And…..Done. Final Blog Post

2016 Avatar Full 1MB

It’s hard to believe I’ve been running my blog for 6 years now, even more difficult to believe that I’ve done 282 posts in that time period.  But, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and I’ve decided that now is a good time for me to step away from the blog and focus on other avenues for sharing my views on creativity and audio production.

It’s been really enjoyable talking to everyone and sharing your views on how you approach all the struggles and joys of writing music.  I can’t thank everyone enough for all the insightful comments, indepth replies, and most especially for all the donations you’ve made to help make all this possible.

As a way of saying thanks one final time, I’ve collected all of the best blog posts into one document, which you can download here:

BEST BITS OF THE BLOG (Zip File)

The zip file contains both PDF and epub versions of the document so you can view it on any of your devices.  I’ve made a few changes here in there in the text to update my recommendations on gear, and make it easier to read all of the posts front to back.

Thanks again everyone!
Tarekith

Loss Of Language – Ambient Track

Loss Of Language300

Loss Of Language <- Right click to download.

This song started out as a project to use only found sounds I recorded myself for all of the source samples.  All of the raw samples were captured with a Rode iXY microphone and my iPhone at 24bits in various locations around Luxembourg.  From there, the samples went through various phases of construction and deconstruction in both Ableton Live using Push2, as well as the Elektron Octatrack.  I bounced back and forth between the two trying different ideas, so there’s an equal bit of both workflows in this song.

The final performance was done in the Octatrack feeding a Strymon Timeline delay, which added all sorts of trippy pitch-shifted and time-based modulated delays.  More of a proof of concept than a full on Tarekith song, I still really enjoy the way this one ebbs and flows.  Expect more in this direction in the near future, in the meantime I hope you enjoy.

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Ad Infinitum – Video Walkthrough

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 7.16.40 PM

I wanted to create a video walking through all of the Ableton Projects that made up my new album, as well as talking a bit about hwo it was created in general.  There’s a few tips and tricks in there as well, hope you find it useful!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Ad Infinitum – New Tarekith Album

Ad Infinitum 300

Ad Infinitum Album <- 320kbps AAC files

For high-quality WAV and FLAC versions,
please visit my Bandcamp page by clicking the image below:

Bandcamp

The Ad Infinitum album was probably one of the quickest projects of mine to come to fruition, from start to finish it took me almost exactly one month to complete. Well, the audio aspects anyway, artwork, promotion, and writing things like this took slightly longer of course. And what’s most surprising for me, was that I approached this album a lot differently than I have most of my music making the last few years.

Most of my music projects recently have been focused on creating music I could perform live, patterns and motifs that I could use to shape the overall structure of a piece over the course of 30-60 minutes. The focus was on creating performable material, with the performance being the main thing I was worried about capturing. Most of the time with no editing, or any sort of post-production, after the fact. What I performed WAS the end result I was aiming for, even if it wasn’t recorded in a live context on stage, and only in my studio. This time around I wanted to go back to actually shaping songs individually, really crafting songs that stood on their own and not just as a piece in a larger context.

I only had a few rough ideas about the shape of the album when I started, and I planned to let it evolve once I started the writing process and saw where things were headed. However, I knew I wanted to slow things down a bit compared to my more recent work which was mostly 120BPM or faster. A blend of downtempo and what I’ll call modern ambient, mixed with enough sound design shenanigans to keep even the quietest moments interesting. I wanted the album to be very dynamic in terms of loudness, soft gentle sections leading to and from the more drum-heavy songs.

And most of all I wanted to use Ableton Live and Push 2 to do it all.

It’s been years since I really dove in and spent a lot of time working on my own songs in Live, even though it’s something I use many times a week for my studio business. Nothing against Live, I’ve just been exploring other ways of making music the last 3-4 years; hardware, iPads, acoustic guitar, etc. However three things came together at the right time that made me excited to dive back in and bury myself in one application for an entire album.

