Adventures In Audio with Audio Masterclass

“Agitato (Chopin Etude Op. 25, No. 4)” by Mike Barden


I've played piano my whole life, and have always been a fan of Chopin's Etudes and Preludes. I also like instrumental rock like Frank Zappa and Steve Vai, and also play a little electric guitar.

So…one day I thought it would be fun to take one of these etudes and set it as a techno-rock instrumental. Of course the classical purists would have a cow, but I'm ok with that. I think it's cool…

I did this in my project studio, Chain-O-Lakes Recording, in Waupaca, WI. Here's how I did it:

First, I used my MIDI keyboard to input the notes from the etude, one part at a time. I separated melody, RH chords, LH chords, and bassline into four separate MIDI tracks. I kept those as a piano sound, because after all, it is a piano piece.

Then, I went about developing each of those lines to create a rock arrangement. The whole melody was played on electric guitar, and doubled with a synstring sound. I left the chord parts as is, except I panned the LH chords from the RH chords away from each other just a bit to create some interesting space.

Ebook = Equipping Your Home Recording Studio
FREE EBOOK - Equipping Your Home Recording Studio

I then applied a synth bass sound to the bass part, and doubled it with a chunka-chuncka electric guitar part.

Finally, I used drum loops to finish the arrangement–one set of loops from Natural Grooves, that sounds more like real drums, with fills and all…I also added a four-on-the-floor kick and some electronic sounding drum loops to tip it toward the techno side of things.

I used Cakewalk Sonar, an E-MU 1616M interface, a simple Yamaha keyboard and an Ibanez RG series guitar. The guitar sound actually comes from an Amplitude LE plugin. The electronic drums sounds come from the RXP soft synth, the electronic bass sound comes from the PSYN II soft synth, and the piano is just the TTS-1 that came prebundled with Sonar. I also mastered the track using Sonar.

I really enjoy this little piece. As I said, it's probably not for the classical purist, but I think it's a blast. I love how the constant off-beat nature of the melody almost makes you nuts listening to it.


Acoustics & Studio Design

Acoustics & Studio Design

The NLE AudioPedia series, our video-based audio encyclopedia, is an invaluable resource for sound engineers, musicians, students, educators and all audio enthusiasts. This second installment is about Acoustics & Studio Design.

Learn more...

Add comment

David Mellor