Timmy Knowles

The home of the Australian recording artist, singer/songwriter and actor

The official website of Australian recording artist, singer/songwriter and actor, Timmy Knowles.

Find news, audio, and video along with tour dates and booking information.

 

AUD 210 Week 10: Jingles Project Timeline

This is my timeline for the AUD210 jingles assessment. This is a very rough outline as it is difficult at this stage to be able to map out my time exactly due to the large amount of work due in before the end of the trimester, my sporadic work schedule, and the fact that this is partially a group assignment, which makes setting dates far in advance very difficult. 

My group and I have already spent time together discussing numerous options for the trailer portion of the assessment. We have done this both in class, and via email, phone, and our Trello page (link below). After much discussion, we have decided to redesign the sound for the trailer to Darren Aronofsky’s 1998 psychological thriller, Pi. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo18VIoR2xU

We have so far organised to meet at Anthony’s house in Niddre at 1 pm on Monday, December 4th to start on composition and recording of the music for the trailer, along with, time permitting, sound effects and some dialogue. We have chosen to do this at Anthony’s because he has a large amount of synthesiser equipment; necessary to create the type of soundscape we are aiming for. Once we have a first session done, we will be in a better position to plan further ahead. Any work still to be completed after Monday will be discussed and divided between us for completion before the end of the week. We are confident we will be able to get the large majority of our trailer complete during our first session, with the right amount if planning, of course. I will likely use my acting and voiceover experience as my main contribution to the group work, along with my knowledge of music theory and performance. As the trailer has a running time of 1:36, I will be completing two advertisement jingles outside of the group to make up the four required minutes. The first advert I will be recreating sound for is the 2017 John Lewis Christmas ad, entitled Moz The Monster.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw1Y-zhQURU&t=6s

I plan to compose and record a score for this, consisting of guitar and piano by the end of this week, then I will source and record all the required Foley and sound effects by early next week, leaving time to mix the project before the end of the week. I intend to source as many pre-recorded sound effects as possible for the sake of timesaving and will record any that I can’t find myself at home or in the SAE studios, depending on availability. Because of the 2:11 length of this TVC, along with the trailer discussed above, leaves me short of the required four minutes, I will also be recreating the audio for this 2014 PG Tips ‘Digger’ advert, starring comedian Johnny Vegas.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWQtX0-9aZ0

 

The timeline for this will be the same as the plan above, sourcing Foley and sound effects this week, and composing and recording some music too. Next week, I intend to meet up with my cousin who is a professional voiceover artist and record him performing the necessary dialogue. Again, it is hard for me to say exact days I will be doing each element, as my job has extremely sporadic hours and I will have to be flexible as to precisely when I can complete things.

 

http://www.pinewoodgroup.com/our-studios/uk/post-production/services/foley-adr

http://www.pinewoodgroup.com/our-studios/uk/post-production/services/foley-adr

 

Still to be discussed is the design and creation of our company website. This will be implemented during our full day session on Monday. Any time that one of us isn’t in the driving seat, so to speak, we can be working on this in the background. 

Our Trello page can be found via the button below.

AUD210 Week 10: EMP Remix

Here it is, my first ever electronic music production, Focus (Folktronica Remix) by Mackenzie Walker (Remixed by Timmy Knowles).

This was a really enjoyable experience for me. Although I have studied music for most of my life, my knowledge of the many genres of electronic music was, and still is, quite limited. In fact, before this module I would have said I didn’t particularly enjoy listening to it at all, however, I now realise I actually liked it all along. I also really enjoyed learning and using Ableton Live for the first time. I found it really intuitive and user-friendly, and I was able to perform certain tasks, like key mapping and sampling, far easier than on other DAWs I have used in the past. 

https://www.musicgurus.com/course/learn-how-to-create-killer-live-performance-using-ableton-live-with-external-instruments

https://www.musicgurus.com/course/learn-how-to-create-killer-live-performance-using-ableton-live-with-external-instruments

As discussed in my remix planning blog (previous), I was hugely influenced by the works of Vera Blue, producers The Mac Brothers, and renowned electronic artist Fatboy Slim. I found Vera Blue a good comparison for Mackenzie’s songwriting and singing style, and quite simply because I enjoy a softer, more chilled type of EDM. I’m also a big fan of vocal sampling and using the human voice as an instrument, which is something that Andy Mac does extremely well with his productions. I considered Fatboy Slim to be the most famous artist I know for sampling, and as I wanted to feature it heavily in my remix, I was inspired by a lot of his work. 

