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Scanning The Shadows (1 Note)

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Author Comments

There was a competition at another site to make a song using only one note trigger. So I made this, which means that the entire time you're listening to this there's really only ever one note playing. "Lies!" you might say, but the process is actually pretty cool.


Basically what I've done here is created a Layer channel with one really long note (in this case 140 odd bars) and then filled the layer with arpeggiating instruments. I'm using FL Studio, you can do similar stuff with Reason using Combinators and pattern sequencers.

The way I got differing drum beats to play is by arpeggiating the drum channels and using the channel mute to make rests in different places. The snare drum freak-outs certainly aren't dBlue, they're just me going nuts with the arpeggiator time. I found if you go into the event edit window you can get some *insanely* fast arp times by zooming in a lot and putting the absolute minimum value in (which incidentally, is something like a 96th of a step, so 1536 triggers in a bar. Wow).

For chords I used a single 3xOsc channel and automated the oscillator coarse pitch. The chords are then arpeggiated. The attack time on that low sweeping pad is a 4 bar peak controller LFO which gets switched off once the drums come in the first time, again the synth is just a 3xOsc but I used the dominion and endorphin VSTs to make it sound fatter (Google "digitalfishphones", they're rather good plugs!).

If you want to try this I have a word of caution: If you event edit the arpeggiator you need to be *extremely* precise if you want a set timing like 8th beats or something. What you should do is record some automation into a pattern, while recording right click the arpeggio time control, roll over the "Set" option and select "x steps" (x being whatever speed you want) from the menu. Stop the recording, open the event edits window for the time control in the pattern you just recorded in, find the spot where you selected "x steps" and copypaste that value wherever you want it in a new pattern.

That's another thing, don't dick around with automation clips it's so much easier to use event editing for this. Also don't make too many long patterns with lots of automation because you're likely to get extremely confused. Oh, and if you've gotten this far you can make a shorter (4 bars or so) "test note" in the layer channel for playing back specific sections without having to go ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE START where the only note trigger is located!

In conclusion, making a song using this method was way too much work but I won like $700US worth of software including a mastering equalizer worth something ridiculous like 250 dollars so I guess in the end it was all worth it. Maybe.

Sorry about all the words.


holy god, that's complicated!

What the hell? I've used the event editing and arpeggiator before, but not nearly to that extent. So you did this all, technically, with one note? Wtf man...That's pretty insane. That takes some technical prowess, no doubt. For that, I give you a ten!


that's a cool concept, and it was well executed.

Not bad

Has that mellow sawy synth sound to it, the drums are alright but not too powerful, maybe panning somewhere in there.

I don't have time to review today.


wow, it's pretty cool how that 1 note can be expanded into this wonderful piece. Good job!


Sound of an Amiga....? :-D

midimachine responds:

It is quite game-ey.

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Credits & Info


4.09 / 5.00

Sep 4, 2009
8:10 PM EDT
File Info
4.6 MB
3 min 21 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.