Covers - or copies for tracks. How do you do yours?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by paulears, Mar 13, 2020.

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  1. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I produce lots of copies of songs mainly for theatrical or stage type shows. Over the years I have a pretty standard workflow, but while doing one today, I wondered if others do it my way or have their own system that might be better?

    I always use the original song as a template. I tend to do the trickier bits in short chunks. So playing along with the real thing is pretty critical.

    So here is how I tend to do mine - Ideas like to hear other people's differences.

    Bring the original track in and create a tempo map. I never found Cubase's automatic system accurate enough - especially if I want to fix my pretty ropey piano playing, and especially my drumming!
    The way I do it is to work out roughly the BPM and start with that. I use the visible waveform which usually has peaks on the beats. Then with the metronome on, I'll play the track and move the tempo track bmp up or down every time the peaks drift away from the on screen bar/beat markers. Takes ages of course, but eventually I get a decent tempo track, with changes maybe every couple of bars for some, but sometimes twice in every bar. I find it amazing that the BPMs speed up and slow down quite radically in many popular songs - up to the day they invented sequencers!

    Once the tempo map is done - for my type of tracks its usually then keys first, then bass, then the other stuff.

    My weak areas are drums and lead guitars - so I tend to do these in two bar chunks - until I get it right. Drums - I tend to do by kick and snare, then go back and add the hats, then again for cymbals.

    Do any of you do this major differently?
     
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Hi Paul, over the last 30 years I have programmed hundreds of songs much like you do, however that process got much easier once I invested in an Akai MPC 60. Today I have the MPC X and it is the best of the best when it comes to exactly what you are doing. Establishing tempos and rhythms takes literally minutes. MPC's are incredibly proficient for building extremely detailed tracks (fast).
     
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  3. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Chris - interesting. What does it do that speeds it up?
     
  4. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Basically it’s extremity intuitive from how easy it is to import your drums, insert samples, kits, sequences, lay down drums tracks, tempos “tight or very relaxed feels” set bars and add, merge remove etc everything.
    They loop and seamlessly punch in,
    Have 2 ins and 4 out midi lanes. you can record into them as well.

    Then you can mix or export to your fav DAW.
    It’s the most essential part of my studio.

    I looked for MPC x videos that aren’t targeted to hip hop but couldn't find one. The problem watching MPC videos, mass users are using it for dead sounding music.
    if you can see past the hip hop users doing lame drum beats, I doubt you’d ever regret owning one.
     
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    This video give a brief explanation



    Sadly, most people making music don't like rock so I can't find one video that comes close to what it can do. Its unbelievable how peoples taste has changed.
    I found some history that might be of interest. https://www.vox.com/culture/2018/4/16/16615352/akai-mpc-music-history-impact

    I used an MPC to play live and in studio all through the 80's and 90's. All for pop and rock.
     
  6. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I've watched the video, but I'm a tad confused - why would I want to use one instead of Cubase - I'd really struggle? Probably great for a beginner not interested in computers - a friend of mine would love it because he hates computers. It's a nice one stop product though.
     
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    No, its far from a beginners. Very complex and blows all DAW out of the water when it comes to laying down rhythms and simplifying speed, especially for composing. I would use something like this for controlling and arranging large movie productions, especially if I had racks of midi equipment. As an example, Samplitude, Pro Tools, Cubase etc would never track and deal with Midi like an MPC does. ;)
    You say it takes you a while to establish the tempos. MPX X, you'd never have this trouble. MPC's are the king when it comes to drum programming and sequencing.
    But of course its all what you are used to.
     
  8. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I must have missed this - if you want to take a well known track and build a tempo map from it, how do you do it? For me - this takes the most time, before you can hit record and stick anything down. How does it do ralls, pushes and pulls against the beat? The track I'm doing at present (not that the damn show will actually happen!) changes tempo 4 times - gradually speeds up, then pulls back and has a really fast up tempo section in a different time signature. Doe the Akai have some kind of tempo track?
     
  9. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Are you importing the actual older songs and then reproducing them?
     
  10. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    to control tempo speeds, you can use the MPC as a master for cubase.

    • use a control knob to adjust the speed in real time
    • Program relaxed feels
    • Use a cv controller
    I personally wouldn’t regress to poor timing today, I would improve it by still keeping the natural tempo like you are attempting but would find a common speed that often still fits. I’ve literally programmed hundreds of songs that sounded like the tempos were all over the nap but still found the flow and managed to sequence it to most anything.
    MPC are king at that. They often are used in live performances, running a sequence with live drummers.
     
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    Samplitude remix section uses volume peaks (or what ever part of a time line you want to follow a song very well too. Super fast as well.

    I’d recommend checking out the MPC at your local dealer and talk to someone that actually know a lot about them. I’m certain you would be amazed if you get the right person to help you. They really are the best of the best.

