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How to get that 70's soul/funk sound
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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Thread Starter
How to get that 70's soul/funk sound

Hey i have tried to recreate a bit of an old school 70's motown/funk (think Minnie Riperton/Stevie/Marvin etc.) sound in this track but i would very much like some constructive criticism. If you could just write all the things that come into your mind and trick and tips i would be very thankful

Thanks
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Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Head
 
midisequencing's Avatar
Hello, it's a good start. The Wurlitzer seems really loud overall to me. One element that is missing that was really standard for the time was a guitar playing slightly behind the beat on 2 and 4. The bass is missing the treble and punch it would have had, and the line itself is missing movement. James Jamerson played a lot of notes and syncopation, in the most awesome way imaginable. I would also take a listen to how the drums were mixed on those records to see if you might want to replace some sounds and remix then a bit.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
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This does sound good. It's missing one critical thing: reverb. They had great rooms w lots of bleed coming thru most instruments. If you could play the song in a nice room and record the verb reflections, it would add some serious mojo. Then pan your song to one side and the reverb to the other for full-on Motown
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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Owen L T's Avatar
 

The comment on ambience is fair enough; I did think the EP sounded a little too dry VST when the track started up, especially as the drums seem to have a subtle touch of room in them. A plate reverb would be a good starting point - there are a ton of EMT140 emulations out there, any one of which will get the job done. (Or, failing that, any "plate" preset on your DAWs built in reverb, then tweak accordingly.)

The overall levels seem mostly fine, but there's quite a bit of low-end mud from the EP floating around - somewhere in the 120-150 region. It's just slightly overwhelming the bottom end of the track, as it's a sustained sound.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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I very much agree with MIDI's assessment of needing a guitar part that hits on the upbeats of 2 and 4. A strat played in staccato w/ a wa wa pedal is the first thing that comes to mind.

Your on the right track.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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brockorama's Avatar
 

I like to listen to "papa was a rolling stone" about 5 or 6 times before I get rolling.

Last edited by brockorama; 1 week ago at 10:49 PM..
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Thread Starter
okay i took some of the advice that i had a possibility of actually doing and tried to mix with it. Im not sure about the result (it has gotten a bit quieter). But my guitarist friend is coming soon to lay some 2 and 4 guitars, and my horn friends and female singer is also going to be on the track so its not the full experience right now.

But its so amazing that you are willing to give some feedback, it is very much appreciated :D
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Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Thread Starter
Tried with a new snare. It sounds a bit better i think
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Old 1 week ago
  #9
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GeminIAm's Avatar
The sound is getting there but it's not really funky imo.

The drums sound nice but I'm getting more of a dry 90s hiphop feel from them (which ain't a criticism btw - I like them).

Overall you're lacking swing. There needs to be a kind of controlled laziness in the timing of the 2 and 4s of the drums. Your bass line needs to be more syncopated and generally less of a rolling melody - leave loads of space (even if it seems weird at first). Listen to your new best friend Bootsy Collins -> on the one baby.

Definitely missing that funky guitar too man.

I like the chords and overall idea - keep at it man.

Btw not slagging you off - just my opinion on how I think the song could improve, feel free to ignore etc



Have fun bro!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Owen L T's Avatar
 

An observation on trying to emulate certain styles or genres: the musical elements themselves, each and every one, need to be in keeping with the style you're trying to emulate, at least until you're confident enough to branch off; each element that fails to truly nail the genre makes it increasingly unlikely that the track as a whole will have the sound you're after.

This track is cool on its own merits, but there is too much - musically - preventing it from sounding like any of the artists/genres you mention. The feel, for one, is too downbeat/square to have that Motown energy. The rhythm of the EP bass part is too straight (plodding, really), playing only on the down-beat or the off-beat, with no syncopation or rhythmic ... excitement. Those two things right there mean that all the engineering in the world isn't really going to get this into the ballpark you seem to be after.

If you really do want to capture the feel of the artists you mention, spend an hour compiling the ten songs that exemplify this feel. Analyse each one. What tempo is it at? What is the bassline doing? What is forward drive like at 90 bpm? What about 100? How come both ABC and I Want You Back both capture the energy of Motown, but at such different tempos? Are any if the tracks you picked at, or near, the same tempo as yours? What are they doing rhythmically? Does your track sound better at 3 bpm faster. Or, if you slow it down, does it free you up to add 1/16th note kick and bass syncopation better? How much of the kit sound is room mics? How dominant is the Motown snare? The kick? (I'm pretty sure the answer is: not very.)