http://stateofphilly.com/music/norman-cook-dresses-as-fatboy-slim-for-halloweekend-warehouse-of-horrors/

http://stateofphilly.com/music/norman-cook-dresses-as-fatboy-slim-for-halloweekend-warehouse-of-horrors/

For my remix, I designed my own drum-rack, sequencer, and arpeggiator sounds. I also used both subtractive and FM Synthesis. I kept the parts quite minimal to suit the sparse, atmospheric feel I was going for, and only really introduced them all in the drop sections, where I needed a denser soundscape. The plug-in I got the most use out of by far was Sampler. I took sections of Mackenzie’s vocals, mainly the second half of long phrases or very short vocal bursts, and used Sampler to play them rhythmically and melodically. I affected her voice using a range of audio effects including EQ, compression, delay, reverb, and phrasing. I then used some samples as low-end parts, and others as stabs and melodies. I panned them hard left and right to create a big, wide stereo spread, leaving room in the centre for the bass, kick, piano and vocals; the main parts. I created the bass using Analog because I liked the way the subtractive synthesis sounded once the cut-off frequency had been set down low. During mixing, I added the necessary processing to every part to give it its own space, and also to clean up any issues from the original recording. I then set-up two reverb sends, one for the instrumental tracks, and one dedicated to vocals, and two delay sends one as a general soft delay for everything, and another as a more distinct, Ping-Pong delay, dedicated to certain vocal lines. I set up key mapping to a midi keyboard to open and close the Ping-Pong delay send, to control the amount on a resonator plugin for the piano track, and an on-off control for the sequencer track. I lined up all the sections in order, with whatever tracks I wanted ready to play, then, using the techniques I learned during our class on dub-remixing, I pressed record and performed the song on the fly. This was the most natural way for me to record as an instrumentalist, because composing purely with the mouse felt unmusical to me, and I didn’t like the lack of room for human error. Once I had recorded my performance in the session window, I did some fine-tuning of the automation timing and levels. Once I was happy with it, I did some last minute mixing and placed a limiter on the master track to stop any clipping. Most of the audio tracks I imported ran through a saturation plugin too, as they lacked gain, and I just generally liked the colour it added to the parts. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paJylBlI81c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paJylBlI81c

Both Bailey, who produced the track with his group in Trimester 1, and Mackenzie, who wrote and performed it, were happy to give me feedback. Bailey, who last heard it prior to the final mix, said he was happy with it, although he commented that the snare claps were a touch dry. This was a criticism I took on board and addressed. The original artist, Mackenzie, was extremely happy with the end product, and is now using it to market her work. This is a very satisfying feeling for me, as I was unsure of my ability with this genre, and I would like to work with Mackenzie more in the future. I also received positive reviews from classmates, and I myself am very proud and happy with how it has turned out. 

Mackenzie Walker's official Instagram profile

Mackenzie Walker's official Instagram profile

 

The only real issues I ran into during this process, was not being completely competent using Ableton Live. At times, there were certain things I wanted to do but wasn’t sure exactly how. This meant extra time was spent researching and trialling different approaches until I found a resolution. Not a big problem, as the extra research has made me a much more confident user, but I feel like I could’ve had a smoother experience with more knowledge of the workings of the DAW. All in all, I'm very happy with the process, the lessons, and the outcome. I have found a new musical interest and that's an exciting feeling.

 

 

AUD210 Week 8: Remix Planning

For my EDM assessment, I will be remixing a track called Focus. It is a piano-based, melodic, teen-pop song by a young Australian artist called Mackenzie Walker. SAE classmates of mine produced it for their AUD115.3 assessment last trimester. Bailey, from said group, was kind enough to give me the stems. I was interested in working with this song for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I remembered being very impressed by Mackenzie’s voice and songwriting style. For a young artist, she’s 16 years old, there is a level of maturity to her singing style, and the lyrics are honest and baring. Secondly, the production on the original track was quite minimal and acoustic, which are elements I think I will enjoy working with for my first remix.

https://tunesgo.wondershare.com/ringtones/top-10-popular-iphone-ringtone-remix.html

https://tunesgo.wondershare.com/ringtones/top-10-popular-iphone-ringtone-remix.html

For my remix, I will be aiming for a genre of electronic music called Folktronica. This is a catchall term for artists who use a combination of mechanical dance beats and elements of acoustic rock or folk. The sound I am hearing in my head could also fall into Ambient House or Chill-out genres. I am far from familiar with all of the various, seemingly neverending, genres under the Electronic music umbrella, but from what I can tell, Folktronica is what I am hoping to end up with. I am a life-long acoustic musician, and it makes sense to blend this in with my developing relationship with EDM. Also, it turns out that without even knowing, I have been a big fan of Folktronica for some time. One artist, or group thereof, who I am very fond of, and will most definitely be using as inspiration for my remix, is Vera Blue. 

