Get Down Saturday Night is a classic 1983 hit by Oliver Cheatham written by himself and Kevin McCord, released on MCA Records. It peaked at #38 in the UK singles chart that year. It’s been sampled countless times, most notably by Daft Punk, Michael Gray and Room 5 (have a look at some of the others examples here).
In addition, it’s been re-released in 1988, ‘89, ‘98, ‘99, 2002, ‘03 and ‘07 as well as getting another crack of the whip on the GTA Vice City soundtrack. There’s clearly something about it that timeless, so let’s have a look at how it’s put together.
Let’s have a brief look at the original and its instrumentation and see how we can go about emulating it.
Oliver Cheatham – Get Down Saturday Night (1983)
The instrumentation of this song is fairly basic. We’ve got what sounds like live drums and a synth bass, with the synonymous synthetic sounding plucked guitar and a polysynth underpinning it all with the chords.
Here’s my attempt at a basic recreation. We’re working in the key of B minor and at 116 bpm for this.
N.B Interestingly when searching for alternate versions on iTunes I found some obvious vinyl rips that had been sped up and were nearly 2.5 bpm faster than the original and up half a semitone!
Let’s start with the chords. I’ve used Arturia’s Prophet V for this, employing a couple of detuned sawtooths with a light envelope filter. I’ve added some Eventide UltraChannel to high and low-pass as well as add in some subtle pitch modulation.
I’ve bounced it with the metronome so you can clearly hear where each chord falls.
Notice each chord is a double dotted half note – this means it’s duration is 1 + ¾ the original duration. It’s a little tidier to notate that rather than a dotted half note tied to an eight note. You can read more about double dotted notes here.
Here’s the notes for those who can’t read sheet music:
F#-/B: B F# A C# G∆7: G F# B D E-7: E G B D F#-7: F# A C# E
The drums started life as Logic’s excellent Drummer instrument. I generated four bars of drums using the Neo-Soul drummer, adjusting the complexity and hi-hats to taste. After you’ve done this you need to convert the region to a MIDI region (ctrl + click, Convert > Convert to MIDI region):
It was good, but note close enough, so I extrapolated a groove template from the reference track. In order to do this you need to first get your reference track in time with your DAW. In the sample editor trim your audio region to the exact length you’re working to, in my case four bars.
Set the cycle to the target region, which again in my case if four bars. Unless the track is exactly in time it’s likely the region will be slightly longer or shorter than the cycle. Ensure the region is selected then click Edit > Tempo > Adjust Tempo using Region Length and Locaters.
Once you’ve done this, Logic should adjust its tempo to exactly fit the duration of your trimmed region. Even though it’s roughly 116, it’s not exact so it’ll likely end up a few decimal places either side of 116.
Next enable Flex Mode (Cmd + F) and click the Enable Flex (the blue box) on the Track Header.
Now the track is in flex mode you can adjust the tempo to whatever you want. Now click on the Region Inspector and under the Quantize drop-down menu, select Make Groove Template.
The groove template will be named after the region and it should be in all of your quantize menus in the project. I quantised my drums to this and it sat much better with the reference track.
Once the groove was good I moved on to the sound design. I tuned down the snare and dampened it a little more as it was too bright and brash. I also took this opportunity to tune the hats up a bit.
To place the drums more in the mix I used some Fielding DSP Reviver to add in third order harmonics, some Logic EQ and iZotope Vinyl (which is free!) using the 1980 Year preset. I’ve also added some short reverb from Logic’s Space Designer.
The bass is a surprisingly simple root note on beats 1 and 3 of each bar. This sits nicely on top of the kick drum and lets the chords anticipate each bass note.
I’ve reached again for an Arturia instrument, this time the Mini V. It’s a square wave with a sawtooth an octave above and some low-pass filtering with no resonance. Open the filter with a quick decaying envelope. I also used some SoundToys Radiator to beef it up and some Logic EQ.
Lastly there’s a guitar part. This is almost certainly a Strat or similarly bright single coil pickup guitar. As a) don’t have one to hand and b) play guitar like pianist, I’ve opted for some Muted Guitar from Logic’s EXS24.
This was staple in legacy versions of Logic but I’m unsure if it comes as standard in Logic X. There’s a few plug-ins on this to get it sounding right; firstly some Sugar Bytes WOW to get the funky envelope filtered sound. Then there’s some Fender Twin-like amp simulation from Logic’s Amp, Logic own EQ and compression and finally some SoundToys EchoBoy to add a slapback echo. It’s not perfect but it’s fine for this purpose.
