Monday, 9 September 2013

The "Double Act" - 4HF and MooArt ~ The initial splash!

With the task of producing music and the limitless possibilities at your finger tips, or the mission of producing artwork with equally limitless possibilities and a blank canvas in front of you, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with an idea. This usually leads on to creating freely with no expectations as to the final result.

So, we're teaming up, to fuel ideas and ignite inspiration from one form to another.

MickyMoo (AKA MooArt) and Shotty 4HF !! ~from a music track title to an image, or an image sparking the entire content of a track. Or even a mutually agreed track title paving the way for the concept of both!

This has already started, with previously unreleased tracks like Fizzy Lemon, Blood Supply and 'Butt Hot Greasy Slut' o_O
Now with tried and tested artwork for the album "Enter 2012" and the recently released EP from this year "Popcorn Gun", this is the way forward!

The difference is we're purposely doubling up on the creation, only rarely and with exception will one surface without the other over the next year! Ultimately, not only will the artwork accompany the download of the track from stores such as Amazon and Itunes, but high quality prints will be available too!! All of these images and the many more to come are perfect for wall hanging in any chilled out environment! Or studios! Or to add to a flyer or record sleeve collection! Album and artist info has been purposely kept to a minimum so that the artwork remains with its full effect.

All of the artwork coming from MickyMoo is the result of much time spent, some amazing ideas and far fetched inspiration! They're not to be missed! Entertaining with the level of detail and pleasing to the mind! ~ Therefore, the music linked with it has to be the same! And back again! MickyMoo also specialises in wood carving and chainsaw art! As well as craft and other contemporary media! Check out examples and works from MickyMoo by searching 'MickyMoo1' on google image! Or follow links from here:

All of the tracks coming from myself and 4HF Records spawn from a serious amount of hours, spent on not just the arrangement, but also the mix of sound, detailing of frequencies, carefully selected samples and home made bass sounds. Years spent producing on various platforms and with different tools, from the Amiga computer and "Master Sound" to midi sequencing on the Roland MC 303, and now working with a mixture of some of the latest up to date DAWS (Digital Audio Workstations) on high spec PCs and audio interfaces. Music productions are currently largely thanks to manufacturers from the likes of RME, KRK, M-Audio, Studio Projects, Behringer, Camel Audio, Native Instruments, Nomad, STILL!! Roland, and so many more!! 

There's way too much possibility with the future of electronic music, and this is where the 'Double Act' will come in handy - Doubling up on the ideas with twice the inspiration.
So get on it! Support the venture and keep a look out!

Other tracks will still be released from 4HF Records and collaboration with other artists is still ongoing, as too are other works of art from MickyMoo and MooArt.

The first of this series to be Released from the Shotty 4HF and MooArt joint effort is "FISH REPORT" - This is out now!!
Easily searchable! Artist name and track title will bring up print sales on EBay. 
Or try these links:

Artwork can be printed on anything, from A4 and A3 laminated to canvas! - T-Shirts and other items can be ordered on demand. 
Any printing or special orders can be arranged personally by emailing

Much more to follow!
Nice 1

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Studio tip - 09-13 (Transients)

Meaning ~ The passing of something that doesn't last for a very long time.
I will be straight up in saying that this is something I have been messing around with for years and gone to great efforts to engineer; Yet it's only recently over the last year or more that I have learnt exactly what it is, what effect it has and how to achieve results. It was one of the many situations over the years of producing when I knew what sounded right, but didn't understand exactly what it was.
As in all these tips, I can't claim that this is the correct, or even the best way of doing things, I am only sharing what I know has worked for me!If anyone has any comments or additions to what I'm saying, email them to me 4HF@GMX.COM.