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/08/19/vera-blue-annelise-ball/

http://themusic.com.au/interviews/all/2016/08/19/vera-blue-annelise-ball/

Vera Blue is made up of Australian folk singer/songwriter Celia Pavey (The Voice Australia) and Australian producing super-siblings, The Mak Brothers, Andy and Thom. The three combined their powers during a writing camp a few years ago, and have had nothing but success ever since. The electronic production and songwriting skills of Andy and Thom Mak, mixed with the hauntingly beautiful voice and songwriting style of Pavey, were the exact ingredients needed to make the perfect, cross-genre magic. I love the fact that the songs stay true to the voice and guitar that birthed them while elevating the elements into another dimension with precision production. The end result in my opinion is everything one should want in modern music. Soft meets hard, past meets future, skin meets metal. This is what I will be going for with the fragile, shaky pianos and vocals from Focus. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6BFbesATTU

I haven’t had a huge amount of direction from Bailey, who gave me the stems, and I do not have contact with Mackenzie at all. I will endeavour to keep Bailey up to date and to correspond with him my plans and progression, but I feel as though he doesn’t have any particular expectations from me as far as being a client is concerned. This means I will be viewing this as a remix project that I have creative control over, with my end goal being that both Bailey and Mackenzie are proud, happy, and impressed with what I am able to deliver. 

AUD210 Week 7: Sampling

This week I will be talking about sampling and in particular a commercially successful electronic music artist who is, for most people, myself included, extremely synonymous with the process of sampling. That artist is a Mr Norman Cook, AKA Fatboy Slim. The song I want to talk about in particular is his 1998 hit, The Rockafeller Skank. (Cook, John Barry, Winifred Terry).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMrIy9zm7QY

The art of sampling, that is, the process of ‘borrowing’ a whole or portion of an already recorded sound and reusing it to create an instrument or new sound in a song, was a popular method for making music of all types long before Fatboy Slim’s now iconic ‘You’ve Come A Long Way Baby’ album was released. In fact, it dates back well into the very earliest days of magnetic tape recording. It came to the forefront of commercial pop music in the 1980’s, thanks to artist’s like Peter Gabriel, but it was behind the scenes in the electronic, dance, and hip-hop communities that sampling was beginning to become the hugely popular method that it is today. Especially in the case of hip-hop, a genre that was founded on taking the middle eight, or break, from a funk or disco song, looping it, and then MC'ing over the top. In the case of electronic music, the idea of creating new instruments and sounds through the use of random pieces of audio fit the experimental nature of those early proprietors perfectly. One of the earliest, widely available pieces of equipment for sampling was Fairlight CMI. 

After a successful career making music with several different outfits during the 1980’s and 90’s, Cook would begin performing as a DJ under the name Fatboy Slim in 1996. He adopted a genre of electronic music at this time called Big Beat, a style that utilised heavy breakbeats and synthesizer-generated loops and patterns. By this time, sampling had become an important trait in dance music, as the ability to ignore boundaries and fuse together different styles was very appealing to DJ’s and their fans, who were both still keen on keeping their genre as experimental and groundbreaking as possible. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFIzWVoTz1M

In the interview above for Bose, Cook talks about his process for creating his track 'The Rockafeller Skank'. He says that at that time in his career, circa 1996, he was running a club called The House Of Love in Brighton, UK, where he was able to test his creations to a live audience. His ambition was to make tracks that made the crowd ‘go nuts’. He notes that the idea for The Rockafeller Skank was spawned when he played a track during one of his DJ sets called Sliced Tomatoes, a 1972 dancefloor hit from musical brother duo, The Just Brothers. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Nohjhe8C2w

Cook then came up with the idea of taking the opening lines from hip-hop artist Lord Finesse‘s track Vinyl Dog Vibe. He sampled the audio, then ‘chopped it up’, mapping different syllables and words on to the keys of his keyboard so he could play them in any order and tempo he saw fit. This is, today, one of the most common uses of sampling in commercial pop music. Now that he had his hook and his riff, and after a holiday to Bali where he was inspired by surf guitar music, he added a sample of the guitar line from John Barry’s ‘Beat Girl’, which was originally composed for the 1960 British film of the same name. Cook then added a further guitar sample from the track ‘Peter Gunn’ by Art OF Noise, and a drum fill sample from Bobby Fuller Four’s ‘I Fought The Law’. He then recorded a drum beat for it, and his Frankenstien's Monster was ready for the world. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRJRh0mEw7s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF0PRzi5vRk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tK-vUY6erQU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI

The track made it to number six in the UK Singles Chart of June 1998 and was a huge success worldwide, launching Fatboy Slim into homes of people all over, electronic music fans and not alike.  This track is a very good example of sampling done right, although, for Cook, that meant it was not the payday it could’ve been. He has commented that in order to clear the rights to be able to use the samples in the song, he had to give 100% of the royalties away, with him receiving no none from the song's sales at all. 

