Track Teardown

Track teardown of Decay by HOME

TRACK RELEASE INFORMATION –
Label: Midwest Collective ‎– MWC013
Format: 12 × File, FLAC, Album
Country: US
Released: 01 Jun 2014
Genre: Electronic
Style: Synthwave, Vaporwave, Chillwave, Experimental, Ambient
(“HOME (18) – Odyssey”, 2017)

Background Information

Despite this artist releasing large amounts of music since 2013/2014, there is very little information on him apart from the fact that he described his music as “experiments, mostly because I rarely start a song with the actual music in mind, I play with synths and drum samples trying to make or emulate cool sounds, and usually the musical ideas come from that.” (“Home- Interview”, 2015). However, from the track title ‘Decay’ and the slow decay and fade out of the song towards the end, it can be assumed that the track is about the decay of the song and suggests that this decay could have meaning to the artist, for example, the decay of someone’s health or some other physical meaning. This song is in the scale of G Major which explains the fairly resonant and somewhat melancholic sound of the song, as the sharp note gives it a warmer feel.

Arrangement (song structure)

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Using Ableton, the track was matched to its BPM (180) and each of the different sections were separated to show the arrangement of the song. It is as follows:

  • Intro (16 Bars)
  • Pre-chorus (16 Bars)
  • Chorus (32 Bars)
  • Breakdown (16 Bars)
  • Verse (32 Bars)
  • Chorus (48 Bars)
  • Outro (28 Bars)

 

Breakdown of Instruments

The track begins with some synth chords played every two bars. These sound very warm and introduce the track as something somewhat mellow and resonant. This introduction can be described as ‘ornamental’ as it is used as an enhancement of the track (Everest, 2006). After 8 bars, the track continues into the pre-chorus which contains the same synth elements as well as the slow build up of the bouncing bass sounds. The bass is easy to distinguish from the synth chords as it slowly builds up the song and is quite gloomy and jumping once introduced, whereas the synth continues to play the same ambient, mellow chords as the introduction. This pre-chorus continues for another 8 bars before transforming into the chorus of the song which establishes a few new elements into the song such as drums, various new synth sounds as well as another bass-line.

The drums in this track are introduced as soon as the chorus begins and are very lo-fi, hip-hop (low-fidelity) sounding. This aids the song immensely as the synths, being the main element of the song, are generally more high fidelity sounding. The drums then follow the same, basic pattern throughout the rest of the song, which helps to keep the beat as the other elements of the song change throughout the song. The drums are also kept sounding the same throughout the rest of the song until the outro, where the same pattern is kept, however the buzzing sound on the tail of the snare is seemingly heavily gated. There is very little panning present with the drums, however this does not take away from the song as there are very few elements of the drum-line and it would not sound ‘right’ if these drum sound were to be panned.

The next element of the chorus are the main synth sounds. The synth chords that make up the main part of the chorus are very similar in accent to those of the intro and pre-chorus, however, they sound like they are played an octave lower than those at the beginning. They are also played faster than at the beginning of the track, with 4 chords being played every 2nd bar, with the last chord having a reverb time of approximately 1 bar, adding ambience to the bar in which the chords are not being played. The chords played are a simple progression in the scale of G Major and repeat every 4 bars. This synth is very centred with very little if not any panning is used. Again this doesn’t take away from the mix however, as other elements balance it out very well.

There is more synth keys in the chorus and these sound very plucked and warm. They sound very much like a piano however not as harsh and far softer the their peak. Along with the kick, these keys pace the song and add another rhythmic element to the track. Unlike other elements of the song however, these synth keys are heavily panned and slowly ping-pong from side to side throughout the chorus. This really adds to the space of the song and stops it from being extremely mono, basically saving the song.

The final element of the chorus is the bass, which is exactly the same throughout the entirety of the song and consists of a warm, sequenced bass-line that follows the basic rhythm of the drum pattern and the synth keys. It is also centred within the mix as you would usually expect a bass-line to be and generally just supports the synth keys.

Each of these elements combined together within the chorus help to create a fairly balanced spectrum of frequencies, beginning at around 50Hz and peaking at approximately 15-18kHz. This can be seen below:

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After the initial chorus, the track moves into a sort of ‘breakdown’ section, where only the beat, bass and lead synth keys are played. This helps slow the pace of the track and gear up the listener moving forward into the next verse and then chorus again. The bass is brought up in the mix and is more prominent in this section similar to that of the pre-chorus.

The track then moves into a verse, where the synth keys from the chorus are re-introduced and the synth lead from the breakdown is stopped. The bass-line stays consistent throughout this verse and for the rest of the song as said above, however, after the 8th bar of this verse, the beat changes slightly. Instead of ringing out as it has done throughout the song so far, part of the drums become heavily gated and almost sound like a clap instead of the hit that they have done throughout the song so far. This verse then moves back into another, longer chorus which consists of the same elements as the previous chorus and uses the same structure also.

Finally, the song moves into the outro where the drums are again, heavily gated and the second half of the verse is basically repeated. This then slowly fades out to the end of the song.

 

Summary of the Teardown

Overall, all of the elements are utilised effectively within the track and create a well-balanced mix. As a group, we have agreed that the bass aspect of this song is what we would largely like to take out of this track and try to use, however the beat is something we would also like to look at emulating in another track in the EP.

 

References

Corey, J. (2012). Audio production and critical listening : technical ear training. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

Everest, F. A. (2006). Critical listening skills for audio professionals. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com

HOME (18) – Odyssey. (2017). Discogs. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from https://www.discogs.com/HOME-Odyssey/release/6674043  

Home- Interview. (2015). 天安门 TSQ Dance. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from http://www.tsqdance.com/post/115487153570/home-interview

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