beats

The Roots

As another year passes me by, it seems like only yesterday my journey into the world of music had begun. Yesterday being Holi, I realised how remarkable my Holi was last year when I was working on a project that combined all sorts of noises into a background score track. At times like these, you cant help but get nostalgic and wonder how it all begun, whether you would have done anything differently or what would have happened had you not gone down certain paths. I find myself listening to songs and revisiting ideas that got me interested in music in the first place.

When I was about 11 years old, my first interaction with music that seemed interesting was rap music. My sister used to record mixtapes from the radio and dance to them, and one day I wondered into her practice room just to listen to music and 'Without Me' by Eminem started playing. What immediately attracted my attention was the fact that how everything was so brilliantly syncopated rhythmically while Eminem rapped and it sounded fun. An eventual connection with rap music developed over the next couple of years and I became a huge Eminem fan.

That was of course before the teenage years struck and my first contact with genres like Nu-Metal happened. While I very strongly rejected that genre of music the first time I heard 'Hybrid Theory' by Linkin Park, I started liking it as I kept listening to it. And that is where the power of groove lies. If your music is groovy and keeps the listener interested, you've done 95% of your job as a musician.

 
 

Forwarding to present day, I've spent the entire day doing nothing more than writing an article, and figuring out how to play the samples/fx for One Step Closer by Linkin Park. Apparently old habits die hard. A friend called, one thing led to the other and turns out I'm doing the FX/Samples for a few of the songs being played at a Nu Metal Cover night being held at Turquoise Cottage, a nearby gig hotspot. 

Talking to a friend, I realised I feel like DJ Hahn and I hysterically kept laughing for about ten minutes. The reason? I don't know. I don't think I've ever seen myself as a DJ person in strict sense of the word. I think the word DJ has been bastardized, ruined and completely destroyed by the present culture where it can mean a variety of things and not all of them might be good.

Reminds me of the rather cringe-worthy cover of Somewhere I Belong I did 6-7 years ago when I used to actually be a rap fan, not anymore though. But I realise that roots, the crazy thing about them is once they grow, they're set in stone. You can't move them. You could always create a new tree. But that weird pull will always stay there like a sour first-relationship gone bad.

Oh, and more APC 40 goodness coming your way this Sunday, woooot.

Beats and Scares

And we're off to the latter half of the giant 50-minute movie I'm supposed to be scoring. And, well what can I say, It's weird how as soon as you approach the 60-70% completed mark of a score, you find yourself wondering how much more longer it's going to take, especially when you're working on a tight deadline.

Then there's another elementary question, How much of the score should actually have a beat, if any at all? There's like a million questions in my head about the music, but the sad part of it is, I have nobody but myself to answer them for me. And then there's the scary quotient. How much is too scary, how much isn't enough?!

It's in the middle of this entire vortex of chaotic questions and doubts, that I ploughed through another couple of tracks last night for the movie score. They were mostly ambient tracks with not really a lot going for them but nonetheless, I managed to create something decent out of those ideas.

There was more artificial modulation of sounds to make them sound like something else than they were originally. Like door creaks and animal growls being pitch and time-shifted to shit just to make them feel like they were in tempo and scale. Crazy engineering stuff.

 
 
 

And of course sudden orchestral stabs. Stabs. Stabs. Stabs. People dig those sudden stab sounds. when there's a closet opening or a door closing. I live for that scare. Ah, so delightful when you're the one causing it instead of receiving it for a change.

Above: A really scary scene from one of my favourite horror movies 'Drag Me to Hell'. I felt the detail and texture provided to sound-design throughout the movie quite mind-blowing.

The Crack.

Back in 2008, when I had just started fiddling with Fruity Loops, Some people I closely knew at the time were a few hip-hop producers and they were probably the first ones to give me advice and help me out while I was figuring it all out.

I used to listen to a lot of hip-hop when I was 10, and it seemed to be the easiest to start with, if I had to learn to produce and mix. I also collaborated with a few rappers in the next couple of years, I made beats and I feel that somehow, the experience influenced a part of my music.

 
 
 
 

Above : One of the several beats I made for hip-hop artists back in 2008

So imagine my surprise when, I realised that some of the people working on the short-movie were hip-hop fans as well. In the meanwhile, I came across a scene in a house, where you're not sure if there's somebody in there or not. I decided to bust out a beat.

While I laid out a skeleton of the track which consisted mostly, of just a beat in the beginning, I realised even though it was strong, it didn't seem to be making an impact. The 'crack' just wasn't there. Now, I'm an experimenter by nature, and I decided to layer the snare and put another two layers of snare sounds over it. One was boxy and the other one was the typical rock snare with a 'crack'.

Finally, when the percussion was in place. I thought a few electronic loops on top of that would do the trick, with the constant fade-ins and fade-outs. It did, but not completely and I proceeded with making some of them go through Guitar Rig just to add a little bit of grit and roughness.

Since, the scene wasn't entirely supposed to have just a mean attitude to it (which I think I managed to project decently enough), It was also supposed to be a little dark as things weren't as they seemed. I added strings and turned the second half into quite the scare.

Another track done. Proverbial Hi-five.