Although sampling audio for music creation remains a hotly debated legal and moral debate, it shows absolutely no sign of going away, with more and more artist’s from more and more genres using every year. I personally enjoy it when it is done respectfully and tastefully because I believe a good idea can be expanded on and enjoyed again and again if done right. There is also newer and better equipment being released all the time, meaning the use of samples will become cheaper and easier as time goes on, furthering the poplualrty and use. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XMfKYVu_fg

AUD210 Week 6: Synthesis

This week, I have chosen to discuss Kraftwerk, the German four-piece electronic outfit largely considered to be the forefathers of the genre. When it comes to the use of synthesizers, Kraftwerk is undoubtedly the most renown in the industry, at least from the viewpoint of ingenuity. Because synthesizers are such a large part of the band’s sound, a sound spanning such a long period of time, I will concentrate on one album in particular, the sixth release from the band, The Man-Machine, 1978. Although the sixth album overall, The Man-Machine was the third album since the band adopted their new sound, consisting of almost completely electronic, machine-made music. Prior to the first of these three, Autobahn, the band had more of an experimental, free-form rock style.  

http://www.musictech.net/2014/12/landmark-productions-kraftwerk-the-man-machine/

http://www.musictech.net/2014/12/landmark-productions-kraftwerk-the-man-machine/

Throughout most of the 1970’s, one of Kraftwerk’s favoured synthesizers was the Moog Minimoog. Built in 1970, the Minimoog was, and still is to this day the most popular synth of all time. Kraftwerk used the unit on the majority of their early electronic records. It is definitely a part of the signature sound for the band in those early days, circa 1970-1980. The other piece of equipment that became a signature sound for Kraftwerk, was The Synthanorma Sequenzer, which was custom made for them in 1976 by synth studio Matten & Wiechers. Kraftwerk used two of these at the same time, first on Trans Europa Express, 1977, but most noticeably on The Man-Machine, where they used clipped, high resonant frequencies to enhance the rhythm of the drum track (below). This is when the Synthanorma Sequenzer became a truly recognisable part of the band’s sound. During the composition period, they also made use of an EMS Synthi AKS, a portable modular analogue synthesiser released in 1972, and an ARP Odessey, another portable analogue synthesizer released the same year. These, along with the very earliest vocoder technology, made up the the band’s synthesizer usage during the 70’s. 

1. Moog Minimoog; 2. EMS Synthi AKS; 3. ARP Odessey; 4. Synthanorma Sequencer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQe9eK_4U0U

Kraftwerk used synthesizers to create catchy, pop melodies that sat on top of their strict, rigid, repetitive rhythmic patterns, a style they called ‘Robot-Pop’. A lot of sequencing was used, with short stabs and dotted (not in terms of time signature) notes sparkling all over the drum machine's beat, also using the sequencing to enhance the rhythm part in many cases. For timing their synths, they seem to have favoured 18th notes I've noticed, to create the 'clicking', pulsating sound they are known for. This sequencing was then often run through a delay processor, most likely a Roland Space-Echo. There is also a lot of frequency sweeping happening with the pad sections in the backgrounds. This gives those catchy hooks a nice wide bed to lay on. They used the Minimoog to create simple, long bass lines too, leaving plenty of room for the lows in the vocoder to play out and to add to the overall sparseness of their mixes. The vocoder technology at the time was brand new, and Kraftwerk used on most of the content throughout this period and beyond. The majority of their hooks were made with delayed, gated synth sounds with plenty high-frequency content, repeated over and over. 

http://www.electronicbeats.net/the-feed/hear-completely-bizarre-kraftwerk-performance-1974/

http://www.electronicbeats.net/the-feed/hear-completely-bizarre-kraftwerk-performance-1974/

Without synths, there is no Kraftwerk as we know it. The synthesizer sound makes up the entirety of the band’s creations. They were innovators and truly ahead of their time. Their use of synthesizers has inspired countless artists since, so much so, that in 2014, Kraftwerk was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for their contribution to the music.

