One of the episodes that I scored with scratch music is online :)
Posted 19 August 2017 - 05:33 PM
- danswift likes this
Posted 20 August 2017 - 10:57 AM
Also, if you ever fancy getting really nerdy about the process of doing this project from your perspective, I'd be keen to read it. Stuff like how much music you actually made to source from, any specific challenges along the way, and things like whether you had to be tighter than on live stuff, did this process improve your skill levels elsewhere, etc. (The last two are very much from my own very limited experience of trying to make scratch music or record others doing so)
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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:00 AM
FWIW for about the last ten years apart from running the record shop I've been building up an online presence for our mail order business 'Backtrack', which just sells film and TV music... to the point where many weeks I do more of that than anything else. In that time it's made me acutely aware of music in films/TV - it's job, how successful it is, techniques deployed by different composers, etc. I've got to say on that level, you've really nailed it. You're not just making some detached music which has been randomly shoehorned in as an afterthought, you've properly scored each scene. Your music clearly directs the audience and matches the action throughout and overall just gives everything a slightly cooler vibe.
Thanks dude! Honestly I felt pretty over my head at times (mostly the beginning), so glad that it doesn't come across like that LOL
Also, if you ever fancy getting really nerdy about the process of doing this project from your perspective, I'd be keen to read it. Stuff like how much music you actually made to source from, any specific challenges along the way, and things like wether you had to be tighter than on live stuff, did this process improve your skill levels elsewhere, etc. (The last two are very much from my own very limited experience of trying to make scratch music or record others doing so)
Let's get nerdy haha.
So basically going into it I sort of fell into the position. Someone saw my youtube video, ask me to jump in the audition pool, I spent heaps of time scoring a 3 minute clip with a few different scenes and ended up winning it. Their reference artists were Kid Koala, Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Q-bert so for me I felt like they actually WANTED to hear scratching in a lot of stuff, so that's what I did... Apparently it was true.
I'm not sure how many minutes I ended up with but probably 70-80 full beats/tracks, a few dozen transition tracks of like 3-5 seconds, a bunch of sound effects and scratch/brake/backspin sounds.
The biggest challenge was definitely keeping up with the deadlines and learning to translate their requests from non-musician/DJ speak to scratch music. At first I was trying to make masterpieces, spending hours and hours per 30 second track, and they'd just be like "nah, try something else" and I was like man I spent so much time on that!! So I ended up creating a workflow and limitations so that I could stick to the schedule better.
For me generally it was: no more than 4 tracks + FX/embellishments, chopped or scratch break for drums, moog bass, main melody or sample, and lead vocal or scratch bit. So a typical track would be:
1) Lay down the drum scratching.
2) Play moog bass with Monark VST (I rarely scratched the bassline cuz they take up a lot of the frequncy range when you do that)
3) Find a dope catchy sample, or synth line.
4) Final scratching... like "hey" or "yo" or "ugh" because I can't use any obvious english.
5) Add sweeps/filters/noise effects to fill it out.
This way it forced me to do as much as I could with a few tracks and kept me away from making 30+ track songs that weren't realistic to make every few days.
The other challenge was interpreting their requests. I'd get "make something that's like X in X style", and it would be like make Peter and the Wolf a trap song, or make a bill withers track a house song, or make a disco style police theme song. Then sometimes my feedback would be "I like it, but put it up an octave". It took a while for me to be able to interpret what they were asking for and put that into a song. Particularly in the case of "put it up an octave" I realized it basically meant make it more hype... so faster or crazier hats or something haha. I'd say that a big part of scoring seems to be translating and interpreting the requests of the directors.
I'm not sure if I had to be tighter for this than live... Like the recording couldn't have mistakes and stuff like you can get away with live, but on the other hand you can just hit record 100 times until you get it right, and tighten things up post. So the end result is a lot tighter. I got better at hitting takes quicker as I went too.
The biggest skill that it improved for me was production in general. I took the job with the plan to use it as a way to get better with Ableton and speed up my workflow and I did just that. It was sort of like a training ground for music. I got in the habit of creating tracks and finishing them, mixing them down, sometimes light mastering, so I wasn't just tinkering around with midi and chopping samples... I had to actual get stuff to a point where I could send them off. I'm not a super beast at it yet but I definitely feel more comfortable in getting a finished product than I did. I have a rough workflow for mixdowns and make sure I check things over like all my bass is side chained nice and I've got an EQ on every track cutting out frequencies I don't need, and all of my drums and chops have their transients and no pops in them... Pretty standard stuff but it takes some experience to get in the habit of crossing your T's and dotting your I's for every track like that.
- DJ Rock Well, Jam Burglar, joeClockwork and 1 other like this
Jimmy: (28 February 2013 - 06:26 AM) you really need to up your game now vekked. Jimmy: (28 February 2013 - 06:26 AM) set fire to tony prince or something this year.
Posted 21 August 2017 - 12:24 PM
I have a rough workflow for mixdowns and make sure I check things over like all my bass is side chained nice and I've got an EQ on every track cutting out frequencies I don't need
Do you use templates for this or do it all as you go along?
Holy shit. Not even Bitches With Whips prepared me for that.
Posted 21 August 2017 - 12:35 PM
Then sometimes my feedback would be "I like it, but put it up an octave". It took a while for me to be able to interpret what they were asking for and put that into a song. Particularly in the case of "put it up an octave" I realized it basically meant make it more hype... so faster or crazier hats or something haha. I'd say that a big part of scoring seems to be translating and interpreting the requests of the directors.
I've had that before when someone has said 'increase the BPM' , but after trial and error I realised what they meant was 'increase the energy/make it more hype'. Almost started making a translation sticky note to decode their requests
Posted 21 August 2017 - 07:15 PM
Thanks for that, just the level of nerdy I appreciate!
I'm always keen to read anything more detailed on making scratch music because nobody really does - there are a gazillion tutorials on general music production in every format, but the only thing I've ever seen for recording scratching was a token half a page in an old Computer Music mag that gave a very non-committal "add a subtle amount of EQ, compression and reverb".
I'm not surprised you backed down to simpler tracks, apart from the sustainability of keeping material flowing, a lot of effective scoring is about strong, simple ideas. I think it's more about something with a strong identity that catches a vibe. In something perhaps relatable to a scratch track, John Carpenter's 'Assault on Precinct 13' springs to mind, as does the beginning of Dirty Harry looking over the pool with Schifrin's eerie vocals and rattly drums sets the mood perfectly.
What you're saying on tightness makes sense too. I find it fascinating comparing recorded cuts where you get to analyse everything, with live where even the best have few less than perfect moments that you just forget as soon as you've heard them. You can't beat experience of any and every kind I reckon. I bet if you made your own album of scratch music now, it would be better for all this experience you've now had. Even if it went in quite a different direction.
I hadn't imagined the obvious chore of communicating with non music people... I would've just pitched everything up an octave
Made me think of this with Badalamenti and David Lynch on Twin Peaks
- Jam Burglar likes this
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