Ableton Tip: Creating Easy Bass Wobbles

virus_bg

Wub wub wub. Everyone recognizes that deep, low, rumbling sub-sound that we all love and feel in our chest when we blast music through speakers. 

Artists like Pretty Lights, Skream, and Skrillex have all mastered the technique of bass wobbling to create movement in their tracks, and contrary to popular belief, it is actual a very easy thing to do.

This can be done effectively in Simpler, one of Ableton’s sampling instruments. Open up Live and load Simpler onto an empty MIDI track. The default settings should look like the ones below.

Default Simpler

Next, find a bass sample that you’d like to use. I have a nice bass sound that has a lot of grit and sub. Currently, it has no processing on it, so what you’ll hear below is the raw sample.

 

Turn on the two filters, one in the bottom left corner and one between Volume and Pitch. You’ll know that they are turned on when they are highlighted in yellow, verses greyed out when they are off. You’ll also need to turn on the LFO. Your settings should look similar to the ones below.

Simpler - Turned on

First thing we’re going to do is raise the LFO to 24. LFO stands for low-frequency oscillation, and its a very effective way to modulate  synthesizers and samples to create pulses and sweeps. We’ll also be altering the envelope (abbreviated “ENV”), which is the change in intensity of a sound over time, setting it to -72. This is what the bass sounds like after processing thus far.

 

You should be able to notice a slight delay in the opening of the sound, which is caused by the envelop that we just adjusted. Next, we’re going to change the LFO rate from Hz to Beats by clicking the little music note. Underneath Beats you’ll see that the LFO default is programmed for 1/16. This is what your Simpler should look like so far.

Simpler - LFO and Envelope On

Next, I’m going to turn the Resonance (abbreviated “Res”) all the way down to 0, change the Beats to 1/8, and turn the frequency down 2.50 kHz. This is the result.

 

As you can hear, we have a nice wobble sound! The filter is currently set to a low-pass filter (LP) but you can easily change the filter to a high-pass (HP) or band-pass (BP) filter, based on what frequencies you would like to remove. You can also play around with the frequency in each filter setting to achieve a desired result. Increasing or decreasing the LFO rate will change how fast or how slow your sound wobbles. Logically, 1/64 will be very fast, and alternatively, 1/4 will be much slower. Genres like Trap and Dubstep, which are usually composed in half-time, usually utilize lower oscillation rates, such as 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16, but these are by no means limitations and concrete rules. The modulation rate is contingent upon the goals of the producer and the nature of the track, so it is important to not restrict yourself and always abide by these guidelines.

Additionally, you can tweak the envelope and type of sound wave to your taste. Right now the sample is set to a sine wave, which gives it a nice, flowing wobble sound, but its worth playing around and experimenting with other waves types as well, such a square, triangle, and saw waves.

Sine Wave Setting Square Wave Setting Triangle Wave Setting Saw Wave Setting

Square waves will give the sound a bit more chop and triangle waves (the /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ in Mmmmmaven!) will sound similar to sine waves except a bit more aggressive. Finally, saw waves will give the sound a more raw, metallic texture. You can listen to each one below, and for further understanding, check out this great article that explains each wave’s properties in more detail.

Square Wave

 

Triangle Wave

 

Saw Wave

 

In order to demonstrate how the wobble can be changed over time to achieve a nice groove for a track, I created a simple dubstep drum pattern and automated the LFO of the bassline to change over the duration of the loop. This can easily be done in Live’s arrangement view by clicking on the down arrow, selecting the instrument you desire (in this case Simpler, which I have renamed “BASS”), and then selecting “LFO Synced Rate” and automating it to your taste. The bass is set to a sine wave and the tempo is set to 145 bpm. I also threw on a simple compressor to sidechain the bassline so that it doesn’t conflict with the kick, while simultaneously giving it a nice sucking sound. You can see the settings for the loop and also have a listen below.

LFO Automation

Don’t be afraid to play around with the different types of waves, filters, frequencies, and LFO rates. You can also further customize your basslines through other ways like adding distortion or automating filters to fit the sounds you have in your head. Get creative!

Interested in learning more about music production? Email me today!

Make it Double

double dropping

Have you ever double dropped a record before? On Friday, November 21, Chris Ward will be leading a workshop here at Mmmmaven from 7 – 8 PM to show you how.

mac_chrisward_1440d-smallerDouble dropping is when a DJ perfectly lines up two tracks by their sections and drops them at the same time. To put it simply, double dropping is the most underused tool to destroy a crowd. It’s articularly popular in genres like Drum & Bass and Dubstep and famous with DJ’s like Andy C and DJ Youngsta.

