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  • Writer's pictureHarriet

Harriet Ford Music MD4352 Making Tracks: Final Task

This is a reflection of the final task for MD4352 - Making Tracks.

When this task was set, I envisioned the idea of making something different, that would challenge me. I had the prediction that other students would try to stick to a genre and sounds that they feel comfortable working with, so I used this to challenge myself. With this, I set out to try and find a way to make a unique sound. Ideally, the concept of "unique" is difficult to source when everyone is using the same standard plugins from Ableton Live 10, so, while walking around on a break from a University class one day, I found a solution:

£10 Plastic Ukulele from TIGER

The song features a £10 plastic Ukulele from TIGER in Cheltenham Town Centre. It was recorded on a £40 USB microphone. This was a subtle lesson to me that the way a sound can feel "unique" can come from the context it originates from. I combined this with the approach of composition I had decided on to create the fundamentals of the track.

Key Production Technique 1: The Ukulele

As detailed above, the basic concept of the Ukulele's purpose was to invoke a sense of distinctiveness. I was inspired by the album Re:member by Ólafur Arnalds for the Ukulele's usage, which is plucked riffs playing at once to create a singular texture. I used different tracks on top of each other in a track group, then mixed and manipulated the samples and channels to create the texture.

I used 4 layers with different volume and panning settings on each. There is a dump track (a muted track) placed for easier management of samples on the timeline.
The Ukulele Track Group

The group track utilizes a filter that affects all the tracks at certain points during the song, to invoke a different sound.

Key Production Technique 1: The Womp Synth

The "Womp Synth" is a wavetable synthesizer with heavy LFO settings to the instruments amp, creating a wobbling synth. Combined with heavy low and mid frequencies, I called it the Womp Synth because of the punch it has in the song.

Wavetable Settings for the Womp Synth
More settings from the Womp Synth: a macro was used to manipulate different values on the oscillators

The instrument rack macro increases the volume of the second oscillator and the shape of the first oscillator's waveform to change the overall texture of the synth.

The final product was a piece of work that feels like its purpose is to just exist. The song wasn't made with a particular context or narrative to deliver or explore on, and it's because of this that it's not concrete as to what kind of audience this song could appeal to. The genre of the track is experimental, or alternative. On its own, however, the piece still stands, so it works. I think that if I had taken a more defined approach, such as with the sequencer module task, this song would have more of an understandable identity, but this leaves the problem of trying to make out the unique voice that I wanted to deliver. I think an approach like that could've worked too. I also would tweak a few things, such as the pan range of the ukulele to be more dynamic, so it shifts between left and right throughout the song: this would've made the song more expressive and the ukulele elements stand out more.


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