MPC Forums Synth Pop Challenge – Systematic Noise

This is my third pass at a Synth Pop track. I did some cool stuff on the MPC Live, but it is definitively not Synth Pop. Something I will absolutely put together as a finished track, but both tracks strayed from the Synth Pop sound way too much, and I decided I’d give it one more try.

This entire track was done “in the box” on the OP-1… the Drum Synth did the “heavy lifting” for the drum samples… and I ran it through various FX to get the sound I hit. The FM Synth did almost all of the Bass and Lead sounds… I know this isn’t DX7 territory, but whatever. Really the only non FM synth sound here comes courtesy of the DR Wave Synth that has that noisy and tinny piano sounds only the back end of the track.

For those of you who have experience with the OP-1… I just tracked sounds out, usually with a single pass, so I wasn’t really doing too much as far as multiple layers… I intentionally did this so that I could focus on 4 specific tracks that worked as mono, instead of getting stereo depth… so yeah, no stereo sounds unfortunately, but I just wanted to avoid getting to crazy with layers so that I could play the track mutes a bit more live.

For the drums, I wanted the super programmed sound, instead of going without timing correct… so for the drums I used the Finger sequencer and just programmed out tracks and used the record/sequencer player to just record in straight… for the arpeggios I used Arpeggio to really just play out two variations of F/G# and C/D#. Yeah, actually nothing exciting, but I put Arpeggio into a mode where it was transposing out 4 notes, for either variation randomly… I could’ve figured out the scale, but plenty of Synth Pop bands didn’t really care either… so to heck with it 


Laying down each section of the track was effectively me just putting the OP-1 into looper mode, and holding down the sequence for “about 4 bars”… which lead to a few glitchier parts since sometimes this would lead to the loop start doubling up a sound… again… I wasn’t going for perfection here. Either I was being lazy, or you can figure the glitches are part of the sound/process of synth pop.

At the end of last week, I had roughly a minute of audio… and I was really not looking forward to doing a whole mess of copy/pasting… this is probably the worst part of the OP-1 experience for those of you that haven’t done it. I honestly tried, but although I felt the sound from start to finish was pretty good, I really couldn’t find a good place to drop from the end, to work my way back and making a full track. I don’t know if that makes sense or not… but it does to me. I also seriously considered bringing the loops into either Ableton or Reason, but I don’t know… it just wasn’t inspiring me… and I was part way in feeling like I had something kind of cool, but just not worth the hassle.

This leaves me at the start of the week, not wanting to be a no show since I’ve put so much work into the various tracks, I had to kick myself in the ass to just try something. I was enjoying the track from start to end, but new I was going to have a hard time making a track in a DAW… so I decided to take a stab at playing it out live. I am definitely not an OP-1 ninja, as you can see from the video… but I figured I could make a passable try at it. Plus what is Synth Pop other than working with what you have to fake it until you make it 



At any rate, this is my favorite take out of a dozen or so attempts to put something down. If I was trying to actually do something serious I’d definitely cut the best parts and mix them in Ableton, but whatever… my punk side is saying take it or leave it, and this was quite fun to do. My only regret is having some lyrics for this track, but not getting the vocals together. I’d blame this on the limited number of tracks on the OP-1, but honestly I found the tempo a bit too awkward to work with, and slowing the track speed down to record vocals introduced some very undesirable side effects to the sound, most notably the pitch.

Not sure if there is any interest… but I will offer to use the auto sampler on the Live to record off key groups if anybody cares for the FM sounds or Piano sounds I used to create the song before I nuke the settings on the OP-1.

So yeah… now you guys can imagine me as a hipster drinking green smoothies out of a mason jar while I pretend to make music on an OP-1 


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