Ethan Hein

Music, technology, evolution, pop ephemera.

Posts tagged funk

Sep 28

I assigned two of my advanced audio production students to create a track using the Bob James “Take Me To The Mardi Gras” break. They could use no other sounds, but they could do whatever editing and processing they saw fit. I felt it was only fair to do the assignment myself. So here we go, one sample, one hour, one completed track.

Jul 4

For this Junto project we were tasked with making a piece of music that began with a recording of a boiling tea kettle. As always, I’m too lazy to make my own field recordings, so I have turned once again to, specifically to this whistle posted by Jason Elrod:

This tea kettle recording is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s already been the basis of another Junto track of mine, which in turn became the backing track for Tabla Breakbeat Science:

In the present track, every sound you hear aside from the James Brown samples is a manipulation of that same tea kettle whistle. You’re hearing segments of the sample extracted from its spectrogram using iZotope Iris, played back on the keyboard, and looped and processed further in Ableton. We were supposed to keep our tracks under two minutes, but once I got going with this, I didn’t want to stop.

More on this 131st Disquiet Junto project — “Create a composition that naturally extends from the whistle of a tea kettle.” — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Photo associated with this track by Shardayyy via Creative Commons license:

Jun 26

Blues tonality

If you study music formally, your learning is likely to center around common-practice era western tonal theory. In this context, the basis of all harmony is the major scale and its associated chords, which you modify in various ways to make all the other scales and chords. For example, in C major, you modify the “natural” seventh, B, to get the “flat” seventh, B flat.

If you come into music…

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May 12

What is groove?

You hear musicians talk all the time about groove. You might wonder what they mean by that. A lot of musicians couldn’t explain exactly, beyond “the thing that makes music sound good.” The etymology of the term comes from vinyl records. Musicians ride the groove the way a phonograph needle physically rides the groove in the vinyl.

The original groove

But what is groove, exactly? It isn’t just a matter of everyone…

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Mar 30

Vocals, in order of appearance, by Rebecca Feynberg, Rachel Wardell and Shashank Aswath; tabla by Shashank; beats and production by me. Sample comes from “Let A Woman Be A Woman, Let A Man Be A Man” by Dyke and the Blazers. I want to give a special shoutout to Ableton Live’s amazing Beat Repeat plugin, which really deserves co-composer credit on this track.

Mar 16

Tabla Breakbeat Science

My new studio band has an album in the works. Hear tracks as they develop.

We made our DJ debut over the weekend at the Rubin Museum, where our brand-new track “Rock Steady” was dropped by DJ Ripley.


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Mar 4

Beats, textures, production and baritone guitar by me; tabla and finger cymbals by Shashank Aswath; button accordion by Rachel Wardell; mandolin by Chris Jacoby; Animoog by Roger Bender. The backing track began life as a Disquiet Junto project:

Nov 13
Analyzing the musical structure of “Sledgehammer” by Peter GabrielWe’re asking participants in Play With Your Musicto create musical structure graphs of their…View Post

Analyzing the musical structure of “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel

We’re asking participants in Play With Your Musicto create musical structure graphs of their…

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Sep 21

This track takes a different approach from the rest of the Tabla Breakbeat Studies project. Rather than playing over a beat, Shashank played normal classical tabla over a raga from his drone box. I went in afterwards and added the break (“God Made Me Funky” by the Head Hunters) along with the synths and effects. This is also less edited than the other tracks we’ve done; aside from the obvious moments of digital fakery, you’re hearing it more or less as Shashank actually played it.

Aug 22

Taking advantage of a long train ride to see if I can bang out a track using nothing but Garageband on my iPhone. You be the judge.

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