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WELCOME IN THE STUDIO

In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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ABOUT CHAPTER 19

Chapter 19 started with a disclaimer, because creating the riddim section (that is, the chords) is not the field of expertise of the write of this tutorial.

In the previous chapter, we learned how to construct a simple riddim section with Piano, Guitar and Organ.

We also learned about a few sample packs available for download with guitar and drum samples.

SUB-MIX

It's not yet time to deal with audio in this tutorial, but a good tip is to make a sub-mix for your three brass instruments so that they will take one channel in your master mixing board. 

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 20: MIDI (11) - THEMES (BRASS SECTION)

Now that we've constructed the basic pattern for a full instrumental Reggae track, it's time to add some more flavor. In principal, though, musically spoken our riddim is fit to serve as a backing track for a (good) singer or MC at a Sound System set. However, lots more has to be done in the audio field but that's for a later stage in this tutorial. At this moment, we need to go a little bit deeper in creating an instrumental Reggae track and it's time to pay some attention to the theme.

Next to the Drum and the Bass, many people are outspoken when it comes to the theme. A lot of people want themes to be played by real horns and nothing else is good enough. Themes, however, can be played by many more instruments, including synthesizers and other keyboards. So before we continue, let's first recall what exactly a "theme" means, in the context of this tutorial. In chapter twelve, we've proposed the following definition:

Usually, a riddim is recognized by it's bassline. But there is also another section of the band that places it's mark on a riddim and that is the "theme section". In the 1970's, the horns took a predominant place in Reggae Music. Partly, they could be seen as a factor in the Riddim Section. But horns can also play themes: short harmonic melodies. Themes can also be played by keyboards or other instruments. (source)

When the previous chapter needed a disclaimer because of chordical shortcomings, this applies even more to the contents of this chapter. That means, that you will get a basic idea and principal but it will not take you very long to go much further than this chapter can lead you. When you have a basic knowledge of chords and chord progressions, you can make more complex themes than I can dream of. 

That said, let me take as the standard for this part of the tutorial the music I've created during a good part of this century until recently when I stepped into the realm of real horns and with that, audio. The electronic horns I used before that sounded way more cheapo keyboard than if I would have used a de facto cheapo keyboard but for many reasons I sticked to using a sampled brass section. That virtual brass section contained three samplers: one carrying a trombone, one having a saxophone while the third had trumpet sounds loaded. The melodies I did with MIDI and all I can do is sharing the principals I kind of discovered for myself. I am, again, aware that I know very very little about chords and thing, but on the other hand I'm sure I can help out at least a few people.

Let's first take a look again at the two chords of our riddim:

Click to Enlarge

These two chords form the guideline to safely constructing a theme without having too much musicological knowledge. The reason for that is quite simple: together, the three brass instruments will play a chord, just like the piano and the organ. Although these chords do not and will not be the same while the theme is played, it's -just like when you construct a bassline- safe to let them play the exact same chords on the 2nd and 4th count as the skanks.

Since there are three instruments, there will be one that follows the chord progression. In a way, again, just like when you construct a bassline with two chords as a guide. The other two instruments will play the same melody but a couple of tones higher (or lower). This is a process for which you will need your ears as much as your eyes, especially when you are -like yours truly- completely unaware and ignorant of tone scales. So it has to sound right, and to find the right tone can be quite a quest. 

Now, let's hook up three more samplers to our configuration and load them with a trombone, a saxophone and a trumpet instrument. For this tutorial I use standard sounds from Reason 3.0's Factory Sound Bank (sax) and the Orkester Sound Bank (trombone and trumpet), by the way.

Go to the 9th bar in your sequencer, and open the Piano Roll for your trombone. Make a 4-bar loop from the 9th to the 12th bar so that it continually plays. That's where we're going to create a simple theme to establish some principals you can use in your creative explosions. Make the following theme for your Trombone, using 8th's and 16th's (Click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

EXAMPLE0033.MP3

As you see, the theme is created on the same basis as the bass line. Using tones that are present in the chord on the 2nd and the 4th count. However, we have to create a harmonic structure so that the sax and the trumpet can play along as well without playing the same thing the trombone does. The three instruments will continually produce a chord, in fact there will be several chords in the whole theme. 

First things first, though. Over to the saxophone. Copy the midi notes from the trombone to the piano roll of the sax. They should now be playing the same notes. What we're going to do is this: we're going to transpose the notes of the saxophone 3 to 4 tones, while the idea of the theme is followed. Make the following transition in your saxophone roll (Click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

EXAMPLE0034.MP3

Now copy the saxophone part to the trumpet and, yes, you guessed it, transpose once more. First, for this tutorial transpose the trumpet a full octave and then transpose according to the next graphic (click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

EXAMPLE0035.MP3

Now copy and paste the full four bars of the three instruments like the example below (click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

EXAMPLE0036.MP3

Let's keep it simple and just past the theme in every place where a drum roll is, so that the theme will end with a drum roll. Check this (click to enlarge):

Click to Enlarge

Sure, this is not a theme that will touch the hearts and souls with majestic vibes et cetera. For this tutorial, though, it's a good one as it establishes a few guidelines.

You will probably have noticed that there's a D-chord and a B-chord played by the horn section, the trumpet keeps playing the E-tone in both bars as the section plays the dominant chord, these are things that have to do with musicology and a little bit of study will reveal a lot. 

In the silent parts, you can make the horns play along with the riddim, add little hooks here and there, the possibilities are endless but they do depend on your ear and creativity. That's not a thing any software will do for you.

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or join YUKU.com and post your words publicly on the Studio Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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