The Art of the Sample - Every Sample From Daft Punk's Homework

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Homework is the debut studio album by French electronic music duo Daft Punk , released on 17 January 1997 with Virgin Records . Homework' s success brought worldwide attention to French house music. According to The Village Voice , the album revived house music and departed from the Eurodance formula. The duo produced the tracks without plans to release an album. After working on projects that were intended to be separate singles over five months, they considered the material good enough for an album.

Commercially successful, Homework appeared in 14 national charts, peaking at number 150 on the United States Billboard 200 and at number 37 on the Australian Albums Chart. By February 2001, the album had sold more than two million copies worldwide and received several gold and platinum certifications. Overall Homework received positive critical response. The album features singles that had a significant impact in the French house and global dance music scenes. These include the US Billboard Hot Dance/Club Play number-one singles " Da Funk " and " Around the World ", the latter of which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Recording history

In 1993 Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo presented a demo of electronic music to Stuart Macmillan of Slam at a rave in EuroDisney. The contents of the cassette eventually saw release on the single " The New Wave ", which was released on April 11, 1994 on Slam's Soma Quality Recordings label. [4] The record also contained the final mix of the track "The New Wave" entitled "Alive".

" Da Funk " and " Rollin' & Scratchin' " were released as a single under the Soma label in 1995. The tracks were then utilized by The Chemical Brothers in DJ sets at The Heavenly Social in London. During the same year, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons requested that the duo remix their single "Life Is Sweet" and open for The Chemical Brothers' tour in the United Kingdom. The ensuing popularity of Daft Punk's singles led to their signing with Virgin Records in September 1996. Their departure from Soma was noted by Richard Brown of the Glasgow-based label. "We were obviously sad to lose them to Virgin but they had the chance to go big, which they wanted, and it's not very often that a band has that chance after two singles. We're happy for them."

Although Virgin held exclusive distribution rights over Daft Punk’s material, the duo remain the owners of their master recordings through the Daft Trax label. Bangalter expressed that "To be free, we had to be in control. To be in control, we had to finance what we were doing ourselves. The main idea was to be free." [7] Daft Punk discussed their method with Spike Jonze , director of the "Da Funk" music video. He noted that "They were doing everything based on how they wanted to do it. As opposed to, 'oh we got signed to this record company, we gotta use their plan.' They wanted to make sure they never had to do anything that would make them feel bummed on making music." In regards to the duo's creative control and freedom, Bangalter said:

Daft Punk worked to record other tracks, including " Revolution 909 " and " Around the World ". The album was mixed and recorded in their own studio, Daft House in Paris , France. It was mastered by Nilesh Patel at the London studio The Exchange.

Virgin re-released "Da Funk" with the B-side " Musique " in 1996, before the debut of Homework . Bangalter later stated that the B-side "was never intended to be on the album, and in fact, 'Da Funk' as a single has sold more units than Homework , so more people own it anyways than they would if it had been on the album. It is basically used to make the single a double-feature."

Daft Punk produced the tracks included in Homework without a plan to release an album. Bangalter stated, "It was supposed to be just a load of singles. But we did so many tracks over a period of five months that we realized that we had a good album." [1] The duo set the order of the tracks to cover the four sides of a two-disc vinyl LP. [2] De Homem-Christo remarked, "There was no intended theme because all the tracks were recorded before we arranged the sequence of the album. The idea was to make the songs better by arranging them the way we did; to make it more even as an album." [2] The name Homework , Bangalter explained, relates to "the fact that we made the record at home, very cheaply, very quickly, and spontaneously, trying to do cool stuff." [3]

"Daftendirekt" is an excerpt of a live performance recorded at the first I Love Techno party in Ghent, Belgium. [4] It served as the introduction to Daft Punk's live shows and was used to begin the album. [2] Janet Jackson sampled "Daftendirekt" on her song "So Much Betta", which was included in her tenth studio album, Discipline , in 2008. [5] Homework' s following track, "WDPK 83.7 FM", is a tribute to FM radio in the US. [6] The next song, " Revolution 909 " is a reflection on the French government's stance on dance music. [2] [7]