Transients are present across any production. A kick drum can have a spike of sound at the start and a tail of low sub frequencies, the spike at the start of the sound which hits into the 1khz, is a transient. 
Transients can be over engineered to enhance, create effect or assist in the volume of certain parts of a mix.
Example - A sub bass line in some Liquid DnB, should land with a thud, even if the note is long, the tune should drop with a bang, so it makes the speakers work, and so it sounds big, rather than just a tone of smooth air coming from the sub with a reasonably short attack. 
Ways I've done this in the past:
Layer a kick at the start of each sub note, filtered up to 150hz - 300hz, see what sounds nice (depends on the key of the track), if you're using midi, link to VSTIs together so they're both triggered by the same midi notes, have one as  your sub and the other as a Kick. Better still, pitch shift your kick across the octave, so that it follows the same pitch as your sub bass line. In some DAW sample editors you can bring up info on a sample detailing frequency, pitch etc. Which is handy for matching the key of the kick to the bass line. 
Construction kits aren't good for much, but collect them in your sample library anyway! Some "good" construction kit sample packs may have a kick in a folder with bass lines listed by the key, for example, if a kick drum is in a construction kit folder with a load of bass lines in the key of G, it's a good indicator that the kick will work with your bass line if it is in the same key. 
Another way of creating a transient to the bass line, if your making the bass line yourself (through a VSTI such as massive), is to automate the pitch of each oscillator up quite high, 48 semitones,  4 octaves, but automate it with either an LFO, or an envelope, so that it glides down from 48 to -24 but in 10ths of a second. This creates a pop or thud (if set right) at the beginning of a what could be a long bass/sub note.
- It doesn't have to be a kick at the start of a bass note, any crunch, hit or stab could do the same. 

Transients in snares. Firstly use envelope VSTs, turn up the attack and compress it to the same volume. Envelope first, compressor after it in the chain.

Make a snare your self, but think about how a snare drum works, a stick hits it hard, makes a bang, the drum skin vibrates, and the snares rattle, one after the other in the space of a couple of seconds. 
Get a high pitched tap sound, or crack sound. Then get a long sound, or a deep snare, but envelope it yourself so it has a long attack and next to no sound at the beginning, then another longer sound with a longer attack, so you create TAP/TONE/TAIL in the space of 2 seconds. - Working with sounds this way puts you in complete control of the transients. Turn up the TAP sound in the snare which will give it more presence and a better transient without the mid depths of the snare being any louder (which leads on to more overall volume of the mix).

Overall, work with dynamics, envelopes, compressors etc, and don't overlook or ignore the attack rate. 
Make a dirty filthy bass sound, but smash the first second of the sound with something short, and on a higher frequency and give any long dirty filtered sound more impact. 

Transients, the monitoring of and desired placement, does proceed into the realms of mastering, recording to digital, recording to analogue, exporting, converting, monitor speakers. Some speakers / cheap monitors will lose or lessen transients, some plug-ins used to normalise a track or whole compilation when (when burning a CD) can lessen transients. Exporting a track to an MP3 can also have an undesired effect on transients in a track due to the algorithms of the software being used. Recording stupidly aggressive transients into a piece of analogue outboard gear can have some decent effects pleasing to the ear, where as recording the same transients into digital will have a different effect and result in nothing more than some horrible digital clipping. 
In other words, if you notice that you're losing punch, or umph, in any track that your making / recording, try changing the way you do things, it may not be down to what you've put together or the sounds and effects you're using
Try chaining software together, example - Reason to Logic.. So you're first mixer has a low out put, while you're output mixer has a louder compressed output and used for the recording or exporting of the mix. 

Hope the above might help anyone.
Producing all the time... At the same time learning all the time, and dare say that I haven't finished learning about this. 

I think I'm fair to say, if you're still in your early days of producing - Don't worry too much about it, and just do what sounds right. You will probably end up creating 'sick' transients through any of the various methods without knowing which one it was. And there's nothing wrong with that. 

Analogy - A baby can push a triangle through a triangle shaped hole, and then keep doing it because they know that it fits  and that it's the right thing to do! But it's only through the years do they learn that, it has 3 sides, all sides are equal, the angle of all three corners add up to 180 degrees etc. 

Shotty 4HF



Monday, 12 August 2013

- Studio Tip 08-13 (Vocals)

I've tried and tested so many techniques to get vocals sounding nice over the last 10+ years. I will share what has worked for me including the stages that I've gone through.
Start from the top:
Concentrate on the voice. Speak clear, project it loud and get the microphone moving, be conscious of your P's, Shh's, S's and deep breaths! Even to the point of writing lyrics, if you can replace a word that means the same but has less S's and Shh's, it helps. !
e.g - Shying away in the sunshine - replace with "Hiding away in the night time" - etc.
Secondly - Decent mic will help - With or without Phantom Power. 
Pre amp - The better you have the better the sound.

