📅 January 5, 2014 | Return to the Mixes
The Yamaha DJX is not what a professional would consider an industry standard keyboard if composing within the genres of electronic dance, house or techno. However when I tickled the plastic ivory (better known as keys) I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the collection of sound this machine had to offer. So much so I opened my wallet and handed over the asking price of 199 English pounds; a steal for a sound module with such interesting sounds. After demolishing the sounds within the keyboard as much as possible with a hardware sequencer, the time had arrived to introduce my production techniques to a computer. Not knowing of any other software within my budget I took the safe bet and invested in Cubase VST 3.5; This would prove to be a wise investment as Steinberg would be (with Propellerhead) one of the first companies to develop seriously the concept of Virtual Instruments. So with a PC running Windows 95 and 90 Hz of pure PC power and a 512mb (yes megabyte) hard drive I was on my way.
One of the biggest draw backs that I had encountered with hardware based sequencers was the limit to the amount of note data that could be stored within the unit’s memory. This is best displayed in the Quasimidi Quasar Sessions; the longest piece in this collection is approximately ten minutes. All very well for pop music but If I was to achieve my goals of one day creating an hour long piece, then this was certainly a hurdle to overcome. Cubase thankfully began making this a reality as note data was no longer an issue; although hard drive space would eventually dominate this area.
With all the above in mind I decided to create a non-stop hour long piece that attempted to use all the available resources of the Yamaha DJX and additional hidden parameters only available through MIDI and a computer sequencer.
Starting the piece was more naturally influenced by the sounds on the DJX rather than any preconceived idea of how the overall composition would develop. One of the first most notable additions to this composition was having a visual way to control the volume of individual instruments. This allowed me for the first time to create velocity curves that were 100% accurate rather than manually added; this was an important first addition when approaching percussion.
For the first 8 minutes the composition sonically displays the best of the DJX’s pallet of sounds with a few minor alterations to each of the timbres through manipulation of MIDI parameters. By this point I was over the initial excitement of the sounds available to me; now for some real story telling.
From 8 minutes the first individual piece emerges, this section would eventually be composed again as a separate piece titled Second Seduction (name derived from the fact it was the second time I had attempted to compose the same piece from scratch). This piece sets the stage for the next twenty minutes, covering the genre of dark dance and hard house. To achieve the darker elements of the piece a large amount of Cut-off frequency is used to trim the top end of the sound of leaving very bass heavy versions of the original timbre, tie this in with the ability to create curves from within Cubase and you have some very convincing and interesting sounds.
For the non technical minded out there the above graph shows two separate EQ Charts the left shows an image of all sound being allowed through (clear no filters) while the second shows what a graphic EQ would look like with some of the sound allowed to pass through.
Basically put sound is either allowed or not allowed to pass through. The very concept of using filters to eliminate sonic aspects by this process has in truth molded and manipulated and guided an incredible amount of modern electronic music. More sophisticated plug-ins such as Steinberg’s 1997 release of GRM Tools as a VST Plug-in features a module called Band Pass Stereo a true master at filtering aspects of the electronic sonic scale.
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