This is the name of a long forgotten computer program that has come with Windows for PCs since the middle 1980s. It was originally just SOUNDREC.EXE if memory serves. Nowadays it's called SNDREC32.EXE because they allegedly updated it from the days of Windows 3.0 to Windows 95, but you still can't record more than a moment's worth of anything at a time, so they didn't update it much. It's a simple program that back in 1985 was pretty nifty. Sound Recorder could play wavefiles and you could record wavefiles of your own voice if you had a microphone properly attached to your soundcard. It's an utterly useless little program now, and is one of the many things that takes up space in Windows causing it to be quite the memory hog. Yet another little known program that's still in Windows which hasn't been used for years is called Program Manager aka PROGMAN.EXE. It's still in the C:\WINDOWS directory if you know where to look for it. Pretty amazing, eh? It's still there for what they call backwards compatibility but really it's just accumulating dust and cobwebs. The kernel rarely ever refers to PROGMAN or Sound Recorder at all nowadays.

I'd think twice before deleting these things off your hard drive though. You never know when you may need an old fossil in Bill Gates arsenal.

I am positive that Windows Sound Recorder was invented for techno music.

I know, hard to believe, but it's true. When I first laid eyes on Sound Recorder I saw the most powerfully simple tool to invent my own techno music. Not only that, but Sound Recorder also functions as a powerful single-track recorder.

You may be asking, how can you make techno with such a stupid program like Sound Recorder? A program that only allows you to increase and decrease speeds in 100 percent increments? A program that volume increases are a little switch that says "Increase Volume" or "Decrease Volume?"

Allow me to explain the joy that is Sound Recorder. Not only is it quick on the draw, but it has an undo function in case you do something wrong. Before Reason and Fruity Loops, Sound Recorder was my main man, my speech therapist for hardcore rockin', my earth elemental of electronic music.

In the next few steps I will explain exactly how one goes about writing the kickenest phat beetz in existence using the simple, built-in wonder of SNDREC32.EXE. This may take around a day to weeks. The maximum amount of time is up to you, perfection knows no boundaries.

Question: Techno?

To start off with, maybe I should explain: techno is audio created by sonic manipulation. The background noize of hip-hop could be considered techno. Madonna's last album implements many techno ideals. Going into any dance club, you're sure to be privy to a trip hop tune or two. Techno music is the new Lawrence Welk. It is, on a basic level, a collection of percussive sounds that may or may not contain an overlay of soundscaping. If you can bunch noises in a space of time, you're most likely creating techno. Quite possibly, you've invented a new form. Techno is a rich medium that anyone can enjoy and most have employed. So, without further ado:

Step One: Set Up Your Kit

Like any good composition, a good kit is essential for your beatz rockin' from Compton to the East Side. You'll need to find a bass drum or two, a snare drum, a hi-hat sound and DEFINITELY some nice clap samples (if you're feeling frisky, you can even record your own clap samples). You can often find these online at free sound sample websites. They're constantly changing hands, or I'd post some. The great thing about some of these websites is you could even find sample loops. If you're feeling particularly sloth-like, you can use loops for your techno. Sometimes loops don't match up, but you can trick them into it.

Make sure your kit sounds match the tone you are trying to achieve. Unless you're planning on African Tribal Death Metal Techno with Country influences, you don't want to use a steel guitar, djembes, and heavy crash cymbals. Planning ahead is important. For my best Sound Recorder techno, I've employed simple loops with simple bass drum, snare, and hi-hat taps.

Step Two: Tracking The Kit

Tracking on Sound Recorder is, quite possibly, one of the most tedious and painstaking processes in the world. I cannot stress this enough, but save often and save in multiple files. Sound Recorder cannot support more than one undo, so you have to create your own undo! Every move you make should be gone over and criticised, because if you perform another tracking maneuver, you cannot go back! Sound Recorder tracking is quite possibly an art simply for this fact.

