The Art of Imitation

So you want to be a producer I hear you say, you want to do it your way, break the rules and show them what you’re made of…

Sounds great!

Have you tried putting that into practice?

It gets difficult!

The fact is even Michelangelo and DaVinci learnt the basics of their trade from someone else before they tore up the rule book. I must admit it took a stubborn northern kid like me a while to admit this but once I did, things progressed a lot faster!

So how do you learn from the masters? Richie Hawtin, Thomas Schumacher, Laidback Luke or whoever aren’t exactly going to invite you round for a brew before sharing all their hard-earned secrets with you, are they? Well truth is don’t have to, it’s all there in the track, all you have to do is decode it, strip it apart and figure out how they made those kickass sounds. This is the difficult part!

So truth be told the best piece of advice for a budding producer is to hunt out your favourite tracks, the ones that make your spine tingle, elevate you above a mere mortal, turn a good day into a great day. Line them up and analysis them.

In today’s digital world this is a lot easier, armed with your favourite DAW and spectrum analyser you can now hear and visualise exactly what is going on in the tune.

So once you’ve chosen a track to work on, here’s one way to do it…

Load your track into your DAW and drop a spectrum analyser onto either that channel or the master.
Take a sheet of paper (lined or graphed) and draw the longest line possible that you can then ratio to the track time.
Now divide the line along the top into small units, say 30 second blocks.
Do an initial pass of the tune and mark key points on the timeline – 1st drop, breakdown, chorus, different phrases etc

Now you’re ready to start. The trick is to focus on one particular element at a time and work through the track seeing how it evolves.

Taking the kick as an obvious start. Follow this through the track. Making note of patterns, when phrases end, changes to patterns, frequency range hitting through.analysis introanalysis 2 j

Then repeat this for each element of the track, i.e. bass, lead line, efx, vocals etc

There you have it: the blue print of the track basically. Do this for a bunch of key tracks in the genre you want to make and you will understand the key sounds, and styles you need to produce.

Next replicate, take one of the blue prints you like most and copy, but this time make you own riffs and sounds but follow the tracks layout. When your finished A to B it with the commercially produced track and keep tweaking until your happy it is at that quality level.
It takes a while, particularly to understand how all the elements fit together but keep at it and doing it this way you’ll soon know the key tricks of the trade, and maybe invent a few of your own. If you think you’ve done something great send it through to us, always good to hear new sounds ;p

good luck Mr Robot

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