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Re:Lo-Fi StutterinG & Drum n' Bass rolls

On Thu, 13 Nov 1997 Edward_Chang@mail.amsinc.com wrote:

> Is 'stuttering' the 'd-d-d-d-d-d-d' sound on aggressive drum & bass 
> you mean (ala Squarepusher, Alec Empire, Plug, etc..)?  I've also heard
> that referred to as "machine-gunning".  I don't know how other people do 
> but I've approximated the effect with a Boss RV-3 Digital Reverb/Delay
> pedal by setting the regen on the highest setting, the delay time on the
> lowest/fastest setting and manually triggering it when an appropriate 
> beat hits.  

No, the effect you're describing sounds to me like what I would describe 
as a roll (though "machine-gunning" sounds a lot more cool).  Stuttering 
is pretty prevalent on '80s hip-hop albums; it's basically re-triggering 
a sample several times before the sample has a chance to play all the 
way.  The Public Enemy tune "Don't Believe The Hype" is the first 
example that pops into my head, with the Flavor Flav sample 
"Don't...Don't...Don't...Don't believe the hype *bwahahahahahahahaha*"  
That's stuttering.  It's all over the place in a great many '80s rap and 
techno-pop albums; back when that was one of the most cutting edge things 
you could do with sample playback, it tended to get used an awful lot.

The drum n' bass/jungle "machine gunning" effect is basically what I think
of as an electronic emulation (and often exaggeration) of a drum roll. 
The easiest way to do it (which isn't really all that easy) is to go into
a step-time window on a MIDI sequencer, draw several notes of extremmely
short duration right next to each other (*very* close -- like a few PPQ's
[pulse per quarter-note] together) on a single MIDI note (a snare sample
is an obvious choice), then copy this fragment out over the length that
you want the roll to happen.  One final step is to draw a velocity curve
from the beginning of the roll to the end, as in "change velocity smoothly
from 1-127" over the length of the roll, if you want the roll to increase
or decrease over its duration.  It's time-consuming, but fairly easy work
to do if your sequencing program can do the above tasks. 

Once you've got a basic roll happening, you can get a lot of milage out of
it by cutting and pasting it into different sections, assigning it to
different drum (or non-drum) samples, and changing the duration of the
roll.  Though I haven't actually experimented with it, it seems to me that
using differing spacings between the individual notes that make up a roll
should result in different audible pitches, since these sorts of rolls
often happen fast enough to generate resonant frequencies. 

The method you're using sounds like it'll get the job done too, and should
even give you some results that you wouldn't obtain using the "normal"

It's a fun effect; it's all over that Squarepusher record, and the Aphex
Twin "Richard D. James" album is bursting to the seams with it.  Also see
the latest Mu-Ziq record "Lunatic Harness" for profuse "machine-gunning." 

> Now what about "timestretching"?

This is changing the duration of a sound without altering the pitch.  It
generally requires some fairly upscale hard-disk processing; I know
programs like Pro Tools use it.  I haven't worked with timestretching
very much (due almost entirely to lack of access to the aforementioned
upscale gear), but I would think that a lot of jungle breakbeats tend to
be timestretched, since speeding up a sample to typical drum 'n bass tempo
ranges simply by playing back a normal sample at a higher pitch often
gives the drums too much of a "tinkertoy" type of effect.  (Then again,
jungle isn't exactly known for its reverence to pristine and natural sound
reproduction).  I know that on the last David Bowie album, they had 
drummer Zach Alford tune his snare drum lower than normal so that when 
they played back samples of his playing at a higher pitch, it wouldn't 
sound too "tweeked."

Goldie's "Timeless" album is apparently a good reference for
timestretching, particularly on vocals, but what little of Goldie's music
that I've heard didn't really compell me to hear any more of it, so
someone else will have to fill in on that. 

Hope this helps, and sorry for the temporary side-trip into non-loop