One of the more popular demonstrations at the show was Eric's at the Spectrasonics booth. He showed a bunch of very cool tricks for Atmosphere and Trilogy. But first, a little history:
Back in the olden days, a common trick was to take a rock guitar track (usually long chords) and run it through a gate that was triggered by a sidechain fed by a synth playing some percussive rhythm.
For example, get a really straight, boring, hard attack synth sound. The tone doesn't matter, because we won't HEAR the synth, it's only purpose is to trigger the gate which will be effecting the guitar. Have the sequencer play straight 16th notes.
Route this synth into the "sidechain" input of the gate. So the guitar's gate opens when the SYNTH plays, rather than the normal gate method of opening when the GUITAR plays. We don't hear the synth, only the guitar. Play the guitar, and the sound is a stuttered guitar, just like a whole bunch of New Wave power pop tunes from the 80's.
1. Fast forward to Eric Persing at NAMM 2006. Replace the synth with Stylus RMX loops and replace the guitar with beds from Atmosphere. The RMX loop is bussed into the sidechain input of a gate, which is an insert effect on the Atmosphere track. So we hear stuttery sweeping synths.
Do a few of these all at once (several different beats feeding several different sweeping pads) and things get very interesting. Eric used "Frozen Rings," "Hypnotic," "Octavio" and I don't remember what else on Atmoshpere. I don't remember the RMX patches, but of course, this is all just springbaord material, so it doesn't matter because experimentation is key. It sounded really cool and I now kick myself for not using a trick I used to use all the time when I was a mere young whippersnapper!
2. A related trick Eric showed was using RMX sidechained into Ringshifter (a Logic plugin, but any ring modulator or other "weird" plugin would work). On Atmosphere, Eric had "Octavio" with Ringshifter (sidechained by RMX) as well as EVOC 20 (a synth style filter) patched in as inserts. This sounded very cool and unique! It's a way to make complex rhythmic synth sounds, but different from #1. Again, several of us dinosaurs watching started kicking ourselves.
There were some other nice tricks as well. My favorites were:
3. Eric pulled up "Pink Noise" on Atmosphere, then ran it through Guitar Amp (a Logic plug that sounds like a . . . uhhh . . . well . . . guitar amp!) and "Scanner Vibrato," which is a Leslie simulator plug in. The resulting sound was like one of those weird reverse guitar film soundtrack cues. Very nice and it will save me the trouble of recording guitars, reversing them and doing a lot of editing because the timing wasn't working right. With Eric's way, I can play in realtime!
4. Atmosphere "Bowed Vector" through an insert "Super Trigger" which is a free plug-in from something like smartelectronics.com But that ain't it because the website isn't valid. Anyone know this one? I can't remember what the result was, but I put a star by it, so it must have been cool.
5. There's an electric piano patch in Trilogy. It's Jaco Fretless True Harmonics EP. Sounds nice.
6. Take an acoustic bass guitar patch (Eric used Ac Bass Gtr Full Range) and pitch it up by two octaves. Note this is different than just playing two octaves higher. What Eric did was actually having all the individual samples tweaked up by two octaves. This made a really nice destinctive acoustic guitar patch. I wonder how it would work on upright bass. Even if it doesn't sound like an acoustic, it could be a useful "new" sound.
In fact, that's what I really learned from Eric's demonstration. I get so used to using presets as is that I realize I've stopped experimenting. For that, I'm glad I caught the demo (twice!) and it's why I thought it worth sharing here.
- Mike Greene