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12. Dance Music Production Rudiments

The following ideas and suggestions are designed to inspire the creative process at each stage of production, Pre Production, Production and Post Production.

1) Pre Production

i) Creation

ii) Inspiration

iii) Experimentation

2) Production

2a Arrangement

i) Arrangement

ii) Build Up

2b Drums and Percussion

            i) Drums

            ii) Drum End

            iii) Drum FX

            iv) Percussion

2c Instruments

            i) Bass

            ii) Synth

            iii) Novelty

            iv) Production

            v) Sound Effects (Digital)

            vi) Sound Effects (Analogue)

3) Post Production

                        i) Production FX


 

 

1) Pre Production
Set Goal or Blind Creation?

There are 2 alternative approaches to creating music.  Firstly, produce music with no particular direction in mind and let the natural flow of creativity Lead you.  Secondly, is to have an idea or goal to achieve.  For example, “I want to create a minimalist  Jump Up Drum and Bass tune with 8 different Bass sounds, sporadic funky samples and Sci Fi effects.”

 

i) Experimentation
Discover your own sound, the limitations and seemingly limitless possibilities of harmony.

 

Harmony Juxtaposition

-Experiment with contrasting and unpleasant rhythms and harmonies to explain why it exists.
-Categorise all percussion instruments riffs and tunes, with a record of rhythm.  When more is understood on the relationships between contrasting rhythms which work well, you can pick and mix with confidence.

Jazz Chord Scale sheet

Experiment with jazz Bass scales and different jazz piano chords, stab + voc

Refinement

-When creating riffs or Bass lines, record several different variations onto the computer and choose the best.
-Your should increase the number of extreme variations there are to ensure of quality.
-When you select a riff, create many variations with subtle changes.
(With graphical design, many rough images are needed before the perfect symbolic representation is achieved.  Use this theory in producing tunes; i.e. keep altering and perfecting until the optimum emotion is achieved.)

 

ii) Creation
Ideas to create a musical pallet

 

Creation

Like any artist, creativity or motivation can disappear without warning or reason.  On these days, take time to sample, manipulate or create sounds and Synths etc. 
-Don't worry about them in the context of a track, just make single sounds that you think sound good.
-If you are feeling very lazy, find presets and tweak them so that they reflect your sound.
-When it comes time to create you'll have a whole load of new sounds to work with.

Distorted Orchestra in a box

Create your own orchestra in a box
If you want to add original orchestration to a production, but don't have an expensively produced range of sound fonts, add distortion and reverb, and filter through a cut off.

1) Compose simple rhythmic ensembles, e.g. moody trumpet stabs, eerie Strings.
2) Add distortion for grit.
3) Sample each phrase.
4) Cut up and add to different notes on a sampler.

Grain Samples

Convert song samples into unrecognisable snippets chopped into tiny grains.
1) Sample a 4 or 5 second section from a song.
2) Select and copy a grain (between 0.1 and 0.5 seconds)
3) Paste several copies into a blank file, removing 10 % of the sample each time.
4) Repeat with several different types, e.g. Bass, vocals, ensemble.
5) Add the new sounds to a sampler and play rhythmically.

 

Sampling

Create your own percussive samples. Add distortion, EQ and compression to sculpt the raw sound.
1) Record a ball being bounced for a snare, an aerosol spray for a hat, or keys rattling for bells.
2) Record the sound of rhythmic tapping on different surfaces and add warped filters to destroy the sound.

Scrambles Melodies Reuse a piece of music in a different order.
1) Sample a piece of music with multiple chord changes.
2) Cut up each chord or musical phrase into a separate file.
3) Add the new sounds to a sampler and play them in the wrong order.

 

iii) Inspiration
To assist with the creation of new ideas

 

 

Creativity

Use a different medium to be inspired.
-Interpret the mood or ambience created from a book, painting. or other medium.   Use the feelings you get from it to put it into your music.

