Lets talk basslines

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
Horace
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 5:26 pm
Gear: Juno 6, MG-1, 707, ES-1, KP3, x0xb0x, 2 turntables, a microphone
Location: USA, VA

Lets talk basslines

Post by Horace » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:41 am

Aren't just for 303s ;)
How do basslines fit into your compositions? How do you go about building you bass sounds/what do you use? For me, writing the bass is often my favorite part, and usually what I start with. I'm a big fan of dirty grimy basses like the one in this song:



I've been able to get CLOSE to that sound, but never actually succeeded in reproducing it.

User avatar
Cumulus
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1834
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:48 pm
Band: Cumulus

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by Cumulus » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:15 am

Lately I've been using an actual bass.

Even when use a synth for the bass I tend to emulate how I would play it on an electric bass. It just sounds right to me that way.

ColorForm2113
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 593
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:20 am
Gear: tin cans and rubber bands
Band: Me twiddling in the corner...
Location: CHICAGO-ish

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by ColorForm2113 » Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:31 am

i like to layer my cz-5000 and micromoog, sometimes running the cz through the micros filter. once i get my music room set up again i want to play around more with using samples of non-musical things (clanging pots with a little water in them, and various other found sounds)
My modular so far: Q104, Q106, Q107, Q108, Q109 x2 , Q116, Q118, Q127 w/Q140, Q130, STG Wave Folder, playing with Moog Voyager, VX-351, CP-251, MF-104M (x2 STEREO!)

User avatar
bouzoukijoe1
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:51 am

bass monster!!!!


Rick N Boogie
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:45 pm
Real name: Alan
Gear: MEK/Blofeld/Phatty/JP08/DrumBrute/ER1
Basses/synth fx galore
Band: no.one.won
Location: Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by Rick N Boogie » Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:10 am

As a long time bassist, I'm naturally drawn to playing and writing basslines on either of my monosynths. In fact, it's easier for me to come up with something new on the keyboard synth than it is on a bass guitar nowadays. And yes, the basslines are the foundation of anything else that gets laid on top of it, AND the most fun to play.
Bassist, synth junkie

georgemarauder
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 210
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:47 pm

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by georgemarauder » Fri Nov 11, 2011 5:17 am

I'm curious as to the theory of creating basslines. Do you play in a certain key? A scale? Or do you just play notes that sound good and don't worry about the scale or key? If so, how do you then decide what chords/melody notes to play on top of that bassline? How do you know which notes will sound good over a specific bassline? It's very easy to get some stuff that doesn't sound good together, and clashes between the bass and chords/melody.

Most of the time I already have the chords and melody going, and the last thing I do is the bass. I'll just play a couple notes in a funky rhythm in the root note + a few notes of the chords or something. It works for me but my basslines aren't anything amazing like in that Actraiser song. But I'm also a novice in music theory and trying to learn as I go. I'm interested in what other people are doing though. Any advice or pointers would be appreciated.

User avatar
tekkentool
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3218
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:51 am
Real name: Steve
Gear: Lasers (ส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้ ωส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้)
Band: none currently
Location: Sydney, australia.(I moved)

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by tekkentool » Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:40 am

tekkentool wrote:I wrote this initially for another forum. But here it is anyway. Hopefully somebody here is interested in multiband distortion. So lets go!

Multiband Distortion and you:

Different frequency ranges of sounds deal better with distortion. Distorting a sub-bass doesn't give you a very pleasing result, distorting frequencies between 200-600hz tends to give you a very muddy sound. Distorting the sound as a whole isn't often the best course of action.

This is where multiband distortion comes in, because you're effectively splitting the sound up into this different "bands" of frequencies, allowing you to distort them independently from each other. This will give you that huge highly distorted sound that everyone is after without all of the muddiness that can sometimes come with that.

In practice:

My particular technique revolves around splitting a synth sound into 4 different bands, collating them back into one bus again and filtering them. So basically, grab the synth sound that you want to be distorting.

On the channel that you have the synthesizer on. Set up 4 different send channels (ensure that they are all sending, and one of the send is not muting the others).

Send these to four different send tracks. Name these "Low, low mid, mid and high".

also set up a fifth send track called "Filter".

On these 4 bands do this.

