AUD210 Major Project Reflection

An Introduction

For my AUD210 major project, I decided to test my recording, producing and sampling skills. This project involved using recordings of live instrumentation and applying them in electronic music production contexts. The aim of completing this project was to gain experience in recording in a studio environment as well as improving my skills in using and applying Battery and Kontakt.

Sampling Puzzle

The goal of this project was to record a rock band’s (Puzzle) EP and extract tiny fragments of the recordings to be used as samples. The drum samples would be processed and imported into Battery as a drum kit while the guitars (both bass and lead) would be imported into Kontakt and sampled across the keyboard.

The recording process was tricky as the band wanted to record five songs in one day. As a result, the setup was rushed and thus some instruments did not get recorded (for example two of the tom drums). Despite this, the band was pleased with the session although we did have to do another session to re-record guitars. The electric guitar sounded much better when recorded with the SM57 microphone rather than the C414 which made it sound a bit harsh. In hindsight though, I was a bit lenient as a record producer and should have told the band to not record a whole EP in one day and to also allow more time for setting up.

Despite the recording session, I managed to get almost all of the sounds I needed to sample. I used processing tools like saturators to beef up the drums. I also applied parallel compression to the kicks and snares. It was tricky extracting drum hits from spill, at one point I wanted to sample a ride but it was drowned by the crash cymbals. I have decided that next time I decide to record a drum kit for sampling, I will ask the drummer to hit one drum at a time (I learned about this technique recently at Skot McDonald’s guest lecture). Nevertheless, most spill problems were resolved through simple EQ-ing and sounded a lot better than I thought it would.

Some of the drums were duplicated and further processed in Battery. This was useful in replicating the tom drums that did not get recorded (only the floor tom got recorded). I felt it was useful problem solving but it made the toms too short. I fixed this with a longer decay time on the reverb and while it sounds slightly unnatural, the toms certainly fit the drum kit.

As for guitars, it was tricky sampling them in Kontakt across the keyboard but eventually I got the hang of it. It was fun using the internal effects in Kontakt particularly the Tape Saturator and distortion plugins.

I ended up making two demos for the song. The first demo clearly outlined all the problems I had with the project and it gave me an incentive to give the sounds one final polish. As a last minute technique, I applied Guitar Rig to the guitars in the demo (I used one of the Rammfire presets for the lead guitar and a clean bass amp for the bass). The Guitar Rig certainly gave the guitars the realism it lacked. Despite all the problems, practically all the samples ended up sounded great especially in the demo.

Conclusion

Undertaking this project has certainly given me more confidence in recording live instruments in a studio environment. I also have learned how I can use live instruments in an electronic music production context. This experience has shown me new sampling techniques and also allowed to me to apply previously learned knowledge in new contexts.

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