Basslines

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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GLJdrew
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Basslines

Post by GLJdrew » Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:41 am

Two questions about bass/basslines

1. I'd like to say I know a decent amount of music theory and should be able to construct baselines with the knowledge I have. However, I'm wondering if electronic/dub/synth baselines arent the same as say a 5 piece rock band. Is there something about synth basses that makes it harder to find notes that "fit" with the chords?
Lets say I am using an A major chord voiced A1 A2 and C#2, would you say I should stay away from any bass note at all because I am already pretty low down? I know it always goes "just do what sounds good" but I want to make my creative process more fluid and give myself some guidelines so I know what to expect. It's frustrating thinking something should sound good but then it doesn't.

2. Do you guys usually stick with one sound for bass or change it throughout the song? And do you layer bass with say a bass and then a sub bass for that extra push? If so, how do you recommend adding the sub?

Thanks!
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oddstep
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Re: Basslines

Post by oddstep » Thu Nov 17, 2011 2:03 pm

thinking in terms of a 5 piece rock band will lead to the creation of guidelines that are quite restrictive*. music theory is good for informing your harmonic and melodic decisions; fundamentally you can fill up a frequency spectrum between 20 hz to above 20 kHz, so you can easily fit a sub beneath the chord you've described. having a really full spectrum sound would probably be overwhelming if there was no breaks in the sounds being made.I find it hard to clearly hear melodies played rapidly at frequencies below 110 hz.
synthesized bass sounds cover a broader range of timbres than acoustic basses; so its impossible to generalise ... its possible to make a synth with really pronounced atonal over tones which would make difficult to fit with a chord that it should be in tune with.
I often layer a harmonically rich midrange sound with a simple sine pitched 2 octave lower, just to massive up the bass.

*edit: coming from a rock background this was my natural approach - I realised that this was stopping me from fully exploring what I could do. multiple instruments can combine to play a single part, everything can be part of a tuned drumkit, synthesis and sampling create really malleable instruments that could be both a rhythm track and melody.

citizenchris099
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Re: Basslines

Post by citizenchris099 » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:19 pm

first of all do what you feel man. I've studied theory for a few years now and at the end of the day its about what you feel. Cliche but still true

As to what I do w/bass with regards to approach and notes etc..
First off my chord voicing are typically 3/7 (the Bill Evans technique as they refer to it in Jazz theory circles) Most of my block chords are voiced w/eitehr the 3 or 7 in the bass and then subsequently stack the 3/7 then either the 6/9 depending on the chord progression.
So I want other harmonic parts including the bass to emphasize the 1/5 of the given chord/mode. Most of my bass lines will emphasize the tonic of the chord and with passing tones that include but are not limited to the 3/5/7
My approach as far as sound and arrangement is more akin to a rock band as apposed to say more EDM genres. I just dig the sound of a string bass over a synth bass typically.

ark
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Re: Basslines

Post by ark » Thu Nov 17, 2011 4:58 pm

Spend some time listening carefully to Bach's basslines. Everything will be simple after that.

zenlikethat
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Re: Basslines

Post by zenlikethat » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:08 pm

Layering a sub is GOLDEN. I will generally take whatever the more mid-rangey bass sound I have and layer underneath it a sine wave (usually one or two octaves lower, wherever the optimal BUMP is- remember, lower pitch does not always equal more bump). Then Low Pass it to avoid high frequency overtones that might not be desirable. And remember to crank the volume on that sucker! Lower frequency sounds need more amplification to be heard in the mix than high frequency sounds (this is why bass amps typically have more wattage than guitar amps). And if you have a couple of sine waves that are slightly detuned, it creates some crazy motion in the low end.

Learn to use subtractive EQ to avoid frequency conflict between different layers of bass, drums, etc. Return tracks can add some cool effects selectively to one part of the sound- try running a return track with a hipass EQ and then some reverb, for example.

Lately I have been also cranking the resonance up on that LP filter and setting the frequency somewhere from 60 - 150 HZ. YMMV- experiment and have fun. Know that Resampling is often going to be your friend making basslines (and other stuff too, but that's a topic for another thread)- resample that bassline to get additional spice! Something funny happens when you start stacking, rearranging, slicing up audio samples of things that were originally programmed in MIDI.