Send 1: Eq'd so it's only got low frequencies(0-200hz), mild distortion. Kept in mono.
Send 2: Eq'd for low mid (200-650hz) A little bit more distortion. Still mono.
Send 3: Eq'd for High mid(800-5000hz) RAMP UP THE DISTORTION, you can start adding fun stuff here too like modulation effects, vowel filters. phasers etc.
Send 4: Eq'd for High only (5000 up) Huge amounts of distortion, stereo widener, reverb, sometimes a bit of chorus effects etc.

then put a send on those four tracks to run into the fifth send, the filter.
On the filter track place one or two filters and a limiter (to keep the volume from being too extreme).

Here's a screen cap of my DAW showing the send tracks and the EQ settings I used for each channel.
http://i.imgur.com/UwBWF.png (image far, FAR too big to be embedded).

Synth > 4 send tracks > 1 send track with filter. ;)

What's really great about this as well is that the four send tracks not becoming Fixed Eq's. need a little bit more bass in your sound? just turn up the low fader.

Now for what it sounds like.

here's the synth sound before Multiband distortion. (typical comb filtered reese).


And here's the sound afterwards

Then normally Several different sounds chopped up and sequenced with a sub-bass underneath.

E.G


ivanthemonkey
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:28 am
Gear: Virus b, Little Phatty and a Tele.
Band: My First Robot

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by ivanthemonkey » Fri Nov 11, 2011 3:17 pm

It's interesting what you are saying. I'm not having a bassline just for the sake of having one. The bass for me is not something that lives it's own life as we have a bassist for that anyway. What I usually do is that I put multiple arp lines (the same tempo and pattern but different notes) on each other, one or more of these as bass (cause they are quite low) and this is how I build chords up. It's very rare that I sit down "let's make a bassline".

User avatar
MikeRochip
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 37
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:22 pm
Gear: DSI Evolver, Alesis Micron x2, Korg EA-1, Korg ES-1, Korg Monotron, Casio HT-3000, Casio WK-1630
Band: Mike Rochip
Location: Outskirts of Civilization in Georgia, USA

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by MikeRochip » Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:47 pm

I usually start with a drum pattern first, and create a bassline to go with it. Everything else comes after that.

Unless I'm making noisey experimental stuff, in which case there usually isn't a bassline.

Horace
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 56
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 5:26 pm
Gear: Juno 6, MG-1, 707, ES-1, KP3, x0xb0x, 2 turntables, a microphone
Location: USA, VA

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by Horace » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:07 pm

tekkentool wrote:
tekkentool wrote:I wrote this initially for another forum. But here it is anyway. Hopefully somebody here is interested in multiband distortion. So lets go!
....
I never really tried doing distortion that way, I might have to spent an afternoon fiddling with Cubase and seeing if I can get it to work!

I've noticed when it comes to making basslines with my x0xb0x, its about half me and half the box. I'm never sure exactly what its going to sound like until I press run.

Any tips for getting that grimy sound like the video I posted? (without using VSTs)

User avatar
tekkentool
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3218
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:51 am
Real name: Steve
Gear: Lasers (ส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้ ωส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้)
Band: none currently
Location: Sydney, australia.(I moved)

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by tekkentool » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:39 pm

The original song posted is full of FM bass. Typical metallic FM bass. Just get an FM synth and look through some of the presets until you find something similar enough and play with it a bit.

It's 100% an FM sound though.

clubbedtodeath
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1049
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:12 am

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by clubbedtodeath » Sat Nov 12, 2011 12:46 am

The bassline is pretty important. Everything else hangs from it. The bass very often forms the root of every chord you play, and gives an indication of the key you're in. As such, the context it gives means it's vital for chord progression and key changes. And those are essential to giving structure to your song.

Maybe it's being a pianist that does it, but automatically I play a chord my brain fills in the gap and puts a bass in. So if I end up putting chords down first, I've already got a bass line in my head, ready to put down.

The other function of bass is rhythm; it can be intricately (should be?) linked with your drum tracks; interplay with the kick/snare is a handy trick. One thing I often do is follow emphasis on the bass with the kick, or deliberately offset it for effect (filter cutoff's great for this). Or perhaps even cutting the bass/drums out while the other does it stuff in a question/answer section*. Whatever you do, bass rhythm is something that's worth paying attention to.

Daft Punk's Rollin' and Scratching is perhaps the most straightforward (and awesome) example I can think of right now:

[*]This applies to most parts of course, but particularly to bass.



