Ep. 102: Introducing Arches Audio + Breaking Down A Hip Hop Track

Hey guys, it’s been a while. I hope all of you out there listening have been doing okay with the whole pandemic and political situation. It’s been tough for myself and lot of people but I also recognize things could be lot a worse and I’m incredibly grateful for the people I have in my life. So thank you, you know who you are.

As far as regular episodes, I actually have a new guest collaboration episode I’ll be releasing really soon, like in the next week or two. But I wanted to take a few minutes and talk about a new business I’m launching that has taken up most of my time lately.

It’s called Arches Audio. It’s something my friend Matt Weidauer and I dreamed up and basically, we provide music and audio services for creative projects like podcast, audiobooks, youtube video, ads, tv and film. One of the unique things about us is that the music from our library is 100% for podcasts, we only require attribution in the credits. But if you want to hire us to create a custom theme song, that’s something we can do too.

We also created something called a Podcast Launch Package, which includes the basic equipment you need, like a USB mic and headphones, along with an eBook course which walks you through the technical side and some tips and advice for starting a podcast, and it also includes us designing your cover artwork and producing a intro and outro with music and a voiceover. That packages starts at $499. If you’ve already got a podcast going, we can also edit and mix your episodes for you, starting a $99 an episode. We also provide the same kinds of services for authors who want to record an audiobook. If you want to learn more about that, visit our new website, archesaudio.com.

Having said all that, I thought it would be fun to break down one of the songs I just made specifically for the new business. It’s an instrumental hop hop track called “Simple Math,” which was influenced by the group, Gorillaz.

So, let’s break it down. The structure is actually really simple. There are pretty much three parts:

  1. the beat
  2. the rhythm chords
  3. the bass line

First, the beat. There are two layers. The first layer I programmed from a plugin that comes with Pro Tools called Boom. It’s a pretty basic, swung hip hop beat with the drum kit set to nine-0, which is supposed to imitate that sound of the roland 909, which is a pretty famous drum machine used a lot in rap during the 80s and 90s, and even still today.

I also recently bought some loops played on real drums from a website called circlesdrumsamples.com. I found a pretty similar beat played at the same tempo called Swagger Dog, which was part of the Dead collection.

So, then I layered the two together so that it starts with the drum machine but then I add the real drums to give it some extra punch.

So the second component of the song is the rhythm chords. These are real simple quarter note chords, which is fairly common in hip hop, like on Jay-Z’s song, “Hard Knock Life.” I recorded my part using midi with two different sounds layered. The first sound is the Rhodes piano.

Next is the exact same chords with the sound set to clavicle with a phaser on it. It almost kind of sounds it’s someone talking.

So, now, for the third part of the song, the bass line. There’s 4 different layered sounds that make up the bass line. The first layer that starts the song kind of growly, sawtoothed analog kind of sound, which plays that note with two octaves. The notes kind of bend and glide from note to note and there’s also a little bit a weird, washy sound to it, which I like. Here it is isolated by itself.

So, after the song kicks in part way through, there are three more layers added to the bassline. First, is this funky, warbley sound called plastic toy, which is played an octave higher.

Also played an octave higher is a bright, fuzzy synth sound with a phaser. It kind of adds an interesting texture to the mix.

Last is plain bass sound called subsonic to fill in the lows a little bit.

So, those are all the parts of the song. I thought about adding more to it, but I read this article in pitchfork, which talk about podcast music and how the goal is to create a bed for the talking, and that you don’t want to distract from that very much. Basically less is more. So, I decided for that purpose that the song is done.

I want to mention that for Arches Audio, while all the music is free for podcasts, it usually costs money for video and other uses. But we’re offering  this as the Free Song of the Week for all uses if you download it by July 12 using the promo code “songoftheweek” at checkout. I’ll like to this song in the notes. We’re going to keep this promotion going with a new song each week so sign up on our website or follow us on social media to get notified of the new songs.

Listen to “Simple Math” at Arches Audio.

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