Welcome to the next in our series of Production Analysis tutorials where we take an element of a well-known track and analyse how it was created.
Today Danny J Lewis takes a look at one of the biggest tunes of 2012 so far, the Disclosure (pictured above) remix of of Jessie Ware’s ‘Running’.
Rather than simply duplicating what Disclosure did with the sound, Danny uses the reverse engineering process more as a source of inspiration for a new track idea. Check it out below
Danny is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school.
You can learn techniques such this and much more on the online Ableton Sound Design course. The next course start date is 25th June. Watch Danny discussing the course below. Please get in touch with our course advisors at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to find out more.
Big respect to the original artists. You can buy the release here.
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Hi. This is Danny Lewis, also known as Enzyme Black; I’m a Course Developer and Tutor, here at PointBlank Online. You’re watching Production Analysis.
This is a musical idea that I’ve got on the go, and this all started with reverse engineering that Disclosure remix of Jessie Ware. Over the next 8 minutes or so, you’re going to see me backtrack, go back to the analysis of the actual notes in the running remix, and then work towards this really [inaudible: 00:37] deep house chord and bass rack.
I’ve broken the remix down into 3 audio clips. The first one is the riff, and it’s more simplistic form for 4 bars. The second one is where it starts transposing up and down and it’s more rapid, in terms of the actual pattern. Then finally, I’ve managed to get it a bit more isolated here and that’s going to be the one I’m going to use to try and extract the chord data.
Melodyne works well with more isolated sound sources, so that’s why I’ve picked this particular clip. Even though it’s filtered with a low-pass filter, I think we’re going to get the MIDI notes up out. Let’s open up the browser. Audio Units, Celemony, Melodyne. I’m going to double-click on this and it’s going to load it onto the selected track. We need to click the Transfer button and we’re going to record into Melodyne, the audio, so I’m going to click on this now, and push the transport. There we go.
This is, at the moment, the monophonic algorithm. We come up to the Algorithm menu, we come down to Polyphonic, and it’s going to attempt to read the musical data. I’m looking for some musical kind of patterns. I’m looking for chords visible, and I can see a cluster of notes that look like they’re chords. I think this information is superfluous, so I’m just going to delete this. I’m going to double-check that it’s OK by playing and listening back. That sounds fine to me. Don’t worry about the audio quality; all we’re trying to do is isolate the notes. Some of these might be right, some of them might be wrong, but I think it’s going to be better for us to check that by looking at the MIDI data itself. If you look at this, you can notice that we’ve got this kind of regular chord occurring and then it goes up over here, and it goes down at the end. That’s feeling like the kind of data that we could use. Let’s come up to Settings, Save as MIDI. We’re going to save this out to the desktop, and we can use this MIDI data as a clip inside Ableton, assigned to any of the instruments that we want to use.
We’ve got 2 MIDI clips connected to an instance of Analog. You can use any analogue synth that you have, but this is one that comes with the Abletone Live Suite. What I did firstly was Command+8 to dissect everything, and then bring the velocities up. It makes it clearer and easier to see what’s happening with the notes. The next thing I did was to select all of these and quantize these; Command+U to quantize.
I was looking for what I would class as a kind of model chord, so the one that I would use and replicate, because the pattern is using the same chords at different positions in the grid. This one, for example, let me play this. I’ll put the click on, as well. Let’s move this over. I’m just going to bring a copy down here. That’s good, but I remembered hearing a higher note, so I’m going to make this . . . something around there. You can see what’s going on: We’ve got these chords, I can then bring a copy over here. Let’s bring this over, shorten this. Let’s make a copy. In fact, I can use the same one here. The durations are not necessarily correct at the moment; I’m just showing you how I was forming these chords. Then do the same here. We’ve got identical positions, in terms of the actual piano notes, and this carried on until we had a section where it changed here. I could take these away, and I could just make a copy here.
This is the kind of stuff that I did earlier. Here look, this is higher, and that sounds to me like it’s literally just the same chord, but played up on the keyboard, so if I take this . . . there we go. I didn’t copy that, I should have done. I’m just going to undo. Let’s hold down the Alt again. There we go. You can hear what’s going on. It’s actually really quite simple. It’s the same chord, but it’s just transposed, and that means it’s going to be the same at the very end. I take all of these, just literally drag over, there we go. I can pick them up, take it down there. Let’s take the end. That’s the pattern, this is it, and this is more accurately reflecting the original. What I did was play the stab section and I copied the note durations. We have a mixture; so you have the longer one here, then the shorter ones, longer, shorter, longer. Have a listen. That’s great; that’s working really nicely. I’ll show you what I did to create the actual sound.
If we come back to Analog, there’s just a few changes from the default setting. What I did was to basically set the Amplifier Envelope, as you can see here, Maximum Sustain Level, and I’ve got Release Short at 97 milliseconds. This is creating the volume behaviour of the sound so it’s nice and short, and punchy. The filter I turned On: Low-Pass 24, DB per Octave: Slope. The frequency at 420 hertz and resonance at 16%. The Filter Envelope is key here to getting the sound there. Shorter release and Decay at 626. It starts quite bright at the beginning and goes down in frequency, over the Envelope, the Envelope amount was 5.55. Let me just play you the sound without the filter, and then I’ll turn it on. It’s got a nice kind of warmth to it, and it sounds more like the original sound. The chorus is used to add the stereo width. I’ll take it off, and then on.
We’re missing a crucial ingredient. The original track, once it got going had a real nice fat bottom-end, so what I’m going to do is create a new MIDI track. I’m going to come over and we’re going to select another instrument, we’re going to select the Operator. What we’re going to do with this is take a copy of the MIDI clip over, going to double-click on this. I’m going to take away all of this information, except for the longer notes. Select these, and do Shif+Down Arrow, so we’re an octave below. I want to see how this sounds. I’m just going to take this and make sure that we can hear it, so I’m going to put this on solo. You can hear that nice, warm bottom-end now. We’ve got this sub-bass. I’m just going to take the release of the Volume Envelope out just a little bit longer. I’m going to see now how that sounds with the two together.
This is where everything comes together. This is that deep house instrument rack that I’ve created. The inspiration was Disclosure’s remix of ‘Running’. I’ve taken the same note spacing and put it into the chord device here. If you take a look, I counted up the amount of semi-tones, and if we take a look up on my rack, you can see that I’ve got +10, +14, +15, and +19 semi-tones. That creates this really distinctive sound. The Operator is running at the lower octave as well, so the two combine to create the sound. Also, I’ve added a filter. I’m keeping the actual shape of the filter Envelope over here, but I’m adding another one. You can see this in the rack over here, the Auto-Filter. Take a listen.
Although we were copying the actual note spacing of the Disclosure remix, what we’ve ended up is something that we can use entirely for ourselves, in our own unique way. The inspiration was there, thanks to those Disclosure guys. It’s a wicked remix, but we’ve got ourselves something now that we can use on our own productions to create our own vibe.
If you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, you might want to check out the Ableton Live Sound Design course. In that course, we build a lot of racks, instrument racks, and also effects racks. It’s a very broad-ranging course that covers all kinds of audio processing and experiments with things like warping. You can find out more information about our course by visiting the PointBlank Online website, that’s PointBlankOnline.net. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel for free tutorials, that’s YouTube.com/PointBlankOnline.