Trifonic: Editing Beats – Part 1 from Next Step Audio on Vimeo.

No more secrets: that could well sum up the zeitgeist of music making in 2010. So it is that Trifonic, aka virtuoso beatmeister brothers Brian and Laurence Trifon of San Francisco, share their technique for chopping up and glitching out audio. Their new blog, Next Step Audio, is entirely dedicated to sharing their production techniques: [site slightly erratic response-wise for me at press time]

The video tutorial on beat editing, published by Next Step Audio, starts out generically enough: grab the ubiquitous “Amen break” as a sample, load it into Apple’s Logic Pro, slice it by beat and adjust to transients, gate… but Trifonic explains how they take the results further, drawing envelopes for modulation and winding up with something far removed for the original. Of course, if you’re fatigued of the “Amen break,” you could apply the same technique to samples of your own playing, and you could substitute your DAW of choice, from Live to Pro Tools, for the editing.

Part of what makes this tutorial compelling is that the duo has a distinctive musical identity, rather than being the anonymous, all-knowing voice music tech instructors had tried to be in the past. It’s worth checking out their music, too. Digitally-distorted, glitching beats had threatened to become a tired cliche years ago, but Trifonic combines those sharper digital timbres with rich, warm layers of sound. The shifting textures of the video for “Parks on Fire,” a big single for them, matches that musical structure perfectly in visuals. (The video is the work of the terrific Scott Pagano, an LA-based visualist.)

There’s plenty more music to share, too, and you can even grab a free Trifonic bass patch for Logic’s EXS24 and Native Instruments’ Kontakt 3 (or compatible samplers, which includes just about everything).

You can grab a free MP3 of Trifonic’s “Transgenic” in the “Rust Mix”:

And Trifonic are regular contributors to ccMixer, the Creative Commons-licensed remix site. They’ve got loads of work under an attribution / non-commercial license. That has, in turn, encouraged a crop of remixes of their work, which seems in keeping with the techniques they’re espousing.

(See my rant last week for some concerns about the non-commercial license relative to images. It’s less of an issue, I think, with samples, but I do hope to connect with the CC folks soon and talk on CDM about the relative advantages of Non-Commercial versus ShareAlike or some combination.)

In part two of the beat editing tutorial, Trifonic go further with glitching and special effects.

As noted by commenter Bryan Gilstein, “It doesn’t matter, we’ll go nuts with it.”

Amen, brother.

Trifonic: Editing Beats – Part 2 from Next Step Audio on Vimeo.

Trifonic have a bass patch sample that they share for free, too, in EXS24 and Kontakt 3 formats. It’s a wobble bass, yes, but with a few nice twists.

Good music, good production tips – I’m sold. (Now, is anyone else aside from me thinking about how these techniques could become real-time / live instruments?)

Lots more Trifonic at the artists’ website:

See also:
Tirfonic @ rcrdlbl [free music]
Trifonic @

…and I’ll see them next week in LA, where I’m sharing a big bill with them at the unofficial NAMM afterparty (more details on that soon):