Friday, December 2, 2011

Tech-Trance Track: Shifting Bells

I tweeted this when I first created it, on September 1st of this year, but I want to blog a few notes about it. A book by Mark Butler prompted me to put together an experiment in shifting grooves back and forth across the beat. The rest of the track formed around that experiment.

To explain, Butler's book (among others) explains how the juxtaposition of groove and meter forms a major element in techno. (In the precise sense of the term.) Say you have the same rhythm, which mechanically repeats a hundred times, but in some repetitions lands ahead of the beat, in some repetitions lands behind the beat, and in very few repetitions actually lands on the beat. Some techno works by taking repetitive elements like that, stacking them in layers, and then moving them back and forth across the beat at various speeds, so that although every groove repeats with inhuman mechanical precision, the aggregate groove composed of all the stacked layers never repeats itself exactly and the variations therein give the machine sounds an ultimately human feel.

Butler is a professor of music theory and his book's pretty deep. In this track, I actually only use that approach for one part, because I after I got started, I kind of got distracted and made something else out of it. I didn't achieve the textured forest of metric juxtapositions Butler describes in his book, but I like the way it sounds anyway. If you listen to the bells, they shift throughout the track both in terms of their texture and in terms of their timing.