Without the internet around to provide an unbroken timeline of artistic events to a potentially endless landscape of wandering eyes, records that couldn’t achieve access to a viable fanbase in the 1980s have mostly, inevitably found themselves buried in the sands of time forever. Many creative masterworks, no matter how well-appreciated at the time of their initial pressing — if mismanaged by independent, boutique labels that couldn’t stay afloat financially — have either approached or gone completely off the cliff edge of existence. But thanks to the interplay between user-submitted content on the web and the way platforms help listeners discover it, some records do actually manage to climb back out of the sand.
It wasn’t long before I realized that, if I’m being very honest, all of these playlists are more or less the same. They’re all full of instrumental music (probably because they’re trying to be “calming”) and while the songs aren’t necessarily the same, to the untrained pup ear, they might as well be. There’s not a lot of variation, and if I were a dog, I’d get pretty bored with this mix too. Which might be the point — to just put your pup in a state of relaxation so they can drift off to dreamland.
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Start by copying down the kick MIDI, or try playing your bass sound like it’s a kick drum. After all, it should mirror your kick, maybe even exactly. As an example, here’s the bass line from Future’s “First Off.”
The right kick drum sound can make or break the energy of your song, and the way the rest of the instruments stand up in mixing. Here’s how to choose it.
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Not all of us have access to the kind of gear that the Boards are rocking. As usual though, we can find some good digital approximations on the internet. One of my absolute favourites is James Peck’s VHS Audio Degradation Suite. It provides emulations (with optional speaker simulation) of old video tape audio playback, based on machines in various states of disrepair. If anything digital is going to get you even close to Boards of Canada’s bevy of broken-down gear, this is it. While it’s free, it only works through Native Instruments’ paid Reaktor 6 soft synth platform. If you don’t already have that, you can try it out for 30 days.
Pre- and post-choruses were a little less aggressive this year, even while variations on these chorus-abutting sections saw an increase. Interestingly, only “The Middle” dispensed with any intro material this year, and only Eminem’s “Killshot” got into the Top 5 without any chorus or refrain material, but I mean, he did say right at the start of the song that he wasn’t gonna repeat himself, so there you have it. (And yes, I said “chorus-abutting sections” back there, and yes, I had Morgan Freeman’s voice in my head when I said it … “chorus-abutting sections.“)
Performing arts grants for nonprofits
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This is just a modern version of the previous one. This form, the Verse-Chorus, is pretty self-explanatory. Your verses should lead into a summarizing chorus that ties everything together. This is an extremely popular song structure right now, and has been for many years, and one that every songwriter should master.
John Entwistle almost didn’t make this list, by virtue of being, well, too good. There are so many great Who songs to choose from, but one melody that tends to stick in my head is the pentatonic major run heard behind the “I tip my hat” refrain in this song. The riff starts at the relative minor and runs down to the root, hitting all five notes of the scale. It’s a simple sequence, but I’ve noticed that scalar walk-downs to the root pretty much always sound good on the bass. (For example, check out the choruses of the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” and Kiss’ “Shout It Out Loud”). Entwistle repeats this motif several times throughout the chorus with slight variations that keep it continually compelling.
I think “Musica Ricercata” represents a little compendium in advanced composition. The absence, or the reduction to a minimum, of three of the main and most recognizable parameters in music (harmony, melody, timbre) clearly shows how it is possible to use the other parameters (dynamics, tempo, register, articulation, and rhythm) to create a sense of directionality, growth, and change to the music.
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