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8-Bit By A Rabid Squirrel (Part Tu, Brute?)

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Were where we? Oh yeah, we were talking about 8-bit songs and I showed you how I added some percussion and strange vocodery crap to an 8-bit version of "Stuart" a friend of mind recorded.And then we cuddled and I fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, both you and my wallet were gone.

While I weeping into my soggy pillow, I got an email from Dandrew Stevens who plays bass in the Dead Milkmen, bodhran in 25 Cromwell Street, and - according to the link above - produced a film called "Mongolian Death Worm" (A true Renaissance man. Which would also explain the rapier and tights). Since Dandrew has a keen interest in all forms of music (except, quite understandably, Appalachian Hog-Trumpeting), he wanted to know just how one goes about creating 8-bit tunes.

I was certain that I could quickly answer Dandrew's question, right up until the moment I realized that I honestly have no idea how it's done. Look; that fact I act like I know everything,is no reason for you folks to infer that I actually know everything. Or anything at all, for that matter.

To be honest (and I really need to cut down on being honest), all I knew about 8-bit is what I gleaned from this sweeeet PowerLifter video...



[Seriously, is this the greatest country on earth, or WHAT?] ... and from
mind.in.a.box's awesomely wonderful and wonderfully awesome Retro CD.

The only other thing I knew about 8-bit was that it all seemed very counter-
intuitive. When I record a track using my DAW, I want it to sound as  "Live"
and non-mechanical as possible. I'll show you what I mean using Dave
Blood's famous bass-line from Bitchin' Camaro.

If I want to record a few bars of the bass riff, the first thing I would do is to
load a realistic sounding bass into FL Studio (In this example I'm using the
fretless bass from FL Slayer). I would then record myself either playing along
to click track, and then add some drums, or I would lay down some drums
and then record the bass on top of that. Either way, the end product would
sound like this:

Bass run1 fretless by rodney-1

Now, this is where it gets (sort of) interesting. If you take a look at that bass
riff in the "piano roll" it looks like this:

bass_run_1_piano_roll.jpgNotice how the notes don't line up perfectly with the lines? This is because
I'm a doctor, not a TB-303, damn it! This is also what gives a track a "human"
feel (well, this and many pounds of cocaine). Here's what the bassline would
look like if you wrote it out in musical notation:

bass_run_1.jpgThose notes are all over the place! Won't someone bring order to this chaos?
Well, that's exactly what we'll try to do (along with traveling back in time and
killing Hitler with a fuzzy pink slipper) in Part Three!

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