Basslines can be tricky for beginners to program. The bass plays a significant role in our mix because it provides energy and thickness to the track. Any track would sound thin and weak if bass frequencies are lowered beyond a point in a mix. In this article, we will explore a few techniques that can help us to come up with catchy basslines for our songs.
Trap basses generally consist of 808's. They have a long decay and are often distorted. 808 selection is extremely important for our final mix. You should always preview your bass sound with your kick in any genre of music, to see that they are not conflicting with each other. If our 808 is muffling the kick from the beginning, then processing will not be able to solve our problem.
1. Tuning 808's
808's need to be tuned correctly to the key of our beat. Once you have selected your 808, draw it into the device view of an empty midi track. Your 808 will open up in an instance of simpler. Insert a tuner after the simpler. Now we can monitor the pitch played by the 808.
We can adjust the transposition of our sample from the 'Controls' tab in the simpler. We will tune our 808 as such, that when we hit the C note on our midi keyboard, the sample is also triggered in the same pitch.
In this article we will focus on the Chords, Leads and Basses used in the drop section, take a look at the music theory and explore a few tips that can make the process of coming up with melodies or chord progressions easier.
In case you have missed Part 1 of this series, we recommend that you read that first and then come back to this article.
We will be making our drop in G Major Scale so go ahead and turn on the scale function within your DAW. You may also want to fold the piano roll of your DAW to the selected scale (shown in the image below).
Major 7th and minor 7th chords are used frequently in Future Bass. Extended chords like Add 9th chords are also quite common. For our track we will be using the Chord Progression:
|| G Major 7th | G add 9 | B minor 7th | D add 9 ||
As you can see in the image above we have altered the standard voicing of the chords to make them sound better. As long as we stay in the selected scale, we can experiment with these voicings till we get the right feel for our chord progression.
Once we are happy with how the chord progression sounds, we can alter the rhythm of certain chords to add more energy to the composition and compose a B section for the drop. Along with altering the rhythm we can also add some extra notes in the higher or lower registers to add more movement to our music. It is important not to add to many notes at this stage. We need to maintain space for other elements and keep things interesting. As you can see in the image below, we have largely kept things similar to our initial progression, only adding some variations in the 2nd and 4th bars.
At the moment we are using a default saw wave from Wavetable (check image below) to map out chords, we will be covering sound design in the next part where this basic sound will be altered into something much more complex.
Main Melody or Lead
Now that our chord progression is ready, we can start experimenting with different melodies that will be in scale with our chords and also fill in the empty spaces in between. For our composition, we want our lead to be slightly offset from the rhythm of drum pattern. To achieve this, we will use the concept of syncopation where certain notes in our melody will land on the upbeat to create rhythmic variations. We also want the melody to sound uplifting, so we are using the G Major Pentatonic scale (G, A, B, D, E) instead of the regular G Major. As you can see in the image below the melody is kept very simple and with the chord progression they almost act like a call and response but it is not very obvious.
Another important trick that has been used here, is to always rest on one of the chord degrees (notes played in the chord), this makes the lead resonate better with our chord progression. We have also varied the velocity of the notes according to taste to add a bit of humanization.
We will also create a variation for this melody so that the drop does not sound repetitive. We are using a few notes out of the G Major Pentatonic scale for this section, other than that we are keeping the feel similar to our first melody (as shown in the image below).
For both the melodies we are using the default triangle wave from Wavetable. We will alter the tone in part 3 of this series, when we explore sound design.
The bassline for our track will be extremely simple. We will be placing the bass notes on beat to accent the downbeats. The main role for the bass is to thicken the sound of the chord progression. Hence we have used the root notes of our chords as the main bassline with some minute additions (shown in the image below).
We will also create a variation for our bass part like we had done for our chord progression and lead. In this version we are going to keep things similar to the first pattern but we will add some more syncopated notes to create contrast (check image below).
We have made the bassline using the default sine wave from Wavetable as shown in the image below.
Thus we have created a chord progression, lead and bass section with a variation for our Future Bass track while exploring some tips to help us be more expressive and efficient with our note selection. In the next article we will explore various sound design techniques to give our music the Future Bass sound. If have not read our previous article in this series, please click the link provided below.