Berklee Online, Summer Semester, Weeks 8 & 9

These next four tracks were from my Berklee Online Summer Semester, Weeks 8 and 9 in Synthesis, Sampling, and Sound Design in Film Scoring.

Two Beats was a Week 8 exercise to “load a preset kit available within your drum sampler … tweak at least four of the individual sample’s settings to your taste … create a 16-bar drum loop in the four-on-the-floor style … add a drum fill in the eighth and sixteenth bars with your new version of the drum kit featuring the newly affected sounds … duplicate your drum kit to a new track … create another 16-bar drum loop in hip-hop style using syncopation in the kick drum … remember to add drum fills at bar eight and at the end of the 16-bar loop to help with the loop’s turnaround.” I added a fadeout to the snare/rim shot because it was ringing out way too long and I like a dryer snare drum. I used the EQ to fatten up the bass drum and snare drum a little bit. I brought the levels of the toms up and the snare down so they would match a little better. I reversed the clap sound and used it to lead into the snare hits on 2 and 4.

My Amen Brother Edit was a Week 8 exercise to “import the audio file of the “Amen Brother” drum break … chop up the sample on the downbeats of the music … lay out the slices on the separate pads … change at least four of the sample slices … create a 16-bar loop, remembering to add drum fills around the eighth and sixteenth bars.” On my main bass, I boosted the low end, on my main snare I boosted the middle. I also used EQ on everything to bring down the ride (since it’s in every sample and can get grating). I took one of the snare samples and one of the bass samples and reversed them (and used those for one of my fills). I took another snare and bass sample and did a low pass filter with some resonance and used those for another fill. I added stereo delay and a phaser and added them to one of my “Ride and Snare ghost note” samples and used that in another fill.

Winter Soldier Groove was my Week 8 assignment to “construct a 16-sound sample drum kit, which can include any sounds you find inspiring and interesting … you may include drum sounds, synth sounds, found sounds, etc. … create an eight-bar drum loop … create three variations of the eight-bar loop, making a total of 32 bars.” Since I wanted to start working toward my final project (scoring a fight scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier), I decided to make a kit that relates to the film clip and the music I’m planning to do for it. I went through the entire clip and sampled all of the sounds that I thought were interesting. I ended up with over 60 samples of punches, kicks, crashes, and other sound effects. Eventually I picked out four bass-like sounds that I liked (mostly punches), then I found hits that had more treble in them, so they worked better as snares/drums (some of them have a metallic aspect to them because of the Winter Soldier’s robotic left arm). Then I picked four small metallic hits for hi-hat type sounds. The last four sounds are specialty sound effects (a gun cocking, electricity, a whirling sound, and the sound of the Winter Soldier’s arm). It was interesting creating the groove, because first of all I had a variety of basses and snares to use. It was also great to have four different hi-hat like sounds to use simultaneously, and make rhythms that one person alone on a drum set couldn’t do by themself. I also liked utilizing the sound effects for most of the fills, as opposed to traditional toms.

Alien Zombies was my Week 9 assignment to “create a one- to two-minute piece using wavetable synthesis and distortion.” For this assignment I wanted to get away from thinking how I normally do and just focus on timbre and tension. I was inspired by a synth patch shown in class where the LFO was drawn to produce a “short short long” rhythm, so I created some LFOs of my own for different variations and speeds. I started with a patch that reminded me of sounds I’ve heard in the “Annihilation” soundtrack and then added a higher “bubbling” synth sound. For the transition I added a driving bass part that gradually fades in and a Shepard tone to create a build into a suspenseful cutoff and a bar of silence. The B section starts with a distorted guitar-like synth sound, then the bass from the end of the A section returns, followed by a higher synth sound, a “robotic” wobble bass sound, and a high “glassy” synth for more contrast to all of the lower sounds. The Shepard tone returns, leading to another suspenseful cutoff, and the very first low “Annihilation” pulse returns momentarily before fading out. I wanted to go for a horror vibe, that would work in a story about aliens, but since the second half reminded me of the music from the first “Resident Evil” movie, it turns out that the aliens are also zombies.

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