With so much to talk about in recent days about Prince’s legacy, it’s possible to overlook just what a deep impact he had on production and sound design. Working with Roger Linn’s classic boxes, the LinnDrum and LM-1, the artist left an indelible mark on the sound of pop. And you don’t have to slavishly copy those contributions: by learning how they’re put together, you can understand what went into them and follow your own sound.
Just that sort of education in sound design – something for fans and students – is embodied in a free download for Ableton Live users this week. Francis Preve is both a sound designer by trade and a teacher, so teaching is part of his stated goal for releasing these. And at a point when everyone is doing cover songs, here’s another way to respond – by honoring the impact Prince has had on sound.
From “1999” to “Sign ‘O’ The Times”, Prince incorporated these drum machines, with specific sounds – like the Rimshot and Clap – wildly detuned to create giant clacks and booms. From there, he added compression and when feeling extra freaky, a flanger pedal, on the drum machine’s output. The resulting grooves became a hallmark of the “Minneapolis Sound”, utilized by The Time and Apollonia 6, as well as hits like “Oh Sheila” by Ready For The World. Prince’s approach to drum machines was just as unique as Hendrix’s revolutionary guitar work – and just as versatile an ingredient in other artists’ work.
PurpleDrums is available on Symplesound, the sound boutique I profiled recently. In this pack, you get a custom Drum Rack for Ableton Live with ten samples from the LM-1 and LinnDrum, tailored to Prince’s distinctive “Minneapolis Sound” via integrated effects and macros. There’s also an interactive menu that walks through Prince’s drum production techniques.
I think it’s a great idea; I’ve seen many calls on social media not just to mourn lost heroes, but to turn that inspiration into something creative. For anyone working in production – and judging by my friends, many, many of you are in production partly because of Prince – this is a great way to do that.
And the sounds already sound lovely:
Francis hasn’t just started honoring Prince this way after the artist’s death; he says he’s done it in every sound bank he can. And he also notes that he’ll be “deconstructing and explaining the “Let’s Go Crazy” Oberheim sound in the July issue of Keyboard Magazine.” Finally, if you’re a user of the Serum plug-in, you’ll find a reinterpretation of that very sound called, fittingly, “Let’s Get Nutz.”
Get the free pack here (you’ll need Live 9.5 or later):
And Fran explains his motivations in a blog post:
A Tribute: PurpleDrums [symplesound]
LM-1 photo: Linn Electronics, 1980. Scanned and Photoshopped by Eric Mattei with permission from Bruce Forat; CC-BY-SA.