The first was becoming one of the Ableton forum administrators. In effect I was now working for Ableton and that brings with it certain benefits like access to Live Packs I might not have tried otherwise. The second was getting a Push 2, and being blown away by the enhancements Ableton made to it compared to Push 1. Mainly how we could now work with audio as fluidly as we could with MIDI on the first version. Heck, MORE fluidly since the entire workflow of Push 2 just made loads more sense to the way I think about making music.

The final step that really helped push me (no pun intended) to follow my creative ideas with Live was being invited to Ableton’s first Loop event in October 2015. It’s hard not to come away inspired after spending a weekend hearing musicians and producers you respect share their insights and tips on the music making process. I’m glad Ableton will be posting more of these talks on their blog soon, as I think a lot of people will really benefit from hearing what successful artists go through when they create music. And how often they face the same struggles as someone just starting out when it comes to music production.

To say it was a kick in the pants to just focus on getting things done would be an understatement!

So, on November 7th, 2015, with my wife away on a work trip for 2.5 weeks, I sat down in the studio in front of Push 2 and started to write. All of the songs started on Push 2, sometimes with drums first, occasionally a melody or just mangling a sample led to a song idea, a few times I even used it to help me capture my guitar playing as well. Just being able to quickly record something, hit the Convert button, and then keep on tweaking it into something new was a load of fun. Sometimes I would just throw some random Max4Live devices on the master channel and record audio in realtime as I tweaked and messed about with things that I had no idea how they worked. “Raveere” was one song that was done 100% this way in fact.

Instead of working on the songs one at a time from start to completion, I started a bunch of songs at once. This gives the entire album a bit of cohesion since nothing was created in isolation, I was able to keep the same headspace across the tracks. It also lets me jump around from track to track if one of them is just not doing it for me that day. Rather than stopping for the day and coming back to it later, I could just open up another one of my songs and keep working on something different instead. These were long days, often 8-10 hours at a stretch just sketching and refining my ideas, trying different rough arrangements, fine-tuning the mixes as I went, etc. I was 100% focused on Push 2 at this point, I wasn’t even looking at the laptop most of the time.

By the end of 2 weeks I had 9 songs roughly laid out that I was really happy with. They fit the mood I was going for, and I could see how they would progress as an album through all sorts of different emotions I wanted to draw out. It was at this point that I decided to not just release all of the songs as nine separate entities, but also to combine them into one longer piece complete with custom transitions to make them flow together how I was hearing them in my head.

So, I set aside Push (job well done you), and set about focusing on the laptop and mouse to get more detailed with the arranging and editing. In the last few years this is where I’ve started to get bogged down, not for lack of ideas, but more of a “been there, done that” sort of mindset. Mousing in transitions and fills can get a little tedious for me at times, but luckily the time away from such activities let me come at it with more enthusiasm than I had in the past and it actually was pretty fun.

Not having to worry how I’ll be able to pull something off live, and instead just focus on getting it down permanently to hard disk can be greatly liberating I found! Or maybe I should say I re-discovered it, since it wasn’t necessarily a new insight with 20+ years of music making behind me.

It took me about a week to work on all the songs like this. Occasionally turning to Push when I needed to record something new real quick, but often just sitting with the laptop, a mouse, and a pair of headphones at my kitchen table focused on the task at hand. I spent 3-4 days after that doing final mixdown tweaks and mastering the songs, and then 2-3 days taking all the individual songs and combining them together for the continuous form of the album I wanted to release as well.

And then…. I was done.

This sort of realization always hits me suddenly, when I realize there’s nothing more I need to do with the songs. What was most surprising to me though, was looking back at the album back-ups and realizing I finished exactly 31 days after I started. I can’t recall a time I’ve ever written this much detailed music in such a short period of time.

And so, I give you “Ad Infinitum”, my newest album.

Tarekith
http://tarekith.com

Tarekith Music Worldwide

Tarekith Albums

A few months ago I put my entire back catalog on Bandcamp, all of songs and live sets I’ve done over the last 10+ years.  Partly as a way to archive all my music to date online, and partly as an experiment to see if people would actually buy any of the older songs.  I was a bit surprised to see that, yes, people will in fact buy some of my older music.  In fact it ended up selling better than some of my newer material.  Though I guess that’s not a huge surprise as some of the newer music is a bit more experimental.