    I use the MPC to master Sequences
     
  12. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    No sorry - you misunderstand. I am producing show tracks from all kinds of popular music - so I recreate the entire song, track by track - either real instruments or sample/synth based. There is also a click, so the way I do it is bring in the original track, create a tempo map that follows the real tempo of the song, so that the bar lines all line up with the click - this is essential - but very rarely will the song be recorded originally to a metronome. It might start at 72bpm, then speed up to the chorus which comes in at 78, then it drops back for the next verse, but maybe does it at 70, then the next chorus comes in at 79. This is very time consuming, and while Cubase can do this automatically, it works better with repetitive dance music where there's a clear beat. Until you have the click following the original very closely, you can't copy and paste, or quantise. Drums show up tempo errors far too easily - so it can take ages to get this far, and that's before you start adding real instruments and BVs. I think Samplitude's tempo tracking is like cubase's - as in it's not very good with flowing music, and 60's and 70's music was far from stable. The Carpenters, for example - tempo is wildly all over the place. I was hoping somebody does similar stuff and has a better workflow I could pinch. I don't think the Akai is quite the right tool for this.
     
  13. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    yup, this is what I did for years and what I thought you meant. I didn’t need as extreme measures but it would definitely do it for you. The Akai simplifies tempo related far superior to a standard DAW.

    it sounds like you have a fun gig though! Keep us informed over your progress. I’d love to hear if you find better methods.
    Cheers!
     
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Ive not done this yet but my approach would be to use M/S and extraction plugs to try and extract the drum track, then just re-trigger it. Ive amassed a set of tools for this purpose but haven't gotten the system up yet. Toontracks new superior version can extract individual drums and resample them individually from a stereo drum track, turning them into multitrack and re triggered. Vocal canceling plugs can help clean up the drum track on the master song, so can izotope re-balance. Drummagog even has hi hat tracking to re sample the hat even while the drummer opens and closes it.

    Doing this might help you skip the tempo map entirely.

    Other than that the tempo tracking in samplitude pro x3 looked quite good in the demo, and theirs always tab to transient. Samplitude, drumagog, and slate all have audio to midi capability.

    The automated tools arent perfect but are pretty good, tho still generally require tweaking.
     
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  15. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Hang on - so you're thinking about taking the drum track and then regenerating it so it can retrigger a new one? I'd never thought of that. I'd still need the temp track sorting because I need all the other tracks to be aligned to something I could edit to - I've got quite a few old cubase projects where I just used it like a tape deck - so free running and doing anything with these is always a real pain.

    The auto tempo feature works quite well with finding a tempo where it stays relatively constant, but it does ralls very poorly, and very often you can do them better by eye, as long as you can find the pickup temp first beat.

    Maybe people don't do accurate cover versions any more, and just don't need to develop little tricks?
     
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  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    now that K mentioned it, i remembered i actually did something similar to that once. a friend of mine asked me to archive /restore /repair /remix all his old tapes to digital. once the track was loaded into the daw i eq'd it with overlapping hi and lo pass and a sharp narrow peak so that the kick or the snare stuck out. it didn't matter what it sounded like because i only used it to trigger a snare or kick sample. you might get a few false triggers but all you need to do is cut them out. if you did that then all you would need to do is to make your tempo map from the triggered impulses.
     
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  17. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    That could actually work for me - a two step process. Take the original track and find the kick and/or snare. Filter that and the use the auto feature to make the tempo track. I might give this a try?
     
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

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    hope it works for you.
     
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Distinguished Member

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    Yes exactly. The idea is to use the source track(s) as a trigger. Basically to exatract tempo, velocity, and hamonic information from audio. Essentially audio to midi conversion.

    My original purpose was to have a simlified way to replace peoples sounds on their mulittracks or masters with better versions. Ie, a stock moog sound with a good aftermarket one.

    Its cool with covers cuz sometimes there is info on the original recording, so you can use samples of the stuff they used, like if a drummer used a black beauty snare, you can use the black buety in bfd 3. Or some vintage synth.

    Or with my old blues rock band, i want to double the svt mic'd track with a clean synth bass for modern low end. Instead of playing it on a keyboard or mousing in the notes. i theorized i could use audio to midi to extract the performance.

    Yes exactly, let the drums be the tempo map.

    Please let me know how you fare, ive not tried this method in practice yet, just in theory.

    With a template of gates and tracks setup, it could be possible to import a song, and replace the sonics in minutes.
     
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  20. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Failed! Well actually it didn't really fail but the bass seems to blur the kick, and the snare is twitchy too. It works fine with a four on the floor clean drum track. Cubase can follow the rhythm really well, but try it on some big band jazz and it makes lots of mistakes as the drums have too many off beat thumps and bangs. Cleaning it up would take as long as the few bars at a time matching the waveform peaks to the grid lines and then stretching or shrinking the temp - which moves the waveform. Good call though and for some music works pretty well. Waveform peak matching seems to still win.

    As I'm not busy this week, I've been finding clean vocal stems on youtube, then putting the original vocals to my recreations as sort of practice - these clips are often problem ones with the tempos of the piece changing quite a bit, so hence the tempo track being really important. I've found some Elton John , Celine Dion, Peter Gabriel and a few others so far.
     
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  • AT5047

    The New AT5047 Premier Studio Microphone Purity Transformed

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