Every two years, on even years, on weeklybeats.com, there’s a sorta kind music contest (without the actual contest part) where the idea is to submit a piece of music, at least one minute long, every week, for the whole year.

I have attempted this twice so far, in 2014 (Where I managed to create 15 beats) and 2018 (14 beats). I always had a phase of joy in the beginning, then it became work and then I quit. This year, at least so far, feels different, as I am giving myself a lot more slack and let stuff be unfinished, if I can’t make it. Let’s see how many beats I can make this year. I thought it would be kinda fun to write up some notes on all of these beats I managed to release so far.

These are more or less the notes I wrote as descriptions on weeklybeats.com plus extra information or thoughts whenever I see fit (Marked as “Editor’s notes”. I’m going to update this article over the year.

Week 1

halfbyte · WB2401 It Makes A Sound

I had a lot of fun last week building a beat with Klevgrand’s “Speldosa” (The plugin done in collab with Wintergatan) and I wanted to see if I can do it again. The result is a laid back, slightly boring ambient-ish kinda track.

I wanted to start this week with something quick as I knew I didn’t have much time and I wanted to see how much time I need to invest to get something done.

One thing I noticed with this beat and the one from last week is that I need to figure out how to do proper chord progressions with this arpeggio-style music box thing (Which I believe is why this song is kinda boring)

Oh well, next time.

Week 2

Between xmas and nye last year I had some issues with my digestive system, most probably caused by a new medication for my diabetes. I thought I had it under control but this week it became clear the medication and my body did not agree. I have since started with a different (more conventional) medication and I am much better off for it, but boy was this not fun times. Between xmas and this week I lost about 10kg which is never a good thing to happen. Again, I am much better now and regained my weight, but to cut a long story short, I spent most of this week between my bed and my bathroom and couldn’t even think straight most of the time. So yeah, no weeklybeat this week. Great start, eh?

Week 3

halfbyte · WB2403 Mango Sykkel

This week was a bit busy so again, this is more a sketch that shows the potential.

The name is a nod to the all time classic Mango Drive from Rhythm&Sound, which in term is a remix of Mango Walk.

I don’t see this as a sort of reproduction or even remix but more of a study of the spirit and the techniques of the original.

Produced using the Ableton 12 Beta, but hardly using any of the new functionality (I used “strum” for the second guitar-ish synth chord)

It would by quite easy to stretch this to 5-8 minutes with some melodic variations and some proper dub style echo automations but I ran out of time as I won’t have much time during the weekend.

Editor’s note

Rhythm&Sound of course being one of the alter egos of Moritz von Oswald and Mark Ernestus, also know as Basic Channel and Maurizio. I love almost all of their work and they are the founders of what became known as Dub Techno or Dubhouse. I often come back to this genre, not only as a musician but also as a listener, especially in work settings.

Week 4

halfbyte · WB2404 Drilling Through

This week I stood in my own way, started way too late on Thursday and then ended up with something completely unusable. I thew away everything melodic, just kept the beat and started from scratch.

The sounds are a bit stereotypical, but I like the anthem-ish sound of the super saw synth.

Again, sloppy arrangement, but at least this one has a couple of transitions if a bit random.

Editor’s note

Over the course of last year, I fell in love a bit with UK Drill, especially with female artists like Cristale and Teezandos, if you haven’t watched their Plugged in with Fumez, you’re missing out. (Or, if you also like Football (The Soccer kind), make sure you watch Cristale’s daily duppy

I don’t think I have nailed this genre fully yet, but it’s definitely fun to play around with.

Week 5

halfbyte · WB2405 Clamshell

No idea what this is. The groundwork, including parts of the pads in the background, the bleepy melody and the two drum loops were done on the OP-1, but then I pivoted to Ableton Live as I was getting nowhere on device.

I tried to add more to this but the song actively resisted adding more elements.

Editor’s note

The interesting thing when you’re forcing yourself to make music every week after a long time of not doing it (at least on a regular basis) is that every week is different. This week was a crawl and I ran into several walls. Sometimes a track simply doesn’t want to cooperate and finishing it becomes a drag. This one was especially frustrating because it felt unfinished and at the same time, as I wrote, it almost actively resisted additional elements.