But enough about warnings, let's jump into this before we can think whether it's a good idea or not: Pick your first item, this should be the item that you will base everything off of, like a bass drum for example. How fast do you want to pace the song? How many bass taps do you want per second? Figure this stuff out! You'll have to be as precise as you can. I'd suggest starting the song immediately out with a bass drum, then moving the tracker-bar to the next point you want the bass drum to strike. Timing is key to Sound Recorder tracking. If you run out of space, go to the end of your song and hit the Record key. Sound Recorder will allot you another sixty seconds of time, and you can always cut that down fairly easily if you end with too much time by moving the track-bar to the end of the song and clicking Delete After Current Position.

To place the bass drum noise, go to Edit: Mix With File... Select the bass drum .wav file that you have downloaded for your piece (Tip: Things are more easily managed if you keep the files you are using in the same folder). Sound Recorder will automatically place the bass drum instance where you had the tracker-bar. I suggest listening to the area you are working on every time you place a noise, so that if there's any glitch in the audio, you can fix it before it's uneditable. Remember: Sound Recorder does EXACTLY what it tells you, so if something happens you don't like, don't blame the program!

After you have placed all the instances of bass drum you want for the song (or if you are simply creating a loop for later, all the instances of bass drum for that loop), save and move on (If you want, save a separate bassdrums.wav file so that if you need to go all the way back to the beginning, you have that waiting for you). How about adding some other sounds, like a hi-hat and a snare? After placing the bass drum, you should have gotten fairly proficient at putting noises where they ought to be, so going back to add in your other kit sounds should get much simpler. Place them in their respective places according to the original layer of bass drum noises. Remember, don't spur through this haphazardly or something will skew!

Step Three: Add Some Tones

If you were thinking ahead about this, then you would have already gotten some nice bass or piano notes to use. If you found a good sound samples website then you will be able to pick and choose from a variety of notes (like Bass C or Bass A). If you do not have different notes, there's several things you can do. For one, you can use the Decrease/Increase Speed options, these will lower or raise the sound of your sample to a different pitch. The only problem with this is it also makes the sample longer, so you'll have to prepare to have one short high note and one long low note and your regular sample at normal pitch (whatever pitch that is). Your other option is to suck it up and use only one pitch for that instrument. You can probably still do some pretty nice things with it.

I would suggest planning out exactly what notes will go where first, because this can get complicated, and if you don't like how something sounds you're pretty much uh-ohed if you didn't save way back when. This can be as easy as opening a new sound file and doing a simple little loop creation just to see how it will sound. Obviously you can't make it absolutely match the kit background, because this is just preliminary to figure out what you really want from your instruments. After you've deduced what order things will go in and how they'll be placed, then go into your song and set everything up. Now that you know how everything will go, you can breeze through the tracking process.

Step Four: Vox?

As far as Sound Recorder techno music is concerned, voice-over is optional, and can be impossibly hard to pull off, or impeccably simple. In cases such as a robotic voice being placed over the audio, it is simple enough. In the case such as a singer being placed over your audio, it can get complicated. Though I have never tried to place vocals over the techno track, several techniques can be employed to get the positioning correct. One is to open a second instance of Sound Recorder and record while playing the techno in the background (if it doesn't play while recording, then open your .wav file to play in a separate audio player, though some might consider this tainting the art). Another option could be to wing it and re-record until your vocal chords burst to get it right (You could cut and paste each line separately into the song, instead of singing the entire song all the way through and hoping for the best when you mix it in).

With putting talking parts or computer voice over the audio, this gets much simpler, as everyone knows a speaking voice or computer voice is a little lacking in the beat department anyway. Everyone generally expects talk-overs to end up off-beat, and some would say it sounds better that way.

Whatever you end up doing, there's no doubt that a good solid techno song is in order if you put a little T.L.C. into the process.

Fin

There you have it, your very own Sound Recorder techno song. It's tricky to maneuver, but when you finish it and it's all done with, you feel much better about yourself than if you had thrown it together in Fruity Loops. Even if the beat is simple, doesn't it sound sweeter now that your hands have toiled, sweaty and blistering, to construct your masterpiece? From the bare bones of technology, it's amazing what one can do for audio manipulation.

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