Afternoon Breeze – PO-33 Track

The image is from my daughter. While we took a trip out to Montana she kept borrowing my phone to take strange pictures with odd filters. This is one of many featuring one of our dogs. It looked intense enough to be a good track image. Enjoy the image of my dog slowly zooming in while listening to a electro song plays!

Funny thing… I was going to do another house track, and I’m not sure I’d place it quite in that genre, is it electro house? I don’t think it is fast enough for Techno… Somebody who has more refined taste might be able to clarify the music genre for me. I just thought it sounded cool!

I did give an honest try to using the existing patterns as I said I would, and it sounded like pure garbage. If I took the time to think about the PO-33 sample layout I could probably get something passable, but as it exists, the trial was a failed experiment. Doh… but hey I learned something that I sort of already knew.

What really bit me producing this track was the limit of 4 voices, I have a whopping five samples, and when I added in my next track section… oh boy, it was dropping notes all over the place. This sounded bad, so I essentially just removed one of the instruments. It gives it a nice transition without having obliterating the structure like I have done a few times in past tracks making it sound like several songs.

A key component here is that I started by chaining 4 patterns together, and then recorded content in real time as the beat played out. With sixteen patterns, this gives you room to record four four bar measures, or two eight bar measures if you so desire. In this case I went with four by four, and it worked well, but didn’t leave any room for intros, drops or other glue sounds. As a result, I’d say the track is a bit less dynamic, but on the other hand feels a bit more together.

As usual… here’s the backup of the PO-33 if you want to play around:

Winter Happiness – PO-33 Track

I used some Washi tape to label the write and record on the PO-33 on the case. I keep pushing the wrong one and deleting samples or otherwise overwriting stuff I don’t want to. I’m just not keeping the two clear in my mind. Also, it doesn’t help that the write button with the white dot reminds me of a record button… but yeah, it is still me! 😀

Apparently I’m really sticking with one or two drum loops, some vocals chopped up by and amateur (well the PO-33), an instrument sound, and maybe a bass sound. I’m going to have to do something different to push myself to not fall into a track. And… This track fell out of the sky! Well rather, I just recorded off some more samples to see what I could do to push the PO-33 a bit more. By pushing, I mostly mean doing even more FX and changing the FX up more.

Just deleting all of the samples and patterns before starting a session is working well for me and forcing me to forget what I did before. Deleting everything is keeping me from being lazy and using previous work to build on. It makes it a bit more effort but certainly keeping me looser when programming the track. I think for my next track though I might record in some new samples and change up the tempo/swing but leave the previous patterns, and automation just to see how it sounds and then tweak it up from there. I suspect with judicious changes you could make a brand new track that might seem inspired by a previous track, but sounds completely different.

The track definitely feels like two, or maybe three different ideas jammed into one. The level of consistency is not quite there, but it was fun to put together. I tried a few variations of stringing the patterns together, and settled here. I’ve gotten some written down notes of the order of the patterns, and I suspect a few miss presses or missed notes causes some of the oddity here. I’m also too lazy to go fix it as it is. There are a few parts of the pattern that I wish had extended or repeated, and a few other parts felt kind of weak. Sure I could have edited the patterns themselves and left the order… but nah… this is art. Besides, I’m just trying to get some ideas down and see what comes out.

For those that want to play around with the PO-33 sounds:

My Tiny House – PO 33 Track

I had intended in jamming out on the MPC today, but I ended up grabbing the PO 33 again… Producing another small track. Seriously folks, I am surprised at how much big sound can come out of such a small device! This is maybe 30 minutes worth of playing around max.

If you want a laugh, this is maybe seven, max eight, seconds of audio samples. If I actually put the effort in to trim down the wasted space in the drum track, I might be able to get it down to four or five seconds. Honestly, I’m not bothered by it, but it really goes to show even with the old school hardware and multiple limitations, those older machines really could knock out some bangers without too much effort.

To get some mileage out of the sounds I recorded you can hear me playing around with the filter and pitch quite a bit. This really helped change the character of some of the verses by making the drums and synth sound different without having to record in whole new parts. I actually spent most of my time crafting variants of the various patterns leveraging the FX to create some great variety with minimum time investment. A few parts I’d chain a couple bars together so that I could hear what it sounded like back to back creating fills over two bars. I’ll likely do this again in the future and is a good way to get out of the problem of working in a single bar.

Of course, some issues came up while producing this track. Volume balance for the synth sound became obvious only once I had recorded the vocal section. No matter how much I boosted the volume of the vocals, applied filters to the vocals, etc… it just wouldn’t cut through. Being lazy by nature, instead of re-recording the vocals I decided to just apply some filtering and volume to the synth, but once you’ve laid down sounds in the PO-33 you’re going to need to hold down the write button while you turn the knobs to get it applied. I only had two patterns at the time, so it was not a big deal. After modifying the patterns, I went into the sound and made adjustments there so I didn’t have to do any more adjustments afterwards.