Overdriven bass comes in at around 2:16, and dances (syncopated) around the straight 4-4 kick/snare/clap. The cutoff filter frequency's being tweaked (with high Q/resonance) to emphasis the beat/off-beat and give melodic variation through the self-oscillation.

As with all genius, it's simple yet effective.

Cheers
Last edited by clubbedtodeath on Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
tekkentool
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3218
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 10:51 am
Real name: Steve
Gear: Lasers (ส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้ ωส้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้้)
Band: none currently
Location: Sydney, australia.(I moved)

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by tekkentool » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:53 am

Dude, Bass can totally make or break a drum rhythm. For example, the reese in this song just totally sells the drum pattern and makes it so heavy.

(1m10s).

User avatar
ninja6485
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2771
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:13 pm
Gear: Virus Ti, Jx-8p, Juno 60, Radias, Maschine, 101,303,606,707,727,808,909, odyssey, mirage, akai s5K/s2K/s1k, drumtraks, E6400ult, M1R, rx5, fizmo,d50
Band: Subliminal Sea
Location: Exton/ westchester
Contact:

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by ninja6485 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:05 am

I write the bass as a riff, the way I would write any other riff. That being said, the bass note is going to function as part of a chord along with what's played on top of it. Typically one starts by assigning the root of the chord to the base, so if your in c and your bass note is g, that's some sort of V chord. The notes on top of the g can be *anything* depending on what chord it is. The most basic triad is g in the bass, b, d, and another g as the highest voice. An inversion is switching the order around, so you can have a V chord with b as the bass note in the key of c: b,d,g,g. It works with any note of the chord in question. So if you write a bass riff, depending on what notes you have in it and what you want to write over it chord or melody wise, you can figure out what notes will work both horizontaly and vertically. So let's say your chord progression is I I I I: you could have a bassline of c e c g b, utilizing the inversions of I and an inverted 7th. Each step will have slightly different ideal notes that you would want to play over it. Usually one starts with a chord progression in mind, then writes the melody and bass lines, and then fills in the other voices, but with electronic music its pretty much up in the air.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

User avatar
bouzoukijoe1
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:10 pm

Re: Lets talk basslines

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:44 am

georgemarauder wrote:I'm curious as to the theory of creating basslines. Do you play in a certain key? A scale? Or do you just play notes that sound good and don't worry about the scale or key? If so, how do you then decide what chords/melody notes to play on top of that bassline? How do you know which notes will sound good over a specific bassline? It's very easy to get some stuff that doesn't sound good together, and clashes between the bass and chords/melody.

Most of the time I already have the chords and melody going, and the last thing I do is the bass. I'll just play a couple notes in a funky rhythm in the root note + a few notes of the chords or something. It works for me but my basslines aren't anything amazing like in that Actraiser song. But I'm also a novice in music theory and trying to learn as I go. I'm interested in what other people are doing though. Any advice or pointers would be appreciated.
I usually stay in key because it sometimes gets too messy or jarring when you switch it up. for EDM that I'm into it doesn't often pay to depart too much from the basic groove because it's just more about texture and dynamics and you have to keep the groove chromatically conservative to be enjoyable. it's not like classical or even some pop/rock where changing the tone of your key and scale can be an important narrative device and allow for more depth and interpretations and changes in mood. chromatically speaking EDM is often very "simplistic".

and because it doesn't have to be so complex, you can stay well within a key and scale and just spend the time messing with textures and rhythms, just switching it up every few bars. and I don't think it necessarily matters if you start with bass or melody because it really depends on the song. some songs are about the melody with the bass just supporting, and sometimes it's the bass that carries the whole song and the melody is just the icing on the cake to give it some sparkle (as with some Daft Dunk songs for example).

when you're composing I think it helps a lot to choose a key and scale to play in the beginning, because it saves a lot of time from hunting and pecking for the right notes that harmonically sound good. it's just so much faster when you're trying different things if you focus on a scale. even with just a few notes, you can get very far just playing with rhythm and phrasing. then you just break free of it chromatically whenever you feel it's right. on the other hand, you don't have to know the key and scale either and you can just enjoy hunting for melodies and progressions without restriction, which is ok too.

sometimes you can be more creative that way, especially if you modulate a lot of your sounds and the frequencies might not always line up with the keyboard. things like oscillator sync, detuning, FM, ring modulation, etc. can sometimes throw the idea of scales on your keyboard out the window (if you let it) and you'll just have your ear to guide you. basically, anything goes! that's the beauty of electronic music. :D

Post Reply