The muscle of generosity

Last week I listened to Jon Hopkins on the podcast Tape Notes, and over the weekend I listened to another episode featuring the UK techno-duo Bicep.

I listened quite a lot to Bicep’s music a few years ago and spent some time thinking about their techniques, how they had achieved certain sounds. I didn’t go as far as to reverse-engineer and recreate. But now I can to a certain degree. Because in the episode Bicep very generously shared their tricks using gates and filters on synth-pads triggered by 909-hats. Which is how they achieve their rhythmic and choppy riffs which feature in songs such as Glue, Apricots and Opal.

It’s a technique they use a lot. All their most played hits on Spotify seems to use them. And still, they didn’t keep it to themselves like some Coca-Cola recipe.

I’d like to view this as both generous and confident. They know that their talent, taste and skill is more than that particular trick. So they give it away. Not that experienced synth-producers couldn’t have figured it out their own, I more or less already did. But still, listening to the episode I got a lot more ideas on how to improve my craft and grow my skills. So, thank you Bicep! I thought it was awesome.

Here’s a short test of the techniques taught by Bicep. A four-bar loop of synthpad chords that is chopped up by a sidechained gate and later also by a sidechained filter. I vary some settings as it runs.

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