Newbie - Beat/Loop Making

Discussion in 'Production' started by Davinci, Sep 26, 2014.

  1. Davinci

    Davinci New Member

    Sep 26, 2014
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    Hi Guys, have read the sticky's first, so please don't murder me if in wrong place!

    Background of me:

    18 years ago I used to mess around in Octamed and ProTracker 2 on the Amiga 1200 - both trackers.

    About 10 years ago I played with Reason 3, but never got into it, was overwhelmed with the options and a different workflow most likely.

    I then did a little bit in Renoise on the PC as I felt more comfortable as it is also a tracker.


    Fast forward to today and I am playing around with Reaper 4.x and Fruit Loops 11.x and really want to invest the time/years to learn sound design and do it all proper - even looking at production courses in London. More for my own enjoyment and hobby. i have studio monitors, soundcard and about to get a midi/usb keyboard.

    Maybe I am getting the workflows wrong, but the current place I am at is, I can 'sequence' or 'layer' or 'mix' multi tracks to form a (shit!) song from existing samples packs, but am I starting at the wrong place? I want to create my own loops and rifts - not simply construct them from sample packs like something from that Playstation game Music 2000 and have the same sounds as others! Is this where VSt's like Massive come in or are they more filters to manipulate the sound of current .WAV's?

    Do you guys have separate days you create your own loops to create a luibrary of them? I want to experiment and create my own. Where within these programs would I do that starting from scratch?

    Thank You for your patience! Any help appreciated!

    DYSRUPT Active Member

    Jan 11, 2014
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    You have a long road my friend. lol. (laughing with you, not at you).

    Everything you do is approached differently. Bass sessions, drums sessions, synth sessions and fx sessions all have a different workflow. ill briefly go through mine

    Bass is a two part session for me. I like to create 8 bar evolving bass notes at F or G with no pitch and very subtle filtering. for this i use Massive, Predator, Surge, FM8 and now Serum :) it depends on the sound I'm going for. Massive is really "high, brittle and bitty", Predator has a warmer grind to it for the reese sessions, Surge is nice for those screaming, whining sounds. so on and so forth. you'll figure out all that later on. just stick with any ONE for now.
    At this stage you want to get the sound almost perfect so you'll have less to do later. Surgically notch filter out any resonant ear bleeding frequencies, make sure the sub is mono and get a nice amount of space.

    in the second session on bass, I take the audio samples i exported, chuck it in a sampler and start processing. this is not exactly the same every time. I like to experiment a lot. I always filter the balls out of it, but the distortion, chorus, reverb. . . .Everything, is experimental. Look up neuro bass filtering and you'll see what i mean. Theres a thousand ways to do it. But the sound I create in the first part, is everything. At this stage I still don't automate any pitch. its just one note filtered to get some nice whips, grinds, stabs and swells. Ill change the automation a few times and export every change. In the arrangement of a track it goes back into a sampler and thats when ill automate pitch and experiment with different chops and cuts

    Drums Is where the grove comes from. So make sure when you make tham, you're head is bobbing even though there isn't a single sound besides the drums. if you get you're drums to make you move by themselves, you win.
    For this I use audio samples and its always different depending on the samples I use. sometimes they need a synth layered kick or snare to back them up but usually if a sound isn't working ill just swap it out for another one. I start with a simple kick snare pattern. Most of the time the kick gets narrowed and the snare gets sent to a bus with a slight reverb. just enough to get the tail fizzed out.
    the break is the fun part. i use real drum loops or session drums chopped up. Ill rearrange the whole loop to fit the two step pattern, pitch them up and high pass to 150-250 (depending on the sample) to get rid of any low end rumble that will just dirty up the sub frequencies and make for a shitty mix down. I don't work on hats at this stage. I do that in the track. Ill export out the kick snare together and the break by itself

    Synths. . . . . .I don't work on synths separate from the track

    FX and ambience. . . . .I love fx and ambience. this is where you can just go fucking crazy with fx. theres no rules here at all. A good tool for this job is a granular synth with any sample loaded because most of my fx and ambient fills are post processing heavy with long tail fx like a vocoder, reverb, convolution reverb and delays. I like to do it this way because using a synth like Absynth or Omnisphere is good, but I tend to use the presets more and don't really learn anything. I actually got rid of all my presets so that I could to avoid this.

    Thats my cryptic rant. . . . .Its a short explanation of my workflow. theres a ton more to explain, but i don't have the attention span to write it all down. hahahaha
    I suggest checking out some masterclasses. you'll notice something when watching them. Everyone does things a little different and uses different techniques and vsts, but theres some things that almost everyone does exactly the same and some vsts that are a necessity. The rest is up to you. Also, it pains me to say this because no money spent on education is wasted, but you probably won't need schooling unless you're a real knob. The internet is so full of information that its overwhelming. I have about 20 hours of masterclass videos that are so full of valuable info that also are my inspiration when I'm stuck and those helped me a TON.

    Not to mention. . . . .This forum is full of some pretty intelligent, helpful and heavy hitting artists.
    RUSSLA and Sulihin like this.
  3. smoothassilk

    smoothassilk Active Member

    Aug 13, 2013
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    For making basses, leads, pads etc you want a synth: Massive, Zeta, Synthmaster, FM8, Zebra, Serum are all worth looking at, but at this stage you might not be sure what you're looking for.
    You'll also want a bunch of FX plugins: distortion, chorus/phaser/flanger, reverb, delay, vocoder, compressor, EQ/filter etc. You probably have some pretty decent ones that come with FL already, a lot of synthesizers come with them inbuilt and you can also go on kvr audio and find lots of free ones, but some people still aren't satified by them and they like to buy some too. It's up to you and how much you want to spend.

