It was at this stage I could see the structure of the track unfolding which made it easier to carry on writing. The trap I always fall in to is spending to much time on the A section and because I have it on a constant loop it makes it very difficult to think of a B section. Thankfully halving the speed of the drums and the new feel it created was enough of a change that I got away with not altering much else this time round.
What really needs work is my EQ skills as I'm still an infant when it comes to manipulating a sound. Delays, reverb and various other devices are things which need to be experimented with more as I'm just relying on the presets at the moment.
Anyway after a lot of messing this is the result but be warned it's not mixed since hunger strikes and I quite frankly don't want to hear it again for a while. Every time I do this I realise how little I know about Reason but I guess it's just practice at the end of the day. Laptop has barely enough ram to play 6 tracks at the same time so it's always fun to see what I can get away with before hitting the CPU limiter XD
Kinda make these blogs so I can look back at them one day and laugh but any feedback bombers good/bad would be great!
After listening to Hamst3r's latest track and Tebbit's latest track I felt the need to get back in to writing some music. What has been keeping me back is having to write music to video so I tried a new approach of only spending one night on a track and leaving it at that. My aim for this track was to focus on getting some Steve Reich influences in there along with messing around with different rhythms.