They say you never forget your first love.
My experience says this is true; even if it’s your fault that love didn’t work out the first time around.
After all, I’ve found a way to give that first love a second chance. But first, we should start at the beginning.
The thing is, when I was given an opportunity to learn an instrument in sixth grade, my first love was to play the drums.
Being impressionable and wanting to follow in the footsteps of my older step-brother, I chose the trumpet instead and was never actually any good at it, but my interest in drums and percussion never ceased.
With advances in technology I can still apply my ear to drums however, and thought this would be a good opportunity to give an insight in how I do this with the song “Roused” which will be featured on the soundtrack for my next book, “By Fang or Feather”.
The song itself has no shortage of attitude, but instrumentally the song is heavily orchestrated with piano, strings, brass and woodwinds strategically arranged in the song along with the distorted guitars, bouncing bass lines, sound effects and spoken word vocal delivery.
Even what amounts to be a very short guitar solo is a musical interpretation of the battle alluded to in the verse that directly precedes it. That section of the song acts as an underscore of the tension of the fight releasing into the hero rising in triumph at the end along with the brass and woodwind instrumental accompaniment.
We were here to talk about the drums.
Well, those were orchestrated as well.
Since I primarily operate alone even when writing music in character, I use royalty free music and drum beats to add flavor to my tracks in a way that’s outside my own creative thinking. Kind of like bringing in someone else’s talents in on consult and for the first time ever, I’m letting you hear how I orchestrated the beat for Roused which is a bit more complex than you might first imagine.
Below is an excerpt of the first 43 seconds of the original royalty free beat I began writing the music around.
From this beat, I began twisting and mangling the basic beat with other royalty free beats to create ghost notes and alternate snare hits to mimic the different tones you get by hitting the drums with different levels of force on different portions of the drum head.
There’s also a sort of brush kit effects element blended in. After all, the drums and percussion of this song is orchestrated just like the other elements. It isn’t necessarily meant to sound like a single drummer is playing at one time.
These accents are orchestrated to both support and drive the musical accompaniment of the other instruments in the song.
While having these elements are nice, there still needed to be that basic bounce coming from the relationship between the bass or kick drum and the snare.
Using three more kick drum tracks and two more snare tracks.
Why so many tracks for the same elements?
Well, since I’m using found sounds, I don’t have the option of mic’ing the drums to get the sound I’m looking for. So I find my drum sounds by finding the individual kick drum and snare drums sounds that fulfill part of my vision and then eq out the frequencies I don’t want to craft the final sound.
This is where the kick drum and snare both get their fullness with a hint of attack.
Below is what the drums sound like with all of the elements playing the first 43 seconds of Roused together.
Naturally, I wouldn’t bring you all this way without letting you hear what the drums sound like in the song.
But first, a little background. This version of the song is a demo version of the song which means that this was a rough mix I created to get an idea of what was working and what was missing from the song.
When I do the final mix of the song, some of my decisions will be made on the fly, but others will have been pieces of the demo or rough mix of the song that I think I can improve upon to make the song move the listener’s ear and heart in the directions I’m hoping he or she will travel in while listening to it.
I hope that you’ve found this kind of insight into the making of my music interesting, but before I let you go, one more thing.