 

Orchestral Mix and Match

Use an unusual pallet of sounds to make a particular style of music e.g. trance with pure orchestral sounds.
1) For purity, don't use any filters, or
2) To sculpt the sounds add filters, e.g. delay, modulation etc.

 

Genre mix and match

Create a particular genre of music by using the sound pallet of another.  For example, use trance drum kit and Synths to make drum and Bass, or visa versa.  The finished sound will be both familiar and unusual at the same time.

 

 

2A) Production: Arrangement

i) Arrangement
Arrangement is the placement of sequences and the impact on previous and subsequent sequences (juxtaposition).  Careful placement and variation can add professionalism

Dramatic Shift

Create a dramatic shift in instruments, e.g. for a breakdown, then return to the original vibe.

Drum kit change

To sustain interest, replace the main drum kit with a second drum kit for a small portion of the song.

Intro Epic

Epic or high production intros can be used by DJs to begin their set.  You can let your creativity go wild without any limitations in time signature, instruments or rudiments,  as long as the rest of the song has a regular time signature and structure that can easily be mixed.  A few examples of elements to use within epic intros include...
1) Atmosphere pads, symphonic elements
2) Science Fiction Robot talking, voice fx
3) Drum rise and falls, deep complex but subtle percussion.
4) Subtle surprise instruments.

Instrument Isolation
(Bass Show Off)

If you've spent 3 days creating a complex organic Bass sound with subtle variation and timbre, all value is lost if the sound is drowned out by heavily distorted drums.  Make sure that the Bass is played in isolation at some stage during the track.

Juxtaposition Mix and Match contrasting elements to highlight out their uniquie qualities
-Dirty and bit crushed instruments with crisp, sharp and high quality beat, Or visa versa
-Dirty and bit crushed drums with crisp, sharp and high quality instruments.
-Electronic and acoustic.
-Contrasting Evil Bass with jazzy melody

ii) Build Up
Ideas to build anticipation and increase excitement before the drop.

 

Build Up Kick / Snare

Instantly recognisable and definitely overused (especially by me, usually when I'm feeling lazy).   The Kick
1) Kick or Snare sequenced ever 1/4 note.  Repeat for 2 bars
2) Kick or Snare sequenced ever 1/8 note. Repeat for 2 bars
3) Kick or Snare sequenced ever 1/16 note. Repeat for 2 bars
4) Kick or Snare sequenced ever 1/32 note. Repeat for 2 bars
5) Main part of song.

Crash

Another over used but effective technique is increasing the crash cymbal prior to the main part of the song.
Crash acceleration – typically a crash X---X---X---X---X-X-XXXX

Cut Off Filter

Add a Cut Off filter over the main hook and increases from low to high, or high to low prior to the drop.

Off Beat

1) Sequence an off beat drum pattern or roll to complement the steady beat when it drops.
2) Exchange the position of the Kick and Snare so that K-S--KS- changes to to SKSKSKSKS

Overload

Start the beginning of the 16 bar build up with 1 element.   Introduce 1 or more new layer every 4 bars until the sonic overload creates a dance floor frenzy.

Pre Beat Rudiments

Pre Beat rudiments are highly filtered drums and effects that build up excitement.  (See chapter 6.)

Roll

Add simple drum roll prior to main beat (See chapter 5)

SFX

A very common rudiment is to add a sound effect with a rise or fall in pitch.  Try experimenting with alternative modulations instead of pitch.

Silence

An effective use of space is to add 1 bar of science after the build up and just before the drop.

Tease

Build up to a point where this listener believes the next bar will drop, instead, tease the listener with another build up.

 

 

2B Production: Drums and Percussion

i) Drums
Ideas for sophisticated drum sequences.

 

Beat builder

Increase the power of the Kick and Snare after 16 bars.
1) Boost EQ, or
2) Add a second Kick or Snare.

