Today we are bringing you an exclusive taster from our new Sound Design in Ableton Live Course which launched in Jan 2012.
In this tutorial Danny J Lewis demonstrates how to create a classic Chicago house style bass using subtractive synthesis and Ableton’s Analogue.
Subtractive synthesis is the ‘classic’ method of making sounds and is known for its warm and round character. If you are after contemporary high frequency energy sounds like those in some forms of dubstep it’s not going to be your first port of call but it’s an essential string in a sound designers bow. Techniques that you learn in relation to subtractive synthesis will be applicable across other Ableton devices such as Simpler, Sampler and effects like the Autofilter.
If using subtractive synthesis we use a Filter to adjust the tone of the sound. The filters will be connected to Envelopes or LFOs to link the tone adjustment to time and the duration you hold down the key/s.
The bassline that Danny creates brings a Larry Heard vibe with its round and bouncy tone. Based on a pulse wave with some subtle width modulation via an LFO, it is perfectly suited to Chicago style house and most deep house variants. The key aspects to note are are:
- 24 dB/Oct Low Pass Filter
- Filter Envelope
- Volume Envelope
Let’s take a look at how to make it:
Danny is otherwise known as Enzyme Black, with releases on labels such as Defected, Masters At Work and his own imprint Enzyme Black Recordings. He is the head of course development at Point Blank’s online music production school.
You can learn techniques such this and much more on the online Ableton Sound Design course. The next course start dates are 5th March and 30th April. Watch Danny discussing the course below and click here for the full course details and enrolment information.
See how Point Blank Online school works and access loads more exclusive free tutorials by clicking here.
Hi. This is Danny Joe Lewis, also known as Enzyme Black. I’m a course developer and tutor here at Point Blank Online. I’ve released music on labels such as Strictly Rhythm, Defected, Monsters at Work Recordings and many more. I’m here to introduce this new course in sound design for Ableton Live.
We’ve got another subtractive example here using analog, and this is a Chicago influence-based sound. Have a listen in context. It’s nice, round, warm, and is very distinctively analog soundings. The analog itself is really well suited to this particular type of sound. Let’s rebuild this. We are going to go through the steps. I created this beforehand and I can remember some of the things I did, but I don’t remember absolutely everything. So we are going to need to reference the original one every now and again. I’m going to take you through decisions and the reasoning behind certain parameter changes. Let’s solo this. Let’s take a look. Let’s open up an analog on this track. The default sorter is basically the wrong type of sound for this. We are going to switch to the pulse. The other thing to do straight away is take the width to 100%. Let’s have a listen and see how that feels now.
The first thing that I did was to take the octave down, a nice warm low tone. The other thing that I did was on the volume section to take the voices down to mono. So it’s only one note at once. It had a filter and this is creating that nice kind of plucky, warm tone. I used the 24dB per octave slope. Let’s take the frequency down here. It was somewhere down here I did the envelope. I’m just going to make some changes here. Just have a listen. We’ll see if we can get it close to what it was before without referencing the other one. We’re going here for relatively low sustained frequency. On the actual MIDI data you can see that there are some quite long notes here. It’s just to keep the frequency quite warm instead of it being fizzy. Look.
Of course, this is affected by the amplifier envelope as well. There is no high sustained level there. If I left this out, we can bring out some more energy there. If I come back to this filter, you can really clearly hear the sustained sections. With the sustained level lower, we can still detect the actual sustained notes but it’s just warmer. It’s working nicely. You’ve got to bring the release shorter. One of the things I did with the oscillator was to adjust the pulse width. I did that using another [inaudible 03:26]. I’m going to do this for you now. This time I’ll edify one. At a slow rate I’m going to increase the amount here so you can hear it. Can you hear the movement of the pulse wave there? I’m going to adjust it back, really subtle. That’s working nicely. I’m just going to take this off and see how it feels in context with the beats.
I’m going to reference the other one now. It sounds pretty close to me, to be honest. I don’t want to dwell too much on the specifics of being identical, so let me just have a listen. It sounds to me like the filter is slightly different on this one. Let’s take a look. 1-3-5 and 21. So I didn’t bring up the resonance there. That would explain why it’s not quite as bouncy. Also, on the original one my envelope amount was less. Let’s have a look. Let’s see how these feel now. Let’s take that one off. Let’s bring this on. That’s working nicely. It’s a really nice, warm, bouncy bass sound that has got a place. It’s a real historic sound. Great for the Chicago style stuff and lots of other forms of house music. Very much a deep house kind of flavor here. That’s a nice patch to save. Save it and you can make your own customizations, of course and see what you can come up with.