Track Analysis: A Work In Progress

The human race has just achieved the new zenith of its accomplishments. The last round of ammunition is discarded; a relic of history. Peace flourishes worldwide.

And then the earth splits open.

There’s more to the story, but what does it sound like? It’s a question I’ve wanted to answer for a full year of my life. This is my best attempt so far.

It doesn’t really have a name yet, but I wanted to post it and analyze it. Other producers might learn something from what worked here.

I removed a lot of elements before the drop for focus purposes. But I’ll show you the MIDI and talk about why I think the notes came out sounding the way they do. Here’s a little look at a (cleaned up) version of the project file:

sm_analysis.png

Now, the MIDIs!

The bassline is nothing special. Just a C note over and over again. The lengths of the notes matter a lot though. They’re actually a sliver shorter than 32rd notes. Lots of space between each hit. Any longer than this and they started to sound like one continuous note. (Sorry, I don’t know how to make that image bigger.)sm_bassline.png

These two notes play the distorted pad sound you can hear quite easily on the first beat of the drop. It changes every 2nd bar. The half step movement makes a creepy feeling.

sm_creepypad.png

These stabs are the brass sounding instrument that enters before the breakdown. It’s in green on the arrangement window. Mostly I use these to drive home which scale we’re in, since it was too ambiguous at one point.

sm_maj3.png

This is another addition I made to drive home “what scale are we in?” since it sounded like F minor before. But you’ll note that this is in fact an F minor chord! So what the hell? Well, I wanted it to stay ambiguous. I figure this F minor chord — which is the iv chord of C — would reinforce the lead as well as the overall scale.

sm_simplechordstab.png

Now here’s the lead. It’s supposed to sound like the world is ending. Or more specifically, like something is ending the world! I figure sound design is a necessary component of that (I have about 9 layers in the lead right now), but the notes help too.

I have a special affinity for minor 2nds in melody. They sound downright unnerving in the right context, mysterious in others, and beautifully peaceful in others still. So that movement from Ab to G is doing a lot of work. The E note is technically borrowed, but it serves as a leading tone into the F, so while it’s “creepy”, it also sounds harmonic.

sm_lead.png

Even with all of these pieces present, there was still one thing missing…

Some creepy strings! These play an open 5th throughout the whole drop, contributing to the feeling of C minor, even though it’s fairly ambiguous on its own. (Remember there’s also a major third starting on the Eb note playing on the 1st beat of every 2nd bar near the end of the drop. They work together to drive the point home.)

Also they’re just a creepy sound. It’s the metallic sort of ring you hear near the start of the 1st and 2nd bar. The note starts early because it has a long attack.

sm_creepystrings.png
I hope you learned something. Leave a comment if you have a question or want to see more.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s