Regardless of the apparatus - There's enough that can be done in the mix down. 

- Be clear - I'm sharing my discoveries here - I'm not declaring any right or wrong in producing music - Only what I've found - When producing music, I'm not sure there is any right or wrong? If you get the sound you want, and a sound that other people enjoy, then you were successful in your creation and artistic expression, however you made your way there - 

Duplicating your vocal track (up to 4 to 8 times in some cases)! Is always a good way to bring the vocal to the top of the tune! I got good results from doing this for years! Learnt the hard way some of the following:
If you're duplicating the same audio file, bounce it first and have different versions! Don't copy and paste the same reference to different tracks!
If you have 4 of the same audio file playing in your mix, you should have 4 wavs in your audio pool, don't try to load the same wav into your ram for playback 8 times. Replicate the authentic method of tape or vinyl, even with a DAW!! and you will hear the difference, it has an effect on phasing, and processing the sound in that way is conducive to the overall sound of the mix.
- Currently from 2012 into 2013 I try to have as few audio tracks as possible - 

IF! - you do have duplicate audio tracks for your vocal, make sure you have the same VSTs on each audio track!!! Exactly identical... No matter what system or hardware there is always a lag with VSTs, even if 00.0012 seconds! Start multiplying that over 4 VSTs x 8 etc and you will have phasing issues. Loss of depth, clarity etc. 
So if track 14 has a Compressor, De-esser, Filter, EQ etc,, and you have an identical vocal sample on track 15,16,17 etc.. Track 15, 16 and 17 should have an identical vst set up of compressor, de-esser, filter, EQ etc
Believe me this helps. 

Ultimately, get one excellent sounding vocal sample, whether you record it yourself or not, and send it to a bus or group track.. (I sometimes find with different DAWs it's best to turn off the output of the vocal track and have only the sends to 'X' amount of busses/groups routed to the output)
send it to as many busses as need be (as few as possible until the vocals are proud) but make sure you have the same VST configuration on each bus/group, sometimes variations can work, but just as easily be frustrating to get a nice mix. Use stereo width! Use a compressor! If you have trouble gating, take the time to do it manually in a sample editor! Zoom in! Silence the breaths with a soft fade in and soft fade out. If there's not much work that needs doing, use the built in effects and plug-ins in your DAW (Logic / Cubase etc) because there's usually less lag / time delay than a separate program. 
If there is a lot of work to do - Huge S's that sound like EEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSS and pierce through the skin of your ear drum when your quite calmly unaware. When you only meant to say something like, princess, sensi, selecta, 
or "get set" quite quickly but your recording reveals how many Redstripe you've had - Use a de-esser!! There are some good ones about. I will mention more in the post labelled VST and VSTI recommendations soon to follow.
If you're making a dance tune with vocals that needs to be turned up loud? Compress or limit the vocals as much as possible so that they brickwall the same as the rest of the tune. Then you can find a level that they can comfortably sit at. 
If you're making a soft tune, love song and want your vocals to be heard more than anything else - Try pushing your instruments through a bus, add a compressor and side chain it to your vocal track(s)? When the vocals come in the instruments will get quieter automatically - I have used this a lot and it works. 
If you're making a tune with Piano - Strings - Vocals - Guitar etc... Be aware that most of those sit on the same frequency band as each other.
If you can't get your vocals and piano to be friendly to each other ! Firstly - Panning! Put your piano in the right speaker and your vocals in the left! - To be precise, about 25% each way - (Put your vocals in the left, mono systems, or even bass systems use the left as the primary channel to input from if it isn't stereo),
Work on the filters - If your piano sits across 300hz to 1000hz and your vocal sits across 300hz to 1000hz and you want them both to be heard. Filter one up at 500hz and down at 800hz and the other up at 800hz and down at 500hz with a tight bend, give them both room to move the speakers on their own. 
If you want to spend even more time, work out the harmonic relationship between frequencies and the key of your track as I mentioned in the 'Snare' post section. Turn up the frequencies in relation and in tune to your key in the vocals, and turn down the apposing in your piano(or other instrument).
There's so much can be done to get the sound YOU want. And there's no escaping it, the start of the chain (voice and mic) is just as important as the end of the chain. 
Try combinations of the above.
Finished - For now - More tip chapters to follow. 
Giving out some secrets? They're not secrets. I just may not know of anyone else that knows until I tell someone that doesn't know. And when I do know that someone else knows I know that it was never a secret.
Besides - With even the same knowledge and replication of the same equipment I would never write the same song as you.
Hope it helps someone out - As a good man once asked me "Well, if we're not here to help each other out, then what are we here for?"