AUD210 Week 5: Sound-A-Like Reflection

So, after many hours of hard work and focus, I present to you our Sound-A-Like project, Tighten Up by The Black Keys.

https://youtu.be/qW22-D1HHzM

I want to start by saying I am very proud of the result that my group has been able to achieve with this assessment, and that it has surpassed my personal expectations ten fold. Is it perfect? No. But given the dynamics of group work, our time restrictions, and the numerous hiccups experienced along the way, I am very pleased with what we have accomplished. 

Left to Right: Griffin and Aaron driving the desk

Left to Right: Griffin and Aaron driving the desk

Recreating the instrumentation of this track was never going to be the hardest part, given that this band styles itself on a simple, minimalist, real sound. The band only has two members officially, for example.  So we were able to source all the instruments used in the original quite easily. The drummer was supplied by SAE, Aman kindly enlisted the help of a guitarist and bassist, and Griffin’s Dad jumped in on vocals at the last minute, after our original vocalist disappeared off the face of the earth.  All of our musicians performed well, especially our drummer, Ryan, and they were all able to mimic the performances of the band with precision.

Outboard gear in the large Audient studio

Outboard gear in the large Audient studio

More difficult than finding the right instruments, was making them sound right. We did a lot of discussing and research about the specific effects used on the track, and it was still fairly mysterious to us just how we would go about replicating them. Dan Auerbach, vocalist and guitarist for The Black Keys, uses a huge array of bespoke equipment to create his signature guitar sounds. Some of his equipment is so rare, that we soon realised we were going to have to think outside of the box while tracking our guitars to reach it. Fortunately, we were able to contact our guitarist ahead of time and request he brings in as many of his effects pedals as possible to give us a better chance of finding the right sound. Using a mix of reverb, delay, distortion and even flanging, he was able to get it pretty damn close. This was a good lesson, as it taught us the importance of sometimes trusting the player. It is their domain after all.  Again, the effects aren’t perfect, but given the difficulty of sourcing the exact equipment used on the track, I think we did very well.  We also spent a lot of time during the mixing process finding the right sound for the drums and vocals, both of which we had recorded clean. We mainly used outboard gear for our distortion; parallel compressing the bass, drums and vocals, and our reverb came from a mix of the effects units in the studio.  We pushed most of the compresses hard, to create the same crunchy, fuzzy sound of the original. I feel we achieved this well, although more time would have given us the chance to tweak it and improve it somewhat. 

The mixing process was very difficult because Tom, who we had done our tracking sessions with and planned out many ideas for the day was unfortunately unable to be there. This meant that we were largely left alone, and had to do a lot of trial and error to achieve our desired sounds. I think this shows in the final mix through the levels, some of the effects, and certain aspects of the sonic arrangement. The dynamics haven’t been as successfully replicated as they could've been, with some things seeming to be further back than they should, and there’s just an overall flatness to our version. It’s also missing some clarity that the original has, but again, I think under the circumstances, we got it really close. Working without Tom did have a negative effect on our mixing session, but we pulled through and got it pretty close. I think overall, the mixing is where we need the most improvement, but perhaps that’s unsurprising. 

The boys working hard

The boys working hard

One thing I feel we did nail is the vibe, and the vibe of this song was so important to get right. It is such a signature sound for this band, and without that jamming, playful quality, it just wouldn’t stand up.  We spent time acknowledging this and communicated the importance of it to our performers. I think they understood it and executed it very well. Our version has the same rough, loose, organic feel to it as The Black Keys'. It’s dirty, gritty, edgy, but pretty too.

 

Once again, I’m very proud of what we have achieved, and apart from some small areas of imperfection, I’m more than happy to put my name on it. 


Late addition: It appears YouTube agrees with me 

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 8.55.23 PM.png

AUD210 Week 3: Studio Roles

Firstly, I would like to apologise for the lateness of this post, but for the last few weeks I have looked like this…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVUcOvT0gCA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVUcOvT0gCA

…And thus, typing has been a no-no. Sorry.

The console 

The console 

For the first session in the studio working on our Sound-A-Like project, Tighten Up by The Black Keys, we tracked drums. We were working under the guidance of our lecturer Tom Glover, who was great as always and very helpful and informative but also let us find our own feet and experiment too. On the drums, we were graced with the very talented Ryan, who was both professional, friendly, and more than capable to perform the track as required. Because the original track was not recorded to a click, I spent some time beforehand creating a tempo map on our session in preparation for the day. Ryan was able to play along with a blend of the original audio, and the customised click track. Needless to say, we were very lucky to have him. 

