I know, I know. There’s been a serious lack of loop postings recently. This isn’t because I haven’t been keeping busy in the studio. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite. For the past month or so, I’ve been burning the midnight oil, cranking away at something so big, so revolutionary, that it needs its own URL. It’s a project that’s been a plan of mine for years and finally, technology has caught up to my vision, enabling me to pull it all off. More details to be released soon. Stay tuned.
And for whatever reason, I’ve recently found myself watching a lot of the trainwreck-on-tv known as “The Jersey Shore”. I can’t really tell you how or why I started to tune into this hugely entertaining yet morally, ethically, and intellectually inept MTV series (can I blame it on my wife?), but regardless, I find it fascinating. My favorite part of the show is when the cast goes out clubbing (which is apparently every night), the house music starts thumping, and the guys start fist pumping to the beat.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you already know how I feel about dance music. Perhaps The Jersey Shore is starting to change my stance? Nah, it isn’t. But from watching some serious fist pumping on a weekly basis, I’ve been inspired to record another beat suitable for the Snooki in everyone.
Before using today’s loop, make sure you get juiced-up, hit the gym, spend at least 25 minutes in a tanning bed, put on your favorite Ed Hardy t-shirt, and apply at least 7 oz of hair product to your dome. My pumped-up house beats will take care of the rest.
I can’t tell you how sick I am of hearing tired, canned dance beats. I don’t even like dance music. But if I have to hear it while out in public, away from the safe confines of my iPod, I might as well try to improve the quality of the drum sounds. The world has been overrun by shitty producers with their 808 samples and re-mixed Ableton Live schlock. And don’t even get me started about the kitten DJs who spin said schlock.
How does one try to come up with fresh sounding dance loops? Start with something that sounds nothing like a cliché electronica beat. In this case, it’s using brushes to lay down the groove. Chopped up with a touch of gating, peppered with some growly floor toms and sautéd in some extra trashy hi hats, I give you my first dance loop intended to make this genre a little more palatable (especially when served alongside a $14 gin and tonic made by someone like this).
For today’s first loop request, I make my foray into the grimey world of Dubstep. A half time feel with some extra thick bass and a crunchy, gated snare, it sits right in the 139 BPM sweet spot of your garage. I’ll be including the rest of the loops from this session in Volume 7.
Like I mentioned in my previous post, I just upgraded my studio to Logic 9 and have been busy checking out all of its new features. From a user interface point of view, not much has changed. It still looks and feels much like its predecessor, but there are some new editing tools that peaked my interest as a drummer. Specifically, Flex Time and the drum replacement/doubling tool.
I decided to test out the Flex Time tool by playing a straight pop beat to see how well it picked up the transients. It did a rather remarkable job of latching onto every percussive attack. So good, in fact, it took everthing I played and easily (almost too easily) lined everything up in perfectly quantized 16th notes. Yep, it sucked the Gruss right out of it… but then it begged for some electronic layering to keep the kids happy on the dance floor. So, with the drum replacer (Apple’s own version of Drumagog) I doubled several tracks with an extra-beefy kick and a heavily-gated snare.
The result? I’m still not sure exactly… but if The Postal Service was around in the 80’s and they were asked to write the theme music to Miami Vice, I’m pretty sure Logic 9 would have come in handy.
This all changed last weekend. While perusing my local drum shop, a certain blonde snare drum caught my eye. With its beautifully lacquered maple finish and it’s fine, handcrafted construction, this 6″ x 14″ Pork Pie drum beckoned to me as I walked up to the snare section.
Nicknamed “Curly” (after the type of maple used for the shell), it was soon apparent that it sounded just as good as it looked. Tuned up high, it provided a “crack” that sounded like a .357 Mangnum and then, with a few counter-clockwise turns with a drum key, it produced a deep, round “thunk” that even Russ Kunkel would find satisfying.
After playing the snare for a few minutes, I realized I wasn’t going to be leaving the drum shop alone. Twenty minutes later I was back in my studio with my new “main” snare drum firmly placed between my legs.
After all of this talk about how great my new snare sounds, do you think I’d let you actually hear what it truly sounds like? Of course not. Today’s loop takes a bit of syncopation, a nice amount of space, and a ton of AutoFilter to make a funk groove into something just a bit different.
I’m not done with the cowbell grooves. Like I mentioned before, I think it’s time to bring one of my favorite percussive accessories back into the limelight. Rather than go the straight quarter note, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” route, I’ve went ahead and approached it from a polyrhythmic angle. In this case, a 3 against 4 phrasing over the course of a four bar groove (not to be confused with a hemiola).
To make such an academic rhythm accessible to the masses, I overdubbed some sixteenth note shaker to help keep things flowing on the dance floor. What good is a dance beat if it doesn’t make you want to grind up against a drunken stranger?
Before “Lust for Life” was pimped out as the jingle for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (as well as being covered by Mötley Crüe, Tom Jones and, I shit you not, Bruce Willis), it was one of the classic punk/pop anthems to emerge from the late 1970’s. With thunderous, hypnotic drums and two guitars doubling the bass line, it’s one of those tracks that barrels forward like a locomotive controlled by Billy Mays (if train engineers weren’t required to take drug tests).
Today’s loop takes a cue from Hunt Sales’ original drum groove (one that, apparently, makes you want to spend a week in a 8’x10′ room and eat from buffets), and tightens things up just a bit. Less slosh on the hats and some snappy bass drum will let you go ahead and create your own radio-friendly variation to cash in on. Oh wait, The Strokes and Jet beat you to it.
All day long, I’ve been reading news articles and blogs about the untimely death of legendary movie director and writer, John Hughes. Rather than write my own post about how much his movies influenced my early life (along with my entire generation), I decided to honor him musically.
I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to the man responsible for movies such as Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club than some full on 80’s loops. In order to achieve this classic, Reagan-era drum sound, I decided to go for a heavily gated-reverb effect on both the kick and snare. I also drank an entire case of New Coke during the recording session. Throw in some Simple Minds, Mel Gaynor type patterns and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack to a party that could only end like this: