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Weeklybeats 2016 was a 52 week long music project in which artists composed and publicly released 1 song a week for the entire year. Enjoy this archive of over 3,700 music compositions by over 260 artists.
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Plasticity

By onezero on April 10, 2016 7:45 pm

Here's one that changed quite a bit during its development.  I'd started without any ideas, just some rhythm patterns going against each other (Rhythm Ace sample hits vs. real drum hits, hand claps, hand percussion hits), and a few standbys of grand piano samples and Electric piano.  But..it didn't really lead much anywhere, and the Rhythm Ace was kind of getting lost, so I thought of replacing it with maybe a set of 808 samples and revisit the structure after I'd tracked guitar.

The interesting parts came from the return channels, one of which was stacked with Simple Delay, Dynamic Tube (Hot-Driven Tape), two Filter Delays, for a dub delay/space echo kind of effect, and another return channel of just Filter Delay.  The first of these gave an interesting rhythmic signature to anything going into it. 

Friday night I tracked guitar (Moderne) and bass, and thought it might be interesting to track by not listening to the other parts, but instead just listening to the filter delays, since they were sync'd to the overall tempo.  That gave the bass and guitar a looser feeling, though I had to tweak where the downbeat was so that they'd line up. (I got pretty close most of the time, but since I wasn't listening to other parts, the bass wasn't as consistent in level, and I needed to compress it a bit.)

Then Saturday I learned that Tony Conrad had passed away, so in a kind of tribute thought I'd track Moog guitar through the Reuss RF-01 to simulate the effect he was getting with his violin. Some of these went through Vox Wah to roll off high end, some to accentuate it, and some skipped the wah altogether.  In tracking these, I tended to adjust the push/pull point so that the string stuck close to the inflection point between the root note and the harmonic, for a rougher, bowed-like sound (but there are still very high harmonics in there).  The drones were all different lengths, so they'd overlap differently. I arranged these in three channels, and copied one channel to drop three or four octaves down for a bit of bass energy.

That done...the rest of the track didn't work so well with the drones--they sounded good on their own, but probably wouldn't engage most audiences for much more than this (long by pop/dance standards) intro, so I thought I'd graft the drone approach to the more dance-related piece I'd been working on.  I moved the clips I had past the end of the piece on the arrangement timeline and wrote some new drum parts, starting with a few that grew in density as a bridge from the drone and toward the dance section.  I changed the Rhythm Ace samples to 808, and then replaced the hats and snares with samples of a real kit, and warmed it up by putting it through the Dynamic Tube plugin.

The grand and electric piano bits didn't work anymore, so I wrote a few new Electric parts and left the grand piano out.  Some of the melodic guitar I'd tracked didn't work either, so I took them out and left in the simpler ostinatos. 

There were so many overtones from the Moog through the Reuss fuzz that mixing this was a challenge.  A lot of things got Auto-Filter to cut lows or too-painful highs.  I also pulled their levels way back during the more busy sections.  Everything got Auto-pan, and the MIDI parts got M4L Humanizer.  (At first I used a limit of 40ms, but that ended up sounding too sloppy, and I went for 20ms.) 

I used two other return channels of convolution reverbs--Taj Mahal and Small Wood Chamber impulses, for a couple different characters.

The title comes from Tony Conrad's description of the Dream Syndicate's music as a "plastic continuum"--this isn't a continuum, so much, but my process was rather plastic. Resonate in Perpetuity, TC.

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April 11, 2016 1:56 pm

Love it. Great sound of THE .... Distorted guitar? Love How it develops

April 11, 2016 4:29 pm

Very impressive.

April 11, 2016 11:53 pm

The progression from drones to sinister ambient back to drones is so subtle I didn't notice it the first time through... had to give it a second listen to make sure I hadn't accidentally listened to two tracks

April 13, 2016 9:04 pm
CrazyBob wrote:

The progression from drones to sinister ambient back to drones is so subtle I didn't notice it the first time through... had to give it a second listen to make sure I hadn't accidentally listened to two tracks

Fully agreed.  Really impressed with the flow of this track.  Never heard of Tony Conrad before.  RIP.  Wonderful tribute.  Favorited!

April 14, 2016 2:54 am

This is great love the synths that sound like sitars at times. Nice dub track.

April 14, 2016 9:52 pm

April 15, 2016 12:02 am
dj someguy wrote:

Love it. Great sound of THE .... Distorted guitar? Love How it develops

Thank you!  Yep! Four tracks of distorted sustainer guitar.  I kept trying to hold the push/pull point on the pickups on the inflection point between sustaining the fundamentals and the harmonics, since that had a rough bow-like tonality.

GrainBastard wrote:

Very impressive.

CrazyBob wrote:

The progression from drones to sinister ambient back to drones is so subtle I didn't notice it the first time through... had to give it a second listen to make sure I hadn't accidentally listened to two tracks

Thank you!

orangedrink wrote:

Fully agreed.  Really impressed with the flow of this track.  Never heard of Tony Conrad before.  RIP.  Wonderful tribute.  Favorited!

Thank you, orangedrink!  Tony was part of a lot of musical and cultural revolutionary activity: he was part of the Theatre of Eternal Music with La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and John Cale.  He accidentally gave The Velvet Underground their name by finding a paperback book of that title in the street.  Later he joined up with Faust on the Outside the Dream Syndicate LP and did a lot of installation, video, and other works.  From what I've heard, a nice dude, too.

Great essay on his work here: http://www.walkerart.org/collections/pu … ing-drone/

Mercurymonkey wrote:

This is great love the synths that sound like sitars at times. Nice dub track.

Thank you!  (Just sustainer guitar, as I mentioned above.)

Ipaghost wrote:

So great.  My kids kept asking what that was.

April 15, 2016 12:41 pm

Nice intro, very interesting Work!

April 16, 2016 6:40 am
onezero wrote:


So great.  My kids kept asking what that was.


If they have to ask, they're not old enough to know

April 16, 2016 8:10 am

Brilliant track. And a very fitting tribute to Tony Conrad.

April 16, 2016 4:37 pm

Josh & I are totally digging on this - both of us have been playing it all week!

I found it really conducive to meditation!

April 16, 2016 4:47 pm
Plantrain wrote:

Brilliant track. And a very fitting tribute to Tony Conrad.

Thank you!

is nothing sacred? wrote:

Josh & I are totally digging on this - both of us have been playing it all week!

I found it really conducive to meditation!

Thank you, Emily!  Interesting coincidence: I'm doing a soundtrack to a multi-hour reiki session tomorrow, and it's probably going to be something like a less distorted, mellower, beat-free version of this. (With Max for Live drone synth along with it.  Gotta get back to patching that up.)

April 16, 2016 6:05 pm

you gotta send that to me! 

April 16, 2016 11:07 pm

Very cool track.  I was digging the drone part and thinking it would be a very solid track by itself, but the development and all the different parts that came in were really nice.  Great job.

April 20, 2016 5:49 pm

Super sweet drone on the intro!  The rhythm guitar really help drive the track along too.  One guitar line reminded me a bit of Pink Floyd smile  Really cool track!

April 26, 2016 7:45 am

That drone makes me wanna go to Bretagne.

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