Breakdown Variation

Mid section breakdowns can exercise original, yet rhythmically strange placement of hits without putting off a DJ.

Break in drums

Adding an unexpected 1/4 or 1/2 bar break in the drums, is a commonly used technique in Drum and Bass. 
1) Replace the missing section of the beat with alternative samples, e.g. vocal stab "huh", "yeah" etc, musical stab, or SFX.
2) Remove the first and second Snare at the begging of a 4 bar drum loop.

Deep Drums

The addition of subtle percussion variations can give a sophisticated edge to a simple beat.  The quantities used are a guide and can be changed accordingly.
1) Incorporate subtle variation over 64 bars.
2) Add a 2nd colourful Snare on top the main Snare every 4th Snare.
3) Add a 3rd colourful Snare on top the main Snare every 8th Snare.
4) Sequence subtle and sparse shakers
5) Add sparse bongos, congas etc.
6) Introduce a subtle polyrhythmic second drum beat every other bar.
7) Use contemporary rolls.
8) Flams
9 Hats recorded live (or non Quantised keyboard hats)
10) Use some of the drum rudiments and instruments subtly (See Appendix 7 for traditional drum rudiments.)

Drum Rudiments

Drum rudiments are mainly used in marching band music but are effective in Dance music if used sparingly
1) Use a different rudiments for each 1/4 segment pattern - loop
2) A combination of several rudiments in 1 roll
[List all drum rudiments]

DIY Drums

Stack 2 or 3 Kick and Snares together with a noise gate to sharpen the punch and reduce the decay.  Be careful with layering kicks though. The bottom end can cause some phasing issues so pick your kicks carefully, e.g. combine a low end kick and a top end kick.

Hardcore

Add mashed up and highly distorted drums underneath a crisp drum kit to add grit.

Instrument swap

Use an alternative sample to replace a hi hat pattern, -x-xx—x
(Pop corn Synth to replace infrequent shaker (dnb shaker))

Juggle

Use 2 or more beats together, various combinations of on and off and together.

Kit Change

Unique rhythms can be created by using the following technique.
1) Create a random rhythmic melody with a keyboard.
2) Use the midi sequence to control a drum kit.

Jazz Drums

Use Jazz drums to spice up a beat

[See Appendix 6a]

Latin Drums

Use Latin drums to spice up a beat
[See Appendix 6b]

Mastering Tips

-Keep your drums mono and pan percussion left and right.

-Use subtle reverb on drum and percussion sounds to help gel the sounds together.  Add a high pass filter to keep the bass drum sharp.

-Add Phaser with a LFO of 4 seconds to produce subtle variations in the Snare timbre.

Micro sequence

A micro sequence is a sequence smaller than a standard 1/16th sequence.  They are created by sequencing tiny samples at smaller intervals, e.g. 1/48th or 1/96th bar.
1) Create a rhythmic pattern using 1/48, 1/64, 1/96 hits in a rhythm.

Multi Kick

Add a variety of flammed hits to add excitement.
a. Double Kick flam, b. Triple Kick flam, c. Quad Kick flam, d. Pent Kick flam

Orchestral Drums

Orchestral drums are non danceable, cinematic drums that are obviously effective only during sections during intros, build ups or outro.  Add plenty of space to create tension.
1) Use a standard orchestral kit.
2) Use a normal Breakbeat kit with lots of reverb.
3) Use an industrial kit

Poly filler drums

The addition of a Polyrythmic sequence will enhance a basic beat, and provide an overall fuller drum sound.  It's possible to explore more interesting rhythmic variations with the use of polyrhythms.

Quantisation juxtaposition

Precise or Quantised drums can sound too unnatural and welcome the addition of more natural and humanised rhythms.  You can use either real recordings of percussions, bongos etc or programmed into the sequencer using a keyboard or touch pad, without quantisation.

