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What if Splice Music was a martial art? December 18, 2006

Posted by oktyabr in make music, personal, splicemusic, tutorials.
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My research has led me to the realization that creating music using Splice and participating in the Splice community isn’t as casual as it may first appear! In fact I’m quite certain that sometime in the distant past there might have been a secret discipline involved… one that I have come to call SPLICE-FU!

Think you are worthy?

First of all I’m certainly no Master of Splice-Fu, by no means! I’m simply a researcher that has discovered some of the secret ways to develop skill and prestige in this little know art form and as part of my research have decided to uncover the intricacies involved by tracing these little known paths myself. Additionally I’m posting here so that others may also try to uncover the mystical methods to becoming a true Splice-Fu Master… if there even is such a thing!

It will help the reader to understand the analogy between Splice Mastery and martial arts. It can take much time, practice, and dicipline to fully comprehend and become good at either one! So we will continue the analogy literally…

Many martial arts like karate and judo use a “belt system” to tell the difference between levels of mastery. Roughly these correspond to the two ends of the visable light spectrum going from white belt, the novice level, to black, the true master, with a few colors in between. I think yellow is good for a second level of discipline, orange as a medium level, red as a higher level and brown as the level just before black, or true mastery! The path ahead is long and may be difficult… only the dedicated need read any further!

So let’s start at the beginning. Before one can begin the journey down the path of Splice-Fu he must enter the gates of the “dojo” or formal gathering place where the art may be learned and practiced. In our case this means making an account at http://www.splicemusic.com

Now the next thing you must do is become knowledgable in the basics of Splice-Fu! There are many greatly revered texts that you should probably read including the splicemusic FAQ and that of Creative Commons but basically you should remember two things:

1) Do NOT upload sounds ripped from copyrighted sources! Yes, if you hang around long enough I’m sure you’ll see a new member named “DJ_SpL1c33” or something upload an entire Metallica song or something thinking Splicemusic is a great way to illegally share music with his “l337” friends but really, that’s not what Splice is for…

Remember, all sounds on the splicemusic.com site are protected with an Attribution Creative Commons license. This means that other people can use your sounds – but only if they give you credit. Metallica can upload their sounds if they want but unless you have legal permission to do so you can’t! Get it?

From splicemusic.com “uploading help“:

This also means that when you upload a sound that you found somewhere else, you are promising that it falls under this kind of license, and also to give credit to the creator when you use it. There are libraries of “safe” sounds online that you can use, including CCMixter.org and Freesound.

The bottom line? If you aren’t sure you can use it, don’t upload it. Remember – If somebody complains about something you’ve uploaded, you are the person responsible for it, not Splice. (The easiest way to be on the safe side is just to record your own sounds.) If you need more clarification, try checking out our Terms of Use. It’s a great bedtime read.

2) Be nice to others! Any sort of large community like splicemusic, where users are encouraged to interact and comment on each other’s work will always have a few sharp edges occasionally. Just do what I do and try to respect your fellow splicers and treat everyone as you would like them to treat you.

Got those things branded into your brain? Good!

Congratulations! You are (un)officially a white belt at Splice-Fu!

Ok, so what does it take to get something with a real color in it? Well, next up is “Yellow Belt”! There are several things you can do to achieve this status. Let me recommend a few, and completing any of them will do:

1) Upload some sounds! Remember they should be original (and legal!) Half of the splice-fu experience is in seeing what others will do with your projects, sounds you’ve uploaded and songs you’ve been working on! They are all fair game! Also by contributing to the splice sample library you are helping to make it a better and richer experience for others. Cool!

Unless you are quite sure I recommend selecting “Do not synchronize this sound.”

This gives the sample more flexibility in how it is used in tracks of different BPMs (Beats Per Minute). If you like you can include the BPM of the sample in the name like “jazz_flute_114bpm.wav” but selecting any of the other options may make the sample not sound as it should when spliced with other samples at a different BPM than you intended. Splice says they are working on this to make it more usable… we’ll see!

2) Mix your first song! Tinker with a bunch of samples and see what you can come up with. You can impress your own style on a bunch of samples by making good use of the volume and pan envelopes too. Be sure to throw in some tags and a description so your fellow splicers can more easily find your work… and remix it, of course! It’s all good and well if you can play the guitar but mixing… SPLICING… is all about mashing up several different samples into a single composition! Get brave and throw in some sounds other people have uploaded too!

3) Remix someone else’s song! Spend some time giving a listen to other people’s work too. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you like their song or maybe even (carefully!) supply a bit of constructive critism as well. And if you like something you hear be sure to vote on it!

Ok, so you found something someone else has been working on but you just feel like it’s missing something… or maybe you would do something quite a bit differently. That’s great! Click the “remix this song now” button and have a go at it! Keep just the parts of the original work you like or keep it all! Add a few other samples… try your hand at tweaking the overall sound with some careful use of volume and pan envelopes too.

