The Old Zerp and Flerp

It’s tempting to call this a “contractual obligation” track. The evening started with an attempt at a much simpler, downtempo electronic piece. I’ve been fascinated with this skydiving video’s soundtrack by Sidewalks and Skeletons, and wanted to learn more about how I might go about producing something similar.

Unfortunately, many times when I’m trying to dissect something and rebuild, I end up rewriting the exact song I’m listening to. In this case, I couldn’t get away from the bass line and chord structure. I was also having difficulty finding any other melody.

Part of the issue in this case is that the original isn’t a complicated track, and it does its thing very well. There’s an economy to it where nothing is wasted, everything is needed, and little can be changed without fundamentally ending up somewhere completely different.

After about an hour of messing around with sounds and rhythms, it just wasn’t working out, so I shifted and changed the tempo from 52 to 128. Big jump! The drums were already nicely dialed in, so I quickly knocked out a basic rhythm.

  1. The Old Zerp and Flerp Ray Toler 3:09

Some sound browsing ensued and I ended up with the off-beat bass, poppy synth, and the little upticking siren sounding thing. I basically just kept building up parts and filling in sonic holes until it sounded about right, added an additional drum loop, and then started in on arranging.

When I was in high school, my teachers required me to submit multiple drafts of a paper. The problem was that it was the early days of computing and I was the only person using a word processor (on the Commodore 64, no less!). While continuous revision and editing is pretty much the standard way people write now, it wasn’t at the time.

So my “first draft” was almost always my final version. I’d already done all of the editing. My solution was to print out the final draft, go in and cut some things out, move some other things around, add a misspelled word here or there, and print out “first” and “second” drafts.

With EDM and dance production, I’m normally working out what the “final” main theme / loop is going to be, then start removing things to create the builds and drops. The final loop I had built up in this case appears toward the end when the string patch comes in, though it didn’t have the pulsing pattern gate to it at that point. That was the very last thing I added because it was boring otherwise.

I like this track better after some time away from it than I did when I was finishing it up. It’s not a bad little track, has some fun hooks, and would certainly do well with additional polish and production. I’ve used that chord progression in the strings a few times for other songs, so I might switch that up a bit, and there’s a lot of EQ work to be done.

It’s more than a “contractual obligation” track, in any case. It’s closer to a practice scrimmage. Doing these quick productions helps cement certain techniques, can uncover some fun hooks to be reused or expanded later, and is always good for improving frequency range arrangement.


  • Main drums: Vermona DRM1 Mk III
  • Additional loop: Stylus RMX
  • Off bass: DSI Tetra
  • Talking bass: Access Virus TI
  • Gated strings: Waldorf Streichfett w/Tantra
  • Other synths: Omnisphere

Next up: I Find the Strength

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