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How to Create a Good Jungle Loop [Part B]

By: Pedro (Submitted to the AKAI Mailing List)

Starting from my post on jungle programming (Refer Part A), here are some 
more things I like to do:

(1) Sample the whole thing  
If you remember, I had the loop sliced to its constituent individual 
sounds, and the whole thing spread across several tracks (separating 
kicks, snares and "shakes" for the sake of editing ease). 

So that starts to be a lot of midi info going on, if you want the rest of
the song's sounds on top. Lets sample the new rearranged loop and maybe 
slice it again just before the snares or similar to allow some minor editing 
later, but without all that midi

(2) Pure shake 
My goal is not to sound jungle. But I love breaks, and altho I rather stay 
off the usual jungle sounds, I want that breaky feeling underlying in my songs. 
So I  make shake-only loops. 

I can do this by replacing the kick and snare sounds with other softsounds, 
either from the original break or from sound-modules, or simply by erasing 
the harsh sounds and leaving the rest, but sometimes HPFiltering the loop 
is enough (dont start with a muffled one for this one, something more like 
andyc), or even just plain high-pitching/speeding up. So for a song I might 
use three of these loops rearranged in patterns and just leave them flowing, 
creating the underlying jungle flavour over which I can place other 
not-so-jungle sounds

(3) Filter control 
Its starting to be an over-heard sound, but its great to play with filter 
cutoff over the breakbeat loop. I use modulation to control filter cutoff 
by a negative amount (mod source 2 probably, since you may want mod source 
1 to use velocity to open the filter by a small amount). With a negative 
amount the filter closes with increasing mod depth. Dont forget to enhibit 
the default use of modulation wich controls the depth of lfo 2, if Im not 
mistaken (youll hear an unwanted vibrato if you dont). And since the filter 
is a keygroup parameter, and you'll probably have several keygroups, dont 
forget to do the same for all (not necessarily with the same 
depths/global cutoff).

If it was good, careful playing with the closing of the filter makes it 
great, but its hard to get the playing right at 160bpm. The solution is to 
step-insert modulation messages, (a value of 0 will mean an open filter, or
the global cutoff value in the program, and 127 will be a pretty closed 
filter, depending on the modulation depth) one or two ticks prior to the 
point where you want to open/close the filter. 

Best is to get an aproximation of the timings/depths in real-time recording, 
then noting the points where you want the filter to change and the respective 
values, and then re-doing it by hand with just single peak values - dont forget 
to reset it to 0 at the end. And you want this controller info in an independent 
track to easily mute/change just the modulation takes. 

This approach can also make layers of loops crossfade in and out, if you 
have them all responding to the same channel, and program reverse modulation 
depth settings on each - a bit of programming work, but a great effect!

(4) those buzzing rolls? 
Very easy: once you have the main loop going, elect some snare hits to have 
this buzzing/flanging effect (dont overuse it). Just enter several aditional 
snare notes prior to the main snare hit, at less than a 10th of a quarter 
note (so that would be between 6 and 12 ticks interval, in a 120tpq timebase). 
Three at about 10-12 ticks interval are usually enough for a harsh sound, but 
you can have 6 or 8 at smaller intervals. 

The velocities can gradually increase to the level of the final main hit, 
and a sort of exponential rise gives even more dramatic sounds (which can 
also be achieved by progressively shortening the length of the intervals 
as the main snare arrives). If you want, this buzzing effect can also be 
placed after the main snare and just fade out (or not), which is good on 
stops. Oh, and just enter these notes on a new track so that you can try 
diferent positionings and easily copy and paste to other snare hits along 
the song. 

Experimenting with diferent sounds, as always is a must

(5) Combining breaks. 
It usually takes more than a break to create a whole song. There are no 
thumb rules for this other than experiment with break layering. First thing 
you'll notice is that some sounds are repeated. It probably doesnt need two 
kicks at the same time, so just keep the best. 

Snares can colilide pretty easily too, so maybe some has gotta come out.
The trick is to strip the loops of all thats accessory, and just keep the
groove (most of the times just the shakes as in #2). That way they'll mix 
together much easier, and allow you to later insert the missing kick and 
snare sounds from either the original sounds or completely diferent ones.

Another thing is timing. Placing two diferent loops in the same tick wont 
probably work, since no two players play on the same timing. One usually
has to be slide back by 3 or 4 ticks. If one loop is machine and other is 
organic, the real drummer will need to be placed earlier, to end up playing
on the machine beat.

I like to have real jazz/funk drumming combined with machine loops and 
shake-only loops, but more isnt necessarily better and to start 
experimenting with layering is best to keep it simple till you are in 
control

(6) Subliminal breaks. 
This brings me back to what the purpose of jungle was (or should be) 
originally. Its just about creating tension/release using the rhythm. 
That shaking-part's intention is just that: create a feeling of 
tension that is resolved when the snare finally comes. If you think about 
it, what makes this tension, is emphasizing the weak beats (african music 
uses that for hundreds if not thousands of years, and it has deeply 
influenced latin music and jazz all over the years). 

The listener is surprised to see the strength placed on the weak beats 
instead of the strong ones. But not everything in a break is important 
to this effect. In fact, what really is important is what's placed in 
three strategic zones: Imagine a one bar 4/4 conventional loop 
(O=kick, /=snare, .=closed hi-hat)

          1 | | | 2 | | | 3 | | | 4 | | |
          O   .   /   . . . . O   /   .
 ----->>>    X   X       X   X       X   X
             (a)         (b)         (c)

Try to loop just a soft snare as the X's part over a metronome beat, and 
you'll see that its these beats around 
a) the middle of beat 1, 
b) beat 3, and 
c) the middle of beat 4, 
that make the off-beat feeling of jungle. You may actually have also a hit 
in between each pair, but it must be very soft;  and if it isnt there at all, 
your brain still hears it as if it was. 

Of course you dont need to emphasize all three zones (zones b) and c) are the 
most important), and as always diversity is the key. But you may realise 
that its around this zones that the jungle thing is effective, so even just
that portion of a loop will give the characteristic jungle tension. 

So, combining this with the all-shakes aproach, and stripping the loop of 
most of what is not essencial (and dont forget that you dont need to even 
keep the original sounds, you can replace them with anything you like and 
just preserve the timings), you will get a jungle break, that is not even 
there (most of it aint) and still gives that jungle rush

be cool =)

Pedro Batista


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