In electronic dance music, you need uplifters for building up the tension. But downlifters are very useful as well. For example, they are good for ending a section in a song (such as intro) before starting another (such as breakdown).
In this tutorial I will show you how to make a simple downlifter. It’s nothing fancy, just some random sound which reminds a bit of like some machine shutting down.
Here’s an audio example:[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio5/Downlifter-Example.mp3]
Ok. To re-create that, first open 3xOsc and draw a note to the 3xOsc’s Piano Roll. We are going to create a pitch slide down -effect in the Piano Roll so first, draw as long note as you want your downlifter to be and use whatever pitch you require (the pitch you choose is the starting pitch for the downlifter). My example downlifter is eight bars long and I’m using a pitch of C5. TIP: when you want to draw long notes in the Piano Roll, quickly zoom out by pressing  using the top row number keys. Use ,  or  to zoom back in.
Next, draw a Slide note to the Piano Roll (for the pitch slide). It should be as long as your first note and at lower pitch (because this is a DOWNlifter). I’m using C2.
Ok. If you use these notes, you’ll get a smooth eight bars long pitch slide from C5 to C2.[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio5/Plain-Downlifter.mp3]
Next, a bit of tweaking with the 3xOsc. Select the oscillator types: triangle for oscillators 1 & 2 and square for oscillator 3. Pitch down the oscillators 1 & 2 by setting their Coarse tune to -24 semitones. Drop the oscillator 3 (square wave) mix level a bit to make it less obtrusive (this is just a matter of taste, but IMO the downlifter sounds better this way). And finally, to make the downlifter “wobble” (kind of), set the oscillator 1 fine tune to around -64 semitones and oscillator 2 to +64 semitones.
Ok. The core of the downlifter is ready.[audio:http://howtomakeelectronicmusic.com/wp-content/uploads/audio5/3xOsc-Tweaks-Ready.mp3]
Next, assign the 3xOsc to a free Mixer track for effecting and load Fruity WaveShaper to the first effect slot of 3xOsc’s Mixer track (Fruity WaveShaper is a wave distortion effect and that’s what it is used for in this example).
In the WaveShaper, drag the map curve (that diagonal line) Point 1 to 2 tension handle up to 100% for nice distortion and decrease the Post gain quite a bit to compensate the excessive loudness.
Next, load Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to the effect slot for some frequency boosting.
Now, in my opinion, the mid-area of this sound is a bit dull so it needs a boost. Use peaking filter with a wide bandwidth to boost the mids (that’s around 1Khz). Of course, with as wide bandwidth as I’m using in this example (100%), the low-mid and upper-mid areas gets boosted as well. But it’s ok. Also, you might want to cut the low frequency area a bit to attenuate the low-end (assuming you are creating a downlifter which goes as low as this example). And you might want to decrease the volume level a bit in the Mixer track because the heavy EQ boost makes the sound quite loud.
Final effect in the effect chain is reverb. Pick your favourite reverb effect or use Fruity Reeverb which I am using here.
Use long Decay time for big reverb. Drop the reverb wet level a bit to avoid “drowning” the sound. Use the LowCut to filter low frequencies from the input signal (to remove some rumble from the reverb).
Basically, that’s it!
Use different note lengths for faster/slower downlifters.
Watch the video version of this tutorial below:
Download Downlifter Idea FL Studio Project File (requires FL Studio 11.0.4 or later to open properly)