"Revolution 909" is followed by " Da Funk ", which carries elements of funk and acid music. [8] According to Andrew Asch of the Boca Raton News , the song's composition "relies on a bouncy funk guitar to communicate its message of dumb fun." [9] Bangalter expressed that "Da Funk"'s theme involved the introduction of a simple, unusual element that becomes acceptable and moving over time. [10] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine complimented the song as "unrelenting", [11] and Bob Gajarsky of Westnet called it "a beautiful meeting of Chic (circa "Good Times", sans vocals) and the 90s form of electronica." [12] The song appeared on the soundtrack for the 1997 film The Saint and was placed at number 18 on Pitchfork Media's "Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s" list. [13] "Phoenix" combines elements of gospel music and house music. [2] The duo considered "Fresh" to be breezy and light with a comical structure. [14] Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine criticized the song, stating that it "doesn’t feel like the beach just because of the lapping waves heard in the background." [15]

The single " Around the World " carries influences of Gershon Kingsley 's hit "Popcorn". [8] Its music video was directed by the Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Michel Gondry, who compared the track's bassline to that of "Good Times" by Chic. [16] Chris Power of BBC Music named it "one of the decade’s catchiest singles". He stated that it was "a perfect example of Daft Punk’s sound at its most accessible: a post-disco boogie bassline, a minimalist sprinkling of synthetic keyboard melody and a single, naggingly insistent hook." [17] Ian Mathers of Stylus Magazine commented that "there is no way you’d want to have a Homework without 'Around The World'." [15] The track "Teachers" is a tribute to several of Daft Punk's house music influences, including future collaborators Romanthony , DJ Sneak and Todd Edwards . [18] The song "Oh Yeah" features DJ Deelat and DJ Crabbe. "Indo Silver Club" features a sample of "Hot Shot" by Karen Young . [4] Prior to its inclusion on Homework , "Indo Silver Club" was released as a single on the Soma Quality Recordings label in two parts. [19] The single lacked an artist credit in the packaging [19] and was thought to have been created by the nonexistent producers Indo Silver Club. [20] The final track, "Funk Ad", is a reversed clip of "Da Funk". [2]

Track listing

daft punk homework samples

Daft Punk's Homework turns 25: discover the gear and production techniques behind the sound

1999 interview confirms a love of Roland gear and an ingenious workflow

Roland TR-909

Hard to believe, but it's exactly 25 years since Daft Punk released Homework, their seminal debut album. Hugely influential, this was a record that helped to revive house music, and inspired a generation of producers to start talking about 909s and 303s.

5 tracks producers need to hear by... Daft Punk

Which brings us to a rare and revealing interview that the duo gave to a Japanese magazine way back in 1999 (opens in new tab) , two years after the release of Homework.

In it, the band - Thomas Bangaleter and Guy-Manuel De Homen-Christo - discuss their gear setup and production methods. As you’d expect, they were heavy users of Roland’s TR drum machines and TB-303 BassLine synth , while sampling was taken care of by models from big-hitters of the time such as Akai and E-MU, with the latter company’s SP1200 a notable studio presence.

Daft Punk’s early love affair with Roland gear, meanwhile (let’s not forget that Homework even goes so far as to feature a track called Revolution 909 ; the drum machine that was allegedly used to create it  went up for sale in 2017 ) is further illustrated by their ownership of a Juno-106 , MC-202 and MKS-80 .

Despite speculation that the lead sound from Da Funk was created using a Korg MS-20, there's no mention of it on this list.

Effects-wise, it comes as no surprise to see the Alesis 3630 on the kit list - this was a staple of F rench touch production at the time - and the same company’s Microverb II is there as well. The duo had further processing hardware from Behringer, LA Audio, Waldorf and Yamaha.

