How to make sounds from Bronski Beat 'Smalltown Boy'

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Tutorial for Bronski Beat 'Smalltown Boy' using Ableton Live and DRC Synthesizer

It’s one of those 80’s synth-pop lead riffs that is forever tied to the preset/patch being used to play it, the two married together in our memories. The hook from Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown boy’ has a catchy simplicity, such that it treads the line somewhere between melody and arpeggio. Its pleasant musical phrasing resolves satisfyingly in a loop that is instantly memorable but never tiresome.

The simple riff is matched by its suitably soft and gentle pluck sound, and had the track been an instrumental, it would have been a fairly lighthearted affair. The lyrics and narrative however tell a much darker story. In the 1980s, society had a very different view towards the LGBT community, way before the acronym was in common usage; acceptance, understanding and equality were controversial sexual politics. With all three members openly gay, Bronski Beat’s music was an expression of the group’s experiences, representing an often unheard community and raising awareness of the issues they faced.

‘Smalltown boy’ was the group’s first single release and proved to be their biggest hit, so today Lucas takes us back to 1984 by recreating the track’s bass, pad and lead sounds with DRC and a little help from DLYM and FRMS too.

Click here to download the Ableton project file.

The answers you seek will never be found at home,
Team Imaginando

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