Left to Right: Ryan, Sahil and Tom

Left to Right: Ryan, Sahil and Tom

For this first session, I was given the job of being one of two runners. We had the view that during our tracking sessions, the runners would be a kind of jack-of-all-trades, filling in anywhere that needed an extra pair of hands. This worked out well, as we were a couple of people short on the day, so I ended up taking on the role of microphone assistant, along with Sahil. I was really happy to jump on this, as it was the first time I have had the opportunity to set up microphones for drums recording. 

I had previously done some research into drum recording techniques, through Lynda and various other online resources, and felt that this put me in good stead for the job. I found it really interesting to note the difference in sound between changes in microphone placement. For instance, gaining or removing ‘ringing’ from the toms by favouring the outside or centre of the drum skin.  We also did a lot of work to replicate the sound of the original track, by noting the large amount of room sound present. We actioned this by using three overhead microphones, and three room microphones placed strategically around the space.  This gave us lots of options for the mixing process. Overall, in terms of the microphone placement, I feel like we did quite well to replicate the sound of The Black Keys, though there were of course some things that we could improve on. 

Ryan laying down a take

Ryan laying down a take

Although overall the session was a success, I feel like we could’ve done some more preparation for the day. Specifically, I feel like we didn’t pay enough attention to the tune of the drums on the track. We spent no time discussing this with our player, and afterwards, it was notably different in our version. The other area for improvement was perhaps the communication between the control room and the recording space. At times, it was hard to know if what we were doing in the recording space was having a positive effect or not, because there wasn’t enough communication between the two rooms.

https://www.propertyme.com.au/blog/property-management/property-manager-communication-how-to-be-more-than-a-middleman

https://www.propertyme.com.au/blog/property-management/property-manager-communication-how-to-be-more-than-a-middleman

These, as I said, were only small areas of improvement, and I do feel overall that we executed a successful recording session, getting great results for our project, and learning a lot about the process of recording drums. 

AUD210 Week 2: Song Analysis

The Black Keys - Tighten Up

http://www.npr.org/sections/world-cafe/2014/05/12/311390985/the-black-keys-on-world-cafe

http://www.npr.org/sections/world-cafe/2014/05/12/311390985/the-black-keys-on-world-cafe

Tighten Up was written by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney and produced by Danger Mouse. It was released in 2010 by Nonesuch.

Rhythm:

The song is in the key of F# Minor. Tempo varies from 96 – 111 bpm. Entire track is 4/4, except for one bar which is 3/4

Structure:

Intro, Verse, Refrain, Verse, Bridge, Chorus, Bridge, Coda, Solo

Instrumentation:

Drums – Kick, Snare, Hi-Hat, Tom, Crash

Tamborine

Bass

Electric Rhythm Guitar

Electric Lead Guitars

Vocals

Whistling

Leslie Organ


The structure of Tighten Up is slightly unusual and doesn’t really follow a conventional structure. This adds to the ‘live, jamming’ feel of the record which was the intention of the band, and also the reason why the track was not recorded to a click. The intro covers the first ten bars. The first two are more of a count-in, with the bass and tambourine setting the tempo for the band. Then the kick and rhythm guitar come in, accompanied by a whistled melody, double-tracked and set an octave apart, with the lower octave panned left, and the higher to the right. After four bars, a single lead guitar melody is added, panned left. The song then has an eight-bar verse where the vocals are introduced. Following the verse is a four-bar refrain, where the lyrics resolve, and a melodic hook is played by the left-panned electric guitar we heard in the intro, but also by another playing a similar melody an octave higher, panned to the opposite side. After this refrain, we have another verse, similar to the first, though this time the left-panned electric guitar from earlier is brought up in the background for the second four bars. At the end of this second verse, there is a bridge, where the kick, hi-hat and bass vamp on the song’s tonic note for one bar. The kick and bass are playing ¼ notes, with the hats on 8ths. This introduces the first 8 bar chorus. The chord progression changes here and we lose the vocals. There are no lyrics at all in this section, instead, the two lead electric guitars from earlier play a new melodic hook, still an octave apart, but now both panned right. The rhythm guitar that is now panned left balances this out. The chorus is followed by another bridge, the same vamping from before, but now the time signature changes to 3/4 for one bar. It returns to 4/4 as we enter the third verse and refrain, which is identical musically but not lyrically to the first. The fourth verse introduces padding by a modulating organ, which is playing a different chord progression to the bass and guitar. The second half of the fourth verse, like the second verse, re-introduces the left-panned guitar. Then the same vamping bridge as earlier takes us into the second chorus, which is structurally the same as the first. This is followed by one more bridge, as before, which is then followed by one bar of a breakdown, with a slowing drumroll and effected guitar sound. The tempo slows down during this bar, setting the pace for the approaching coda. The chord progression here is the same as the chorus’, only now it’s played at a tempo of around 96 to 100 bpm. The first four bars are instrumental, then the vocals come in for eight bars, over the top of the same four chord progression. The vocals then cut back out and a new, distorted and flanged electric guitar plays a slower version of the lead melody for eight more bars. The track ends and then a final 4 bars of just the guitar fades the song out.

