Recently I created a simple track I called ‘Landed’. I’m not 100% sure what kind of genre I’d class it under, but originally I was going for a kind of lo-fi feel, as I used a bunch of lo-fidelity space communication recordings from NASA. You can check out the whole track here:
There were several elements I included in the mix and track and I will attempt to go into detail as to why I used these elements and what I was attempting to achieve by including them. They include:
- Two types of Bass
- Vox samples
- Transition Samples
First we’ll kick (see what I did there) things off with the drums including the kick and snare. I was generally going for some snappy, hard hitting samples that also contrasted a little. I didn’t want too much of the higher low frequencies (the higher end of the low frequencies, just in case that didn’t make sense) for the kick, so went for a sample that was short and sharp and similar to what I wanted. I went for a simple 4 bar kick beat that stayed the same throughout the entire track. It worked well in the mix to add some low frequencies that were generally missing from the bass and other low end instruments.
As I said, I wanted the snare to contrast this, so made it a really sharp, snappy snare similar to something you would hear in a marching band, that kind of sharp, short feel. As each part of the song transitioned into a vocal section, I ended the snare quickly with a short 3 hits in quicker succession than usual. Overall, the progression was generally the same 4 bars throughout. Below is an 8 bar sample with the triple hit at the end to explain what I mean.
Overall, I didn’t really put much processing on these two elements. I did put a band-pass filter on the kick sample, however that’s all. I wouldn’t mind going back and having a look at compressing and side-chaining the drums, but for now I like the way it sounds.
Next for the bass. The first bass progression I did was another, simple 4 bar lick over and over again throughout the track. I’m not overly happy with it and would like to design/do some more editing on it but it kind of fits the track to a certain degree. It does have some FX processing on it, with a band-pass filtering out a small amount of low frequencies and all of the high ones. I then have a crack plugin after the EQ, to add a little bit of a vinyl crackling type sound that is usually present in lo-fi tracks. I have, however, turned down this crackle significantly as its fairly obnoxious sounding if brought up in the track. After this, there is a resonator on the bass that makes the bass sample resonate a little bit more. Without this, it kind of gets a little lost with the crackling sound so this brings it back out a little more. Here’s the 4 bar sample of it:
The second bass that I created comes in about halfway through the track to build it up a little more. It’s a 1 bar repeating, bouncing type progression similar to something you’d hear in a ‘Stranger Things’ synth-wave track. I’ve made it relatively fast to increase the pace of the track a little more and to keep interest. It is a very raw sample with very little editing done to it. After I mixed and rendered the track, it does sound a little bit too loud in the mix, so I would probably bring its volume down a little if I were to revisit the track. Here’s a short, 2 bar sample of it:
Next up we have our synth. It is an 8 bar progression that comes in at a similar time to the second bass to continue the tracks progression and to add to the ‘space’ theme I was going for. I have layered it alongside a grand piano with the same chord progression in order to add a layer to the piano that had a little bit more of an atmospheric sound. It has no processing added to it as I generally like how it sounded when I created it in Serum.
Here’s how it sounds:
Next in the mix are a couple of piano tracks. The first of these acts as an atmospheric into to the track and only continues for a short while throughout. It has been heavily band-passed and filtered and is therefore a lot quieter than originally. There are also a lot of the high frequencies taken out so it doesn’t sound as bright as the original sample did. These frequencies are also taken out so that the tail and reverb isn’t as harsh and loud in the mix. Reverb is then added after this with a dry/wet ratio of 67%. The decay time is fairly long in order to reverberate until a little after the next ‘hit’. The decay is also very slowly panning from left to right also to create a bit of a wider stereo image. Here it is:
The second piano is present basically throughout the track and is a classic grand piano stock Ableton sample. Its purpose is to tie the track together in a sense and add a harmonic element when vocals are not present. At the start of each lick, I have started each note a little later than the previous to give it a sort of rolling and ‘live played’ feeling. It is a total of 8 bars long. I have applied another band-pass filter on it as well to give it the lo-fi aesthetic. It also has a resonator on it that livens up the sound a little bit. It sounds a little dull without it and the plugin just makes it sound a little more buzzy and imperfect. Here it is:
The VOX samples are communication recordings from NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. I added each of them in chronological order throughout the track in order to give another sense of progression. The first sample is of the lift-off, with Houston announcing the lift-off. The second piece is some communication between Apollo 11 and Houston, saying that the rocket had successfully landed on the moon. The final sample is of the famous “one small step for man” speech by Neil Armstrong. Each sample is already of low quality, however I’ve applied another band-pass filter on top of this to take out some of the harshness of the line of communications. Here is a small sample of one of the VOX takes:
Overall, I think the bass is a little too loud within the mix. The atmospheric piano and classic piano need to be a lot louder in the mix as they are the main melodic components. If I had the chance I’d also like to go back and side-chain compress some elements of the mix. I also think the kick is a bit ‘woofy’ and overpowering so would like to do some further processing on it to make sure it sits a bit better in the mix. Thanks for reading!