Electro House Tutorial Day 1: Making an Electro House Beat [7 Day Song]
Hi! I’m Dave from boyinaband.com, and welcome to my seven day song tutorial on Electro House, where I’ll be taking you through the process of making an Electro House song from scratch over, brace yourself, 7 days.
At the end, I’ll post the finished song and you guys can post your completed songs as video responses and I’ll try and offer some constructive criticism to the tracks you post.
I’ll go through things like Making an Electro House Beat, Creating synth patches, a bit about music theory and arrangement of a conventional Electro House song, and even using vocals (I’ve recruited my homegirl emmie from graphicsgirl.co.uk to do some vocals on this track – you’ve got that to look forward to! Incidentally, she’s a frickin’ awesome artist, check out her youtube channel and website to see her time lapse drawings, tutorials and blogs when you get a moment!)
This is the third seven day song, after the Dubstep one and Drum and Bass one, both of which have had a great response, so if you’re into your wobble bass, check out the Dubstep Seven Day Song Tutorial and if you’re into your intense syncopated beats, head over to the Drum and Bass seven day song tutorial!
But yes; on with this tutorial.
In Day 1 I’ll be teaching you how to make a punchy Electro House beat using techniques like layering, EQing and tape compression with the Scream 4 distortion unit to make the powerful driving 4-on-the-floor beat for this track.
Okay! Let’s begin.
We’ll start by setting the tempo to 130bpm – Most Electro House is around 120-135bpm, with the vast majority at near 130bpm, making it easier for DJs to mix together.
Create a Mastering suite, a Mixer 14:2 and a combinator for our drum loop to live in. Name it “Beat”.
Inside the combinator, right click and create an instance of ReDrum drum computer. Right click and initialize the patch, then load up the samples you’ll be using for your drum beat. If you are struggling for samples, head over to my website boyinaband.com and download the free “electro house sample pack” that I put together – I’ll be using samples from that pack in this tutorial.
If you don’t know how to load samples into reason or how to extract my sample packs, check out my tutorials on how to do so. I’ll load up this drum kit I’ve made for this tutorial.
The kit contains two kicks, a clap, a snare and a reverse cymbal. Notice how there aren’t any hi-hats? In Electro House, the drums tend to be verse sparse – in fact, the whole production isn’t very filled out, that’s what gives it that dancey, sexy feel. It’s a real test of your skill as a producer to make a good Electro House song since you can’t fall back on using loads of sounds to fill out your track – you’ve got to make a few good quality patches instead.
Alright, so let’s start with the beat. I’m going to make a 4 on the floor beat by putting the two kicks on the 1, 5, 9 and 13 steps of the ReDrum sequencer (by the way – there are two kicks because this makes it more powerful – the first kick has a strong clicky attack, whereas the second kick is more focused on the bassy low end, meaning the kick can be both heard and felt.)
Take the pitch and tone down a bit on the bassier kick – the pitch to make it even bassier and the tone to just remove some of the high end (the tone knob on ReDrum acts like a band pass filter).
While I’m in ReDrum I’ll explain about a few things I had a question recently about what the “high quality interpolation” and “Channel 8+9 exclusive” buttons do.
High quality interpolation makes the sound quality of the higher frequencies better, but takes up more processing power on your computer. I can’t really notice the difference, but a more discerning ear might be able to.
Channel 8&9 exclusive means that if, for example channel 8 has been triggered and channel 9 is triggered soon after, channel 8 will be muted. This is useful for hi hats – you can mute a long open hi hat sound when a short closed hi hat is played, just like on a real drum kit.
Okay, back to Electro House – Add the clap and snare on the 5 and 13 beats. Once again – there are two because layering makes it more powerful – the clap is providing the high end of the sound while the snare provides the meaty mid-range.
Now those are in the ReDrum sequencer, we want to move them into the Reason Sequencer. Right click on ReDrum and select “Copy Pattern to Track”. Click the Enable Pattern Section off to turn off the ReDrum sequencer so you only hear the Reason sequencer when you press play. Sorted – there’s the beat in the sequencer.
Next, we’re going to add the reverse cymbal. I’ve put it in a channel on ReDrum that has the “Start” value on purpose – this determines how far into the sample to start playing it when it’s triggered, meaning we can move the start point further into the sample so we don’t have to wait a long time for the cymbal to swell.
