Here I’ll lay down my thought process of how I create a song. The whole project took approximately 2 hours. I work on it with tunnel vision.
I wrote this track while I was fasting on a Sunday morning, I didn’t eat until I finished the track.
I mixed all the music when I was done, adding compression, eq and fx and everything after.
I wrote this track all in one sitting. It is fairly rhythmic based and it is melodic. All the layers were accumulated gradually, all the instrumentation falls like domino’s one by one. from the first synth lead to the drums. Everything is organized in a fashion where each little detail that is augmented and added to the construction of the track.
When I first plugged in the rhythm, I felt it was rather tribal almost like someone running through a rain forest and nearly running off a cliff to a vast city peaking in lights, emanating, ambient and transparent.
It has a definite neo-tokyo visual vibe for me. The imagery that I was going for was a Japanese city in the future.
Synthesizers and Effects
A lot of the synthesizers that I used on the track were surprisingly free VSTs, they are very satisfying to my ears. There is an analogue thickness to them.
Here are some links to some interesting synths I’ve used on the track, these are just synthesizers but they’re phenomenal! Check them out!
SQ8 (This video clip uses the original synth not the emulation. Video by RetroSound)
FerricTDS Tape Saturation
I added FerricTDS Tape Saturation, just because I feel it fills up certain segments of the track, it beefs it up in a way that I haven’t heard through generic compression. It’s as if there are pockets that the Tape Saturation magically fulfills and splits and combs through the frequencies that need to be lifted, so everything feels much more levelled.
Quick Mix Breakdown
This one is loaded with percussion, I will go through the essential sounds. The opening synth is routed to the mixer in channel 1 and I added third-party reverb using Guitar Rig as well
parametric EQ and Stereo shaping.
What this did was remove the low-sub frequencies that were completely unnecessary, because later on there is greater bass and percussion that requires frequencies below 100hz so I just do a lowshelf rolloff of those kinds of frequencies. The reverb I use on the first synth is rather metallic and tight.
I liked the overall sound of the Factor Lead 3 so I used that, I particularly like the portamenteau. I feel I affected it so much that the sound is really indistinguishable from the original sound. I left the synth peaking around -10db because I want to leave room for everything else. You can’t have it smacking initially.
Someone commented on the impact and smack of my drums on the track. They are mostly hitting at the same levels. I’ve layered three different kicks here. From two different kits. They are very percussive in nature.
The reason why I layer kicks for this is two-fold. One, the original percussive kick felt tribal and had a lot of subbass and when I turned it up it felt like it was overpowering so I had to turn it down, it also felt like it was missing frequencies when I remove subbass entirely. It felt invisible if I turned off the subbass frequencies.
I want to make it audible without subwoofer. Secondly, I wanted a more woody sound rather than just hollow sub frequencies.
For the percussive snare I debated using compression because it already had a lot of smack and it felt it was taking away from it when I compressed it. So I used it transparently – seemingly invisible, hardly any effect, while also rolling lowshelf to remove excessive bass. The snare is at -10db in the channel mixer.
Pads synths, fx and whistles
There are high-bell like pads I use coming from the SQ8 an emulated synth. I turned down frequencies around 500hz, and really excessive high frequencies that conflicted with other sounds and I felt they were overpowering. I use different effects throughout the track to manipulate the overall sound.
This is not a musically complex song. One of the progression in different triads is Fm7, Dm7, Am, Fmaj, There is something to be said about the synthesizer that is changing the overall feeling, the structure and sort of forming different chords. I find even changing the triad produces different sensation along with lead melodic properties.
There is some background sounds such as rustling of leaves and starry chimes and more choral pads that evolve in their envelope. Finally, I added a Koto sound from a synth which sounds synthetic but I like it for that reason I didn’t want it to sound like an authentic Koto – which I do have. I just wanted it to feel highly electronic.
There is a bell whistle that echoes a melody every fourth bar, it’s a fun little trick to use if you don’t want to use delay, just use an extra instrument and have a calling effect.
There’s a plethora of subtleties in fx. I hope you enjoy the track and guide of how I layered some sounds down.
At one point I cut a lot of the tracks, I don’t even use a mute button as I used to, but now I simply erase to remove instrumentation from a section. Technology is a beautiful thing. Erasing tracks during last portions of the phrasing makes for preparation and openings to new themes and rhythms.
There’s already an expectation that something different, new and exciting will happen. These new rhythms are exemplified now, by using more trap like rapid-fire hi-hats and open hi-hats. Trilling and accompanied by the crystal percussion.
On the 73rd to 78th bar I use this his melody that is reflecting back and forth. It’s a call and answer vibe between instruments. While I also raising the koto melody up an octave in the pockets of the original melody to give it a kind of climactic line.
I’m in love with the SQ8, particularily this Big-Voice preset, (I use presets but I’ve done original stuff in the past. I used my Klomb account in private to highlight the sound below) There seems to be some subtle auto pan going on which is great, very harmonic and great sound. Highly enjoy it. I feel it’s been emulated so well, as if I’ve heard it in a couple of tracks before.
Another of the pads near the end I use sounds like the Juno Reactor pad used on Tempest, I realized this from working on the remix and realizing its the same one! It’s a pad from a Native Instruments Massive collection. It sounds great too!
I’m satisfied with the overall track. I don’t think it will go to any Official release as of yet, but you never know. If it did though I still probably would jump back on it and rearrange some sounds. Anyway hope you enjoy and have a great week!
Here is the original track I broke down, enjoy! :