Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

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Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:37 pm

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Acapella: Rick James - Superfreak
Acapella-elements: Bruno Mars - Uptown Funk
Instrumental: Bruno Mars Uptown Funk

I was playing around with a different project with completely different songs, and for some reason I thought this might fit. I always found the Superfreaky-part of Rick James' song catchy, so I re-structured the song to make it the "hook"-part of the chorus.

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Thanks for listening

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:01 pm

Very creative combination of the instrumental and vocal elements. Also I appreciate the EDM-style builds constructed from funk elements, e.g., at @ 1:44 ... although is there any way to pump those builds up? Maybe there is a synth bend somewhere, some horns, some background vocals, or grab the sax and bend it? (I spent 5 minutes looking for stems but didn't see them lying around, but maybe the middle of the 12 inch has something useful.)

Regardless of my above comment, it's really good.

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:32 am

Super fun, super fun, this mash is super fun! It has some really great moments and I really like the "custom chorus” you’ve made!

You’ve got a "fifths issue" with your sources, unfortunately. Uptown Funk is, for all intents and purposes, in D minor, while Superfreak is in A minor. What you get between the two is something that doesn’t exactly clash, but it doesn’t quite gel harmonically either. But again it’s such a fun idea that my analysis may get overridden by the “fun factor”, which does occasionally happen.

From a production standpoint, the Rick James vocals you’re using seem to be in Mono (non-stereo), which also takes away from the believability of this production, since you’re mixing it with a more modern-sounding instrumental. Adding a Stereo Reverb or Stereo Delay effect to the vocal is usually the easiest way to rectify this.

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:40 am

MashGyver wrote:From a production standpoint, the Rick James vocals you’re using seem to be in Mono (non-stereo)

I totally missed this the first time around!

If the acapella is originating essentially from here, then it is basically mono but with a lot of mono reverb already applied (?). So my first choice to fix this would be Stereo Delay.

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:53 pm

The idea is good but there is a 5ths issue here. The melody never locks over the chord sections for me during the chorus.

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Sat Jul 29, 2017 3:48 pm

warezio wrote: Also I appreciate the EDM-style builds constructed from funk elements, e.g., at @ 1:44 ... although is there any way to pump those builds up? Maybe there is a synth bend somewhere, some horns, some background vocals, or grab the sax and bend it?


Good suggestion - I'll see if I can find something.

You’ve got a "fifths issue" with your sources, unfortunately. Uptown Funk is, for all intents and purposes, in D minor, while Superfreak is in A minor. What you get between the two is something that doesn’t exactly clash, but it doesn’t quite gel harmonically either.

I'll use this piece of constructive feedback as an opportunity to learn something. By fifths issue, I take it you're referring to the circle of fifths. And although I know that you can mix the nextdoor 'neighbors' left/right & up/down. I also know that I can transpose tracks to make them match harmonically, but I am having a hard time with it in Ableton. To get Superfreaks Am/8A to Uptowns Dm/12A do I just turn the transpose-know 4 clicks up? Or do I use the Detune-option? Is it even possible force it? Sorry if this is noobish or too much, but having no musical background I find the lingo a bit foreign and thus hard to google.

I'll try to work something out on the reverb-thingy as well - cheers!

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:29 pm

b_romeo wrote:I'll use this piece of constructive feedback as an opportunity to learn something. By fifths issue, I take it you're referring to the circle of fifths.

I get these all the time (actually I have one right now). It arises from a combination of not having a trained ear and not really paying attention to music theory when combining songs, but rather just hearing things out. The fifth sounds ok at first, especially to the layman such as myself. However the thing about a fifth is that 1) the scales will share a lot of notes but not all of them, 2) whomever was designing the harmony is ultimately trying to resolve to the tonic so either the instrumental or the acapella is typically not happily resolving, and 3) even though the scales share a lot of notes some notes on the scale are stronger than others so the resulting melody can feel "weak".

Often transposing 5 isn't an option. Aggressive transposition of the instrumental can work if you have the multitrack for the instrumental (so you can preserve the percussion), but even then 5 might sound weird. MashGyver's advice (which I find works well) is to try and split the transposition between the acapella and the instrumental when possible, so you could try and do a +3 instrumental -2 vocal and see what happens. However, vocals sometimes resist extreme transposition, depending upon the quality of your voice shifting plugin, but also idiosyncratically depending upon the singer (e.g., Ariana Grande always sounds great, but Taylor Swift falls apart under transposition). Signal processing issues aside, the whole thing might also end up sounding weird just because the listener already has a concept of where the individual tracks should sit.

Because of all that, two alternate strategies to transposition are 1) change the phrasing (offset) of the vocals to the instrumental to arrange for better resolution of a phrase and 2) pitch shift individual notes that are "weak" melodically. In my current 5ths issue song (Sweet Ride O Mine), I did #1 by accident (trying different things and found something that just sounded good), and I'm busy deliberately doing #2 right now.

MashGyver wrote: But again it’s such a fun idea that my analysis may get overridden by the “fun factor”, which does occasionally happen.

Right, this is important as well. Untrained ears don't hear bad notes, they only feel them, the way untrained cooks sort-of notice improperly seasoned food (and eat less of it; in music, presumably, the audience listens less, i.e., less plays, downloads, etc.). Meanwhile there are lots of other variables affecting musical enjoyment besides melodic power, e.g., depending upon the emotional connection that the listener has with the components. In particular, these old/new mashups really work for me because simultaneously 1) I remember when I was young and 2) I relate to the music my kids are listening to now.

