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Continuing with Lady GaGa hits, this online preview covers DarkChild’s “Telephone”. The full Hit Report (download only) comes packed with audio tutorials, WAV loops/samples, MIDI files, Reason synth patches, and step-by-step Production Maps plus Illustrations using Cubase, Reason, & Ableton Live! Learn Telephone’s production via step-by-step audio tutorials provided in the full Hit Report: Play Telephone Audio Recreation - Final Step MP3 Example.Few songs thrill the dance floor like “Telephone”. Originally written by DarkChild and Lady Gaga for Britney Spears, Telephone was rejected by Spears, and Gaga happily reclaimed it for herself. Telephone showcases the immense talent of DarkChild, with credits including Michael Jackson, Destiny’s child, and Jennifer Lopez. When combining both Hit Talk’s Bad Romance and Telephone Hit Reports, you gain a sharp, comprehensive knowledge on how to produce hit music for an unstoppable Diva.
Telephone - Mix and Frequency Separation
The frequency map at left identifies elements of the mix. The red bar identifies the fundamental notes played by each instrument (unless no identifiable fundamental exists) and the yellow curves show the location of the most prominent frequencies per instrument. This provides a graphical representation of how the song ought to be mixed and what frequencies are emphasized or attenuated for each instrument.
We’ll start by explaining the synths. The bass synthesizer stretches all the way into the treble range. This is the same kind of gritty saw bassline you hear in dozens of other pop songs including Bad Romance. The Saw synthesizer playing on the off beats or “&” counts (offbeat saw syn) is the mid-high synth that can be heard most clearly in the verses. This synth is important in establishing the feel of the song. Dance songs derive a lot of power from the off beat, we’ll explain that plus more about the frequency separation and mixing of this song in the full downloadable hit report below.
Telephone – SID Synthesizer Sound Design
In the full report we explain how to construct the edgy synthesizer timbre used by DarkChild in Telephone: Telephone - Saw Synthesizer Audio Example
Like in the Bad Romance report, we’ve again used a combination of Thor Synthesizers. Here we’ll focus on one of the synth patches used for this sound, and the sound design techniques associated with it. Below is the illustration of the “SID saw” patch we used in our recreation. It’s a SID saw because of the use of pulse wave modulation (PWM), a standard modulation effect on the commodore 64 SID sound chip. This produces an unmistakable retro-saw synth sound first pioneered by those video game sound designers and game composers who used the old SID chip as their canvas.
Using an arrangement of analog oscillators in Reason’s Thor Synth, we’ve created a synth that uses random PWM. You can hear the distinct fluctuations in the timbre that are the signature of PWM synthesis. Above we’ve programmed LFO one and LFO 2 at slightly different rates, and they modulate the Pulse width of oscillators 2 and 3 (see modulation matrix at the bottom of the patch). If you decide to use this patch (provided in the extras section of the report) and you’re not happy with the timbral fluctuations, you can use the sync buttons on the side of the GUI. Alternately, if you’d like the timbral fluctuations to follow the song’s tempo, it’s simply a matter of picking a regular modulation pattern and clicking the tempo sync button.
This is a partial explanation. In the full downloadable Hit Report, we’ll explain how we brought three different patches together to create the full sound.
Telephone – Momentary Echo
1 - Ping Pong Delay
This is a simple trick, but we emphasize it because it’s an effective production accent, and you hear it all the time in pop and hip hop. As our example, we’re taking Lady Gaga’s line from the introduction: “I have got no service in the club you see, see.” The effect we’re speaking of occurs on the second “see;” you hear two echoes, one in the left, one in the right. At left we’ve used Ableton Live’s Ping-Pong Delay to re-create the effect. After you’ve set the ping pong delay, the next step is programming the Delay to turn on momentarily by using Live’s automation (see image at left).
2 - Cut & Paste Delay
A second technique, and one which will produce a delay effect more faithful to the sound achieved by DarkChild, is to slice the sample and copy it onto another track.
At right, we’ve sliced the decay out of the original recording (the “ee” of “see”), and copied it onto a second vocal track, repeating it as 8th notes.
3 - Automated Panning
Finally, we’ve automated the pan of the second track to pan hard left and hard right. Using the Ping Pong delay offers a bit more flexibility by allowing you to increase feedback, change delay time and filter on the wet signal at will, but the copy/paste method offers a drier, more controlled result. It depends on your style.
In the full Hit Report below, we look even closer at DarkChild’s innovative vocal sound design. Specifically, we’ll explain the technique he uses to make Gaga’s voice to sound like a Telephone. We’ll also explain how those techniques can be used for sound design in general.
Telephone - Conclusions
Darkchild shows out an impressive game, defining himself as one of Pop Music’s great producers. While the respective styles of Darkchild and Red One are similar, we’ve explained some of the finer differences in their production choices in both full Hit Reports covering Lady Gaga’s music. While Bad Romance is an international number one hit, Telephone, a conventional club-banger, was a massive success by any standard. In the full downloadable Hit Report below, we offer a step-by-step lesson on how to produce several of Telephone’s most exciting production elements, all of which you can hear in our second preview audio example: Telephone - Full Music Production Audio Example