I was going to post this in another thread, but seems relevant here: Does anyone know how Bassnectar and some of those dubstep guys get those complex "lattices" of bass where it has rises and drops and different bass sounds all over the place? Like this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkdYSj_Er7I

Resampling and carefully tweaking with different ranges in Sampler? Glide, Frequency Modulation, etc.? Thanks.

oddstep
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Re: Basslines

Post by oddstep » Thu Nov 17, 2011 5:49 pm

probably multiple patches, definitely glide and pitch bending and envelopes, formant or hi resonance high pass filtering? bit depth reduction?

zenlikethat
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Re: Basslines

Post by zenlikethat » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:30 pm

oddstep wrote:probably multiple patches, definitely glide and pitch bending and envelopes, formant or hi resonance high pass filtering? bit depth reduction?
Word. I've found that resampling Redux/Dynamic Tube/Saturator in a couple of different ways has interesting results. I never thought of using high resonance HP- would you do that IN the Sampler/Simpler, and would you use an LFO to modulate the frequency cutoff?

And I've always had rubbish luck with Analog's formant filter- anyone know of any good tutorials on that sort of thing? Everyone always talks about formant filters but I find myself scratching my head trying to figure out how to implement them. Like, Vocoder (used w/ Modulate) sometimes has pleasing results and sometimes just sounds shite.

And by multiple patches do you mean different samples in different ranges in the Sampler?

Cheers,

Nate

oddstep
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Re: Basslines

Post by oddstep » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:56 pm

hi pass filtering. yep I'd do that in sampler and I'd have the filter frequency linked to an lfo and an envelope.I don't have much luck with analog in general. check out this... http://www.ableton.com/blog/2011/10/11/ ... -operator/
its a good approach.
by multiple patches I mean that the bassline isn't just one instrument - sometimes its bass a, sometimes bass b. you could do that by having different samples in ranges on sampler, or you could make a rack or you could have multiple tracks.
Last edited by oddstep on Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

zenlikethat
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Re: Basslines

Post by zenlikethat » Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:58 pm

oddstep wrote:hi pass filtering. yep I'd do that in sampler and I'd have the filter frequency linked to an lfo and an envelope.I don't much luck with analog in general. check out this... http://www.ableton.com/blog/2011/10/11/ ... -operator/
its a good approach.
by multiple patches I mean that the bassline isn't just one instrument - sometimes its bass a, sometimes bass b. you could do that by having different samples in ranges on sampler, or you could make a rack or you could have multiple tracks.
LOL "Brostep" rack. I've seen that before, I'll definitely check it out. Thanks for your help. What kind of envelope settings are you thinking, out of curiosity?

oddstep
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Re: Basslines

Post by oddstep » Fri Nov 18, 2011 3:07 pm

i'd set up the filter envelope so that it is closed on midi on, then almost immediately opens wide and then closes again, steep attack - half as steep decay if you get me. then an lfo on beat synced sine maybe 3/8 rate... with an attack on it so that it comes in after the WHAOWWUHH of the filter sweep at the beginning. dunno, that's just me. yeah, cause I am a complete snob I was put off by the brostep title - but its a cool use for those eq8 presets.

Samaritan Sound
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Re: Basslines

Post by Samaritan Sound » Fri Nov 18, 2011 5:45 pm

zenlikethat wrote:I was going to post this in another thread, but seems relevant here: Does anyone know how Bassnectar and some of those dubstep guys get those complex "lattices" of bass where it has rises and drops and different bass sounds all over the place? Like this song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkdYSj_Er7I

Resampling and carefully tweaking with different ranges in Sampler? Glide, Frequency Modulation, etc.? Thanks.
You can also create an instrument rack, drop some different basses in multiple chains, then use Chain Selector mapped to a MIDI knob or keyboard range to flick between the different bass sounds.

simmerdown
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Re: Basslines

Post by simmerdown » Fri Nov 18, 2011 6:56 pm

thats how ^^^^

i did it with a drumrack, but esstiallly thats the idea...