I’ve omitted all the ghost notes from the score/tab as you don’t want to over analyse this and just ensure you hit the main notes with some funky up/down strokes in between.
I routed all of these tracks (including the reverb) to a bus and used some Logic Compression in Classic VCA mode, which is loosely based on the SSL bus compressor.
To finish off I used some Match EQ from Fab Filter’s excellent Pro-Q 2. This is not only a great diagnostic tool but it can help fill in some missing frequencies. Route your reference audio to the sidechain input of the Pro-Q 2 and click on the analyser in the bottom right hand corner.
Once you’ve played enough of your reference hit match and it will generate an EQ curve to suit. Here’s the whole thing sounds together.
Daft Punk – Voyager (2001)
Daft Punk interpolated Get Down Saturday Night on their pioneering 2001 album Discovery.
Interpolation is technique employed by many artists in order to circumnavigate paying for the master when sampling (however depending on the replay of the sample some publishing royalties may still be owed).
This also allows more controls over the balance of the stems and makes it easier to change key and has various other useful composition and production benefits. To begin with let’s change the DAW to 120 bpm.
Let’s start off again with our chords.The main chord structure is very similar to Cheatham’s although Bangalter and de Homem-Christo have played with them slightly.
I’ve used my same Prophet from earlier adding in Logic’s ES2 to fill in some higher frequencies with a buzzier synth string sound. I used two detuned sawtooths with some 6 voice unison. To widen it some more I used some Valhalla SpaceModulator (Loose Doubler preset) and Logic’s Ensemble plug-in (Synth String Ensemble preset).
B-/E: E B D F# Bsus4/C#: C# B E F# C∆7: C B E G C/D: D C E G
As you can see/hear, the chords are slightly different. Similarly to Get Down… they have the same note durations (although this is not uncommon in this style of music) and employ lots of slash chords with an unclear tonic. Voyager also uses two non diatonic chords in the C∆7 and C/D.
The bass line of one of Daft Punk’s most memorable. To my ears it sounds like a Moog but I didn’t want to fret over the sound too much (genuinely no pun intended). I used U-He’s phenomenal (and cheap) Diva starting with the INIT Minimono preset as a spring board.
For the tab version I’ve had to used a 5-string bass as there are too many low notes but feel free to transpose it up an octave and use an octaver pedal.
I used the same drums as from the previous example and almost treated them like a sample. I added some gating to duck the room noise out a little, a high-pass filter to remove the kick (Tone2’s cheap and awesome BiFilter2), Logic’s BitCrusher adding some some sample rate and bit depth reduction as well as some drive and EQ.
In Voyager there’s an additional kick drum, almost certainly from a Daft Punk favourite the Roland TR-909. Whist there are countless emulations out there I opted for the flexible and well priced Stacker by Sample Magic. If you’re unclear how to use this drum computer, have a watch of this:
A huge part of the Discovery-era Daft Punk sound is that of the Alesis 3630. The budget 1U rack compressor is known for its list of faults and lo-fi sound but the sidechain compression input on it arguably launched french house (read me wax-lyrical about it here.)
Let’s add Logic’s compressor to our drums (we’re actually going to do it for the rest of the instruments too) and route our kick to the sidechain analysis input (pinky/red arrow).
Enable the Filter on the Sidechain toggle and set it to high-pass (yellow). This will filter out lower frequencies in the sidechain trigger and allow for more control. Use the Listen function to hear what you’re doing if you’re unclear. I’ve left the HPF at ~110 Hz.
Set the threshold and ratio to taste (green box), I tend to use quite high ratios for this french house style but this example warranted a lower one. Ensure the makeup gain is switched off.
Lastly set your attack and release values (white). The attack needs to be short and the release will determine how quickly the compressor resets.
Here’s our kick and drums together with no sidechain:
…and with the sidechain enabled. A marked improvement!
Lastly there’s an electric guitar loop added. I’ve again leant on the EXS24 instrument, and while it’s not perfect it’s fine for the resources available to me.
I’ve used the same channel strip as the previous example disabling the envelope filter and slapback echo. Here it is with the kick for context:
And here everything is all together. I’ve used the same SSL-stlye compression and match EQ to marry the two sounds together. It’s not as close as the Oliver Cheatham example, but without going into forensic detail it’s not bad and can hopefully inspire you to experiment with these types of sounds, rhythms and harmonies yourself.
