[Music] Beachside

I’ve posted a link to a previous recording of this song before (on the old forum). I’ve been wanting to re-record this song for quite some time in 24-bit and under a more recent version of Cubase.

Finally, I’ve done it. The result is something I’m quite happy with.

The song, called Beachside, was originally written by a good friend of mine and rather amazing bass player Lee Hodge. The original recording that he made was done on a 4 track, cassette-based system, and contained a repeating drum line, bass, and acoustic guitar only.

I took that, added synths, the lead motif during the “chorus” and the guitar solo in 1991. Since then, I recorded 2 remakes, including this one. The bass line is 99% of the original with some slightly different phrasings in certain parts of the song - there’s no way I could have come up with a bassline like this on my own.


Thoughts, suggestions, comments, etc. are all welcome.

I didn’t get to hear the previous version of this song, but this is great. I think the bass playing and sound is just awesome! Im a big fan of acoustic guitar work, love the sound and the picking you got going on here!

Nice one! :slight_smile:

you did real good! nice job!

Thanks for the compliments.

I must, however, confess something. The picking is HalionONE. Yes, the one that comes with Cubase. I hand coded the MIDI to ensure that the strumming parts have the up / down motion as there would be if I were playing it live.

I no longer have the dexterity to play this song the way it should be played while ensuring that the notes are clear and distinct. (In 1991, I played it live however.)

Well, you convinced me! :smiley:
I’ve found myself using HalionOne and GAO more and more lately for sounds. Maybe BFD is to detailed for me, but I just cant get drums to sound right with it, with H1 and GAO I find im getting better results and faster with less tweeking! :slight_smile:

Has a good overall vibe/tone. I think you could manipulate some of the Halion 1 drum sounds – compression on the snare, eq on the highhat, and lower level on the kick. I think the only way to treat them separately is by creating separate instances of Halion 1 and splitting your midi. Really like the way the bass sounds. Good song, too.

Beautiful track, man. For a minute there you were cutting lose on the guitar solo – wish that had gone on much longer (I either had forgotten or just didn’t know you were such a great player).

My only extremely minor nit is the hi hat is kind of robotic – no velocity variation and the sample is a bit weird sounding.

Man, I’m scared to post anything anymore, ya’ll are so good!

Just expertly produced from the materials you started from IMHO.

Yes, the bass is a bit special.

You say the acoustic picking is HalionONE? Wow, I’d better practice or I’ll be out a job.

As a piece of music, I’m afraid it doesn’t do too much for me (but that’s a “taste” thing) - but it sounds great!


Hi Larry,

You’ve been productive last months! ( No time to relax :unamused: )
Since the piece has a good sound an feel to it still there is more to gain in my opinion.
The piece is quite long and is in arranging set up quit similar the whole track. The A/B/C parts change but sound the same. The drums have a good sound but hardly any dynamics and are very pushing against the "human"bass playing.
You could leave the drums out at some parts. Some of the picking is very quantized and despite the good sound makes it mechanical. At 3.39 something is wrong with the quantized strumming coming in.
The lead solo’s are fine,sound realtime recorded, you could freak out a little more for me!
Keep up the good work Larry!

Regards Peter :smiley:

I guess I should have stated what is done with what.

  • The picking is HalionONE.
  • The bass is live and, with two small exceptions, is a single take with no editing. I did flub up 2 small phrases so I did punch-in on those spots.
  • The lead solo is live.
  • The drums are Battery.
  • The synths are a mixture of soft-synths.

Thanks for the compliments. I agree completely with the “robotic” comments (picking and drums). One thing I desperately miss is a groove quantizer, i.e. I could specify a playing style and it would automatically adjust the MIDI to reflect this. I’m using 4.52. Does Cubase 5.x or 6 have this?

Peter: yes, the piece is very long. Lee originally recorded it with a lower BPM so it was even longer then. :astonished: I know about the 3:39 bit, but I consciously left it in because - :laughing: - it made it sound a bit more human.

Twilight: a) don’t be afraid to post. This song has been “under development” since 1990-91 so I’ve had a chance to refine it. :laughing: b) I like the solo a lot too, but it isn’t any longer because this song is really about the bass. Lee’s primary instrument is the bass guitar so he used to favor it a lot more when he was younger.

Early21: normally, I render the MIDI drums to 5 separate tracks: kick (mono), snare (mono), hi-hat (mono), toms (stereo) and cymbals (stereo). This allows me to do exactly what you’re suggesting, i.e. treat the various drum components differently. This is the first time since I started doing this that I do not do it. I’ll revisit this.