Ok, so you’ve done at least one of those things? Then…

Congratulations! You’ve earned your Yellow Belt in Splice-Fu!

Ok, there is nothing wrong with being a Yellow Belt! You are certainly above the pure novice. But suppose you want to go further? Next up is roughly the intermediate level of mastery… the Orange Belt!

To qualify I believe one must have completed at least all three of the above requirements for Yellow Belt… not just one of them! ALL THREE! Here is a quick run down of the requirements:

  1. You have uploaded some original (not already found in splice!), legal sounds. At least a few!
  2. You have mixed at least one song of your own and by “mixed” I don’t mean a single track of you playing the guitar!
  3. You have remixed someone else’s song(s), at least one, and you’ve made noticable changes to it too!
  4. You should have also voted and commented on at least a half dozen of other people’s songs.
  5. You ALWAYS vote and comment when someone remixes your songs or uses your samples!
  6. Your PROFILE has more in it than just a bunch of empty blank spaces!

Keep in mind that your “Songs” count in Splice shows exactly that… how many “songs” you’ve saved under your account. However this also includes any failed experiments or projects that you just haven’t gotten around to finishing yet (“WIP” = “Work In Progress”) as well as different versions of roughly the same song. Be honest with yourself when you start thinking of a number… of how many truly different “songs” you have actually mixed!

Got all of those in your musical repritore? Then…

Congratulations! You’ve earned your Orange Belt in Splice-Fu!

Next is the “Red Belt”! There is no clear cut and dried formula for any of these “belts”, at least none that I know of YET, but in my research I’ve found that the really experienced Splicers, those I will call “Red Belts”, have completed all of the requirements of the Orange Belt, above, and in great numbers too. To be earn a Red Belt you should probably have:

  1. At least 10 original, legal sounds that you’ve uploaded
  2. A total of no fewer than 5 different songs that you’ve mixed yourself or remixed of others
  3. You are well rehearsed in using envelopes and mixing volume and pan levels
  4. You listen to other’s music a lot and ALWAYS comment and vote on them!
  5. You’ve mixed at least one song using different samples from different people and none of your own!
  6. You’ve participated in at least one Splice contest and you check the blog each time you log in!
  7. You’ve also pulled off mixing at least one song primarily in “matrix” mode:

Think you are ready to go on? Then

Congratulations! You’ve earned your Red Belt in Splice-Fu!

Things get hazy from here… Pretty much everything from above and maybe… uhmmm… Sounds like a twist on the Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck” jokes so let’s go there:

“You know you are a Brown Belt in Splice-Fu if”….

  1. Your sample uploads are over 100!
  2. You have a total of at least 10 original songs + remixes
  3. You have reported at least one bug or made at least one (meaningful) suggestion
  4. You’ve introduced Splice to at least three of your friends, coworkers or family members
  5. You start pretty much every Splice session by listening to, voting and commenting on other’s works
  6. You try to enter every Splice contest and and are of the strong opinion that they are too far and few between!
  7. You have accounts at ccmixter, freesound and archive.org too!

AND you’ve found yourself enjoying the more advanced challenges that Splice-Fu can supply such as mixing a new song completely from the first 10 “newest sounds” (post a screnshot somewhere as proof, if you like!) or by mixing two or more of the “newest songs”.

Congratulations! You’ve earned your Brown Belt in Splice-Fu!

So there we go… a lot of information in a short amount of time!

But…

What about the BLACK BELT?

You tell me!

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Comments»

1. despair2k - December 19, 2006

Ha yeah thats cool. Sure i’ll write the song for you. Only if i rememberd to

2. Thaumata - December 21, 2006

Unless you are quite sure I recommend selecting β€œDo not synchronize this sound.”

Actually, if you know the BPM, it’s almost ALWAYS better to enter it. If you choose “Do Not Synchronize” the sound will not speed up if you (or someone else) speed up your song. πŸ™‚

Other than that, this is great! I laughed so hard. Thanks for taking the time to do this for us! I’m going to link it in our blog so everyone will read it.

~Thaumata @ Splice

3. » Blog Archive » Splice-Fu! - December 21, 2006

[…] Do you have mad ninja Splice skills? October does, and he’s written up a great guide for you to hone your own skills in Splice-Fu! Thanks! […]

4. nayad - December 21, 2006

nifty! i joined last week, and i think i’m up to yellow and working on orange. i’ll have to figure out how to contribute some sounds asap. πŸ™‚

5. Tony Cheyanne - April 23, 2007
6. Thaumata - August 1, 2007

hey hey – it’s thaumata! Did you see the new Splice yet? We released a brand new version last week that’s going to give your Splice-Fu a run for it’s money. πŸ™‚

7. Martial Art Info - August 14, 2008

Hehe.. I thought i would be reading a martial arts articles. Nice articles anyway. Keep up the good work.


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