The challenge was to take a horrible MIDI loop from Garageband, and incorporate it into a song (and hopefully the song won’t suck). The chosen loop was a typical bouncy house music piano. Excellent. Always like a challenge. Decided I would do this one entirely “in the box.” No real instruments of even a keyboard allowed. Pencil tool only.
First thing I did was load up about 5 tracks and drag the midi file into them and looped it for like 4 minutes. Then I changed the instrument for each track from a piano to a synth or an instrument I had made in EXS24. I used Olga and Crystal for the synth tracks. After playing around until I got some sounds I liked, I turned everything into an audio file, and then chopped the stuff up. About half of it was random, and some of it I tried to keep an arrangement in mind as I edited.
I changed the GUI on Logic. Nice huh?
Once the editing was done, I did a beat in EzDrummer using the Cocktail kit and looped it. It was a strange rhythm, and I wasn’t sure what to do next. Why not add a piano playing a tango rhythm? After that I added a fretless bass doing a tango sort of part, and I had a straight up Tango. Then I brought in all of the chopped up sounds I created earlier. I dragged them around into some sort of order and left them alone.
Vocal next: I had to stay in the box, so I used the pinhole mic on my laptop and then spent way too much time EQing out the horrible hissing sound. Would have been much easier to just use a mic, but this was an experiment. After doing the vox, I did a harmony part (not easy as I never actually wrote lyrics, it’s just mumbling), and then copied the lead vocal onto another track (with the EQ settings intact) and ran it through a buffer delay. I think you are supposed to use them to get rid of latency, but they can make some really wild effects too. After I recorded the vocals through the buffer delay, I bounced it out as an audio file and then dragged it back in and threw out the original. That way I could get the effect to be the same every time I played back. With some of these effects, everything is random, so you can’t count on getting the same sounds/noise every time.
nice freeware buffer delay from smartelectronix
their website can be a little messy, but dig around. there is a ton of outstanding freeware in there. Their stuff is good for noisy music, more than something more classic.
Now I had everything in, and I dragged it around a bit to tighten up timing and the arrangement. I put up some busses with compression for the bass and the drums; and more busses for vocals (with compression, reverb and tape delay all on different busses). Started to sound kind of psych, so on another track I added a simple drum fill in EZDrummer , and then ran that through the tape delay. I had the buss all the way up and kept muting the track, so the fill would just echo off like an old dub song. It’s all over the song, but sounds different at different times as the automation of the delay changes.
Mixing was kind of a pain as I automated so many effects to come in and out, and had a lot of muting going on. Once it was done, I ran it through T-racks Opto compressor and their Classic EQ. I didn’t put much compression on the master output, but it kind of glues it together (at least it sounds like it to me).
I’m still learning about Logic, so this was a fun, hopefully fruitful exercise. I called it Silent Tango, because the song is a Tango, and in the midst of my mumbling, it sounds like I say the word “silence” a few times. There you go, instant song title.
If you want to hear what others did with this loop, click here