Week 6

halfbyte · WB2406 Drain The Groove

I went into the week thinking that trying to do some minimal techno could be fun. I then unexpectedly had time over the weekend, as I was trying to get rid of some cold viruses.

This became a fun excersise in time and space with various different time signatures running against each other and constantly changing amounts of reverb on the main pieces. I also had a bit more time for arrangement so not only is this the longest beat this year so far, it probably also has the best breaks and transitions.

If you can’t tell, I am quite happy with this one :)

Editor’s note

Sometimes I need to nerd out on a track and this is one of them tracks. It reminds me a bit of my old beat “Backyard Bench” from Weekly Beats 2014 where I also tried to play around with time signatures and create some interesting switch ups.

halfbyte · Backyard Bench (WeeklyBeats12)

Week 7

halfbyte · WB2407 Varifocal

This is another quick one, all in all something like 3 hours maybe. Still I think I came up with some fun ideas and somewhat executed on them. Arrangement could be better, I would love to have more time to get the mix right (I know that the master compressor somewhat messes up the drum levels), but I’m willing to live with these sacrifices :)

The voice is Klevgrand’s Pipa, Synths are almost exclusively Live’s Wavetable. I’m quite fond of the pads that are quite simple in design but have enough movement and are quite lush and so give a nice back end to the track.

Editor’s note

I still like this track very much and would love to find the time to turn it into a full track. Again, a little bit of rhythm nerdery when the beat switches to a triplet pattern without warning.

And yeah, I ordered some Varifocal glasses that week. I am getting old.

Week 8

halfbyte · WB2408 Oat Milk

Ran a bit out of time here, so it’s a bit on the short side. I love the fact that this does not actually contain any form of kick drum.

The noise in the background, if you listen very carefully, turns out to be the 3D printer I had running in the background today (not super easy to master with that) that I sampled with a handheld recorder and then did a bit of filtering for it to be not super obnoxious.

Editor’s note

Not much to say about this one, another dub techno-ish track.

Week 9

halfbyte · WB2409 Regulators

Bit of a weird one this week: I am not really happy with the end result and the process was kinda painful with lots of dead ends. In the end the result is somewhat coherent, I think, but also very, very stereotypical. I was going for that particular sound aesthetic, but was hoping for something more interesting.

In the end I am just glad I pulled through and had something to upload. Maybe it’s just one of those weeks.

Editor’s note

This is an odd one: I was really frustrated with it and the process was almost as painful as week 5, but it has since grown on me and I am actually quite happy with the end result. Not only that but it’s also one of my more successful tracks on Soundcloud which surprised me.

It is of course, heavily influenced by the sound of tracks like Baddadan with that super flat clap sound that seems to be the hype right now in D&B.

Week 10

halfbyte · WB2410 A Very Long Preset

For a while I wanted to do some actual ambient work. When playing around with the release version of Ableton 12 and the new Granulator III, I stumbled across this preset called Piano Quartz that on its own already started like half of a Nils Frahm song. (Don’t worry, I don’t want to belittle Nils Frahm, the other 50% are 99% of the work, and also, I love his music). It feels a bit like a cheat, but the result is quite soothing I think. I added some well hidden drums, some rainy ambience and a bit of noodling.

I know this is probably a bit of a downer after last weeks track, but I darn well do what I want here :)

Funny side note: My once beefy desktop machine can’t handle the 3-4 voice Granulator, I had to freeze the track which is fun on an 8 minute track.

Another funny side note: Standard encoding out of Ableton was resulting in a file too big for Weeklybeats.

Editor’s note

It still feels a little bit like Robert Henke actually wrote this song, but I am still quite happy with how this ended up. I wish I could have done something a bit more useful on top of the Granular Piano than my mindless noodling but again that’s both a question of time and also of how well stuff fits into the song in the end. I am quite happy with the drums, though.

Week 11

halfbyte · WB2411 This Is Not a Cake

Ooof, forgot to hit the submit button and only realised that late on monday. Now thankfully got a link to upload.

Another surprisingly long one. Heavily inspired by listening to too much Von D, but hopefully able to give it my own spin and atmosphere. Lots of different delays and reverbs, definitely not skimping out on the post processing.