Anyway, I considered that experiment a success, so I decided to expand things and release those same albums on the more popular sites like iTunes, Amazon, etc as well (I use CDBaby.com as an aggregator if people are curious).  After a long wait to get all the albums approved, I’m happy to report that all of my music from 2004-2014 is now available at all the major online retailers.

As before each album covers 1 year of original songs and live sets, and are priced according to how much audio I released that year.  Of course you can always still name your own price on Bandcamp as well if you prefer.

Hope you enjoy!
Tarekith

Tarekith Turns Ten

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 1.49.45 PM

Kind of weird how the date almost slipped by me, but as I was preparing my entire back-catalog for Bandcamp, I noticed that it had been almost exactly ten years since I started using the name Tarekith for my music-making.  Time flies and all that.

I have to say, going back through all the tracks I’ve written over the last ten years has been a real trip.  So many simularities I can make out, and at the same time I was exploring all manner of gear and workflows continuously.  Plus there was a consistancy to my output that surprised me, bar one or two years where life events intervened.  It’s been a lot of fun hearing stuff I wrote that I practically forgot about 🙂

Anyway, as I mention, this all came about because I wanted to get all of my tracks and live sets online somewhere not just for people to buy, but also lossless as a form of additional backup if you will.  I’ve been really happy with Bandcamp over the last few years, so I figured that was the best place to start.  Eventually I’ll get them all on the primary retailers like iTunes, Amazon, etc, but for now Bandcamp it is:

https://tarekith.bandcamp.com

The tracks and live sets are group by year into invidual albums, and each album is only $1.  You can of course pay more if you want.

The album covers are all pictures I took over the last ten years, each one in the same year of the album just for fun.  Kinda fun for me to see those too, lots of places all over the world, who would have thought I’d be a world traveller some day?

Enjoy the music, and thanks to everyone who’s supported me, my music, and this blog over the last 10 years.

Peace and chill beats,
Tarekith

Temples To Telescopes

Temples To Telescopes300

Temples To Telescopes <- Right Click To Save.

This track started one night after I had just finished up jamming on my acoustic guitar using my Timeline Delay pedal. I was putting things away, and realized I had left the feedback cranked up, and the electrical noise from the guitar pickups started to feedback making this cool sound wash.

I fired up Ableton Live, and started to record, not realizing that the metronome from Live was being picked up by the guitar pickups and thus being recorded too. Luckily, it ended up sounding cool, so that recording became the intro and ending guitar parts!

From there I built up the core track using Push to program all the drums, the bassline, and some of the synth parts. Once I had those in place, I brought everything to arrangement view and started working on the basic structure to the song. Every now and then I’d stop to record some new guitar parts, sometimes keeping the results, sometimes not.

The guitar is a Taylor 814ce running direct into an Xotic EP Booster, Strymon Timeline, and TC Electronic Hall Of Fame pedals, from there into my Lynx Hilo. I don’t mind keeping mistakes when I think they add an interesting texture to the song, as you can hear in some of the string buzzes I turned into panning effects.

The mixdown used only the Ableton Live 9 effects, with just a touch of Limiter on the master channel to handle the “Mastering”.  You can download the Ableton Project File here, if you wish to take a look at how the track was written:

http://tarekith.com/assets/TemplesToTelescopes.zip

Hope you enjoy,
Tarekith

Hidden Natures

Hidden Natures

Hidden Natures <- Right click to play or download.

“Hidden Natures” is one of the first tracks I’ve written in awhile using Ableton Live almost exclusively. For whatever reason I was feeling guilty seeing my Push sitting in the studio unused lately, and when I sat down to play with it again… this song happened. That’s one of the things I like the most about Push, sometimes it surprises you how quickly you can get a song sketched out. And quite honestly it led me down a happier vibe than some of my other recent tracks too, not a bad thing either!