http://www.prettyneatgrooves.com/tag/the-black-keys/

http://www.prettyneatgrooves.com/tag/the-black-keys/

The track builds up over the verses, then there’s a break just before and after the chorus’ when the vamping happens on the kick and bass. This gives the impression that a new important part is coming up. There is not a huge amount of variation in dynamics other than that, except perhaps at the transition between the final bridge and the coda.

The track mostly makes use of harmonies that are an octave apart. This is present in the whistling at the intro, and also the majority of times we hear the lead guitars playing melodic hooks. Other than that, the organ played in the fourth verse plays F# minor, E major, B minor and C# major, the one, six, four and five of the F# minor scale, while the other instruments carry on the usual progression of F# minor, A major, B minor, C# major. This is padding, and the harmony between the A and E chords gives this verse a noticeable point of difference and creates a build up towards the second chorus.

The hook that is whistled in the intro of the track is different to the hook that is later played by the guitars. It climbs down the F# pentatonic scale, playing F#, E, C#, B, C#, before resolving on B, C#. The melody that creates the hook played in the refrain sections of the track by the two electric guitars are also in the F# pentatonic scale, but this time using the whole scale over several octaves. This scale is very typical in Rock and Pop music and fits the style perfectly. The melody in the chorus uses the same scale, but differently. The vocal melody throughout the track also makes use of the F# pentatonic scale, although it never follows the same melody as the guitars.

http://smartwpress.com/jamsession2/gallery/the-black-keys-live-at-coachella/

http://smartwpress.com/jamsession2/gallery/the-black-keys-live-at-coachella/

The drums, vocals and guitars all have a fair amount of distortion on them. This is either from heavy compression or pushing the gain levels elsewhere in the chain. Either way, it sounds like analogue distortion. The bass and tambourine that are present throughout the song are left clean, which balances out the heavy fuzz of the other instruments. The rhythm guitar has a fair amount of reverb on it, and a tremolo'd delay, which could be the reverb itself. The two lead guitars that play the hooks do not have the tremolo'd delay but do seem to have the same distortion, and a little of the reverb, as the rhythm guitar. The organ sound from the fourth verse sounds as though it is being played through a Leslie, or similar, rotating speaker. The solo played by the electric guitar towards the end of the song is the most heavily affected instrument in the track. The guitar here is run through a Flanger, set to a wide, slow and deep sweep that flows left to right. There is another tiny sliver of this in the fill section, right before the coda. During the verses, the entire drum-kit is spread wide, most likely with stereo panned room over-head or room microphones. The mix gets a lot of use out of panning, moving the guitars around constantly, and sitting many instruments just off to the left or right. Whenever two parts are set an octave apart, they are also usually panned to opposite sides, giving the track a wide image, with minimal parts.

All instruments were recorded live, and most likely at the same time, bar the lead guitars, which would have to have been overdubbed. The song was not recorded to a click track, which makes me think that at least the percussion, drums, bass and rhythm guitar were recorded live together.

Tighten Up has a great, old school, rock n roll vibe. It sounds honest, real, live and human. The heavy use of distortion makes it sound gritty and dirty, and the lead guitar hooks really cut through and get stuck in your head. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpaPBCBjSVc

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AUD210 Week 1: Electronic Music Genre

EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is an umbrella term that covers several different genres. This includes House music, Drum & Base, Techno, Trance, and many others. But it doesn’t stop there. Even these genres can be spilt into further sub-genres. Undoubtedly, by the time I’ve posted this blog there will be even newer sub-sub-genres on the scene. 

http://crossfadr.com/2016/12/16/is-edm-over-a-few-reasons-why-mainstream-edm-is-on-the-way-out/

http://crossfadr.com/2016/12/16/is-edm-over-a-few-reasons-why-mainstream-edm-is-on-the-way-out/

