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There used to be a time when dance music required a pair of turntables, some decent recording gear and a substantial library of records. Then the techno-heads became involved and reduced the equation to a CD full of loops, a sampler and a computer-based MIDI sequencing package. Now the prerequisite kit is down to a single piece of software: GrooveMaker.
The four songs on the CD each contain many high-quality sound loops. Load one of them into the SongMenu and switch to the GrooveMaker screen, an eight-track stereo sample player. Each track in the right-hand list has a default loop assigned to it with a title indicative of the style: Bass, BD (bass drum), FX, Perc and so on. Click on a track to audition it. Hit the mute and solo buttons to hear particular track combinations.
Click on one of the four randomix buttons to change a number of tracks simultaneously, locking some of them to keep the feel you want, so creating new, imaginative sound combinations. Then use the sync function to make randomix take effect at the start of the next eight-bar phrase. You can even tap in a new tempo on your mouse button or add real-time arpeggios through the on-screen virtual synth arpeggiator. Up to eight tracks can play simultaneously, each with its own volume and stereo pan position, and be saved as one of 99 grooves.
With a set of tasty grooves under your belt, use the GrooveSequencer to place them in the order you want and click on the mix button. You can even remix your mixes at a later date through the V-Mix screen. The result is either a single stereo file or eight separate stereo files, each in AIFF format, for loading into the likes of Cubase Audio where MIDI-based sounds can be added.
Powerful stuff. Given five minutes, you will be completely immersed in GrooveMaker. Within half an hour you’re likely to have an instrumental masterpiece that would not be out of place blasting out of your car radio.
GrooveMaker makes dance-music creation almost as easy as hitting the play button on your CD player. It comes complete with a second CD containing the Dancity sample collection (more than 500 loops) and further loop CDs are available either now or shortly.
While the software is a testament to Macromedia’s Director 6, anything less than a decent Power Mac and 32MB of RAM results in slow on-screen response. You’ll also need to print out the 36-page A5 PDF manual, the acceptable face of cost-cutting. That aside, GrooveMaker certainly lives up to its name. Try the demo on this month’s CD – we’ve even included an extra three demo songs