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8-Bit By A Rabid Squirrel (Part Three Faces of Eve)

Our story so far: In Part One we learned how to add messed-up vocals and glitchy percussion to an 8-bit track, and while we didn't learn a whole lot about 8-bit music in Part Two, we did get to watch that sweet-assed POWERLIFTER video and learn what gives a song a "human" feel.

This time, we're gonna see if we make an 8-bit tune from scratch.

The first thing that we're going to need is a VST that can reproduce the simple sounds used to score 8-bit video games back in the 80's. And since we're all so broke that the soles of our shoes are so thin we can step on a piece of bubblegum and tell you what flavor it is, that VST should be free. Enter the LC 5000 (the pic below lies! The larger version can be found here)

LC_5000_sm.jpgLoad the LC 5000 into your DAW de jour (I use FL Studio because I was teenaged hoodlum), and choose the preset called "Mr. Mapp". Phun Phactiod: I named this patch after my good friend, and musical legend (he once slew a frost giant), Dan Mapp.

Now we're going to re-visit the bassline from from Bitchin' Camaro that we looked at in Part Two. This time, instead of playing and recording the bass part, we're going to enter the bass notes one-at-a-time into the "piano roll", so that they look exactly like this:

bass_run_2_piano_roll.jpg

See how neat and orderly the riff above looks as compared to that mess from Part Two? And look how much cleaner the the notation is:

bass_run_2.jpg

And just get a load of how small Pablo's bald spot is! Let's stick some 8-bitish percussion under the riff and see how it compares to the earlier one. Here's the "original":

Bass run1 fretless by rodney-1

And here's the 8-bit version:

Bass run2 mr mapp by rodney-1

Not very interesting is it? Well, neither is your DNA. Seriously, your DNA is, quite frankly, boring! It's made up of just four crummy nucleotides. It's how those A's, G's, C's. and T's are arranged and mutated that make you you. If you mutate a few notes (and we have twelve to work with), you can turn a simple riff into a song. Let's add a very simple melody on top of the bass riff. Here it is:

melody_1_piano_roll.jpg

And this is for those of you (snobs!) who can read music:

melody_1.jpg

Here's how it sound put together with the bass riff & drums:

Bass drums and melody1 by rodney-1

You can almost see a tiny 8-bit Prince Charles Manson leaping over magic mushrooms until he reaches the castle at Spahn Ranch and saves Princess Squeaky Fromme. OK, now it's time to build a song. We'll rearrange the parts a bit in order to have verses, choruses, and a break. Here's what the into, verse, and chorus sound like. The tempo is also a bit faster:

Intro verse chorus1 by rodney-1 

Now. let's use a Gross Beat to do a little time manipulation as well adding a trance gate. If you string the whole thing together in Intro/Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus/Break/Chorus/Chorus/Outro fashion:

8 bit intro verse chorus etc by rodney-1 

Now all we have to do is add few highly-processed vocals and we're done!

Shut Up Shannon by rodney-1

Well, it might not be high art, but the whole point was to learn a little bit about making 8-bit music. Now, if you're ever in a crowed place, and a madman marches in carrying a shot gun and announces "I'll kill anyone who doesn't have a a rough idea about how to creat a quick 8-bit song", you should be covered.






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