The Secret DJ on why bands split, and why we shouldn't mourn the end of Daft Punk

When it came to recording, Thomas Bangaleter explained that sounds were sent through their mixer (a Mackie MS1202) and compressor to the DAT machine (a Panasonic SV-3700), with MIDI sequencing being taken care of by a Mac running Emagic’s MicroLogic (a pre-Apple, entry-level version of Logic that was available at the time).  

Following some effects processing, sounds from the DAT were then sent to a Roland S-760 sampler to be spliced up, before these bits and pieces were sequenced from the Mac and finished tracks recorded back to the DAT.

It’s all a world away from the joined-up, in-the-box music production world we live in today; Daft Punk were still using zip drives back then, a very ‘90s storage solution. However, many would argue that the relatively primitive nature of their setup was what gave their early music its charm, and that, as technology has given us more creative options, something else has been lost.

Further reading

If you want to dig a little deeper into the Daft Punk Homework synth sound, check out Reverb Machine's excellent article (opens in new tab) , which features superb remakes of Da Funk and Around The World, all created in software. 

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I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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Daft Punk’s Homework Synth Sounds

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On January 20th, 1997 – 25 years ago today – Daft Punk released their debut album, Homework . They hadn’t planned to release an album, but they’d spent five months recording tracks and decided they had enough material for an album. In a 1997 interview , Thomas Bangalter stated that “The Homework title relates to the fact that we made the record at home, very cheaply, and very quickly and spontaneously, trying to do cool stuff.” Many of the songs on Homework had been made to play live in clubs, so the album has a raw, live feel to it.

In a 1999 interview with a Japanese magazine , Daft Punk listed all the gear used on Homework and even outlined their typical recording process. The gear listed is mostly vintage Roland, including a Juno-106, MC-202, MKS-80 and a TB-303 alongside a digital Sequential Prophet-VS. 

For drum machines, they listed the LinnDrum and Roland TR-707, TR-808 and TR-909 as the drum machines used on the Homework . They used E-mu SP1200, Ensoniq ASR-10 and Roland S-760 samplers alongside a host of effects, sequencers, and mixers.

This article focuses on the synth sounds of Homework and how to recreate them using modern softsynths. I’ve recreated Da Funk and Around the World  and the presets that I created for the remakes are available for free download at the end of the article. This is a follow-up to last year’s Daft Punk’s Discovery Synth Sounds article, which I recommend checking out after this one!

daftpunk linndrum

Da Funk was the first single to be released from Homework and was played live from as early as 1995. It features a distorted guitar-like melody playing over a relentless 4-to-the-floor beat before a famous acid-bass synth line ends the song. Before I start talking about where the sounds came from, here’s my remake, created from scratch with no samples from the original song:

The distorted synth line has a characteristic band-passed sound run through distortion, which creates a sound similar to an overdriven electric guitar. The melody is played in perfect fourths throughout, so the original patch likely had an oscillator tuned to a fourth.

The common belief is that the Da Funk lead synth sound is a Korg MS-20, but the MS-20 wasn’t listed by Daft Punk on their Homework or  Discovery gear lists. There are no photos of them using a Korg MS-20 and they’ve never mentioned the MS-20 in their interviews.  Although the MS-20 is a strong contender for the Da Funk sound because of its high-pass filter and the ability to patch in distortion. I think it’s more likely that they used their Roland Juno-106 or MKS-80, both of which have high-pass filters, run through a distortion pedal such as the Ibanez Fat Cat Distortion seen in the below live pictures:

daft punk ibanez fat cat

The Da Funk lead synth also sounds like it’s been sampled and played back from a sampler. The beginning note of each phrase has a slightly different envelope time – the higher note’s envelopes playback faster than the lower note envelopes, which is characteristic of vintage samplers. The may have sampled the sound play a fourth, letting them play or program the melody using only one note. Note that I didn’t sample the sound for my remake, so the envelope times are a little off compared to the original.

