[WIP] Black Node - Embers [Stripped back Jazz Fusion, Electronic][Thoughtful Noise]

WIP - Black Node - Embers* [Jazz Fusion, Electronic]

https://soundcloud.com/thoughtfulnoise/black-node-embers/s-pFL393BkBbc

(* Placeholder title)

 
Aiming for the sound of musicians vibing with little sprinkles of detailing over a rolling groove; stripped back, light touches, sprinkles.

Mix is still quite dirty.

Still pondering turning the mild LPF-choked breakdown midway into a proper ambient jazz breakdown, but with some sprinkling of very modular-style electronic bleeps n bloops, stripping out rhythm. Also wondering whether to have a touch of a bass solo in there — and turning it into a 10-minute affair.

I’d also like to make the ‘loop’ 5 or 6 bars, to break out of the 4/8/16 bar framework, and make it a bit more irregular.

 
I’m finding that getting the drums sorted first really helps the Black Node stuff, as I’m aiming to sound as non-sequenced as possible — with the ultimate aim of having Black Node stuff played and recorded by a live band/session players, etc…

I think this is the closest I’ve come so far to capturing that vibe.

 
Anyhoo, take a listen, let me know what you think…

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It’s sick man. It really is.
Makes me think about finding other hobbies lol

Hah. Thanks, @YeahMarcYeah A great compliment. :laughing:

It’s still evolving subtly, but I’m hoping to get it out later this week.
Otherwise, I’m still sprinkling detailing in.

I probably won’t be pushing for the 5-6 bar loop thing, but I’ve not ruled out a bass solo yet.

 
In terms of producing subtler, more rolling vibe-based tracks, I think I might be entering a spell where I try a few of these, as opposed to the more structured tracks I’ve been creating — even under the Black Node guise. It’s capturing something I’ve been wanting to do/try, but which I keep over-producing past.

I’ve got quite an extensive back catalogue of suitable sketches that I can pull on and develop further in this mode.
I’m curious to see where this ‘phase’ tales me musically. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Interesting.

I’m really curious how you do that “rolling” type effect in Auxy.

Can you send me this project? Or another one that does something similar?

I’m always trying to learn and improve.

Thanks

When I say rolling, I just mean that it’s a fairly steady groove/vibe underneath — drums, (minimal) bassline and those synth strings.

I sprinkle details and riffs over the top using mostly Vintage Keys and some more synth sounds. All a lighter touch.

There’s a bit more layering to it than that, but that’s the backbone of the piece.

 
If you’re referring to something specific, let me know. I might be able to help.

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I’m referring to the “jazzy” type beat/drums - and how the instrumentation almost dances around it. Sort of off the beat. Like floating. It all just seems very counterintuitive to me.

And also, is it just you that makes the tracks?

The drums are a real drum playing sample, cut up and reworked to create more variance.
I went for something that had the subtleties of real playing, avoiding anything that sounded too sequenced.

Starting from there really helped set a more organic feel that influenced how the track developed.

For the other parts, I tried to keep it like I was sprinkling notes over the top, not sticking to the rhythm too much, using syncopation and the ‘off-beat’ as well as simply ‘off the beat’, but then having shorter bursts on the rhythm to keep it slightly anchored.

‘Sprinkling’ really is the word that I keep coming back to on this one.

Because the notes are more sparsely used, it can actually help by keeping things very loose and organic. From there, it’s mostly about keeping it organic, and avoiding repeating exact phrases.

This will generally work better with slightly faster tempos, especially on the drums — 130+ (the track is 133 bpm, but the looseness would work right up to 170 territory) — otherwise the structure could feel too ragged, rather than loose as a creative/stylistic decision.

For arpeggiated chords, free mode is the way to go, to create a more human feel. Drums too, just to shift things off the beat just a touch. Again, humanising.
(I could have gone much further with humanising, but I think I’m happy with where it is. And, tbh, I’ve reached a point in development where fiddling with it more risks me doing more harm than good. I’m trying to learn to stop earlier than I normally would, trusting myself more and letting it be perfectly imperfect.)

I’ve been increasingly playing with rich, lavish, but semi-discordant sax chords in tracks from the past few months, potentially baking into the Black Node sound. Used in certain ways, (even) the Auxy sax samples can sound pretty good (imo). It worked well over the top here, mostly again because the general vibe is quite sparse, leaving lots of space for more in-your-face touches like that.

 
I’ve enjoyed making this one, especially because it feels closer to something a small, tight jazz/electronic band would write/play — which is ultimately what I’m aiming for.

(Forming the band in my head — drums, bass, keys/synth, sax. :wink:

I’ll be putting final tweaks to it today, then possibly pushing it out today/tomorrow.
It hasn’t changed hugely, just finished it out.

(Although I might bump it to Ableton and swap out the Vintage Keys for a more nuanced VST.)

Just need to fight the temptation to add, add, add. :wink:

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Wow, thanks!

Do you know any theory?

If so, do you have any idea what type of chords you use? Like the rich, semi-dissonant sax chords you mentioned?

I don’t really know any theory, in reality. Bare basics, at best. Though I never use it when writing. It’s all by ear.

I know I enjoy (what I more recently learned were called) ‘open’ and ‘extended’ chords and discovering ‘13ths’ helped me turn a corner — and opened up my thinking — even though I maybe(:man_shrugging:) don’t knowingly use them.

Basically, stepping outside (beyond) simple triads, augmenting with 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, … as well as different ‘voicings’.*

Conversely, I came to realise that it’s actually ok — and can be interesting — to have a chord that includes two notes right next to each other; to be ok playing with that slight dissonance and ambiguity of where a chord’s harmonic centre is. (If I’m using somewhat musically illiterate terms, it’s bc I am musically illiterate.)

After that, it’s just about playing around. I don’t create chords with much knowledge or intention — I just go with what sounds right and interesting to me.

* I follow a few jazz, NeoSoul and R&B keys channels, but more for inspiration than for learning.

 
One key thing for me (pun intended) — and this has always been how I work in Auxy — I stay in chromatic scale. I never use the set scale options.
This keeps all options open; important for experimentation and being open to happy accidents that can lead tracks in unexpected and interesting new directions, outside your usual comfort zone — including moving between major and minor.

 
All that said, I’ve got no idea what key each of my tracks are — at least, not while I’m creating them. I sometimes try to figure it out afterwards, but only really for tagging purposes.

I’ve certainly never started by deciding on a key or a scale. My process is still very organic and loose — although I’d probably improve my music with more knowledge.