Ulterior V1.03

My latest effort - drum & bass driven by strings with a mood swing in the middle. I didn’t have enough time to fully explore all the concepts I wanted to, so I may come back to this one someday to expand on it.

Comments welcome!

http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F5951689%3Fsecret_token%3Ds-jac8M&secret_url=false width=100% height=81[/embed]

Ulterior v1.03 - Soundcloud

I like this. Strings sound nice, good beat. Nice and natural sounding, is it all samples/VST sampler?

Maybe something extra in the lower frequencies could be good. I actually think an electric bass might work with it really well.

Thanks for the feedback! The strings are Applied Acoustics Systems’ String Studio VS-1 VSTi, though I rendered some to sample so I could apply the effects I wanted to. Any string you hear that’s volume-chopped, pitch-bent, or in a really low register is a rendered sample of that VSTi. The drums are rendered samples of the Stephen Slate Drums ROMpler instrument. If not for the use of the VSTi, I would have posted the .xrns file, too.

Interesting. Are you listening with or without a sub? I was concerned about overloading the low end too much while watching the spectrum analyzer, but listening to it on different speaker systems (particularly those that don’t reproduce the lower frequencies well) reveals that there may indeed be a notch that could be filled in better. Hmmm…

Thanks for the detailed reply. Sounded quite nice and natural to me but I guess if you used the same VSTs a few times it would start to be obvious?..

Sorry forgot my usual disclaimer that I’m on headphone and onboard sound. Was also at work so being distracted, so know these headphones pretty well by now (Sennheiser HD25 and been using them for 5+ years.) Don’t have monitors set up at home just yet but might give a another listen and see how it comes out. But from quick listening didn’t really seem like there was a dedicated bass part and I couldn’t decide if a sine sub or a slightly dirtier (where I though electric bass would fit as being dirty but still similar vibe and string.)

Not a problem!

Thanks! I’m not sure I fully understand the question. The String Studio VSTi is pretty damn good, in my opinion. It responds really well to MIDI velocities, so it’s easy to coax different sounds from the same instrument - a lighter velocity gives a little more “bow squeak”, a heavier velocity gives more body resonance. I did find that certain velocities could cause it to howl a little bit, though…just the nature of the beast, I guess. If you pay close attention, you can tell most of the vibratos on long notes are synchronized, so that can be a giveaway that it isn’t a real instrument. That could be worked around with more diligent setup on my part…but I’m too lazy. ;)

Ah, okay. There is a sine sub already at play, and the evil cellos in the middle also fill out the lower end nicely (IMHO). I may consider playing around with something that gives more of a bass line for the sub-challenged…as long as it doesn’t compete with the cellos.

Just listened again (although still only with headphones.)

Your right that in some parts the (bowed) cello does go pretty low, pitched down, I was thinking more a plucked string, funkyish bass. About the lowest think I could seem to pick up on them is one of the layered kicks (unless it is a sine with an envelope.) So, yes there is bass there, but it’s still seems missing the b-line that makes you want to move. Either a blues style double bass or electric I think could work but you’re right that you may have to be careful with other frequencies there.

Got’cha. I tried doing some of that with the enveloped sine sub-bass, but completely failed to consider the impact of that “missing” for non-sub listening.

The funny thing is, I knew it couldn’t be heard when doing some work with my laptop’s speakers - but since I knew it was there, it didn’t bother me that I couldn’t hear it. Listening to it again with earbuds that don’t reach that low, and listening to only what I can hear (rather than keeping an eye on the spectrum analyzer), I now better appreciate how incomplete the overall sound is in that scenario.

Silly mistake. Lesson learned. Thanks!

IMHO this just proves strings and drum’n’base do not mix well together :)

Good that there is no such thing as “drum’n’base” then :P

Unless your personal tastes simply preclude the combination, don’t let my feeble attempt turn you off the concept. I think that Venetian Snares’ “Rossz Csillag Alatt Született” album and portions of The Art Of Noise’s “The Seduction of Claude Debussy” album before him are fair counterpoints. And while they don’t really do drum’n’bass, Hybrid’s blend of strings and orchestration with dance and other electronic music styles has always been spot-on, in my opinion. :walkman:

Quite the opposite. I am fan of strings, use them in pretty much all of my songs. Also I have nothing against dnb, even bought some records. My comment was tongue-in-cheek, there is no reason why strings and dnb couldn’t mix, in this case they just did not, which is just my (humble) opinion and nothing more.

Fair enough. We all have our preferences.

I think the strings sound good, the sounds you used for the beats(could)fit them well, only there are too many hits for me, makes it feel like some kind of orchestra with some weirdly moving maniac at the drums :w00t: :P (don’t quite know how else i could explain that it is not meant as an insult…)I think in general with drum and bass it is important to have space for your separate drumhits(with ghost hits in between), exept with fills and such. Because dnb is so fast you can easily make it sound ‘nervous’(but then other people might say thats a good thing…)

But it think the idea is very nice.

Thanks for the feedback!

When you say “too many hits”, do you mean that there’s simply too much percussion, or do you mean that I went overboard with the note retrigger in some spots, and that sounds clumsy or overly busy?

The strings and groove fit together well, imho. It all sounds very clean - making it a bit dirtier (especially the groove, maybe filter/distort/modify the dynamics a bit to give it a little more push) might make it more interesting. I too think it could use more bass, but then, I’m using cheap headphones. :)

Was talking about the pattern k k s k ksk s k (k=kick s= snare), it sounds too crowded to me with all the hits seem to be at full volume, guess i could have been more specific because i actually liked the other drum parts.

You could try changing volume/filter in some of the more offbeat hits there(or u could use a more mufled, shorted/pitched drum sample for this,it gives the beat more…flow, i guess…Note retrigger sounds fine mostly…some litle parts can be fine tuned i guess…But i never even get to that part where you have to fix things up to finish a song so really i shouldnt be telling you this :P

Thanks for the comments! Interesting idea on dirtying it up a bit. Maybe animate that with a slow LFO…

Yup, I gotta fix that - there seems to be a consensus. :lol: I promise you’ll hear more bass with a sub or deeper 'phones.

Ah, okay. Thanks for narrowing that down - it helps a lot. (I actually like the other drum parts, too.) Full disclosure: I just threw that loop together as a starting point to just get some kind of d’n’b rhythm to lay on top of the strings to see if that was a direction I wanted to continue pursuing. I meant to take a step back and make the loop fit better, but it kinda slipped my mind. Besides, by the time I added all the other stuff, I had myself convinced that it worked well enough. I probably won’t get rid of it outright, because I think there are some areas where it still seems to work well; but I do agree that a simpler/less frenetic base rhythm is worth exploring.

Good suggestions! Hrm, maybe I’ll open this one back up sooner than I had planned and start working towards v2.xx… B)

LOL! You’re on the internet, you don’t need experience to critique and offer suggestions - just a keyboard and an opinion. ;) But seriously, these constructive comments really help. Getting another set of ears on a tune really helps me see flaws and opportunities for improvement that I miss when I keep it all to myself. Just like code review or any other kind of work.

Hi Remst8

I like it but think the drums could do with a shuffle because they sound quite straight,perhaps you could add a sub or heavier b-line and some ambience(more effects)etc.


Interesting experiment, but I don’t think your track is quite there yet. But keep up the work, I think concept deserves more experimentation.