Rhythm Change

Rhythmic monotony can occur when the brain becomes used to a sequence.  To counter this effect, add subtle or drastic rhythmic variations on a regular basis, e.g. ..
1) Add a dramatic change in the main drum rhythm every 16 bars
2) Add various subtle percussion variations in each bar.

Sentana Drums

Explore the rhythmic possibilities by layers multiple rhythms to create deep polyrhythmic loops.
1) Create 4 variations of patterns for each instruments, e.g. bongos, tabla, bell, etc.
2) 4 one bar patterns with 4 variations = 16 bars of rhythmic variation.

Stereo Drums

For an interesting sound, create 2 identical drum patterns with 2 different drum kits.  Pan one far left and the other far right to give a stereoscopic sound.

 

 

ii) Drum End
The technique applied at the end of a sequence.  Variation can add professionalism

DJ Friendly

Create quirky end sections so a DJ can temporarily  cut (move the fader 100) to isolate the quirky sounds during a mix.  e.g. spin back, reverse, vocal.

Drum Kit Change

Introduce a secondary lighter kit for 1 bar or so before returning to the more powerful main beat.

Glitch

A glitch is a rapid rhythmic succession of filters, using a new filter every 1/16th.

Isolation

Isolate all channels except one, e.g. SFX, music or vocals.

Micro sequence

Sequence minute rhythms using fractions of a beat e.g. 1/48, 1/64, 1/96 etc.  Start these micro rhythms on grids of 1/16 or more or it sounds too messy.

Roll / End Beat

Used by all rock drummer, but also an effective choice for dance music is the addition of a Drum Roll  using either standard or electronic rudiments.
"!songs\!Drum Loops\rolls2 rudiments.LSO"

Reverse

Reverse the beat or a section of song for the last 1/2 bar.  Once reversed, bring the sample forward 1/16th for a more pleasing compliment to the main rhythm.

Sample Add

Add a simple double clap or any rhythmic addition at the end of a bar.

Slow Down

Add a simulated record slow down and stop.
1) Burn your song to CD.
2) Play the song on CD Decks and record the output slowing down.

Snare Roll

Add a sequence of rhythmic 16th Snare pattern with increasing velocity.

 

 

iii) Drum FX
DSP Effects for more dynamic drum beats

 

Band Pass Modulation

Add Band Pass modulation sweeping from high to low and back again for a subtle variation to the timbre.

Cut Off - High to Low

Cut Off - Modulation change from high to low EQ, using high resonance filter - saw / sine

Cut Off - Low to High

Cut Off - Modulation change from low to high EQ, using high resonance filter - saw / sine

Distorted

A few suggested uses for distortion include...
1) Add heavy distortion to the entire drums pattern
2) Add a second distorted Kick and Snare.

Evaporate

The last 4 bars have 4 different filters, each reducing the overall intensity and giving the impression of evaporating.  This effect Leads comfortably into either a break down or back to the main beat.

Glitch Kit

Create a 4 bar loop of glitched drums and chop into 1/8 bar segments.  Replace 1/8 segments of the main beat in various locations with the glitched version.

Ping Pong Pan

Create 2 channels of filtered drums, each cut in and out both left and right rhythmically.

Software filters

Try drums, voice, Synth and songs through different software programs or VST,
e.g. crusher, grain VST, chameleon, Amplitube, etc.

Speaker Sonics Record the sound of the drum beat through your speakers and add it back into the song.

Snare Echo

Add a single Snare with an echo filter at varying delay times.
1) Explore a variety of polyrhythmic echoes
2) Use Feed back + 50% for to morph Drums in to FX.

Squidge Off Beat

Different beat layered squidge effect (high resonance and cut off modulated by LFO)

Squidge On Beat

Identical beat layered squidge effect (high resonance and cut off modulated by LFO)

Vocoder

Try beats though a vocoder either…
1) In monotone, or
2) in harmony with the song.

 

 

iv) Percussion
Complimentary percussion can dictate style.

