In this tutorial, I will show you a production technique that may help you to create a bit more complex bass- and synthlines.
Here’s an audio example:
Ok, that wasn’t probably the most complex bass/synthlines out there, but even so, I will show you the technique behind it and it should give you an idea for creating your own, far more complex stuff. So lets get on to it!
The idea of this method is to record bass- and synthlines into audio using variety of different sounds. Then the recorded audio will be imported into DirectWave or SliceX and by using the sample playback start position controller (or markers if you choose to use SliceX), the playback will be triggered from different positions in the audio. Playing back the samples from different or ‘odd’ positions (and not necessarily at the beginning of the samples) can produce very interesting sounding results when synced with the beat. It’s also a way to suddenly change the playback from one sound to something completely different which is typical in i.e Complextro, Glitch Hop and other similar styles.
So let’s begin: here’s a simple drum beat I’ve made and I’m going to build the bass / synthline on top of it.
I’m going to use Harmor for most of the sounds, so I open it and assign it to a free Mixer track for level controlling, effect processing and recording.
To save some time, I’m going to use presets here so I’ll just load one of them from the default Harmor preset library…
…and balance the Harmor sound volume level with the beat.
Next, I’ll add an empty pattern to the Playlist and create a simple sequence to the Harmor’s Piano Roll.
Next, a little Soundgoodizing treatment for this sound (Soundgoodizer adds a nice sheen and excitement to the sound).
Next, I’ll load Edison to the synth effect chain and record the sequence to audio.
I’ll enable the ‘On Play’ -mode. This will start recording when playback is started from the main transport panel. It will also place start markers to the recording when the Playlist loops back to the start of the song. This is useful when you want to record multiple takes and then select the takes and drag-and-drop them (anywhere in FL Studio) for further editing. And that’s what I’m going to do in this tutorial.
Now I’ll just click the Record -button and play back my project. The bass/synthline will be recorded to Edison as a loop.
Done. Next, I select that extra recorded audio material and delete it. You can select a region by double clicking that yellow marker at the beginning of the region (or use left and right arrow keys to select between the regions). Press Delete -key to delete the selected audio.
Next, I’ll load another Harmor preset (variety is the key in this method)…
…and record it to Edison as well. I’ll also clean the recording from that extra material again.
TIP: to easily add more movement and variation to your sounds, just automate some of the synth parameters such as filter cutoff and resonance.
Next, a new preset…
And again: a new sound.
And again. New sound.
This time, to add more variation, I’ll transpose the sequence up by one octave.
One more sound. I’m going to use well known method and create bass/lead sound from a percussion sample. Using DirectWave. If you’re not familiar with this method, the idea is to pick a sample, and loop a short region in it. And when it’s played back on different pitches, it sounds like a bass or lead.
So first, I’ll replace the Harmor with DirectWave and drop a drum sample into it.
To loop a short region in a sample, I go to the Sample -tab, select ‘Forward’ as the Loop Type and use the Loop Start / Loop End -controllers to set the length of the loop region (I’ll just use the Loop End -controller in this case).
The sound can be developed further with the options and effects in the DirectWave Program -tab. So I go there and enable the legato mode (monophonic playback mode with portamento):
Yeah, this sound isn’t in perfect TUNE with the rest of the sounds. But I’ll leave it as is as I’m going to use only a very small snippet of it in this tutorial. So I move on and record it to Edison.
Next, I’ll normalize each record take. This is just a quick gain fix – to boost the level of the record takes without the fear of clipping and to make sure they’re roughly at the same level. It’s not necessity for this method to work though, just a quick fix. (It’s also useful if you happen to record your audio at low volume level.)
In Edison, normalizing can be done quickly by selecting a region and then pressing CTRL+N.
Next, I’ll open a new instance of DirectWave and import all the record takes into it. Importing audio from Edison to anywhere inside FL is easy: just select a region and use the Drag -button and drag-and-drop. I’ll drop all the record takes one-by-one into the DirectWave’s Zone Window. This’ll create a new Zone for each sample.
