Jimi Meets Miles

The Making of Jimi Meets Miles

Virtual instrument modelling is a very interesting area of music technology where tomorrow is here today. You can buy samples of any instrument, for example a grand piano recorded with such accuracy it sounds like the real thing. Great for home recordists like me because you don't have the hassle of setting up microphones in a sound deadened room.

Making virtual instruments sound like real musicians are doin the actual playing is made possible by MIDI technology (digitally described notes e.g. pitch, velocity etc.).

For drums,  I have in my laptop over 183 kits I can choose from. I use software called Groove Agent, which come with loads of loops recorded by real drummers, including grooves and fills. more about Groove Agent

MIDI notes can be also played in manually from a keyboard with, for instance, drums/cymbals mapped to individual keys. I do a bit of both - get a good groove and play in or drag drop fill patterns. Basically, I add in imperfections and randomness to make it sound more human. This is called sequencing.

For horns  I record playing the notes on a keyboard. I use a virtual instrument called Miles'Tone which allows articulations, it mimics real trumpet behaviour and reacts to pitch changes and air pressure in a very natural way, with a nice and warm timbre. more about Miles'Tone

I've got a device called a TEC breath controller, which is a rubber tube that connects to a USB plug. This looks and works a bit like the old voicebox that guitarist Peter Frampton used, but digital. You blow in it whilst playing and record it to a MIDI CC track. This looks like a sine wave with the peaks and troughs varying as you blow harder/softer. This track is applied to the trumpet notes creating more expression.  Here's more tech info if you're interested

I'm amazed by this tech. Back in the day I recorded at some of the best 24 track London studios. Everything that could be done back then, and then some, I can do at home on my PC for a fraction of the cost!

Why did I go to all this trouble to sequence on the Jime Meets Miles tracks? Well, the main track "Right Off" started out very organically. One day, almost by accident, I played over the original Miles Davis track and thought that would be fun to record, so I did. I uploaded it to YouTube where it became quite popular (150,000 plays) - until some anonymous twat called a copyright strike on me for using the backing track! YouTube pulled the video, I couldn't find who the copyright owner was, so couldn't get permission to use it. That's why I made sure that all notes in the new version were all mine, so it could not draw another copyright strike.

It's still the same groove (you can't copyright a groove, or chord progression) but put side by side with the original there is no resemblance whatsoever. I believe that the term is a pastiche.

Anyway, enjoy!

Thanks for listening!

Benny Sutton

PS. I've also done other Miles tracks including In A Silent Way, Tutu, and So What. They are all honest stabs at paying homage to the top musician of the 20th Century.