The Ableton Project for this song is available for download if you want to check it out, though you will need the latest version of Live 9 Suite to open it (sorry non-Suite owners). You can grab it here:

http://tarekith.com/assets/HiddenNatures.zip

For this track I really want to use something other than samples to create the main drums, and one of Live’s built in Drum Racks using a bunch of Operators as the sound sources worked great. It gave me a nice synthetic sounding kit, which I then layered with a couple percussion loops I made in Sonic Charges’ MicroTonic drum machine. These are the only thing in the track not created solely in Live 9.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.01.47 AM

(Click image for larger view)

The bassline in this song is a bit goofy I know, but for some reason it got stuck in my head and once it gets going grooves with the drums in an interesting way that I really liked. I tried a few different variations, but it always changed the vibe of the song into something that didn’t resonate with me as much, so goofy bassline it is!

The main lead is this ethnic sound I created from a Tension preset, mainly give it a bit more ambience and a floating feel so it sits over the track almost. The other main synth in this track is more of a rhodes or muted piano comp created using Collision. Gives it almost a housey vibe, and adds a bit more action in the lower mids to offset some of the higher synth pads and the main lead.

The Hollow and Smear tracks are there to provide a bit more movement in the song as a whole, to break up some of the loopy aspects of the rest of it. These were just recorded as free form jams on Push, and I liked the weird aspects they added so much I didn’t even cut out some of the flubbed notes I recorded. Adds a bit more human feel having some parts that I’m playing dynamically based on the rest of the song structure.

The rest of the track is a few pad and ambient sounds, they add texture and provide bit more of a tonal bed for the rest of the sounds to work against. I used a few Utility devices to control their stereo spread too, sometimes making them wider, and sometimes making them more mono. Keeps things from clashing, and makes the stereo imaging more interesting too.

The track was mastered in Live as well using a single band on EQ8 to bring out a touch more airiness and space in the mix, and then a simple limiter to get the overall volume up. I used a faster look ahead, set the mode to “L/R”, and I have the release manually to accent to transients on the drums a bit. For the most part though, you can see there’s very little limiting in the mastering phase.

Hope you enjoy the track, and feel free to play around in the Live 9 project file for the track as well!

Peace and beats,
Tarekith

Welcome To The New Blog!

Woo hoo, welcome to the new blog location.  Sorry if you got multiple notifications for this blog post the last day or so, still working out a couple last minute bugs with notifications.  Ummm, that’s all I have, but more soon!

(Strymon Timeline review…..)

NewPedalboard05

DDP – New Downtempo Track


DDP300

 Tarekith – DDP <- Right Click to Save or Play.

Well it feels like ages since I managed to finish up a track, though looking back that’s probably because it has been a few months since I have!   This track was something I started in Maschine Studio, using that to do all of the beats and most of the synths.

The backwards edited guitar parts were recorded through my older pedal board using the Xotic EP Booster, Boss Tera Echo, and TC Flashback x4 pedals.  I’m not sure how parts of that lick got reversed, it happened randomly when I was slicing the audio in Maschine.  One of those happy accidents I guess!

The other guitar parts were recorded with my newer pedal board using the EP Booster again, the TC Hall of Fame reverb, and my new favorite delay, the Strymon Timeline.  Beautiful delay, you can hear it doing all sorts of weird things on the intro guitar for instance.

The main synth melody was recorded using the OP-1.  It was just played in realtime, then tweaked a bit with EQ in the mixdown.

Since I sold the Maschine Studio before I was done with this track, the rest of the arranging and mixing was done in Ableton Live.  Used mainly the built in EQ to tweak things during the mixdown.  Mastering was done in Triumph using DMG Audio’s Equilibrium, Voxengo MSED, and Fabfilter Pro-L.

Now that I actually remember how to finish a song, let’s see if I can get some more of the ones I have started wrapped up and online soon!  In the meantime, hope you enjoy this one!

Tarekith

(and no, I have no idea what “DDP” means in this case, it just popped in my head while writing the track and refused to leave!)