It is developing slowly but I wouldn’t have it any other way in this case.

Editor’s note

On one hand I was relieved I was able to upload towards the end of the week thanks to the organisers of Weeklybeats, on the other hand I was so proud of this one that I was gutted that it wouldn’t get the attention a beat would normally get. On the other hand, it’s one of the more popular songs on Soundcloud, so I can’t really complain.

Week 12

halfbyte · WB2412 Stereo Type

I wanted to do this for a while, sort of to prove myself that I’m able to do it. I am somewhat ambiguous towards the lofi genre and do enjoy listening to the Girl’s stream from time to time, but I didn’t have to create this to figure out that most of those tracks are relatively low effort.

Still, it was fun to play around with some nice chord progressions and the lead melody.

Editor’s note

It’s one thing to try to crack a genre as a producer. As you can see from the variance in my music, it’s a common theme with me. I do have genres I feel more at home at (mainly because I made them for years or decades), but I am quite curious and use the weekly beats tracks often as a way to familiarize myself with this genre.

With Lofi, the rabbit hole gets a bit deeper. There’s a couple of things that make this challenging for me and a couple of things that make this “success” all the way more rewarding. The first thing is that I am really bad with music theory, with chord progressions and such and Lofi is all about that one nice chord progression you can then milk to death. This was probably the hardest part for me.

The other thing is that I am super aware of the fact that Lofi is now a very, very crowded genre and one, where “standing out” isn’t really what you’re aiming for and so a lot of it is really, really simple. Still it would probably help to know how to play some jazz guitar chords.

And lastly, I have this weird love/hate relationship with producing hip hop ish beats - When my brother got into beat making, I showed him all the tricks I knew and I taught him how to make music using Buzz, the tracker I used at the time.

And very quickly after that, he was making beats that were clearly better than what I had ever done. And as his bigger brother, this pissed me off and still does. I am getting much better at sampling (It’s just not something that lends itself well for weekly beats with having to clear samples etc.) and my hip hop chops do improve over time, but getting this beat to sound as good as it does while completely matching the stereotype of a Lofi beat made me really happy.

(Love you, bro, hope you’re finding your way back into beat making soon, too.)

Week 13

halfbyte · WB2413 Remember Me

Everyone was talking about the Amigo VST for the last few weeks and since I spent most of the 90’s in Protracker, and the price honestly made it a no-brainer, I picked it up. This track is supposed to be a slightly modernised throwback into the 90’s - gritty samples of questionable sources, distorted 808 basses, etc. etc.

I resampled a couple of synths into Amigo as well, notably the pad and the arp, to give it that grit. In the end I didn’t spend as much time with the drum editing as I expected as the sound of that more mellow melodic jungle didn’t need it.

This was fun and I think Amigo will part of my toolkit from now on. Definitely recommended.

Editor’s note

Not only due to the way AMIGO adds some nostalgic grit to the samples, but also due to the simplistic arrangement this very much has “Jan sitting in his bedroom hacking numbers into Protracker” vibes. I maybe should have used Renoise to build this, and maybe I will try to do that again later in the year but every time I try to actually use Renoise, I get bored really really quickly for some reason.

This song is a good reminder of the endless capabilities we have at our hand nowadays in terms of music production and that we were able to produce cool music with much, much less.

Week 14

halfbyte · WB2414 Flachsdreschen

I’ve been watching a ton of historical documentations on old crafts on this youtube channel by the Landschaftsverband Rheinland and one of them was about preparing flax for spinning, including the threshing to free the flaxseed from the pods. Threshing by hand in a group inevitably produces some sort of rhythm and that’s how I ended up sampling that video under the CC license.

I didn’t spend a ton of time on the track except for arranging the voice samples and making sure the threshing was somewhat in rhythm. Lots of warp markers in these.

Editor’s note

I’m a bit torn on this. On one hand I like it, but also I do realise that the music part of this is a bit underdeveloped and primitive while the combination with the old film commentary can feel a bit gimmicky. Also, I guess this is much more enjoyable (and you’ll be able get the small gags I managed to squeeze in by specifically sequencing the spoken words with particular parts of the music) when you are able to understand the german words.