I produced a short 30 second first attempt at producing an electronic dance music track using the techniques that I have found in my research so far. The digital audio workstation software I used is Ableton Suite 8. I chose this software because in many of the interviews I watched and read, the producers commonly used Ableton or Logic and I have more experience using Ableton so it was the logical decision to use this software. I also used samples from the Vengeance Sample packs – these were mentioned by almost every producer I researched and appear to be the industry standard. Here is the track here;
For the drums I created three separate channels; the kick, clap and snare, high-hats. I then bussed them all to the one channel. I then applied -2 to -3db gain reduction of compression to the group channel and set the attack and decay to allow the instruments to punch through. I layered a few clap and snare samples in order to get a thicker and fuller snap sound. I applied the same technique to the high-hats.
I created the bassline using Ableton Suite 8’s Operator synthesizer. This was the most challenging aspect of the music production as I don’t have a lot of experience programming synthesizers and required a lot of experimenting to get it to sound the way I wanted it. I applied the processes in this order;
- Some chorus to add a little depth and shine
- Auto-filtered the high frequencies so that it was just the low end that was punching through (255 Hz)
- A low-cut EQ to cut out the frequencies below 30 Hz (which creates muddiness),
- Side-chain compressed the bassline against the kick to create a ducking effect. I applied this because the bassline and the kick are playing in the same frequency range and they both need their own frequency space. It was also used as a compositional tool to improve the groove by bending the bassline around the kick.
I found the vocal effects from a Future Magazine samplepack CD. I chopped them up and looped them to fit in time with the track. I low-cut below 230 Hz to reduce the unnecessary low end energy.
I found the fills on the Vengeance sample pack and place right before the end of every 4 bars to keep the groove interesting. I panned them wide stereo left and right as like Umek demonstrated in his studio interview.
Mix-down / Master
I low-cut all the channels using the EQ eight and tuned the instruments (samples) using Ableton’s spectrum analyser. I applied a couple of db gain reduction using the Ableton Limiter.
Finally I normalized the track to 0db in Wavelab.
Here you can see that the limit I applied in Ableton has considerably compressed the track. However by looking at the wave shapes of other house tracks, it is possible to see that this amount of compression is an a technique that is identifiable in modern electronic music production.
Although this track does not sound as appealing as the music in the Beatport top 100 charts, it contains all the core components that make a electronic dance music track identifiable. My next task will be to produce an electronic music track that contains elements that make it identifiable within the specific sub-genres that I am studying.