Recently I’ve been purchasing and warping a lot of dance tracks from the late seventies and early eighties, Chic, Jackson 5, Sister Sledge and so on. Why is another story. Anyway, I tested with the latest version of Ableton Live (7.0.7) in case auto-warping has improved since the last time. The test case was Jackson Five‘s Can You Feel It.
The initial check using the built-in metronome actually sounded like auto-warping did a proper job, to my positive surprise. The second taste case was another Jackson 5 track, however after three minutes the auto-warping got out of whack.
Going back and listening to the first track critically I noticed that the alignment of drums was not that perfect, after all. So we are back on the same state as before, Ableton should really focus more on auto-warping and make it more robust. I do believe that it’s possible to design a proper auto-warping algorithm as it’s not rocket science to analyze various bandwidths and figure out where the drums align. It might be one of those cases where before it took too much CPU power, but with Intel cores sitting idle with the new chips this should not be an issue.
Anyway, when doing warping by hand it was really interesting to see how things were aligned. The track Get on the Good Foot by James Brown was super-tight, his background band was so on the pocket it was incredible.
When warping a special 12″ version of Chic‘s Good Times, the drummer and bass player at the end part, after seven minutes, kind of collapsed and the beats were not aligned at all. Now, this was in the age of no copy/paste of loops, rather having musicians play the same thing for up to nine minutes, so it’s understandable but interesting to notice now afterwards.
When I warp old tracks, there’s the issue of swing taken into account or not. A lot of old songs are performed with a lot of swing. However, personally I think for DJ performances it’s good to warp the tracks to be very tight, makes it possible to mix the track with any other track that is also warped in a tight matter, as well as introducing other contemporary loops and so on.
Next more about my new DJ musical direction concerning dance music.