How Daft Punk make their sound? (Synthesis Techniques)
AUD210 Week 2 Synthesis
After gaining mainstream popularity in the late 1990s as part of the French house movement, the French Duo — Daft Punk, went on pioneering electronic music and had continuous success. The music transcend electronic music, combing their own house music style with funk, disco, rock and synth-pop etc. It is not an easy job to sum up Daft Punk’s music style as they have grown over the years, but some sonic features of their synthesis techniques remain as their own stamp. These synthesis approaches include the vintage taste with use of vintage gear and influence of music from the past era, as well as the robotic vocal sound achieved with the use of vintage vocoders and samplers. In short, they aim to bring back the sound from the golden age of modern pop music with a cutting edge creativity.
Across their albums, the use of vintage gears have defined their stylish vintage sound. These gears include Roland Juno 106 analog synthesizer, EMU-SP1200 vintage sampler and the legendary TR-909 drum machine as well as the likes of many more (Dawson, 2013). In various interviews and making-of videos, they explained that the warmer sound that vintage gears give is what their gear choice comes from. They have also reportedly experiment with tapes, for example, they tried recording tracks on ProTools and transferring them onto tape which are further manipulated to achieve desirable sonic character. Their crave of vintage quality furthers down on hiring modular synth engineers to make and modify their large modular synths.
While the production team for their latest studio album — Random Access Memories describe the production process with Daft Punk as an Analogue Journey, they certainly also embraces the gifts from modern digital technology (Tingen, 2013). Midi tracks and arpeggiator plug-ins are used on top of vintage synths. They also achieved their symbolic robotic vocals with the use of vintage vocoder, but also granular synthesis and auto-tunes. For example, in their song “Robot Rock”, using granular synthesis, they slice a sample from human voice saying the word “Robot”, splitting the sound into large numbers of short samples, looping and manipulating each “grain” to achieve a robotic character (MCGUIRE, S. AND VAN DER REST, N, 2015).
Dawson, J. (2013). Daft Punk – A Selection of The Gear They're Known To Use. Dawsons Music. Retrieved 19 February 2018, from https://www.dawsons.co.uk/blog/daft-punk-their-gear
McGuire, S., & Van der Rest, N. (2015). The Musical Art of Synthesis. CRC Press.
Tingen, P. (2013). Recording Random Access Memories | Daft Punk |. Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018, from https://www.soundonsound.com/people/recording-random-access-memories-daft-punk