How we made 4 music videos during quarantine – A retrospective/tutorial

March 29th, week 3 of the quarantine in Columbus. I’ve just canceled all the shows we had lined up because it’s clear that the venues were not reopening any time soon. My bassist messages me a video, the Chad LB Virtual Big Band doing a remote video performance, and says “Not sure if you’ve seen this already but just throwing the idea out there for FJO…”. And that was the tipping point that led into an 8-month rabbit hole of DIY videography, music production, bedroom recordings, color grading, international collaboration, and lots of logistical organization.

The Brooklyn Rose Future Jazz Orchestra is a 10+ piece supergroup of musicians from around Columbus. This is the story of how we made 4 music videos under quarantine.

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The Dilla Feel, Part IV: The Application (“Philodendron & Pothos” Lo-fi Hip-hop Beat)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


So far I’ve been discussing some of the advanced rhythmic concepts found in the work of Dilla and other hip-hop, neo-soul, and jazz musicians. To try some of this stuff out, I decided to make my own lo-fi hop-hop beat.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part IV: The Application (“Philodendron & Pothos” Lo-fi Hip-hop Beat)”

The Dilla Feel, Part III: The Grooves (Real-World Examples and Dilla’s Influence)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


In this post I want to take a look at some transcriptions of Dilla feels found in the wild to break down what they’re doing.

The transcription methodology for these tunes was to pick a four bar section where the beat is clearly audible and align it to a beat grid in Ableton. I then recreated the grooves on separate tracks by looking at the waveform to determine where individual hits occurred. When the waveform was unclear, I placed a sample in the approximate location and then adjusted it until it no longer made an audible flam against the track. For some of the songs with sampled drums, I isolated the samples and aligned them via phase cancellation.

This post includes screenshots of the Ableton live sessions and standard notation for each tune. For the standard notation, I focused on creating intuitive and easily digestible summaries of the grooves rather than notate them literally. I experimented with a couple different approaches for notating subdivisions and microtime including written descriptions, approximating to the nearest subdivision, and using special symbols to mark when notes fall behind/ahead of the written beat.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part III: The Grooves (Real-World Examples and Dilla’s Influence)”

The Dilla Feel, Part II: The Theory (Quintuplet Swing, Septuplet Swing, and Playing “Off-The-Grid”)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


Subdivision and Swing

Swing refers to a type of rhythm where alternating subdivisions are given unequal durations, creating a long-short-long-short pattern. In jazz it’s typical for 8th notes to be swung and rock and hip-hop sometimes feature swung 16th notes. The most common type of swing is a triplet swing in which the first note has twice the length of the second note. It is often notated like this:

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part II: The Theory (Quintuplet Swing, Septuplet Swing, and Playing “Off-The-Grid”)”

The Dilla Feel, Part I: The History (J Dilla and The Soulquarians)

This post is part of a 4-part series on the rhythmic style of J Dilla.
Part I: (History) · Part II (Theory) · Part III (Grooves) · Part IV (Application)


The Dilla feel has its origins in the late 90s with the legendary hip-hop producer J Dilla and the neo-soul/RnB/hip-hop collective The Soulquarians.

Continue reading “The Dilla Feel, Part I: The History (J Dilla and The Soulquarians)”

Fleet Foxes – Montezuma

Key: C

Intro

  I
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

The first two bars only have the root and fifth. Then the third is introduced in the third bar. There is also a little 4-5 hammer-on bit that happens at the end of every second measure.

Verse

  I         V9  I     Imaj7(6)  ii(6)
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  iii       ii        V   IV    V   Vadd6 V7
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

The voicings and parallel movement of chords are important to the feel of this song. These are the guitar chords:

 

Montezuma Guitar Chords

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Father John Misty – Strange Encounter

Key: D
Note: This song could also be analyzed in B minor.

Intro/Verse

  vi        vimM9     I         V9/V
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Bass does a 6-b6-5-#4 chromatic descent under these chords.

Pre-Chorus

  IVmaj9    I         V9 
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | x2

  V9                  IVmaj7
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

Chorus

  I         Iadd6     Imaj7     Imaj9add6
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |

  IVmaj7              V7b9/vi   I
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - |

  IVmaj7              V7b9/vi  
| - - - - | - - - - | - - - - | - - - - |