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Tags : | Pop | 8.79 MB

Description : “TheLeach”, bass player with the German group, How to Loot Brazil, recently posted several acapellas here on Looperman. These are the actual vocals from tracks that the band has released.

The acapella for “Box Room” caught my fancy. You can find the pella here:

I did listen to the band’s original version (, which I liked a lot. For some reason, though, I found it really difficult to figure out the chord progressions used in the band’s version. I think that is because it has a very complex electronic arrangement that, for much of the song, is more about providing interesting counterpoint to the vocal melody than laying down a traditional instrumental bed. Not sure if that description makes sense, but if you watch their Youtube video, I think you will understand what I mean.

I started trying to work out the chords using a piano patch, and that seemed to set the tone and style for my remix. I use Logic Pro and it was telling me that I was playing all kinds of crazy chords (11ths, and 13ths, and diminished). Had no idea what I was doing, frankly. Just searching for chord sequences that sounded right. Spent a bit of time chopping up the vocal and time-aligning it. Added a bit of processing. Dropped one whole section of the vocal because I just couldn’t find a way to make it fit with the style and feel of the remix. (It worked fine in the original and also in other remixes that have been done by Looperman members.)

So, this remix is very different from the band’s original version. And, I hope that TheLeach, who wrote the song, won’t be too upset with where I took it. He wrote it on an acoustic guitar, apparently, so it clearly evolved quite a bit to get to their recorded version. Anyway, doing something different is what remixes are all about. Right?

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  1. DrvanLansberg
    DrvanLansberg on Tue 8th May 2018 - 3 years ago

    Listening to this track for the third time now. You are clearly a gifted and talented musician Eric. There's few interesting details and tricks hidden in here.

    What I really like is that the track starts out as kind of 90's Air track. I hear resemblances. And then, even without noticing, I am listening to a blues like track with some jazzy influences. Like the way you play with styles, intended ot not. Another tricky thing is key shift during the track. It starts out in B flat and ends in C flat, also even without noticing. You described how you have no clue in which key your track is. Which is proof to me that you are indeed very talented since you apperently do all this on intuition. Nice!

    Although I would never be able to create a track like this, I might have made a few minor different choices. At 0:32 you play six chords (3x2) that sound "too easy". It is hard to describe sine I'm not a native English speaker. Same goes for the chords that lead to the E major chords just after. Playing these chords on each first count adds to the effect.

    The first time I listened to your track, I thought the vocals were processed too much, like all over the track. And at first I thought it would be better to only to this processing at the chorus. But after listening to the track mopre often, it grew on me and now I think it was actually an excellent choice to do it the way you chose.

    Around 2:00 or just after, the piano seems panned quite heavily to the left. Why? (just being curious). Gotta love that muted trumpet in the outro. What have used for that?

    All in all a very well put together track that (although you labelled it pop) is a lot more complex than one would imagine at first listen. Well done.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks for all the feedback. You are absolutely right. Looperman’s greatest value in my view is that we can get constructive input from other members on what works and what doesn’t work so well in our tracks.

    It has been a while since I developed the Box Room track, but I’m pretty sure I was aware (or at least I suspected) that I might have a key change going on in the track. I remember thinking of the Daft Punk track, “Within”, where Montreal Pianist Chilly Gonzales had to come up with a way to bridge sections from A minor to Bb minor. He had to find a chord that played a role in both keys. He chose F. (There’s a really interesting VICE interview with him as one of the collaborators on Random Access Memories where he explains this.). He’s like Jacob Collier in his focus on the role of harmony in music.

    Muted trumpet is from Native Instrument’s Session Horns Pro. I think it’s a really good VST. I do tend to layer different VST instruments for strings and horns, but on this one I just used the Session Horns patch on its own.

    I’m not sure I agree with you about the vocal processing. I think, on reflection, that I over-did it. It sounds kind of harsh to me in some areas now. Some level of effects I think was OK throughout, but I think I should have been more selective.