 

Crisp Percussion

Ensure that the beat contains crisp and regular percussion.  Increasing the hi frequency spectrum add a crisp and audibly pleasing balance to the heavy Kick.

Human Input

A mix of electronic and sampled percussion complimentary each other effectively.  Experiment with sampled bongos, hi hats played by a real drummer and real shakers.

Percussion sample change

Find a suitable world rhythm sequence and change the instruments to electronic, e.g. change bongos to zap, shakers to Micro Sequences etc.

World Rhythm

Use world rhythms to add spice to beats, either authentic samples or programmed  sequences.

[See Appendix 6C]

 

2C Production: Instruments

i) Bass
Ideas to make your Bass stand out.

 

Clone Kick

Add a Bass note at the same time as the Kick

Filter hi freq

A big bold Bass evolves from noise, using a hi freq cut off.

Filter Play

Add a different filter to add variation to a familiar Bass pattern.

Glitch

A glitched Bass makes a suitable variation or end sequence.

Hi Freq Play

Isolate the hi frequencies from a Bass and go crazy with pan, and other filters.  Changing the low Bass frequency will warp the EQ balance.

Layer Up

For a wide and extremely Phatt bass sound, use 2 or 3 different instruments and leads with the same sequences.

Tonal opposites

If you require 2 Bass parts, use complementary timbres, i.e. quick attack Bass note, and with slow attack (wowp).
1) You can use the same Bass instrument with a variation in ADSR, or...
2) Choose 2 instruments.

 

ii) Synth / Lead
Ideas for musical instruments

 

Double up

Play the same sequence using 2 different instruments, typically Bass and Lead.

Dreamy Bells

Dreamy bells with reverse reverb and multiple echo delay.

Frequency Awareness

Create a main instrument for each category, e.g. Bass, Lead, Synth and Strings / pad.  Ensure that too many instruments that occupy the same frequency range don’t overlap.  The sound will become too crowded as the instruments complete for a finite amount of available frequency.

Fuzz Wah Delay

Synth Stereo Delay into an auto filter.

FX Experiments

Try extreme and experimental DSP Effects Chains in both series and parallel for synths to discover completely warped, unique and original sounds, i.e. guitar amp, auto tune, stereo delay to Fuzz Wah etc.

Mad Lasers

To add excitement to a Bass and drum beat, use Lasers or zap sounds, which contain a high frequency range high to low in the fraction of a second.
1) Dynamic, twisted, mad, in yer face Laser Synths.  Humanised with lots of variety.

Organic

Try to emulate the natural subtleties of analogue instruments with variations in A D S R, LFO, etc settings, etc.  This will create a more organic texture

Resolve chords

Trumpet, organ or guitar chord progression that resolves to the main chord.

Reverse

Reverse chords or slow attack and fast decay

Stereo Widening

Adding stereo widening on synths and pads can create more interesting sounds and completely brighten up a riff.

Surreal harmony

For an evil or surreal edge, use dissonant harmony.

 

iii) Novelty
Distinctive hook or element to make the tune stand out from the crowd

Beat Box

Beat Box

Narration

Robot voice narrating the different types of Bass, followed by an example.

Robot Rap

Vocoder Rap

TV Rip

Sample a movie quote or other non musical media.  Overused in the 90s rave scene but provides a retro quality to a song.

Unexpected elements

Unexpected elements make the listener stop and think, e.g.
1) Start with a rock intro, then bring in big beats.
2) Quirky orchestral moment before breakdown end.
3) Animal sounds.
4) Backwards TV theme tunes.

Vocoder harmony

Compose a contemporary harmony using a Vocoder as individual layers.  Singing robots.

World music elements

Add world music themes e.g. Turkish polka, Japanese dance, etc.