Room 5 feat. Oliver Cheatham – Make Luv (2003)
Perhaps most people’s first exposure to this track was the 2003 hit featuring the man himself, Make Luv, which reached number 1 in the UK singles charts (remember those things?) for four weeks back in March and April of 2003.
To me this sounds like a direct sample, so I’m going to import what I did for Get Down Saturday Night as an audio file to Logic.
Before doing anything else I’m going to record in the guitar chicka-chicka sound that is so synonymous with this track. The guitar is subjected to some EQ, amping, compression and sample delay.
Comparing Get Down… to Make Luv the first thing that’s obvious is the increase in tempo required. Make Luv is 125 bpm, so enable flex time for Get Down and change the tempo. This will speed our sample up to the correct bpm but the second thing you should be able to notice is the difference in key.
Before the days of Ableton Live and other more sophisticated time stretch algorithms, the de-facto way of operating was to speed the sample up in an analog domain, usually a turntable. This meant you were using up less space in your precious samplers limited RAM.
Change the Flex Pop-Up menu from whatever it defaults to to Speed (FX) – this will make our audio behave like an analog format and the pitch will increase as we speed the tempo or and decrease as we drop it down.
Here’s how our sample sounded at 116 bpm:
…and now at 125 bpm.
There’s not much else left to do. Firstly let’s fake the sampling process. I’ve added some iZotope Vinyl (1980 again, little bit of input drive), the outstanding GoodHertz Vulf Compressor for some 1990s LoFi noise and compression, Logic’s Bit Crusher to simulate the lower sample rate and bit depth of many 90s samplers, Logic’s underrated Fuzz-Wah to add some resonant low-pass filtering and more compression and lastly yet more compression from Logic’s native compressor.
Now to add in some more modern disco-house drums. I’ve nabbed a couple of loops from Sample Magic’s Hed Kandi pack, as this is stylistically perfect for what I’m after. I’ve got one loop providing the kick and snare and another a light hi-hat pattern. I’ve also added a cymbal with some reverb and delay and an explosion sound from the Apple Loop library:
Here’s how it all sounds routed to a bus with some compression and EQ. I’ve also added some healthy but not overcooked sidechain compression to the hats and original sample.
Michael Gray – The Weekend (2004)
And as if that wasn’t enough for you, the track had another lease of life in 2004 when Michael Gray sampled it in his getting-ready-to-go-out hit The Weekend. Despite it being more original than Room 5’s effort, it sadly this only reached number 7 in the UK singles charts.
Aside from interpolating Get Down Saturday Night, Wikipedia claims this also samples Daft Punk’s Voyager, but I for the life of me can’t hear it and whosampled concours with me.
Let’s start by getting the tempo, we’re at 127 bpm now. We can use the same sample pack as in the previous example to get the basic beat. I’ve lifted separate kicks, snares and a top loop and programmed in a simple house beat. I’ve not done any major processing, just some EQ on the kick and some compression to phatten up the snare.
Let’s add an instance of Native Instruments Kontakt and use the Scarbee Mm-Bass to play in our bassline. It’s a four chord motif using a lot of octave with some triplets in the last bar. I’ve added Logic’s ESM underneath to give a little extra weight to the bottom end:
Next we’ll add in the chords to outline the harmony. Logic’s EXS24 patch SoftStrings sounds good to my hears, I’ve opened the low-pass filter a little more and reduced the attack time.
You can see each chord has a high B that remains throughout, this is a technique called an inverted pedal point.
And lastly we’ll look at the lead line. This is actually an interpolated line from Kerr’s 1984 proto-hiphop/electro funk number Back At Ya.
I’m using Logic’s Retro but nearly any subtractive/analog emulation will do. Use a sawtooth into a nearly-entirely open low-pass filter with plenty of resonance. Finish it off with some chorus or other time-based modulation to give it some movement and a short reverb.
I’ll embed the piano roll as well as the score as there’s a pitchbend that’s important to get, the range of which is one octave.
Let’s hear it all together:
That’s it! These aren’t supposed to be identical copies, they’re just for educational purposes/fun so hopefully it’s fun to read. Any clarifications, corrections or other feedback, please leave a comment and let me know.