Who would have expected that Pixel Day and VGM Contest were right around the corner. It was an exciting day for me because of how rushed I was to make a piece for both occasions. To be fair I only had about a day to complete it. I ended up scratching the old song for now and working on a new one. The results were completely unexpected.
First off I'd like to say I had no idea what I was doing. I knew I had to incorporate 8-bit and chiptune into the mix but I've reached a different alternative to making music. Focusing on Dubstep, Electronic Dance, and Synthwave music are my priority genres. I take inspiration from some of my favorite artists:
- Notaker - For atmospheric and bassline. Each have it's perks to add a different feel to the mix. The best way to describe this is kinda like lucid dreaming.
- Au5 - Implementing bassline to effects using hypersaws, chain melodies, and custom phasing. I use Harmor, Poizon, and Toxic Biohazard for the main parts. GMS is meant for creating my wobbles but Poizon is the same.
- REZZ - Rezz has a different form of making music. Electronic dance with a touch of dark, mystery, and suspense. The virtual feeling of her music is the aesthetic of her sound. I use dark related tones and high pitch oscillators for these types of sounds which can be found in Poizon, Toxic Biohazard, and Sawer. Some of these sounds do come from other VST's such as Ogun and Sytrus.
The Process of Creation
When I started making the song for Pixel Day I found myself stuck, hitting a dead end. I could think of what I wanted it to sound like. I tried taking long walks, going out to smoke around NYC for hours while listening to several songs on my Spotify list. I came across a remix version of a song that reminded me of "Fairy Fountain" from Legend of Zelda. That's where I started gaining inspiration. However, when I got home I still couldn't touch it. With only hours before Pixel Day I had to come up with something. When I went to my list again I found a song called "FULL/BURST" by 1788-L and totto. The climax of that song really hit that electron in my brain and finally I knew what I was going to do.
Creating the sound was a challenge but also I have a secret to making them: It's all random. Yes, everything I make just comes to mind. The way I make music is I experiment a lot with sounds and VST's, creating everything from scratch, this includes new tones and pitch oriented melodies. Nothing is a preset sound except for the basslines which are slightly tweaked using the pitch, resonance, tempo, lfo, and hpf dials. while experimenting I make simple basslines to help me out. I replay them on repeat over and over again while I look throughout every VST for possible sounds. I prefer to keep everything around C# but I will always adjust the pitch to help with ambience and atmospheric tunes. Using FL Studio make it simple for all this to be possible. To give you guys an insight here's what I use and what each Plugin and VST does for me:
- GMS - This is one of my favorite VST's in Fruity Loops. This VST contains a good variety of sounds that can be implemented and altered in simple ways. It's perfect for making crunchy basslines and 8-Bit material. A perfect example is a preset called "Porta Square TE" which is a very close sound to 8-Bit. By adjusting a few dials you can make that nice video game sound. (ex. Cutoff at 45%/ Res at 80%, Atk at 35%/Dec at 20%/Amnt at 100%, LFO off, Reverb off, Modulation at 0%, Osc 2 at 100%/Noise at 50%)
- Poizon - Poizon is probably the best when you try to create those nice bass wobbles. I prefer to use Poizon at the main bassline VST in the group. With a wide variety of sound you can alter. One of my favorite presets would be "BAS Click MC". Dialing down the Envelope Amount and Attack sliders while also boosting the LFO amount to between 50-80% can really give it that UMPH and playing with the Rate slider with sine active on Frequency AB can really make your wobbles sound similar to Ganja White Knights version of wobble bass.
- Toxic Biohazard - perhaps one of the trickiest VST's in Fruit Loops. Toxic Biohazard delivers sounds that can be manipulated not just in presets but from scratch too. It's a good VST for Dubstep but not as easy as Harmor. A lot of the sounds are dark oriented meaning they give off a lot of energy to your song. Doesn't mean it's hard to learn it. As a matter of fact beginners can easily make something provided the sequence presets like "Matrix". If you play with the Cutoff and EG Amount dials for the Filter options it can give you a nice uprising sound. It would be like making progressive house music.
- Harmor - There is nothing better than Xfer Serum to make basically anything dubstep related, but sometimes when you don't have it you need to improvise. Harmor is the closest to that. It provides growls and synths that really pack a punch. This is also how Au5 makes his music aside from primarily using Serum. It'll seem strange at first but once you experiment long enough with it you could be making some pretty sick growls. The preset "Decimate Voice" is perfect for beginners to understand how to create nasty growls. By playing around with the IMG tab, Modulation XYZ, Phaser, and Resonance you can make some really sick stuff! It's a must!
- Morphine - While Fruity Loops does not come with it (Buy it seperately) Morphine is absolutely the make-your-own-sound workshop. This VST gives you supreme control of every sound. Similar to Sytrus in a way, Morphine allows you to make any sound from scratch. I use this for a lot of atmosphere qualities in my music. It's essential when you start reaching that intermediate level but it's also fun to use. The Pads & Atmos tab is my favorite because you can alter everything about that sound to the point where it's just oscillators. There is no way to explain this one, you'll definitely have to try this out for yourselves.
The Goal of "Underwater Bitz"
When I started making music I had no clear goal, it was just a hobby for my spare time. With day after day it became an obsession. It was clear to me that I was in love, no not with someone but rather with sound itself. It's sometimes weird to explain this because to me music is just sound and sound is frequency. What is sound exactly? How is it created? To me, sound or music is just a form of mathematics. Instead of numbers it's just plain oscillation, like a misread equation. I've had people tell me that my music somewhat portrays a sort of story. I believe that to be true. I tend to take breaks where I walk for hours while smoking and listening to music. During those times I discover new ideas throughout the millions of things going on in my head. Some of those ideas turn into lucid dreams where I experience a different scenario, like being transported into a whole new world. The goal in "Underwater Bitz" was to give my listeners a taste of what I'd call a parallel universe.
Think underwater... When you dive down and open your eyes you can see new life, a different world from ours. It's no different than being in space or in reality looking at the stars in the sky. You find yourself sinking in to the feeling and pressure that tightly grips you while pulling you down. Imagine you can breathe perfectly find underwater. Nothing has changed except for the fact that you now have complete control of what you see and your reaction is purely human enough to understand that this isn't new but rather unique. The world is a mystery enough but here you are, sinking down into the depths of the dark abyss, cautiously trying to get back up to the surface. By the end you realize you never really drowned, you never sank. You're still you and that is all that matters. Dreams are powerful but so is your mind. Music is beautiful. It's a story in it's very own nature, calculating and nonetheless promising. Music. Is. Life.....