Spend an afternoon answering all the above questions, and I GUARANTEE you'll find the kind of answers that can move you forward more than all the engineering tips in the world - though these will come into play later.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Okay been writing & playing funk/soul for many years now.

I haven't had to chance to hear your sample yet, not really in the position to do that right now, but judging by all the feedback I can tell you they've given you pretty good info so far.

I'd like to add a few things on top.

Funk is a very rhythmic style of music with most of the instruments accenting the rhythm as opposed to sounding melodic. Not all the time but the majority. With the exception of brass or strings if you are doing disco influenced. Much of that is short melodic lines or a pad type sustain.

Your key instructs are acoustic drums, electric bass, electric piano (doesn't matter which), piano, b3 organ, some times clavinet, clean guitar or through a wah, a horn section, or stings if its disco. You can also throw in a few synth elects for color. Too much synth though and you start drifting into the 80s Prince funk sound, which is also good, but might not be what you want.

Scales are often based on the Dorian mode or Mixolydian. Sometimes it borrows from the equivalent modes of the Harmonic and Jazz Minor Scales or even the major or minor pentatonic.

Syncopation is important and that second beat in the bar really wants to be accented. 16th rhythms are quite popular too, if not played by the drums then another instrument like the guitar or clav. Often it should be played with a slight 16th note shuffle.

Don't hard quantise anything or you will kill the sense of funk in a groove.

I'll let you know if I think of anything else
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

I too haven't listened yet (in a busy work environment), but just thought I'd chip in with a bass tip from Carol Kaye that I tried last night - shove a bit of foam under your strings by the bridge. Seemed to instantly funkify my sound! (the octaver and auto wash probably helped too).
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alvin Row View Post
Tried with a new snare. It sounds a bit better i think
Besides the actual sound you're looking for(above I read some great inputs in that direction)...to my ears is...boring. I feel like you're not playful enough, it sounds like you are constipated for 3 days and you had to recreate a sound that you absolutely felt nothing for, so you kinda did it anyways, just cause you had to. Funk is aboute being creative, and improvising, and having tons of fun, and keeping it interesting and sparkling like a bottle of opened champagne. Watch this and you'll understand what I mean:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cfpQdPY2pM&t=223s

Best!
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Thread Starter
thanks for all the replies guys i really appreciate it. And yeah one of the problems is also that im no multiinstrumentalist and it would be ideal if i had a band to record with, because of the live energy, but at the moment, most of the instruments will have to be recorded by myself (everything except horns. vocals and guitar)

But yeah i guess the truth lays in the songwriting and arranging so ill try to study that music a bit more
Old 1 week ago
  #15
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I play keys & bass, with a little bit of finger drumming.

When I go through arrangements I often lay down the basics only to find I want to change some things, so I redo the first part which sparks me to alter the second part, etc...

It's hard work, but I find it akin to working with a band. With each pass at rehearsal the band gets tighter and tighter, they inspire each other, ideas shift around a bit before the settle.

It's not quite the same but it's the best we can do.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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blayz2002's Avatar
Yeah to me the key thing is the bass is too rolling for a log of the track, try playing a little more staccato, think of the bass more like the drums, more pick on the strings, and maybe even playing the next octave up to get more punch. The 3 effort though is getting there.

For funk the drums and bass set the pace of the track, along with the strat guitar.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blayz2002 View Post
Yeah to me the key thing is the bass is too rolling for a log of the track, try playing a little more staccato, think of the bass more like the drums, more pick on the strings, and maybe even playing the next octave up to get more punch. The 3 effort though is getting there.

For funk the drums and bass set the pace of the track, along with the strat guitar.
Yeah staccato and syncopation are key. It's more rhythmic as I was alluding to earlier.

There is still a call for some sustained sounds to "pad" the track out, though. Horns, organ or ep are good for that. Or mix it up with a bit of synth if you want a more modern funk sound.

As with Motown, keeping the bass and drums locked tight together too. Or "in the pocket" as some people refer to it as.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
It's probably easier to achieve an '80s funk sound on your own as you can get away with programming parts of it and focus on one or 2 real time instruments...unless you're Stevie Wonder of course ...
There are plenty of midi funk/R&B drum packs available to use with EZDrummer or other virtual drummers to take care of the drums for you.
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