I recreated the lead sound using TAL U-NO-LX , a software emulation of the Juno-106 run through Brainworx bx_greenscreamer plugin, which emulates an Ibanez Tubescreamer pedal. Onboard  distortion and overdrive effects in g uitar amp simulators like Guitar Rig or Amplitube would also be suitable. Most of the sound comes from the character of the distortion pedal, so experiment with different models for different sounds. Here is the sound before and after distortion:

daft punk around lead pedal

Da Funk 303

Halfway through the song, the kick drum drops out and an acid bassline is introduced. Interestingly, the bassline wasn’t programmed with Da Funk in mind, it was just one of a few bass lines that Bangalter had programmed on his TB-303, and the one that best fit Da Funk .

“The bassline itself was from a 303 l’d bought in 1993. I’d just made all these random patterns, so when we were looking for a bassline, we listened to some of the ones I’d already programmed and took the one that fit best.” – Daft Punk, Musik (1997)

The Roland TB-303 is a monophonic bass synthesizer originally intended to emulate bass guitars, which it does a terrible job of. It was quickly discontinued, which allowed cheap units to fall into the hands of electronic musicians who favoured it for its aggressive, screeching filter and onboard sequencer.  Because the 303 is such a simple unit with only one oscillator and one envelope, the magic lies in how you program the sequencer. Notes can be set to glide and this can be combined with big octave jumps to create dramatic slides.

303 synth parts are usually recorded by programming a 16-step sequence and changing the filter settings manually while the sequencer plays. The 303’s sequencer only has a three-octave range from C1 to C4 and the Da Funk bassline, which runs from F1 to F4, was likely sequenced in another key and transposed using the 303’s tuning knob to help it fit the key of Da Funk .

Below is my patch for Da Funk using AudioRealism’s ABL3 plugin, an accurate software emulation of the TB-303. Similar to the lead sound, the 303 in Da Funk has been run through a distortion pedal. The ABL3 plugin features onboard distortion which can be added via the small drive and distort knobs at the top-right, which I’ve cranked to almost the maximum settings.

daft punk da funk 303

I also used TAL U-NO-LX to recreate the bass synth. It’s a simple patch using a single sawtooth wave, and the filter os closed almost all the way to let only the bass frequencies through. The ADSR envelope is set up with medium decay and sustain at halfway, which is applied to the filter and VCA to create a subtle plucking motion.

daft punk da funk bass

The brass hit sample that plays through most of the song is from the Zero-G Datafile Three sample CD from 1992, where it appears as track 63, Dance Stabs . All credit to Aguila909 on Reddit for unearthing this sample!

The drums are a mixture of sampled drum breaks and programmed drum machines. The main beat is sampled from Vaughn Mason And Crew’s  Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll  and the drum fill at 0:23 is sampled from Barry White’s  I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More . The hi-hats that join the beat at 1:43 in my remake are from the Roland TR-909.

daft punk da funk sample

Around the World

Around the World is a classic French House banger that featured a Michel Gondry (of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame) music video. The song is simple and highly repetitive, featuring only one vocal line repeated 144 times in the full 7:44 album version. There are a minimal number of sounds in the track that get played in various combinations, proving that if the groove is right, repetition can work. Here’s my full remake:

Around the World is built around a simple bass sound that plays three different bass lines throughout the song. The main bassline shares a strong resemblance to the one in Good Times by Chic, whose guitarist Niles Rogers the duo would collaborate with on 2013’s Random Access Memories.

