Welcome back to the last installment of this week’s Trance music production tutorial series on creasing basic rolling baselines, and how to make them work better in your projects.
[aside title=”Better Basslines!“] Applying well-layered synth elements is like painting with music, your imagination is the only limit![/aside]
So far in this series we have covered programming basic rolling baseline MIDI patterns and the basic sound design approach of layering three bass elements to make one main bass instrument. There are literally months worth of conversations we could have around these topics alone. But alas, a post here can only be so long, so we are limited in what we can share in such a short period of time. This post will cover some of the basic concepts of processing the sounds and applying them to a more complex baseline pattern, which includes more octaves!
To begin with, we need to set the different sounds apart without making them sound like different instruments. This can either be quite difficult or very easy. Once you get used to the idea of less is more, then you should be alright. Let’s start with the high end element. The main things we want to introduce here are compression and perhaps a small amount of reverb. The compression will help the smaller sounds rise to the surface, and the reverb will help carry the sounds so they do more than simply ‘cut through the mix’.
Now for the mid range bass element. This is where the bulk of the processing takes place. And although we may apply several plugins at this stage, the goal is still to keep things simple and subtle. A very small amount of Sample Delay is added, not for effect, but to make sure there are no phasing issues between this and the low end bass element during playback. Some basic compression is then applied. Just a touch of overdrive distortion is added for character. And a small amount of chorus to help it blend well with the other Trance style synths in the song it ends up in.
The low end element is kept very simple with only some compression being added. Too much of anything in the bottom end frequencies can make mixing and mastering difficult. Avoid muddiness early and often!
Next comes the routing. We need to set up an auxiliary channel for all three bass element to be sent to. Here we will apply a compressor, which will serve two purposes. First, a sidechain trigger will be set up with the kick drum to help ensure that there is no frequency conflict happening (and it is also provides a popular ducking effect). And it also helps the sounds to ‘gel’ together before hitting the main output.
Now before wrap thing up here, we should take advantage of this flexible bass instrument we just created and apply it to a more complex baseline pattern, or more precisely three patterns at once! We will start with the high end first, then the mid range and finally the low end pattern.
Below is the end result of these efforts. As you can hear, it sounds much better!
Now obviously there are a lot more reasons to justify the effort of layering three sounds together like this, including applying different effects in different quantities and at different times. You can have them each come in and out of the mix independently. The sky is the limit, really. And in future tutorials we will cover many of the options available to you in this situation. So if you have a request for something specific, let us know by send a message our way. Thanks for stopping!