Novembeat 2020 – Day 1

Novembeat 2020 – Day 1

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.

The left part of each column is the note name and number and the right part of the column is the sample number.

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.