 

iv) Production
Sequencing ideas

Duck Off

Create a pumping sound to Strings by using the Kick drum as the input for a compressor.
1) Duck of Synth off the main beat.
2) Duck Rhythm

Gate double

2 Gates on 1 instrument mixing left and right

Morph

Morph 1 element to another e.g. (Cheat and use fade up and down to mix between layers)
1) Synth, isolate Bass, turns to Bass
2) Bass, isolate hi frequency, turns to hat

Music roll

Take a small section and loop 1/4 bar x 4, 1/3 x 3, 1/6 x 6 etc

Pan Gun

Pan bus left and right with gates to jump left and right

Poly rhythm

A a single note or FX sound in a regular steady Poly rhythm, i.e. 3/4, 5/4 pattern to complement the 4/4 beat.

v) Sound Effects (Digital)
Electronic sounds or electronic SFX

Aphex Rhythm

Add an orchestra of bleeps, squelches and hi frequency sound effects rhythms.
(sfx sorted/Aphex samples)

AUX rhythm

A sample is connected to several Aux effects with different DSP's delay, EQ, etc   Change the bus output for each rhythmically e.g. 1112 1312 2221 3134

Bus / Send Check

Adjust the dry / wet ratio for all of your effects to see if reducing or increasing the effects, e.g. reverb, delay, Phaser etc enhances the song.

Epic SFX

Create Epic Sci Fi movie SFX
1) Noise
2) Rumble
3) Swoosh
4) Detuned Strings
5) Vocal noises

Feedback loop

Add a +50% feedback delay loop to vocals and SFX to create a hypnotic effect.

Pan Rhythm

Pad variation of 1/32, 1/16, 1/8 pan

Reverse Echo

1) Reverse a sound, 2) add echo / reverb 3) Reverse again

SFX Party

1) Collect full frequency range of SFX from different sources.
2) Create ensemble with space.
3) Smooth over with reverbe and distortion
4) Name and categorise
5) Add to other trax

vi) Sound Effects (Analogue)
Non electronic sounds

Atonal SFX

Add atonal loop SFX in a loop, e.g. Glass tap, Noise, scratching etc.

Vocal Glitch

Create glitched vocals, talking or singing with subtle distortion and add to ESX24 for rhythm sequence

Vocal mash

Use Synthetic or real speech, cut up into syllables, and used in a rhythm,
(Vocoder normal speech
A vocal line, cut up into syllables, played rhythmically
Radio speech and music, cut up (esx), cut off, scratched, squidged in rhythm)

Vocoder rhythm

Cut up the syllables of vocals and play rhythmically through a Vocoder.

Vocal Velocity

Vocal stab of micro sequences with the cut off linked inversely to velocity.

3) Post Production

i) Production FX
DSP tricks to make a production more professional and interesting

 

Echo Effects

A sample, e.g. 1 word vocal repeats at regular intervals with a different effect on each.

Extra Bar or 2

Add an extra bar to delay the action

Cut up - Wav Tricks

-Take a 1 bar section of the entire song and cut up into 2+ layers, and juggled.
-Play ¾ of a bar 3, 6, 9 or 12 times.

Cut Off fade in

The entire song is filtered using a low to hi  / hi to low cut off at the end of a bar

Cut off LFO

The entire song is filtered is an LFO cut off.

Delay, Delay

1) Create 2 channels 1 panned left and 1 panned right.
2) Add 2 copies of a looped samples in each.  Delay the vocal in the left channel by a few milliseconds each loop.
3) The samples will gradually play further apart

Decks

1) Song Slow Down (Record simulation)
2) Song start slow and speed up (Record simulation)
3) Quick beat scratch
4) Spin back
5) Hip Hop staggered start - the same song played on 2 decks 1 bar behind.

Glitch Song

Glitch the entire song and add splices

Gate Song

Gate Song

Gate Song Reverse

Gate Song Reverse

Gate Pan

1) sample the song
2) Cut up and alternate left and right

Warping

Modulate pitch shift fine tune up and down slowly to emulate warping of old record