The DubSpot Blog Class: 11 & 12 Bass & Keys and Chords
by .thejass.Saturday, Apr 18th 2009, 01:15 AM
At class eleven, we learned about bass, or should I say BASS. This lesson focused on bass lines by using the opportunity to get a deeper understanding of the different wave shapes that synthesizers can produce. We also looked at different types of bass lines and some techniques used to create them.
Jon encouraged us to start 'thinking of notes in between notes', for example, good electric bass guitar players play "ghost notes" (notes of indistinct pitch, short duration and low volume) making a bass groove more effective.
We went over three types of synthesized bass:
sine (simplest bass sound you can synthesize, heard on many drum n' bass tracks)
square (produces incredibly high harmonics and a very usable sound)
saw tooth (know for very funky bass sounds).
We continued to build more complex drum sounds by spending a lot of time on the bass frequencies by changing the envelopes shape through ADSR (attack-decay-sustain-release).
Attack - how long it takes for the sample to reach it's full volume
Release - determines how long it takes for the sample to fade to silence after the Note Off MIDI message is received
Decay / Sustain - work in conjunction with each other.
Decay is how quickly the sound drops to the sustain level after the initial peak. Sustain is the "constant" volume at which the sound remains following the decay until the note is released. This parameter specifies a volume level as well as a time period
Our assignment over the week was to look at the bass parts we program and listen to it in relationship to the kick drum, Jon told us that the bass part does not necessarily have to carry the entire groove on its own, it is more important that the bass locks in with the song in a compelling way - there is no rule - just make sure to listen carefully to the groove.
For class twelve: Keys and Chords (Pads, Stabs and Leads), we focused on some of the essentials of sound design for effective chord parts and leads. We looked at how MIDI devices help with the creation of effective parts. Now that we covered bass and drums, we learned how the chord parts fall into two categories: rhythmic parts (interact with the bass and drums / enhance the groove) and pads (keyboard sound that floats over the groove).
'Geogaddi' by Boards of Canada
To understand how professional artists create their music, we listened and dissected a couple of songs while Jon recreated their distinct sound in Ableton. I am a big fan of the group Boards of Canada, and when Jon played their track "Dawn Chorus" from the 'Geogaddi' album, I was very excited to learn how to use Ableton Live to get that ‘nothing ever completely in tune’ Boards of Canada sound.
Next, we went over the process of creating great pad sounds that sustain the notes over a long period of time while also evolving a kind of motion in it. To achieve this, we used the Analog instrument in Ableton to first look at pad basics. Analog is becoming more popular with Ableton users because it sounds good and emulates the unique circuitry and irresistible tweak ability of vintage analog synthesizers.
Analog in Ableton Live
Lastly, we took advantage of making music with a computer by using MIDI devices - instead of years of classical training to learn how to create great effects on an instrument – Ableton Live can take the MIDI input and transform the MIDI effect before it reaches the instrument to create chord parts. I know that I am not a music theory expert, but with the MIDI Chord effect, I heard some great results by just using my ear.
The overall purpose of Level 2 is to create my own track. One approach to achieving this, as Jon recommends, is to create a foundation to build on. Sketch in parts, create one thing at a time, and get content early. What I start with will inform other decisions, and then I can refine my sound design based on the context. It’s time to start sketching…