I recently received a homework assignment to take a MIDI file of a classical piece that I like and "make it my own". Undaunted by the vague description, I set off and chose Chopin's nocturne in C#m Opus post. I just finished learning to play this piece on the piano and it has such a simple melancholic melodic line that I absolutely love so I was sure I could do something cool with it.
I started by playing around with the MIDI, reversing here, inversing there, and it didn't lead me to anything musical. Then I thought, let's try to separate the three voices (bass, alto and soprano) and do something different with each - voilà!
For the bass, I lowered the notes by an octave and mapped them to a grand piano and a kick sitting on the same channel. This gave me a thick and steady beat to build on top of.
The alto notes are simple chord arpeggios in a slow tempo. I decided to go crazy here, mapping each note to a new chord and then breaking the chord into an arpeggio. I then used a synth that to me sounds pretty much like a cello and got this frantic fast-paced rhythm that provides an interesting ambience to the mix.
The high notes provide the lovely melody which contains many, many, many piano trills. In the spirit of breaking things apart, I separated the trills from all the rest, kept them in their original grand piano sound, so one can clearly recognize the piece, and the rest I mapped to a sampler instrument containing, well, hmm.."sounds of different metals breaking apart", lovely :-)
To complete the track, I added some snares and hats, audio samples of people rambling (don't ask me why..), and a D&B like B section with heavy distorted guitars.
That's pretty much it...I'm really happy with the end result, and you're most welcome to check it out here - http://youtu.be/k8yUlbxFeKM