Notice also how I’ve got the Decay/Gate mode set to 1? This means the sample will only be played for as long as the note is held down in the sequencer.
So – let’s put the Reverse cymbal in. In the sequencer window, right click the track lane and select “New Note Lane”. Name the old lane with the beat in “beat” and the new one “Rev cymbal”.
Using the pencil tool (shortcut key “W”) draw an area for the reverse cymbal to go, double click with the selection tool (shortcut key “Q”) and then draw in the note with the pencil tool. The ReDrum notes are in the octave C1, so you might have to scroll down to find them.
See how the sample cuts off as it loops around? That’s the gating in action.
Ace – so we have our beat in there. Now we’re going to emphasize the important frequencies of the sound with a bit of EQ – right click ReDrum and create > MClass Equalizer.
Use Param 1 to boost around the 100hz mark by about 6dB to emphasize the bass of the kick drum, and then use Param 2 to boost around the 2.5khz mark to really bring out the click of the kick drum and the attack of the clap. Sounds like a dodgy 50s movie. Anyway. Now we’ve done that, we’re going to bring all of the volumes of the samples back to a similar level with some tape compression.
You could use the MClass compressor, but I recently learned how awesome Scream 4 is at making drums sound freakin’ awesome. Right click the equalizer and create > Scream 4 distortion. Select the “Tape” option and turn the damage control to about 100. Notice how much more prominent the drums are now? Sweet huh?
I’ll just explain a bit about what tape compression is – Before digital audio, engineers could overload the signal on a multi-track tape recorder, creating what is called “Magnetic Tape Saturation” – basically a natural compression of the sound, which sounds awesome.
In Scream 4, the P1 knob controls the speed, simulating the tape running at different speeds – this translates to the unit allowing more or less of the high frequency sound through. P2 controls the compression – turning it clockwise increases the compression ratio. If you turn it all the way to 0 then you can get a dirty distorted sound. For this beat I’m going to use a P1 value of about 85 and P2 of 75.
Okay, so we’ve got our powerful beat, next we’re going to add a simple shaker for the chorus. I say simple, it’ll have 4 effects units on it to make it fit in nicely. Make a new Combinator, name it “Shaker” and Right click inside it and create a “Dr. Rex loop player”.
I’ve chosen this Shaker_03 loop that comes with Reason since it does the job nicely. Right click and copy the pattern to track, then in the sequencer I’m going to cut off the tail end of the sample so it stops on the 4th beat – this stopping and starting gives a really cool jerkiness to the sound, something a lot of Electro House has.
Now we’ve got the loop in the sequencer, time to make it sound better! Right click Dr. Rex and create a Scream 4 distortion unit. Set it to tape again, and set the damage control to 70, the P1 to 90 and the P2 to 50.
In the cut section, bring the mid up to about 40. The shaker will be more mid than high end – the synths will be mostly in the high end for this song, and since we don’t have any pads or anything filling out the midrange, it’ll sound empty without the shaker in there in the choruses.
Next, right click and create an ECF-42 Envelope Controlled Filter. Take the resonance to 42, the meaning of life the universe and everything, the frequency up to around 80 and select band pass mode – this just allows a small band of frequencies through, removing the piercing high end.
Next, we’re going to widen the sound and cut out any remaining low end. Right click, create > MClass Stereo Imager. Take the X-over frequency to about 1.8khz, widen the hi band by about 50 so it’s in further left and right in the stereo field, and hit the “solo hi band” button – removing the low band entirely.
Finally, we’re going to add a maximizer to limit the sound – Right click, create > MClass Maximizer. Take the input gain up to about 7dB to just boost the volume, then hit the “4ms look ahead” on the limiter – this looks ahead by 4 ms (shocking, right?) and sees if any sound is coming – if it is, it limits it, meaning there is no chance of the input sound being louder than the 0dB reference point (anything above this causes nasty digital distortion) – this is called brick wall limiting.
Okay! So there we have an Electro House beat that kicks you in the face harder than David Beckham mistaking you for a football. Tune in for Day 2 where I’ll be showing you how to make a dirty, sexy Electro House bassline to go on top of our beat!
See you tomorrow!