Here is the backup file for anybody who might be interested in playing around with it on the PO-33.

Early Morning Chat – PO-33 Track

Although I’ve been happily selling off gear, I’ve still got the Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators I picked up a while back. I was feeling like putting something together super fast, and while I was planning on recording off samples, creating drum programs, all that fun stuff… I also didn’t want to spend too much time.

So… I reached for my trusty PO-33 and decided to sample in some beats. Originally I was going to use the internal microphone, but while this is sometimes interesting, there was a bit too much background noise (ie, the kid wouldn’t stop singing Frozen songs). I had to use the line in, which honestly does tend to have a fuller sound, the microphone is fine, but often it does lack the bottom end a bit.

At any rate, I ended up using four samples, one for the instrument, two drum tracks, and the vocal. I know some folks really like to get their chops perfect, and while there is a place for that, I also love me some dirty chops. What this means is, I was super lazy, and let the less than ideal chopping feature of the PO-33 do its magic, or butchering, depending on how you feel about it. Sure, I could have trimmed things, but who has time for that!

I had been planning on doing a few more fancy filters through my pedal board, but it didn’t really feel necessary. Honestly, the PO-33 does have some pretty functional effects, and you can hear them on the track. If I get some more time, I’ll pretty it all up, but here is the track in all its glory, warts and all!

I’ve also backed up the PO-33, so if you’re interested in playing around with it:

Chip Bass – Akai MPC 1k Program

Another mystery sample and program here. It is now nearly a month old, and I cannot remember what the heck I did at *all* for this one. I suppose the dog excuse is still valid and in play, but woof… “the dog ate my homework” never worked in school, and I suppose it doesn’t really do much here.

What are my notes this wondrous day? Well check it out below.

Chip Bass ???

Chip Bass MPC 1k Program ???

Yeah, no help… I’m not even sure at this point that this sounds terribly “bassy” to me, it could be a functional lead as well… hmmm.

Well, take it away internet. I’ll be here.

Classy Piano – Akai MPC 1k Program

Well now, this has been sitting in my drafts for way to long.

Where did this even come from? Oh yeah, I made the loop in Reason, using a piano patch… which one *shrug*, I forget. But I definitely used the Scream FX to add some wow/flutter, how much? I don’t know… take a listen?

So apparently the danger I have is not writing enough notes down when I prepare these posts, and I also need to get myself better into the habit of just writing the content of these posts… below, the next two lines are what I wrote.

Classy Piano Loop/Example…

Classy Piano MPC 1k Program ???

Super helpful right?! Going forward in the future I’ll do better.

I know I played some “jazzy” chords, but for the life of me I cannot remember the progression, scale or anything else. Could I use Melodyne and maybe figure it out? Maybe… but I’m not going to bother. This is a life lesson for me, and either I will get better, or I’ll keep having not terribly helpful posts.

I am also continuing to wonder if I’m just not better served with a proper vlog setup, so I can take videos, and then have it all recorded there, in wonderful HD to go back and see what I did. Not yet though, I need to get some more posts under my belt and make a better habit of the whole thing.

Insert Original Song Title Here

This is just messing around with the Akai MPC X, I tapped out a beat using the Rawcutz sample pack, and for those that care the sound kit is “HipHop-Kit-RC Ace Kit 95.xmp”. Yeah yeah… I usually do my own chopping and sampling… but I was more interested in just putting something together quick and checking out how hot the output levels are on the MPC X, and how badly distorted it would get going through the Chase Bliss pedals.

For one… the level and impedance are a bit too much for the pedals, unless you want a distorted and over driven sound. You don’t have direct control with a knob for the outputs 3-8, so you’ll either need a mixer, or in my case, I just dropped the output by -20db. This seemed like the right amount. This also means that to get back from guitar pedal level, back to line level, you’ll need to bring the signal in a bit hot again. You can absolutely create clipping/over drive problems doing this, and it might be on output or on input issue, but you’ll just have to trust your ear… or get fancy out board gear to measure your signals.

This isn’t anything terribly fancy, I was just having fun blasting the sounds through the pedals and seeing what came out. I’m pleasantly surprised that the Spectre did not go into immediate whale calls, because that’s a frequent side effect of this pedal. For this play through, I was less excited by the Brothers pedal, to my ears it just made the signal too hot. I’ll have to experiment with pedal ordering some more, and it’s possible Condor would help a bit with sound sculpting in this case.

Back to jamming!