Shotty 4HF

HAve not checked the spelling/punctuation/parenthesis/  or looked over the above at thsii point yet I'm about to press "Post" !!!!  - This has taken me long enOUFFF! If I scroll back up to the top I will be here beyond limits pondering and possibly correcting/changing/adding etc. Nooooo! Off to look south towards the meteor shower.


Monday, 5 August 2013

Snares: Punch?

Snares: Where to start... Where did I start? 
Layering 7+ samples, of snares, taps, claps and white noise in an effort to get them to cut through the rest of the tune... This was back in 2009, and all of which was a good call.
Panning - Left & right will get some desired effects.
What did I change?
Adding sounds that you may not think would be worthy of a snare.
Layer a kick, or an open hi hat, or even vocal stab, until the one sound all at the same time covers a wider frequency range... That has worked for me in the past. 
Ultimately now, more importantly than anything - The first and main snare must have a punch of it's own, and be a nice full realistic snare with some umph.
It can still be layered with other sounds, but it will remain the loudest pivot point of all the other sounds creating the snare drum, and will also be the track that triggers any sidechains (To be discussed in later posts) 
Next: The average snare frequency is around 200hz... 
Layer a kick with the snare but find one that is tight and short with not much sub in it.
Filter the kick with a high pass up to at least 150hz so that it won't interrupt any sub bass. 
Layer an open hi hat - But use a high pass and filter it up to over 1khz
Any other sound layered for the snare after this is entirely the choice of the creator.
Next: Envelopes
Shorten the release of any sound being used for the snare as much as possible, with any envelope vst available. for the O HH extend the attack so that all you get is the tail of the sound after the initial snare sample has been triggered. 
Next: Create a dedicated bus
Create a bus channel, and send all related snare samples to it. (Don't put any VSTs on the bus to avoid phasing)
Next: EQing the snare for the mix down. - 
A snare should be around 200hz. But to fine tune it with your mix. Work out the harmonic relationship between frequencies and the key of your track to 3 decimal places. 
For example - If a track is in the key of "F"
F over 4 octaves resides on the following frequencies. 
85.333hz 170.666hz 341.333hz 682.666hz

So, to boost your snare frequency in harmony with the rest of the track, if the track is in the key of F, set your EQ to 170.6 with a tight band width and increase it until it is as loud as the rest of the tune. It will sound nice and sit well with the volume of everything else. 

More to follow:
Any questions or comments follow the links

Studio tips from now on

Not a lot of people have blogs these days to my knowledge. So, over the next few months I'm going to try and make some use of this page. Not just for myself, but for others. "Studio tips" Stuff that I've picked up over the years. I'm often eager to share! Recently learnt secrets and techniques? I will still be keeping to myself for the time being! ;-) But a lot of the frustrating aspects of producing that I have over come I will divulge in following posts. For example: Snares Vocals Loudness Side chaining Transients Saturation Umph Exciting bass sounds VST Instruments VSTs (That help) Buying software Remixes Exporting Outboard etc etc... Check back... I aim to cover as much as possible. And from time to time will post a free tune or two. Ultimate regards, Shotty 4HF

:.::.::. Comments .::.::.:

:: Credits ::

• Thanks at this time go to • BBC RADIO 1 & 1 MUSIC • • CJ & Kalaish • United Mindz Records • Everyone involved with The Dragonfly Festival • LM Productions • Far Heath Recording Studios • Tunecore • SJS Computer Solutions • Everyone involved with • R.T.V Promotions • Evolution Mkt. Harborough • Print Co. • MickyMoo Art • 'The Sample Bearers' • Co Artists • All ears over the years • Last but most family and everyone else. Respect!