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Archive for the ‘Links’

the Amen Break

March 05, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links, Videos

Color Him Fatherhere is a very interesting video about what is likely the world’s most popular breakbeat (when you hear it, you’ll know it immediately). Popular in techno, hip hop and jungle, the Amen Break is a 40 year old breakbeat that was first featured in a tune by The Winstons called Amen, Brother, the little known B-side track on the Winstons’ Grammy Award winning hit Color Him Father.

while the Amen Break is not as widely used now as it was in the 90s it certainly played an essential role in the development of modern electronic music (and, when sliced apart and sped up, pretty much kicked off drum ‘n bass), and for that it holds a special place in the hearts of many, including myself.

VSTs and plugins for techno and trance

March 04, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links, Plugins and VSTs

KVRmost producers probably already know this, but KVR is a great site for free (and some paid) VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plugins. I’ve downloaded several for Ableton Live, and they’ve been very helpful for creating techno and trance music (yes I’ve still been working on that song – it’s a progressive (dark) trance track called Phantom and it’s almost done! I mean it)! On the plugin search page you can search for all sorts of different VSTs – drum kits, samples, effects, and so on – for Mac, Windows or Linux, and you can specify how much you want to pay to download them (some cost, some are free).

I’m especially fond of this side chain compressor plugin that you can download from some random site in Japan for Windows and Mac. The site looks totally dodgy when you get there, but I haven’t had any issues with the plugin (of course you’ll want to run virus scans on anything you download, just in case). It’s probably not as necessary as it used to be due to the fact that Ableton Live 8 now includes a side chain compressor, but this one is pretty simple to use once you download it (Ableton’s is not), and effective. Perhaps I’ll make a short tutorial about how to use it in a future post.

I’ve finally joined everyone else in the 21st century

February 20, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: DJ Mixes, Links

Podcastsso while I consider myself technically adept, and above average when it comes to adopting and adapting new communications technologies to suit my evil purposes, I somehow missed the boat on podcasts. That may be partially because I’m not huge into the way that iTunes tries to take control of your computer every time you install or upgrade it, and therefore I don’t use it very often. However it happened, I only jumped on the podcasting bandwagon the other day, but I’ll admit I’ve become a fan.

there are tons of excellent DJ mixes out there, mixed by a whole bunch of different DJs and producers, that will simply appear for you, fresh out of the oven so to speak, as soon as they’ve been uploaded by their creators! Those of you already into podcasts are probably pointing and laughing at the screen (well, at the guy behind the screen) and saying “well duh, of course”, but to me, this is pretty big news.

so to celebrate my late discovery of this fantastic technology, here is a podcasted mix by Steve Helstrip, aka The Thrillseekers, a producer who I mentioned a few posts back. I’m linking this mix because I’m really loving the Nitrous Oxide and Adam Nickey song Moon Dust. I even burned a CD of this mix so that I could listen to it in my ancient car.

in other news, as soon as I finish this post I’m going to work on my latest song. It’s been a long time in the coming, but it’s almost done! And I’ll post it on this site when it is.

some melodic trance mixes from 2007 and 2008

February 02, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: DJ Mixes, Links

DJ James Williamsa few years back I used to listen to the Global Soundwave mixes with DJ James Williams, a DJ based out of San Francisco. He played a variety of popular trance music. The only minor complaint I had about his DJing that I did bring up to him over email is that he tended to talk quite a bit throughout his mix – introducing himself, greeting people in the chatroom, and that sort of thing. It’s not really that big a deal, but it’s one of my pet peeves to hear people talking during a DJ mix – I’m there for the music, not for the banter.

at any rate, I hadn’t heard from him for a while, so the other day I checked his web site and discovered several mixes he’d created ready for free download (right click on them to snag them) – and better still, the mixes are completely banter-free, just the way I like them! From what I’ve heard so far they are more melodic and less hardcore than some trance mixes – very easy to listen to.

the only downside here is that James Williams appears to have stopped making mixes – the last mix on the site was put there in November of 2008. I don’t know what he’s been up to lately, but I do hope he’ll eventually get back to work putting some more mixes onto his site.

awesome big ol’ helmets with flashing LEDs on them

January 22, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: DJ Mixes, Links

why are you not listening to this Daft Punk live set right now?

I’ve had it on repeat pretty much since I found it. A tremendous mix featuring plenty of classic Daft Punk songs and more use of low-pass filters than you can shake a stick at.

smack this

January 14, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links, Videos

Liam Howlett of The Prodigyhere’s a quick link to something bunmun forwarded me that I found both interesting and entertaining; a video demonstrating how to recreate the classic techno track Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy. It was created using Ableton Live 8 by Jim Pavloff, a Ukranian producer with some time on his hands. It’s fascinating how, piece by piece, the song gradually comes together.

what amazes me the most about this exercise is how Liam Howlett, the front man behind The Prodigy, originally found all of the extremely different samples he used in the track, cut them up, filtered them, mashed them together, and churned out a tune as massive as this one. I’m lucky if I can find myself a good kick drum, let alone create something on this epic a scale.


January 10, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links

Trance.nuas I’ve been posting links to sites with good information for budding techno producers, I figure I should take a moment to point out Trance.nu, “a central, global place for trance enthusiasts to gather and talk about the music they are so passionate about”. Trance.nu boasts a sizeable community of trance music fans, and features interviews with the likes of such trance stars as Tiesto, Armin van Buuren, and Ferry Corsten. The site was started by Europeans (as evidenced by the site’s wiki), but for some reason it is hosted in Canada (as evidenced by my Flagfox add-on).

for those interested in creating trance music, the forums are very good, and the How do I produce? forum is dedicated toward helping users who produce, with tutorials about gating, compression, how to make a good kick drum sound, and the like. One important thing to note, is that it isn’t good manners to post the songs you’ve created for feedback without offering feedback on the songs that others have made in return, and it is never allowed to post DJ mixes of songs that you haven’t created or don’t own the rights to distribute.