You hear many different stories about the origins of EDM, be it the underground gay clubs of 1980’s Paris, or the answer to the UK’s 2 AM lockout laws of the same time. Whatever the origin, it was born deep underground, and it stayed there for some time, even after it had started to permeate and influence the main stream. Regardless of the genre, EDM can generally be recognised by its prominent kick, its thick bass, and its looping, repetitive melodies. Most material slowly builds up tension over the course of a song to what is called ‘the drop’. This is the part of the song that, if done correctly, brings the audience to a climatic frenzy, releasing the tension and allowing the beat to fully ‘drop’. The repetitive nature of EDM would later be replicated by other more mainstream genres like disco, hip-hop, and eventually pop. To the early proprietors of EDM, the idea that it would ever be mainstream or seen as popular music would likely sound insane. But EDM by its very nature breaks all rules. No need for a verse, a chorus, a vocal line. Just a beat, just a big fat beat. The D in EDM is the clue to the success of it. It’s not there to make you cry, or laugh, or tap your toe. It is made for you to dance, and dance hard. The DJ’s who perform this music to live audiences seamlessly transition from one track to another without stopping. This means the crowd never needs to stop dancing. Prior to this, when a song ended there would be a pause or silence before the next one began. This gave the audience time to come back to reality, and loose their mojo. EDM allows the listener to get lost in it for enormous amounts of time, just feeling that thumping beat throughout their body as they sweat and dance in a semi-ritualistic, almost tribal manner. It taps us in to a very ancient, human psyche. Dancing to endless, repetitive drumming is one of the oldest known relationships between humans and music. I believe that EDM takes us back there. 

Official video for Skrillex - "Bangarang" feat. Sirah

CIU111.3 (3/3): Indie Marketing Techniques

Indie marketing techniques were the point of focus during week 9.  The SAE blog on Medium.com of the same name was, like others, full to the brim with helpful, useful information, and tips for getting yourself noticed and attracting new fans, customers and followers without access to the financial backing and advertising reach of some larger competitors in the field ("Week 9: Indie Marketing Techniques", 2015). It discusses the importance of standing out, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your brand, and understanding the psychology behind why people make certain choices rather than others. There is a great section on comparative variance, with tools to help people think objectively about themselves and their brand, something that is not always easy to do. The blog also raises the interesting point that as creative practitioners, we often find that our customers and our users are not the same people. That is to say, one party often pays us to supply a product that will be used by another party. This is such a unique situatio and one I personally haven’t ever given enough thought. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to do so right now. 

As I discussed in my post last week, I have always appreciated the importance of my online portfolio in gaining and retaining fans, users and customers. What I haven’t always appreciated is how different all these factions can be. Not only are they different but their wants, needs and expectations of me can be in complete conflict with one another. Yet, at the same time as they are conflicting, they are also completely reliant on one another. Confused? Me too. I guess an example of what I’m trying to explain is as follows: Let's say, my customer, someone paying me to do a job on a professional level, does not want me posting vulgar or distasteful things publically, at risk of it affecting their brand by proxy. However, my users, fans and followers, respond best when I post things of such nature. Now I’m in a position where I have to get fans to get a job, to get more fans, to get more jobs, and everything I do to gain one completely ruins my chance of getting the other.

https://www.reddit.com/r/pebble/comments/6laaaf/huh/

https://www.reddit.com/r/pebble/comments/6laaaf/huh/

At the risk of boring you with more talk of my time on reality TV show The X Factor, it is a great example of this whole conundrum. I did the job, I gained fans and people knew about me. Great! But then because I’d done the job and people knew me, other people didn’t want to be my fans because I was no longer seen as a struggling artist. So, I got the job but lost fans. Before it, I had fans, but not the job. It is the age-old tight rope that so many creative people have walked throughout time. Thanks to this week’s subject matter, I can see clearly now that it is because we work in an industry where our users and our customers are often different people. How many times have fans complained about a project their beloved artist has done, not realising that said artist is likely at the whim of some very powerful and financially invested superiors? The fan feels as though they are the customer, but they are not who the artist is working for. This is why the whole idea of indie marketing has taken off so much. It is not just because many artists don’t have any money or help or corporate backing, but because appearing to have none of these things is in itself desirable and beneficial. This is so important for people in the creative industries to get their head around, not only because money is not always freely available for things like marketing and advertising, but also because the whole idea of indie marketing has become an advertising style in its own right. So much so that even large, corporate, that is to say very un-indie companies, now strive to make their marketing efforts seem indie, in an attempt to trick customers into using a product they think is cooler than it actually is. 

A great example of this became apparent to me recently when I noticed the country being flooded with seemingly organic, independently produced information about a new Australian artist named Vera Blue.

https://genius.com/albums/Vera-blue/Perennial

https://genius.com/albums/Vera-blue/Perennial