get the chain selector & several macros midi mapped...the lfo set to beats, filter/cutoff, res, etc...draw a diminished scale or minor midi clip, 2 or 4 bars probably.....open an audio track and set it to rec from youre superwobbler, play along to the beat

GLJdrew
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Re: Basslines

Post by GLJdrew » Sat Nov 19, 2011 2:05 am

wow a lot of that went over my head...i've been meaning to ask what exactly are envelopes? I see them in clip editors and im thinking they are just parameters that can be adjusted..like pan, volume, pitch, etc.

for layering bass sounds and all other sounds for that matter, i imagine theres a better way than having separate tracks for the different sounds and copying the midi sequences..thats how i do it now..ive been using live for about a month now and based on how i can use drum racks to combine samples for one instrument i would think they could do that with any other instrument.

im also interested in what was meant by "u can do it all with a tuned kit" does that mean u have a kit with like 30 pads? some being drum sounds some being clips etc and u just make a whole song with that "kit"?


does anybody know of a site that just puts all these terms out there? lots of stuff to learn and absorb. also looking to figure out how to start using battery 3 for more "real" drum sounds, and absynth to make synth sounds/edit pre-existing sounds. both programs have me confused, cant even figure out a quick way to see which drum pads correspond to the midi note editor in live..

any help for these issues would be appreciated. thanks!
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oddstep
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Re: Basslines

Post by oddstep » Sat Nov 19, 2011 11:17 am

GLJdrew wrote:what exactly are envelopes? I see them in clip editors and im thinking they are just parameters that can be adjusted..like pan, volume, pitch, etc.
envelopes mean 2 things in Live.
1) there is a Live specific meaning: parameter automation within a clip... pan etc
2) there is a general meaning that is used in synthesis and probably signal paths in general. this is the idea of describing the change of a parameter over time using the terms Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release. I think all of the Live synths allow you to control the time dependent change in a parameter like filter frequency or pitch or volume using these attributes... with each phase (A. D. S.R) having its own duration (usually in milliseconds). the attack phase begins the moment a midi note is played into a synth.i.e play midi note (attack phase starts), volume = 0%, after 50 ms volume = 100% (attack phase completed), after another 100 ms (i.e 150 ms from the note being pressed down) volume = 75% (decay phase completed), key released... 1000 ms later the volume =0% (release phase completed).

I was saying that these adsr envelopes would be really useful as a way of getting bass sounds to be more lively and 'warpy' - particularly with the use of envelopes controlling pitch and filter frequency.
GLJdrew wrote:for layering bass sounds and all other sounds for that matter, i imagine theres a better way than having separate tracks for the different sounds and copying the midi sequences..thats how i do it now..ive been using live for about a month now and based on how i can use drum racks to combine samples for one instrument i would think they could do that with any other instrument.
the approach you are describing is probably better served by having a single midi track with all of your synths stacked as parallel chains within a racked instrument. Drum racks are good, but they are not designed to house instruments that you want to play more than one note on.
GLJdrew wrote:im also interested in what was meant by "u can do it all with a tuned kit" does that mean u have a kit with like 30 pads? some being drum sounds some being clips etc and u just make a whole song with that "kit"?
... if you want, rather than layering 3 bass synths in a group instrument (i.e an instance of analog playing a saw wave, tension playing a pluck sound and operator playing a sine wave transposed -24). you could decide to put these synths onto 3 separate pads on a drum rack and tune them using either the transpose parameter on the synth or the note out section in the drum rack. each note in the bassline could be played by a different synth (or set of layered synths)... you could even forget about the idea of a bassline and have a drum rack which contains untuned percussion (i.e.shakers, noise bursts, hi hats) and tuned percussion (i.e kick drums, toms) - some of the tuned percussion could be tuned low enough to function as a bass line. a lot of techno uses kick drums to play a low bass line.
When people talk about resampling bass, they mean play a bassline using one of the methods above, record it as audio and then play this using a sampler... maybe a sampler housed inside a drum rack. So each drum pad actually triggers a fragment of pre-recorded bass line. Its a good thing. check it out.

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