    I’m not exactly sure what you meant by the chords at 0:32 sounding “too easy”. Definitely agree that playing them on the first count makes thinks sound kind of “wooden” in the track. I think that was just laziness on my part. I struggled to find a chord progression that worked. Once I had that I didn’t make the effort to play a more nuanced piano track. It isn’t quantized, but the timing is pretty close to being exactly on the beats, which gets boring. I think I usually do better.

    But, I also think you are suggesting either that the chord inversion was “too easy” or that the chord itself was not as interesting as it could have been. That’s a more substantive issue and I’d really appreciate hearing more explanation from you on that, if possible. The first chord is a Bb7 major, second inversion. Second chord is Eb major with the fifth (Bb) doubled in the bass. Keeps Bb as the common foundation for both chords. (I’m trying to avoid always using the root of the chord in the left hand). Anyway, I’m definitely interested in your advice on what I might do with those chords.



  2. Tumbleweed
    Tumbleweed on Sun 29th Apr 2018 - 3 years ago

    I can hear why the vocal caught your attention Eric...very nicely accompanied. Really lie the combination of instruments...orchestrated with some very fine piano and lots of interesting little are a very fine musician.....great job...Ed

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks, Ed. This was a tough one for me. I did study music theory long ago, but not a whole seems to have stuck. It's very much hit or miss for me figuring out chord progressions. It gets very confusing! :0

    I saw that you replied to my comment on your "Two Minutes" track, but the page seems to have gone missing on Looperman. Have never seen that before.

    One of these days it would be great if we could collaborate on a track. I greatly admire your musicianship.


  3. CitizenMofo
    CitizenMofo on Tue 27th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    I really enjoyed this piece. Also enjoyed your description of the creative journey. Music tells you where it wants to go, doesn't it? You might think you know but it has other ideas. I think everything works here. The only thing I question a bit is the timbre of the vocals. I didn't listen to the original so don't know what you were starting with, but it's a bit machine-y for my taste; maybe experiment a bit there? (but it sounds like you already have endlessly). Anyway, great work!

    Reply by EricMilligan

    After letting the track "sit" for a few weeks, I listened to it again. I think you are right about the timbre of the vocals. I think I went a bit overboard on the processing, at least in parts. Fresh ears.

  4. ronabo
    ronabo on Mon 26th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Sounds Awesome Eric... pleasant to the ear.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks, Ronabo. I left you a lengthy comment on your latest track, which I liked a great deal. You do really nice keyboard work! :)


  5. ashguey
    ashguey on Sun 25th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Hi, good job!!
    What virtual instrumente do you use in Logic for the strings?? It sounds really good...

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Orchestral Essentials for the legato strings. NI Session Strings Pro for the violas. I generally find that combining different VSTs on strings and brass and duplicating the midi tracks seems to work better. Each instrument brings a different timbre and articulation. In this case, however, I didn't double track the string parts.

  6. BLEEP
    BLEEP on Sun 25th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Je suis complétement d'accord avec Laurent: dieu que c'est dur d'écrire une instrumentation digne de ce nom autour d'un acapella! et tu l'as superbement réussi!
    La voix est filtrée non? j'ai pas écouté l'original, mais cette version m'enchante sans problème, très belle ambiance que tu nous proposes!
    Félicitations à toi!

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Merci, Bleep. Oui, la voix est filtrée. Aussi double-tracked, compression légère, un peu de reverb, un peu de delay, et "stereo spreader". Peut-Être trop?


