Thursday, December 25, 2008

final synth project: 'Pick Up the Phone'

Here's my Christmas gift to you! Haha.

So for my synthesizer lessons, I had to create a pop-type song using the materials we had in the project studio on campus. I took that to heart and actually recorded most of the instruments live. I brought in my good buddy Tyler Nickl to play electric bass and acoustic guitar, and actually pulled out an old, crappy drumkit that was hidden in the back of the room. I had forgotten my DI box at home, so we had to record everything with the one mic they had set up. Luckily, it was the wonderful SE M1C Mini (discussed at length here), which I cherish and adore. We tracked each instrument separately, including doing a mono drum track I played which distorted like hell but sounded fun and funky nonetheless.

I had decided to do a mockup of a song that will be on my next album called "Pick Up the Phone." We recorded a verse and a chorus and then some more, but after that, it started falling apart like crazy. Since my "synthesizer lessons" focus mainly on production, I took the tracks home, to tweak them there. The mix went basically as follows:
  1. I spent some time manipulating the tempo to get things synced up.
  2. I went all the way through the first verse up to the end of the chorus and stretched everting so it grooved right on the beat. This mainly consisted of stretching the beginnings of certain measures and leaving the rest alone, though there were a couple measures where I did a lot more.
  3. I created a lowpass filter send to boost the kickdrum, and sidechained the lowest frequencies of that to the compressor on the bass guitar, so they wouldn't step on each others' feet. I also created a reverb send to gel the track a little more.
  4. I put Native Instruments "Guitar Rig" on the bass guitar and fiddled with the settings to give it a little more growl. I think that in the end I gave it a little too much "growl" and not enough "boom."
  5. I panned the keyboard and guitar off center, opposite from one another.
  6. I smashed the heck out of the background vocals, panned about 3/4 left and right, and put them on their own submix so I could manipulate them with onefader.
  7. I added a couple clap and latin percussion loops I had on my computer, dialed in fairly low, to just add a little more texture.
  8. I created a submix to which everything except the lead vocals were sent, to make the balance of melody to backing track a little easier to play with.
  9. I used the Izotope Ozone mastering plugin on my master bus.
That's about it. Not much to show for all that explanation. Here it is:

In case you're interested, here's a screen cap of the Arrangement View in Live (click to enlarge):


  1. I really like the clap track and the syncopation of the bass line. As always, your tunes make me smile.

    You're right, the quality on the drums is pretty sketchy, but kinda fun, and I look forward to an album-quality version. As far as a school project goes though, I hope they gave you an A.

    Also, the development of the chord on "phone" at about a minute in needs help in my opinion... GREAT idea, but not there yet, but...

    who am I to talk... I'm an Econ major, no music here!

  2. Also, I don't know why there's like a minute of silence after the end of the song before the video ends.