I personally frequent the boards as soundlord, though I probably don’t participate as much as I should. It’s a great community!

a good site for free samples

January 05, 2010 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links

The ThrillseekersSteve Helstrip, also known as The Thrillseekers, is a British trance DJ and producer who has cranked out several great trance tracks including his breakout hit Synaesthesia, Escape, and most recently, City of Angels. He’s a one man band whose professional title, The Thrillseekers, seems to indicate that there are in fact a whole bunch of people behind the scenes, and for some reason I can relate to that. Steve is also, at least from what I can see, a pretty nice guy; he’s a family man who enjoys giving back to the dance music community.

one way that Steve gives back to the community is by providing music production advice and some free samples that he has used on his own tracks, that users are welcome to download and use in their own productions. You can get at these samples by registering as a member (for free) on his website. Hover over Communicate and click on Message Board, then find the Music Production link. There’s lots of good stuff in there.

the thing I like best about the samples Steve provides (aside from the fact that I think they’re quality) is that they were created for implementation in trance music. They’re worth experimenting with; I’m sure there are a few in there that you can find a use for in your tracks!

some studio tutorials for trance

December 17, 2009 By: Brian Crawford Category: Links, Tutorials, Videos

Sander van DoornSander van Doorn, a well-known trance producer from Eindhoven, has put together some pretty good studio tutorials for people interested in producing their own trance music. Like many professionals he uses Logic Studio for Mac to produce his music, so the tutorials have a bias toward that combination of tools. Regardless, his tutorials are fun to watch, feature some great tips, and also give some advice about what specific synthesizers and software synths trance producers might want to invest in.

his studio sessions can be viewed on his personal website (in the members section), or on YouTube, which is where I’m going to link to them. I’ll also describe what you can find in them, in case you’re looking to learn something specific, or want to learn more about the tools and sample sets he uses. I’m writing this post for my own benefit as much as for anybody else’s; it is interesting to me to see what kinds of instruments and techniques other producers use to create music.

Episode 1: Sander gives a brief tour of his studio before starting in on a track. He loads up a kick on his software sampler and lays it down in Logic, then uses Klopfgeist to produce an amped-up drum bassline. He then adds some distortion with Logic. He adds a clap and a hi-hat from the Vengeance Minimal House sample set via the EXS-24 sampler, then ends with a simple percussion pattern.

Episode 2: Sander works on the melody of his new tune, and adds some reverb. He chooses a good trance-oriented sound for this melody using the Rob Papen Predator software synth, then adds a sub-layer bass and quantizes it. Finally, he selects a strings sample from the Spectrasonics Omnisphere software synth for this layer.

Episode 3
: Next, Sander adds compression to give punch to the kick, and side-chain compression from the kick to the melody, before putting a limiter on the output. Next he demonstrates the use of the Neve compressor in Logic. Then Sander introduces some of his synths; the Access Virus C, the Waldorf Blofeld (which I use myself), the Minimoog Voyager (rackmount), the Nord Lead 2X, and finally, the Dave Smith Evolver PE. Okay, I admit it. I’m more than a little jealous of this fine collection of synths.

Episode 4: In the final installment, Sander answers viewer questions about basslines, track composition, minor keys, sound creation and quantization. In the process he demonstrates the Delay Designer and Space Designer in Logic. I’m still jealous of those synths by the way.

overall, quite useful information, so if you’re just starting out creating techno music I do recommend spending the time to go through the lot of them (which will take about 45 minutes total).

stay in the riddim

December 15, 2009 By: Brian Crawford Category: DJ Mixes, Links

Droid Inna Dancehall Volume 1I lived in Ireland for a while, working at a large bank in Dublin. It took me about an hour to walk to work every day, and an hour to walk back afterwards (for those who know the city, I lived in Terenure, Dublin 6W, while working in Ballsbridge and Donnybrook, Dublin 4). The results of this were twofold; one, I got into pretty good shape walking a good two hours every day (in a suit no less), and two, I listened to a heck of a lot of different music during my walks.

of all the mixes I listened to during that time, perhaps the most memorable were two dancehall mixes spun by an Irish DJ called Droid, of Droid + Slug, a pair of DJs normally known for spinning old skool, jungle, dubstep, etc. I think these dancehall mixes may have been a bit out of the ordinary for this pair.

I’d already been into dancehall to some extent, having previously attended several Dub Island Soundsystem jams here in Charleston, SC. Droid’s mixes took this to a new level, however, if only due to the sheer amount of time I spent walking around Dublin while listening to them.

Droid Inna Dancehall Volume 2the mixes are called Droid Inna Dancehall Volume 1 – Basement Bashment and Droid Inna Dancehall Volume 2 – Alternate Roots (free downloads of zip files of the music can be found down the page, as well as track listings and explanations of what Droid was up to).

perhaps the most interesting thing about the first mix is that it leads off with a track by ยต-Ziq (heavy electronica) and mixes with a bagpipe riddim (dancehall). The mix is strictly dancehall after that. In Droid’s own words it doesn’t quite work, but it certainly does add interest to the mix, and I doubt such a pairing of these widely different genres has been attempted before.