So the fifth is not necessarily fatal. However, if you want maximum consumption of your product, you should try and fix the clashy notes. As a layman, here is what I do: listen to your track very closely, and any time any note makes you feel a little bit funny (which means, somebody with a trained ear feels _really bad_), figure out what note it is (e.g., with a piano) and what the instrumental is trying to do at the same time. Then play around with small transpositions (between -2 and 2 semitones) and see if any of them fit better. If you don't like the piano, you can also just try shifting in your DAW and listening to it.

Sometimes you can let a bad note pass, if it is happening quickly in the middle of a phrase. If it is at the beginning, the end, or emphasized somehow (e.g., a long loud note), then you should probably fix it.

If you find you have to fix a bunch of notes, that's not necessarily bad if they all shift the same way (e.g., a run of 6 notes that all need to be -2, that can be just fine). If, however, you need to shift a bunch of notes in a row in slightly different ways, then you run the risk of trashing the melody (aka "overcooking"). In that case you might want to try rethinking the relative offset of the acapella and the instrumental. You might also rework the song to get rid of that particular combination of acapella and instrumental. (e.g., for "A Heathen's Dream" the acapella was much longer than the instrumental so anytime I ran into a clash I just skipped that part of the acapella. In retrospect, this is a great strategy.) You can always bring in another acapella as well.

Last thing: I only know all of the above because I have made every single mistake discussed in the previous paragraphs, and had them pointed out by the experts on this forum. Rehearsal of the activity, combined with access to expert feedback, is the fastest way for humans to learn anything. So keep producing, keep posting, and keep asking questions.

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:15 pm

Nice Ide! I hear you sped up the Bruno Mars quite a bit..
Ive tried to post this in the Chat section, but nobody seems to care :1lipsrsealed:
You are right about the keys.
to go from an Am/8A to a Dm/12A You have to transpose 4 up..
But you could also calculate the new key using tempo change :1wink:

http://mp3.deepsound.net/eng/samples_calculs.php

Good luck !

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Re: Superfreaky Town - (Rick James vs Bruno Mars)

Post Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:30 pm

b_romeo wrote:By fifths issue, I take it you're referring to the circle of fifths.
Sort of. A “fifth” is just the interval(distance) of 7 semitones (or five white keys on a piano, essentially, hence the name.) The Circle Of Fifths represents keys that start 7 semitones apart, which are related keys, but not in a way that the inner and outer wheel of the Camelot Wheel are. Warezio has touched on that--keys a fifth apart (next door neighbors on the wheel) share 6 out of 7 notes. Relative majors/minors (inner/outer wheels) share all 7.

b_romeo wrote:And although I know that you can mix the nextdoor 'neighbors' left/right & up/down.
I don’t recommend mixing left to right (fifth apart) for the reason warezio addressed: the melodies won’t often resolve to the right note. To expound a bit more: a melody will sound best if it resolves to the first, third, or fifth note of the scale or chord. If you use a melody that was written a fifth up, the melody will want to resolve to the fifth, seventh, or ninth/second note of the scale or chord of the new instrumental. If the melody was written a fifth down, it will want to resolve to the fourth, sixth, or eight/first note. So in both those cases there is a chance the melody resolves to the fifth or first note, but the odds aren’t great that it will for every phrase in any given song. So in other words, if you pick melodies a fifth apart (left or right on the Camelot Wheel) there is a chance they will work, but it is very slim. Conversely, the left/right option is great for transitioning one song to the other in DJ sets or megamixes, if you need to change keys, because moving the whole song a fifth is a very natural sounding transition.

There is still always a chance that if you mix two songs even in the same key, that they will not mesh melodically and harmonically, but those are the cases where often spot-pitching a few notes will solve the problem.

b_romeo wrote:To get Superfreaks Am/8A to Uptowns Dm/12A do I just turn the transpose-know 4 clicks up? Or do I use the Detune-option?
At minimum it’s 5 clicks: A to D is 5 semitones, and D to A is semitone. The bad news is, transposing an instrumental even a little bit can really damage it. The good new is, Ableton has pretty amazing transposition algorithms, so it may not be impossible. The key is really how the drums respond to the re-pitching.

If you do old school “slow the record down” re-pitching, aka Varispeeding, you’ll minimize the damage. But slowing things down too much can kill the feel of some songs. Slowing down the instrumental by 6% will drop it approximately a semitone, then Rick James will have to come up 4 semitones. DJ Legato’s link to the calculator above can be helpful for this kind of thing. That’s the safest option, in terms of preserving the instrumental.

Alternately, you could try dropping the instrumental 2 semitones with Ableton’s “Complex” or “Complex Pro” algorithm, whichever sounds less damaged to your ears in this particular case, and bring Rick up 3 semitones with “Complex Pro”. This is risky, but perhaps worth a shot.

The other option is to keep it where is is and try and move individual notes into key, as warezio mentioned. This is tedious, takes a good ear or theory knowledge, and generally not worth it in this cases. Finding songs in the same key or a few semitones apart to begin with is still always your best bet.

Hope all those explanations make sense. Trust me--we’ve all got plenty to learn about this stuff!

As it is it’s a great idea, you’ve done a great job with it, and I think a lot of people will enjoy it; it’s just not FrontPage material because of the key issue. I’m not terribly optimistic about your odds getting it to sound good stretched 5 semitones, unfortunately :1cry:

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