  7. laurentwirz
    laurentwirz on Thu 8th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Hello! Well done... this is a song! Beautiful harmonies. I know this is a hard work to build music around acapellas! Congrats.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Merci, Laurent! Yes, hard work, but very enjoyable if the acapellas are good and the track ends up sounding OK. I've definitely had attempts that didn't work out very well. Sometimes inspiration seems to dry up, and then it comes back. Good thing I'm not trying to make a living doing this. Would be starving for sure! :)

  8. monsterage
    monsterage on Wed 7th Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    damn this is a beautiful track! loved how this turned out.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks, Monterage. Piano solo is a bit clunky I think. My piano technique has really deteriorated. I play everything in via midi, but then I have to spend a lot of time tweaking the midi track fixing wrong notes and getting phrasing so it sounds right. Have decided I need to start practising my scales and arpeggios again. I have a friend (an economist) who is a pretty good jazz pianist. Plays gigs on the weekend in a jazz trio. He practices his scales for 1 hour every day. Real dedication! :)

  9. crucethus
    crucethus on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Hey Eric,
    you are in luck.
    for windows linux or apple there is an app called Mixx. It is DJ software and allows you to digitally play decks and it's free. But it also functions nicely for me as a BPM counter and Key finder. In your case, this song is in the key of Eb major Ionian Mode at 75 BPM, and it's counter part would be Cminor if you used an aeolian mode, but this is clearly a major scale tune. I also jammed to it on my keyboard and it's clearly in Eb and I think the fun chords you are using are variations of 7th chords. Lends to a nice bluesy feel.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    I AM in luck, Steve. Not only because there apparently is an app that can help me figure out the key of a song ( I usually don't have this much trouble), but also because there somebody like you who point me in the right direction and to actually make the effort to jam to my track to confirm the key for me! :) Thanks very much, my friend! You just demonstrated the value of the Looperman community.

    This is all a bit embarrassing, frankly. I can't even figure out what key the track I composed is in. I think at some point early on I did wonder if Eb was the actual key, but for some reason decided it probably wasn't. And, then when I played in the piano solo and mute trumpet part using a blues scale that seemed to be in the key of C, I figured the whole thing must be in C minor. Which is, of course, the relative minor for Eb. I must be getting old. Wait! I AM old! :)

    Thanks again. I will check out Mixx for sure. I wonder how it will work on just the acapella alone. I think most acapellas on Looperman don't indicate the key, so figuring that out is the first step. In theory, makes developing a appropriate chord progression easier, although I've never done it that sequence.

  10. Alien
    Alien on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Impressive, good job with it.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks very much, Alien.

  11. Discipline
    Discipline on Thu 1st Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Yes indeed, very nice. everything works as it should and Your experimentations have resulted in a very listenable and enjoyable track.

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks very much for the positive feedback, Discipline.

    I think the vocal was really very engaging. When I listen to all the different remixes that have been done, as well as the original version I find it interesting that the vocal seems to work with a variety of styles. I think that suggests that there is something fundamentally good about the vocal both in terms of melody and performance.

    I have been listening a lot to London Grammar, Chvrch, Wet, and Aquilo. Have been influenced by their stuff, clearly.

    Regards from Ottawa. I'm sure we have much more snow than you to in the UK, although my daughter, who lives in Scotland, had a wee bit last week I think.


  12. crucethus
    crucethus on Thu 1st Feb 2018 - 3 years ago

    Hey Eric, good stuff here. Around 1:28 is where your chord structure becomes more intricate. But a great selection of chords to go with this accapella. Gives it a blues-jazzy feel, especially that muted trumpet at the end. Your mix has set an atomsphere with the pella, which is what one would hope to be able to do with creating music. well done

    Reply by EricMilligan

    Thanks, Steve. I did try to voice the chords not in root position, at last part of the time. That's a change for me because I'm not really good at inversions.

    Also , it is possible that the complex chords that Logic was saying I was playing were actually mis-identified due to the fact that, in Logic, I might have specified the key of the song incorrectly. I wish there was some app that could analyze an audio file and tell you what key it was in.

    I set this remix as being in A minor, but the piano solo and mute trumpet were playing a blues scale in C. Those are related keys, of course, so who knows what key it really is. Could be both, with a key change?

    I actually found this one really confusing. Took me a couple of weeks off and on to get it finished.

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