All the samples are now assigned over the whole pitch range of the keyboard. But I want to play the samples like a drum kit meaning, hitting a key triggers a sample, hitting another key triggers another sample etc. In order to do this, I need to assign only one key per sample. I could do this manually by dragging each zone horizontally over a desired key. But I use a quicker way: I’ll right-click in the Zone Window and select ‘Remap Zone(s) as Drumkit’ from the menu. This’ll remap zones into consecutive semitones (first and last samples of the group of samples are automatically extended over the free, remaining range of keys, but that doesn’t matter).
Next, I’ll create an empty pattern to the Playlist, head to the DirectWave’s Piano Roll and start laying notes there that’ll trigger the samples.
And now I’ll go to the Sample -tab and while playing back the beat and the note in the DirectWave’s Piano Roll, I’ll use the Sample start position -controller to try to start the playback of the triggered sample on a position that sounds cool. If you are using this method, try ‘odd’ positions while trying to maintain the groove. This requires a bit of experimenting though. Listening it against the beat while testing different positions is important as it needs to work with your beat. Make ’em groove together. (Hold down CTRL while tweaking the Start knob to fine-tune it.)
Ok. Now, another sound.
I’ll do the same for the rest of the sounds and here’s the sequence:
Ok. Now I’ll extend the beat and the DirectWave sequence and add a little variation to it. Here’s the whole sequence:
Next, I’ll add a bit of a compression to the DirectWave sequence to add some extra punch and to ‘glue’ it together. I’m going to use Fruity Limiter for the compression.
So, after assigning the DirectWave to a free Mixer track and loading the Fruity Limiter to it’s effect chain, I’ll activate the Compression mode first. Next, I’ll drop the Threshold level below the input signal level (this is important to actually make the compressor do anything). Next, I’ll set the Ratio to around 2:1 – 3:1 and I’ll also increase the Output Gain to compensate the volume reduction caused by the compression process. I’ll set the Attack time to quite long to add sharpness to those transients of the DirectWave sequence.
Ok. Due to compression, some of the DirectWave sequence parts play out a tad too loud. At least in my opinion. And some of them needs maybe a little boost (though not because of the compression, but they were originally a bit too quiet). So I’ll head to the DirectWave’s Piano Roll and edit the note velocities to fix this.
As a final touch, I’ll add a sidechain compression style pumping effect to the sequence using Love Philter.
I have saved this Love Philter effect as a preset to a folder so I can quickly load it by dragging-and-dropping it to any Mixer track.
I use Love Philter’s volume envelope to achieve that sidechain style ‘ducking’. This particular volume envelope dips the volume at the start of each bar.
I’ll extend the envelope so that the ducking happens at the beginning of each TWO bars. I also shorten the attack part of the duck so that it happens a bit quicker as it seems to fit better to the groove.
Basically, that’s it. You can also use SliceX for this method. Here’s how:
When you are in a point where you have recorded all your sounds into Edison, open SliceX and disable the Auto-Dump. It’s not needed in this method.
Next, import the recorded audio to SliceX: drop the whole recording to SliceX from Edison by selecting all (CTRL+A) and then use the drag -button.
Delete all the existing markers by selecting the whole audio in the wave editor (click and drag with your left mouse button to select) and choose ‘Delete’ under the Regions -menu button. It’s easier (at least IMO) to start from scratch with new markers and add them as you proceed.
Now, place a new marker by double-clicking somewhere in the audio and then click Add / remove marker / region -menu button.
If you want, you can also rename the marker by right-clicking it and choosing ‘Rename’ from the menu. Name will show up in the Piano Roll as well.
Next, head to the SliceX Piano Roll and add a note there and in the SliceX Wave Editor, left-click and drag the marker to find a cool sounding spot (while listening the drum beat).
Next, add a new note and new marker (or vice versa) and proceed.
And so on. You probably got the idea.
The end. 🙂
Watch the video version below: