This pic has nothing to do with Dubstep, I just saw it on a news site but HELLO, how can you be flying in some multi-million dollar piece of killing hardware wearing one of these guyver anime darth vader helmets blowing up rebel ‘insurgents’, women and children in the desert like you’re in a video game and not know that YOU (aka WE if you’re UK or US) are the bad guys.
I just got around to reading this excellent ‘how to make dubstep bass’ tutorial from Mashit Records’ DJ C and thought it worth reposting here.
The knowledge he’s sharing is good and useful and with a little thinking applicable to whatever synth/software you use. One of the best ideas I find in it is the idea of LAYERING. This is an idea it took me literally years to figure out as a producer, dumb though that may sound. The simplest form of this is simply taking whatever notes you have, copying them to another channel in your sequencer exactly the same (or an octave up or down) and assigning a different sound to them. It’s important the notes are exactly the same so that there is no rhythmic difference between the two so that the two sounds mesh together to create a new, thicker sound.
Actually I have to give full credit to Jammer for really showing me the value of this, and how to do it really well with Logic. They don’t call that dude Top Producer for nothing, he really knows what he’s talking about, so all credit where it’s due. This idea is especially useful when it comes to producing the type of bass that so many of us love that’s found in drum & bass, grime, and dubstep records.
You know the kind I mean: bass that is simultaneously in-your-face, loud and blaring, practically taking up the whole track, but still feels like a punch in the stomach when it hits. I remember spending literally hours and hours and hours trying to get a synth to make these sounds but never could find the right balance between that mid-range growl, or shininess or blare that I wanted and the appropriate down low chest rattling bass heaviness. This is because, in fact, it’s not ONE synth making these sounds, but at least two, and often more. The mid- and high-range detail that provides a lot of character of the sound is one synth going through its own EQ, distortion, reverb, compression, whatever, and the bottom subwoofer sound of pure bass weight is usually just a very simple, non-descript sounding sine wave (write that down SINE WAVE, very important).
An easy way to make a sine wave in Logic is to use the EXS24 sampler with no sample in it, it defaults to a sine wave cycle, go down to the lowest octaves on your keyboard and try not to blow your speakers. Other waveforms can be used but a very low pure sine I find is one of the most sure-fire ways to make people’s hair blow back like they’re in a hurricane in the club.
And as Gervase from LDN’s excellent Heatwave sound points out in the blog’s comments, the tutorial he’s given provides basically all you need to know to make some pretty familiar sounding ‘dubstep by numbers’ type shit. Why do I mention this? Well, I like dubstep. I think it’s interesting and I like the fact that there’s a genre of music that’s around thats focused on pushing the limits of pure physical sound and what you can do with that. However, I don’t like a lot of the way that a lot of the people in dubstep act. Like they’re on some holy quest to make the deepest, purest, most whatever whatever sound, that they’re ‘smarter than grime’ or ‘more complex’ etc, when in fact they are just another branch on the same tree that started decades ago in Jamaica and mutated into Rap, Jungle and soon enough is gonna be mutated into something else. Especially now that Dubstep is starting to have the type of commercial success that drum & bass had in a certain era and go international I feel like some of the people near the heart of that scene are trying to do what a lot of top dnb heads did, which is to lock the doors behind them and say ‘this is ok, this is real dubstep, and this isn’t and only we get to say so, and blah blah blah’.
I have no time for those type of people as I have always been a mutant genre nomad and am never happy sitting in ANY little genre fishpond. To me the moment a style sits still I’m bored and looking for something else. That’s why I like dancehall so much, every month not only are there new tunes and riddims but new tempos, beats, sounds, everything. So my point here is, take this knowledge, do what you want with it, flood the market with derivative dubstep records, make bassline house out of their favorite tunes, put wobble bass in tv jingles, generally make it hard for everyone sitting still. Me, I’m moving, so I absolutely don’t care. By the time you catch up to me I will be somewhere far far away.