Chris Ward is an instructor at Mmmmaven and co-founded BASSIC, Boston’s longest running dub step night. He DJ’s professionally under the name CDubs.

Wanna know more about DJ techniques like this? Check out Mmmmaven’s DJ courses!

Pinch+Pangaea Sat Nov 8

10690204_10100284714287211_2751889144132110241_n

Joining Pinch and Pangaea is Doctor Jeep, Damian Silva and Dumka.

Pinch is known for many things bass related – whether it’s his productions/remixes, DJ sets, labels or events, he has excelled at all levels. His Subloaded night, operating since 2004, brought dubstep to Bristol – the scene’s first destination outside of London’s conceptual FWD>> at Plastic People. By 2008, Subloaded was pulling in over 1000 heads for each event and the Bristol dubstep scene was thriving, Pinch at the helm of it all.

Pangaea (a.k.a. Kevin McAuley) is something of a mystery. On the one hand, he’s one third of the braintrust behind Hessle Audio, a label that’s widely recognized as one of the most innovative and respected imprints in electronic music. On the other, he’s someone who seemingly prefers to operate in the background, often allowing his partners Ben UFO and Pearson Sound to do the talking and soak up the accolades. As such, Pangaea’s talents and body of work can sometimes be overlooked, despite the fact that he’s been responsible for a steady stream of quality tracks over the past seven years.

Doctor Jeep is a 24-year old New York native known to most as Andre Lira. While attending college in Boston he quickly gained notoriety as one of the city’s most eclectic young selectors, blending upbeat house and techno with the global sounds of baile funk, dancehall, old-school uk garage, african percussionism and more. With DJ sets mixing the past, present, and future of dance music in some of Boston and New York’s best clubs, he has proven to adapt to any vibe and make it his own style of party.

RSVP to aaaafterhours@gmail.com to ensure entry. The show is 21+ and the location is TBA.

Two Huge New LPs, Released in a Matter of Hours

popcaanmartyn

At the end of the day yesterday, we were pleasantly surprised by the full-album release from Popcaan, entitled Where We Come From. With classics like “The System” and “Everything Nice” contained within, Popcaan’s first full-length [iTunes] is rife with energy, uplifting ideas and a somber, pensive attitude well-aware of today’s bizarre world. The release come with an essay from Wayne Marshall, aka Wayne and Wax, a Cambridge resident, technomusicologist and multi-year Together collaborator. As he says:

In turns uplifting and haunting, reverent and rude, Where We Come From gives voice, as the best reggae does, to the contradictions of life in a society rife with inequities and yet so rich. Whether odes to the ghetto or the good life, Popcaan’s lyrics bring realist portraits and utopian visions into dynamic tension. Songs about struggle and sex and happiness occupy the same space because they do. And whatever the topic, Popcaan’s infectious positivity comes through.

With his mentor–the mighty Vybz Cartel–put in prison, Popcaan carries the torch of forward-thinking dancehall by featuring the productions of the Mixpak crew, mainly Dubble Dutch and Dre Skull (who we brought to town in 2012). All told, they are redefining the sound, one of the most important musics in the world.

Wayne’s entire essay is well worth a read. Click through and read as you listen to this remarkable album:

Then there’s Martyn.

Martyn came from the true dubstep tradition, itself an offshoot of dub reggae, so maybe these two artists are not as different as you might think. Since he came up as a dubstep producer, he has also flexed his sound, taking input from various disparate sources to create a new energy. His album premiered this morning via Thump, the “EDM” arm of Vice Magazine. Just as Wayne’s essay on Popcaan is essential reading, so is Martyn’s interview with Thump:

What I tried to do was let my guard down and have other people influence me. Some people just have better ideas than me, ha, it sucks. It’s just hard to hard to admit that because when you’re making music, you’re supposed to be quite confident about your own abilities. Now though, I see it as maybe you’re actually more confident about your own music if you can let people in.

We love Martyn, and most recently had him at Make It New in 2013. Read his in depth interview as you listen to his remarkable third album, The Air Between Words:

The Air Between Words come out officially on the excellent Ninja Tune Records June 16th. We’ll remind you over on Twitter.

Inside the Mmmmaven Project, we teach how to make music like this. Music that is alive, vibrant and fresh. Music that uses technology to create its own unique language. Inside, we believe that not only should music use technology, or not just that music and technology can work well in tandem but in fact that:

Music and technology are the same thing.