Daft Punk could have recorded the Around the World synth-bass on any of their synths, but I’ve recreated it in TAL U-NO-LX. To create the patch yourself, start with a simple sawtooth wave, lower the filter to 2.7 and crank the resonance to the point where it’s high but not quite screeching (6.89 in TAL U-NO-LX). Add a tiny amount of envelope modulation by raising the ENV fader to 2 and set the ADSR envelope with an attack time of 1, decay of 6 and no sustain to give the patch a subtle pluck. Here are all three basslines played using my TAL U-NO-LX preset:

daft punk around bass

Funky Leads

Four funky lead sounds play throughout Around the World , with two only appearing during the outro. The main synth lead is a bouncy lead that uses high filter resonance and a synced delay effect to create a funky, rhythmic effect.  I again recreated this sound using TAL U-NO-LX, this time with the square wave DCO waveform selected. Set the filter to 3, resonance to 6 and envelope modulation to halfway. The envelope has attack time set to 2, which works with the resonance setting to create a funky wah-wah sound.

daft punk around lead

The delay effect is a tempo-synced stereo delay with a 1/8th note delay time in the left channel and a dotted 1/8th note delaying the right channel. The mix level is 25%, feedback is 40%, and I adjusted the delay’s onboard filter to roll off the high frequencies. Here are my settings using Ableton’s Delay effect:

daft punk around delay

Towards the end of Around the World , the beat drops out and two new outro synth parts get introduced. The two sounds work together to create a musical sequence reminiscent of some later melodies on Discovery , such as Aerodynamic or Veridis Quo , both of which I covered in my Discovery Synth Sounds article.

daft punk around outro 1

Homework Presets Download

Thanks for reading! The recreated Juno patches for TAL U-NO-LX are available for download below alongside the Da Funk 303 patch for AudioRealism ABL3. If you enjoyed this article then be sure to check out my previous Daft Punk article on the synths in Discovery .

The presets from this article are also included in the Synth Sounds Collection , a free preset pack collecting the synth presets from all of my articles in one download.

If you want to explore these sounds further then consider supporting the site by becoming a Patreon supporter, which gives you access to the Ableton Projects , MIDI files and multitrack stems from both remakes featured in this article. Patreon supporters will also find the bonus files for the four remakes from Discovery  and a Patreon-exclusive remake of Son of Flynn , from Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy soundtrack.

Header artwork by Makarxart

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Comments on daft punk’s homework synth sounds, 7 thoughts on “daft punk’s <i>homework</i> synth sounds”.

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I bought your Robot Funk pack yesterday (and many other previously). I’m not very familiar with all Daft music besides the well known titles like Homework and Get Lucky. Discovering new titles from your Robot Funk, I found the presets very close if not exactly like those in the Daft pieces. The preset pack recreates very well the Daft sound world (geist) with formant (voice) colored or wah like synths in many variants. They’re often, not always, on the bright side (brightness macro completely on). Playing with the macros offers interesting variation not stricly daftian. Many basses have a “round” sound missing in many bass sounds found in Arturia presets. They’re close to electric bass sounds. I may be completely wrong, of course.

If I may add, You’ve already proven your mastery of Jupiter in RM-Europa. All your Juno presets are great. In the Emu set, Synth Talk 5 is my preferred one.

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Thanks! Synth Talk 5 is my favourite of the “Human After All” sounds as well, it’s the one I used in the “Humans” demo.

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Oh god! Thanks for this. Great you share all this knowledge

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The depth of research and polish you consistently produce in these blog breakdowns just astonishes me! SO very glad I joined your Patreon.

Hope to see more DaftPunk in the future

Thanks Amul!

this is fire..

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Daft Punk Sample Discovered After 20 Years

Watch Daft Punk: Unchained, An In Depth Look At The World Famous Duo [Documentary]

20 years ago, the legendary duo  Daft Punk released  Homework , one of dance music’s most quintessential albums released to date.

Despite the album being chock full of samples, some have taken quite a long time to identify. The most recent sample has been identified by Reddit user r/NCorpMusic . Taken from the Viola Hills song “If You Leave Me Now,” and used in  Daft Punk’s “Fresh,” the sample is simply just a bar-long chord loop with two snippets of Viola’s vocal.

Listen to “If You Leave Me Now” and “Fresh” below!


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