I thought it might be helpful to write a bit more about what I am trying to do with my Novembeat jams and how I made them.
This first jam was made with the Polyend Tracker, which is a delightful sampler/sequencer/groovebox. The sequencer is in the style of a tracker. Notes and other playback information are entered in vertical columns instead of the more common horizontal grid or piano roll. I don’t have any experience with tracker software, but have found this style of beat creation to be a lot of fun and more intuitive than I would have thought at first glance.
Each column in the picture above represents one of the tracks. I only used 7 of the 8 tracks for this particular jam. I kept each track specific to a sample/instrument that I sequenced (kick, snare, hats, etc.), but the cool thing about the Tracker is that any sound (or MIDI note) can be interchanged within a column. Sometimes with a drum beat, for example, I will put the kick and snare in the same lane since I often won’t have both playing at the same time unless I’m doing four on the floor.
With this jam, I wanted to use more organic sounding samples. The drums are all samples from my Roland TD-6 drum module (V-drums circa 2003?). The beat came out sounding more stilted than an actual drummer would. So, I tried to gussy it up a bit with reverse effects, some stutters, panning, and delay. Not my favorite beat that I have made on this device, but with the time crunch of Novembeat, I was happy enough with it.
The rest of the sounds in the jam come from a sample set that I use perhaps too often. It is individual notes tapped (hammered-on?) on my 8-string touchstyle guitar. The percussive nature of the tapping lends itself nicely to sampling, imo. This song used just 3 samples across 3 strings, all G notes. I started with the bass line, playing around on the the Tracker’s keyboard (the white buttons) until something sounded good to me. Then working from there I put in some randomly generated notes for the melody part and then edited, repitched, and moved them around until it sounded pleasant enough. Finally, I added the 8th note alternative rock-sounding guitar part.
When it was time to play through, I practiced bringing parts in and out of mute until something like a structure emerged. There is only so much of a “song” that was going to come out of this because it is only a 2-bar loop. The Tracker is fun, though, because it has performance effects. During the recording of the video I added roll and reverse playback effects on the melody track to keep it from being too boring.
And with that, I made my first jam for Novembeat 2020.
You can check out more of my hardware jams on YouTube here.