Beat 121: Prague

Another uptempo jam for all you dancers out there. This was made with a similar orchestration to 115 and 116, with mostly real instruments. I played the melody on a few guitars (simultaneously, for once engaging all six of my arms), and then on a trumpet. The real snare drum sounded kind of dead, so I added a little bit of very bright noise every time the snare hits hard. For the Special Outro, I tried to make the drumming sound plausible, and also tried to have it connect with the main song.


This is something a little different- my buddy Dominic sent me a beat, and I made some minor changes to it. Here was the original, already dope:

I rebuilt the drums from the samples Dom gave me, which worked great except for the claps, which I couldn’t get quite as good. All I added was some soft organ, a couple vocal samples, and a few drum fills. And an outer space noise. Outer space! My goal was to have it pull the listener’s attention along from one minor thing to another as the song played.

Beat 120: My dear my dear my dear

This started out as a live jam with s-pult, just the two keyboards, the bass, and real drums that I didn’t record. To sequence the drums back in, I tried just playing the kick and snare live on the keyboard, sticking mostly to one beat but putting in some fills. Then I went back and fixed the timing up, and changed anything that didn’t sound good. I know there might be something silly/transparent about sequenced drum fills, but I still get very excited when I hear things Switch Up. I did the same for the bass, recording the whole thing through a few times till I had something I liked.

After that, I had a beat that kept changing for 3 minutes, but the changes weren’t necessarily important enough to warrant the song length. So I stuck in a slowed down rap from the Pharcyde song Passing Me By. This is a great way to trick myself into having more confidence- I like the rap so much that I just want to listen to the song over and over again.

In case you are curious, here is the original rap. The song gets referred to quite a bit by other emcees, but right now the only one I can think of is this.

Beat 119: Zaghareet

This was a collaboration with older sister Sookipult. My friend from the last beat introduced me to this awesome Dionne Warwick song, and I started by fooling around with a similar bass and distorted guitar in unison. SP added all the interesting extras, like the intro, the ululation samples, and the door stopper noises.

Beat 118: Too soon

I made this guy with my friend from nursery school. I want to spend more time trying to make synth sounds, since it’s really fun to work with a set of interesting ready-made sounds. I don’t think either of us had listened to this when we made it.

Beat 117: Let go the blinds

I threw this together last night so I could submit it to my buddy Dominic for suggestions and revision. I’m going to post a few more beats, then focus on either revising things or making more complete songs, including the post-Dom version of this song, which will hopefully be very different.

Beat 116: Last to leave

It’s dawning on me that I should start trying to take things that I make a bit farther, rather than just trying to make a lot of little things. There’s still plenty to be improved with this beat, but I enjoyed trying to fill it out more than usual.

This has me thinking about a big question- to what degree is a “beat” by itself a legitimate musical experience? Legitmate meaning, I guess, enjoyable for some people to listen to. Does there need to be something else going on, like sung words, or rappers rapping, or is it ok to just have some instrumental snippets woven together? There are plenty of things in that last category that people like, but the good ones seem to be very complex and brilliantly put together. So I might have to change my game-plan. Drop me a line if you think of something that rhymes with Kardashian.

Beat 115: Young in a park

I started with the little guitar loop, trying to mess with it to make it sound like some of the amazing things by bibio. I kept adding real instruments, figuring the live recording would be sloppier and more time consuming, but ultimately sound nicer.

On the geekier side, I tried to follow some of the small “rules” I made for myself after going back and listening to the first 100 beats. Besides wanting the individual sounds to be interesting, I threw in things that changed throughout the song (the flute is more or less recorded from start to finish, rather than as a loop), to give it more of an arc from beginning to end. I also fooled around with something I got into a bit way back with beat 9, which is to space out while listening to something complex until I start misconstruing incidental things as parts, sort of like an optical illusion. Then I try to add those sounds in. It’s pretty subtle, and not necessarily that cool (though I think it could be!), but if you want to hear it in this song: the high pitched electric piano that plays two notes back and forth a few times at 0:03 is based on a similar sound coming from the guitar strings right before that, maybe from the part of the string between where I was pressing and the tuning thingys.

Beat 114: Play Us Out

My friend Kurt came over with an idea, and we tried to make it happen. We sampled an internet hero shouting “Do It Live!” as well as an acapella rap I found. I also stuck on some wailing guitar, since I want someday to be able to add emotional guitar wail whenever necessary. The scratching at the end is just sampled. We set a pretty strict time limit from start to finish, so it could use more filling out, but I think there are some cool things going on. Here’s an instrumental version:

Beat 113: Stars made of tin

I couldn’t put much into the last few, but I was able to spend more time on this one. I started out just trying to make a hi-hat/shaker part that sounded interesting, but I ended up making something I liked a lot.