Next year at Burning Man I want to create a clinic outlining the basics of making dance music. I want to show how easy and simple electronic music in an attempt to debunk the whole “DJ is cool” myth.
I’ll give a plain-english overview of the tools available to DJ’s and producers, and then put together a simple jam session with a bunch of midi controllers so everyone can join in a jam and see how easy it is. 30-second discussion bullets:
1) Sequencer – Puts tracks in a mixer and plays them in time.
2) Sythesizer – Like a guitar in a mixer.
3) Simple “Rythm Is A Dancer” chord.
4) Arpeggiator – Automatically plays notes from Simple “R.I.A.D.” chord to sound like trance.
5) LP Filter – That familiar effect.
6) HP filter – That other familiar effect.
7) Delay – That other other familiar effect.
8) Jam session – Everyone gets an effect knob on one of the above effect demo tracks, I control mixer on overhead projector, people “totally get it now”.
Hopefully next time they listen to that “sick drum beat” they’ll realize that playing it is as simple as the last time they tapped their index finger to Sweet Home Alabama.
On a related theme, I was working on a shell script called BashTheDJ that aimed to replace a DJ with a set of MP3s, some metadata about the songs (BPM, cue points etc) and some common constructs for mixing them together using sox without significant human intervention.
I only got as far as the prototype stage before I was distracted by other projects, but it was a promising start. Knowing more python than I did back then, and having access to APIs such as Echo Nest’s Remix, I think it might be even easier than before if I were to revisit the project.
Check out Ableton Live. It records all of your midi activity so you can do this super fast and easy.