Overall it’s a nice track. :sunglasses: It’s interesting that the bass get’s to play lead for a while… not sure that’d go down well with a lot of people! :laughing: I have one producer friend who would absolutely hate it, but I also have a bass-playing friend who would fully approve! I did however think though that it would have been nice to hear the bass play some LOW bass occasionally… it seemed to sit in that higher register throughout.

I know about the 3:39 bit, but I consciously left it in because…

:neutral_face: Hmmm… I reckon you should fix it to be honest. It’s one thing sounding human but to me this just sounds like a flub… :confused:

And yes, that HALone picked guitar does sound quite good. I’ve done this in the past actually, used a guitar sample but one little extra thing I added just for added realism was introduce in a few fret/finger squeaks and noises.

Overall it sounded a bit on the wet side to me but that’s of course one of those personal preference things I guess.


Yeah, I was dying for some fret noise in there. The Am7 (x02013) to Dsus4 (x04035) is a slide but I couldn’t find a way to accurately reproduce it on the track. I was upset.

If I knew enough about how I finger pick from a “note emphasis” point of view, I would edit the MIDI to reflect this. That would go a long way to making it sound more realistic I am sure.

I’ll fix the strumming bit I guess. :laughing:

I use the Transformer plug-in to do this. If you stick to GM drum kits you can even save the presets. But since I use Battery and each kit has different voices on different notes I have to hand code the conditions.

Okay, I’ve made several project related changes:

  1. Biggest change is that I had a group channel named “Hi-pass” but forgot to put the appropriate EQ. Every time that I would work on the project after that, I saw the channel and assumed I did so. Since correcting this, the song has opened up considerably.

  2. I changed the reverb used to something less obnoxious. It still has a relatively long decay, but due to the preset I’m using it doesn’t cause the overall sound to get sloppy.

  3. I split the drum track into the 5 composite pieces. The kick goes straight to the Wet group, while the other parts go to a new group channel that has both a high pass at 120 Hz (hard) and a rolling off at about 10 kHz to lessen the bite of the cymbals and snare.

  4. I fixed the strumming track at ~3:39. I didn’t change the MIDI though. For some reason when I rendered the track down this section somehow had some significant latency in it, causing the up-down strumming to lag behind the rest of the tracks. I re-rendered this section and spliced it into the original with some cross-fade to make it seamless.

I’m much happier with the way the song sounds now. Does the hi-hat still sound a bit robotic? Yes, though it does have some velocity variation built into the MIDI itself to account for emphasis that a live drummer would place on the downbeat, etc. The picking really should be played live but that would require a substantial investment in practice time to make sure I can properly articulate every single note, so I’m not sure I’ll be doing that.

Same URL. Have another listen and let me know what you think of the changes.

What happened? It totally blows now

( :mrgreen: )

Seriously though… everything sounds fine (especially the bass) with two rather BIG exceptions (IMO):

  1. it’s all panned in the middle, almost monaural sounding. There’s nothing really wrong with that, and I can still hear everything, but the “modern ear” is so accustomed now to hearing width that this mix seems rather “small.”

So can I make a suggestion? Take your MIDI acoustic part and render it to audio. Mute the original MIDI track and duplicate the new audio track. Then pan the two new audio tracks left and right (doesn’t necessarily have to be all the way) and delay one of the tracks 15-25 milliseconds (you can do this in the Inspector at the left of the track). Apologies if you’re well-versed in this method already for my “tutorial.” This will get the acoustic part out of the way of the rest of it and make the mix sound nice and wide.

  1. the drums just aren’t cutting it here, sonically speaking. The programming is fine. It’s both the particular samples AND the way they’ve been mixed. The samples are the commonly heard squishy kick and somewhat lifeless snare. I HATE that hat sample – sorry! It’s just weird sounding.

I don’t know what to recommend. Do you have any other drum libraries you can try? If not, no major problem, but there’s still some work to do, because the drums sound kind of dull and set back – I think you EQ’d it too hard there. Did you use a HPF, or High Shelf? For this I think the HPF are too steep, maybe try a gentle Shelf to allow some of the brightness of the snare back in but keeping it tamed (the nice open lead sound is making the drums seem a bit dull in comparison I think).