    You might not know what you're looking for at this stage, so if you go synth shopping you might find a lot of words you don't know the meaning of: rather than going out and buying a synth which is shit or overpriced by mistake, it's probably a decent idea to investigate the FL stock synths and how they work for a few weeks until you know what you why, for example, you might want custom wavetables or self-oscillating filters or 1000 voices of unison or whatever.

    For making drum loops out of individual hits, you need a sampler/beat slicer of some description (probably FL has one?) and maybe some more FX plugins. Most people also like to collect together a sample library of drum one-shots: have a browse around for 'free wav sample packs', you might even like to buy some too if you have the cash.

    For actual accoustic instruments, ideally you'd find a friend who'll play what you want and record them with a high quality mic. This isn't an option for most people, so you'll have to get what are called multisampled instrument libraries to emulate instruments etc. Have a look at kontakt, (has a nice free sample library if you don't want to pay for the whole thing) and dimension pro (also very nice, went on sale recently for £10, but currently costs a lot more)

    For vocals, you have to get a singer or use loops.

    I think that covers most things... first step is to check the getting start thread at the top of the production forum, then start playing with FL stock synths.
  4. teenious

    teenious Member

    Sep 5, 2013
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    The two previous posts already contain a lot of good tips and suggestions, but I feel that a lot of your basic questions were not actually covered. Since I have a bit of time, let me give my thoughts (I'm not an expert either though).

    One of the first things you asked about was VSTs. VST is an abbreviation for "Virtual Studio Technology" and is a popular kind of plugins. When talking about instruments like synthesizers and samplers, we use the term VSTi ('VST instruments') to distinguish from effect plugins that don't make sounds themselves but rather filter and modify sounds from an input channel.

    As explained in the two previous posts, each individual track of a drum and bass song can be created with lots of different tools. Some parts of the track are typically synthesized - think of the lead synth of a Pendulum song, the bassline of a neurofunk track, the warm sub bass of a liquid dnb piece - while others are often built from samples - drums, first of all, but also other instrumental tracks (strings, guitar riffs, piano chords), vocals, background noises etc. Note that this is just one possible breakdown of a track into synths and samples. In practice, every individual track released differs in the techniques used. You can sample a bassline from a funk song for example, you can create a piano-like sound on an FM synthesizer, you can even synthesize kicks and snares (think of popular analog drum machines). Your lead could actually be a distorted recording of a flute, your bassline could be a time-stretched hit on a bass drum, you are free to choose. There are tons of production tutorials from semiprofessionals as well as actual pros from the big labels (their videos are usually called "production masterclasses" and not always free to watch) and you'll find out they actually use a mixture of sampling and synthesizing for many elements of their tracks.

    One particular element of a track I find very interesting are the drums. There are hundreds of techniques really. Traditionally, dnb songs were built on the foundation of sampled and re-arranged drum breaks from funk songs, most notably the Amen break (sampled from The Winstons - 'Amen, Brother'). A good sample collection like every dnb producer keeps should definitely include such drum breaks. In your DAW (digital audio workstation - the program you use) - there will be a suitable plugin to play around with those loops (in FL Studio, there is the 'Fruity Slicer' and the much more powerful 'Slicex'. Look up some tutorials! :) ). Now, most producers won't just go with a single drum break that they rearrange into a rhythm they like - they top it off with single drum hits like kicks of the bass drum or snare hits that hit especially "tight". Those can be taken from different sample packs, or from other drum breaks, or synthesized from analog drum machins or software plugins, and are usually put through some effect plugins to "have a good spot within the mix" (fit with the other elements of the track) and hit as "hard" as possible. Ultimately, drum and bass is dance music, isn't it? :)

    The exact process of creating your drums (or other elements of the track, for that matter) is up to you. Depending on your style (think Pendulum vs Black Sun Empire vs Bop drums, if you know these artists), your personal preferences in the workflow and your resources (good sample packs, access to drum machines) you can pretty much do whatever you want. Sometimes the sheer number of possibilites will even get intimidating and you will find it useful to limit yourself to the use of certain (virtual and real) instruments and tracks.

    Well, I guess what I'm trying to say with this wall of text is that there are really endless ways to get started on a track. Just to give you some ideas, I will link some (free) resources I find to be very useful:

    Blu Mar Ten's free 'Jungle Jungle' sample pack, a website for free-to-use recordings of all kinds of stuff - check the license on each individual sample though, featuring a lot of useful basic tutorials
    'Production Bytes', the youtube channel of a guy whose tutorials I particularly enjoyed

    ...also, use the FL studio help if you need explanations on the functions of a plugin. It's really informative and has helped me out hundreds of times (unlike the 'help' or 'manual' functions of other programs).

    Have a good night


    ps. I appreciate all kinds of useful links myself :) Still quite the beginner
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  5. Davinci

    Davinci New Member

    Sep 26, 2014
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    Let me start by thanking all 3 of you to take the time to write a response. thank you all for your time - has really given me some inspiration to make a start! Especially so teenious regarding difference between synth and sample :)

    I will have a play around and check out some videos/help when I get stuck - did a little over the weekend and I'm trying to get rid of my old tracker head onto sample based arrangement.

    Thanks guys - looks like a great community here!

    RUSSLA DNBF Monarch

    May 23, 2008
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    ^ To be honest bro i've never seen such indepth replies for a new user, you certainly caught Dysrupt & Smooth on good days (y)

    Welcome tho man, make sure you go thru all the stickies too, some seriously good info in there!