Sometimes I’ll hear a fairly amateurish recording here and praise the good points and then just move on. It’s really only when I hear a really good piece like this one that just needs an extra something that I get a bit militant with my opinions because I think the track is worthy. Does that make sense? Hope so

Everything is rendered to audio, so dup’ing the track will be easy. I’ve read about this particular trick before but have never really felt the need to try it. I’ll give it a shot. I’ll agree with the comment about the lack of stereo field on this - since the song is primarily guitar, bass and drums the only things using the stereo field are the toms and cymbals. Everything else is mono, panned center.

The drums are Battery 3, so I have a lot of different kits to choose from. I’m not convinced that the drums really are an issue, but I will fiddle around with other kit choices and see what I can find.

I use a HPF on every instrument except for the kick drum and bass. But I think the lifelessness that you are describing comes from a gentle LPF that I use on the cymbals and hi-hat. I’m not a big fan of higher order harmonics on these two components because - IMO - they make the drums sound brittle. So I roll it off somewhere around 8k so that you still get the sound but without the bite.

Finally, I’m glad that you’re making these comments. I put the tracks up here specifically to get responses like yours. I want them to improve because I know these songs so intimately that I suffer from aural fatigue very quickly. Therefore, I miss things easily.

Some changes made:

  • Dup’d the picking track; panned them hard left and right; and moved the right channel ahead by 25 msecs. Added a stereo chorus to both tracks to add more depth. The previous version had the Stereo Enhancer used, which I’m starting to find (after using it on several projects and then changing my mind later) causes more harm than good. I was a bit apprehensive on adding the chorus given the probability of introducing a comb filtering effect, but this wasn’t present on the audition of the mixdowns (WAV and MP3).

  • Re-routed the Toms to avoid the HPF and give them more depth as a result. They aren’t used much in the song, but given your feeling that the drums are lifeless I figured this would give them more “umph.”

  • Re-EQ’d the drum group channel so that it no longer has the rolling off at 10 kHz.

  • Added compression to the Kick and changed the compression preset on the Snare.

  • Bumped up the Hi-hat level 2 dBs to, along with the new EQ, give it more presence.

I did try a few different drum kits and wasn’t happy with any of them, so I kept the one I’ve been using. I hope that the changes above, however, breathe some life into the drums. Please have a listen now and let me know what you think.

Yes, I’m liking that better, although I think the track delay on the guitar may be a bit too much – occasionally it sounds a bit off-time. Maybe scale it back to 15ms.

Those drums just aren’t doing it for me. I don’t think it’s really the EQ on them, it’s just the samples – they sound like the sort of samples you’d hear a lot say 7 or 8 years ago – pretty good for their time – but compared to some of today’s libraries kinda sound, I don’t know, flat. But at any rate they’re not “bad” just not my taste maybe. I wish somebody like Sherz or Lenny with better ears than me would listen again and comment. One possible thing about them is that while everything else sounds nice and ambient, the drums are kind of narrow-sounding, like there’s no space around them.

Anyway, I’ve heard this song quite a few times now and have come to quite like it

Well, this sure has progressed plenty from when I first heard it !

Don’t expect me to make any meaningful suggestions or comments on the drums, particularly snares. I’ve used every snare known to mankind and nobody likes any of them :laughing: But having said that I do kinda get what Doug means by sounding a bit ‘flat’, though maybe that’s appropriate for a tune like this ?

Dup’d the picking track; panned them hard left and right; and moved the right channel ahead by 25 msecs

I’ve used this approach quite a bit in the past… but I always found that it never really sounded quite as good as playing the part twice. And playing a double on part like this can often be quite challenging - getting the timing absolutely spot on… well, I almost always have to do a bit of editing to get things lined up perfectly anyway :confused:

All in all though, I think this sounds pretty good now. :sunglasses:
Actually it reminds me a bit of some early Mike Oldfield stuff…


For me it depends totally on what I’m after:

if I want the instrument to still sound like just one instrument, but come off a bit more “open” I’ll use the dupe track method. When done correctly, it still sounds like just one instrument, only less “narrow”

if I want a really wide sound, I’ll mic the instrument using M-S, and fiddle with the matrix within the DAW accordingly, to taste

doubling a part has a different sound – it actually sounds like two separate instruments, and the slight phasey effect can be very pleasing*

*although Mike E used to say that from time when this common technique would be used in Nashville, usually using one player recorded twice, that the two takes were so exactly similar, because the guy was such a good consistent player, that the net effect would be that the sound seemed to emanate from the center, and they had to redo one of the takes and deliberately try to not play the exact same thing