Prog House Tutorial Day 5: FX + Vocals [7 Day Song]

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Hi, I’m Dave from and welcome to day 5 of the 7 day song on Progressive House, sponsored by – the tag-based events search website that YOU WILL VISIT O_O

Yesterday in day 4, some sweet arps and a big ol’ bass pad. Today in day 5, we’ll take a look at those vital FX that really fill out the track, a sweet filter sweep technique and I’ll also talk about how I’ve added vocals!

As you can see, I’ve arranged the rest of the track, which I’ll discuss tomorrow – I figure it’s better to explain after the arrangement’s been done rather than watch me copy and paste a bunch of clips.

But yeah, let’s start with those FX – I added an FX combinator preset I’ve made, which is REALLY useful to put together. It’s just a redrum instance with each channel patched into a big mixer. The mixer has different fx on it depending on the sound you want.

Let’s check out the FX themselves. I have a crash, two reverses and two sweeps.

The crash is pretty obvious, just chuck it wherever you want things to have a bit more power, for instance when the sections change or when you have a powerful hit in the middle of a breakout. I’ve dialled in a bit of reverb and delay to make it that bit longer too. I don’t want it too focal, otherwise it’ll take over the focus because crashes are pretty in-your-face. So obey the speed limit, and be careful with your volume control.

Reverses just lead up to the crashes as a general rule, but I personally love them when they just lead to a kick, it gives a really disjointed yet flowing feel to the song – this can be a good tactic when you’re trying to take things down a notch to throw off the listener a bit, like I’ve done for the second verse here.

Make sure the reverses are on gate mode in redrum, so they stop dead when you finish the note, otherwise you’ll have reverses overlapping messily instead of stopping sharply where you want them to.

Sweeps can be a huge part of this genre of music – these are the sounds that will fill out a track without providing too much melodic input. These are great for breakouts where there’s not much else going on.

These FX are from the primeloops Razor FX sample pack, they’ve also got the XXL Dance FX sample pack which I use a lot as well, either of those is worth a look for this kind of sound. I’ll put links to those in the description. Also, for some quick reverses, check out the “Dave Reverses” sample pack which you can grab from my site for free.

So those are the FX samples, I’ve also put on this cool filter sweep later in the song to co-incide with a beat repeat of one part of the sound. I basically just added a filter between the mixer and the mastering suite, edited the automation of the frequency from low to high and edited the bypass mode so it’s off for the rest of the track.

It’s on band pass mode which filters out the low and high ends leaving a telephone-line effect of just a few frequencies being allowed through, which I think is cool since when it drops back in after the sound has gone really high it feels a lot harder hitting than if you were to just use a low-pass filter for instance, check it out.

I’ve also got the resonance up a bit to give it that underwater kinda sound that is in all the dancey filter sweeps. I love it.

So there’s the FX and filter sweep, join me in part 2 where I’ll talk vocals! Well, I always talk vocals… except when I’m [beat boxes] beatboxing, when I suppose I’m talking drums. But yeah – I’ll be discussing how to process and stutter vocals in part 2. That’s what I mean. [beat boxes some more]

Alrighty – vocals in reason is a difficult one. If you don’t have a DAW to rewire reason into, it can get really difficult to do vocals. I used Sonar, though when I thought about it I probably should have used record since it integrates really well. I’ll do that in a future 7 day song. Future Dave told me I would.

However, If you want to learn how to sample vocals in Reason, head over to this tutorial I made for the Electro House 7 Day Song with an oddly familiar vocalist.

Anyway, I did mine in Sonar 8.5 – which since I’m using sonar to record this tutorial, would be quite difficult to show you… if I didn’t have MAGIC POWERS [show sonar]

This is where being able to rewire reason into another sequencer is invaluable. Or really valuable. I can never remember whether invaluable is a good or a bad adjective. Either way, it’s frickin’ useful – I do my vocals separately after recording the tune this way.

For this song I called upon my favourite 4’8” vocalist for her rapping skillz, since having a broad Telford accent apparently makes you ideal for rapping over dance music. So thanks very much to Sketch for helping out again. Also, she’s a frickin’ talented artist, check out a time lapse video of her turning herself into a zombie in photoshop over some chiptuney drum and bass here []. And yeah, it is as awesome as it sounds. I’ll give you a minute. Back? Good.

If we take a sneak peak at some of the vocals just on their own to hear what we’re dealing with more clearly, we can see a few different layers. We’ve got the lead, which is pretty straightforward – all these vocals were recorded straight in with a Rode NT-1 mic by the way, then I’ve got a left and right panned version of the vocals just accenting the main lyrics in the rap.

Then for the choruses I tried autotuning the rap and liked the results – I got one take where the rap was a bit lower and tuned it down so it was the same chord as the lead bass synth we made.

I won’t go into autotuning in this because that’s a massive T-Pain to explain everything, but I’ll carry on by saying I also added some quick reverses by adding masses of reverb to a track, bouncing it down, reversing it and moving it into place, and also I’ve got pretty heavy compression on everything since you can get away with it in this genre – as well as heavy EQ, I’ve removed the lows entirely for tidiness and emphasized the highs to make her cut through the mix a bit more. This is all topped off with a big dollop of delay. Marvellous.

Also, to match in with the filter sweep I talked about earlier I used a fabfilter micro filter VST to just filter the vocals too.

Another thing to mention is the stuttering – I’ve bounced it all down now, but the stutters are literally a case of cutting up the vocals and copying them.

And the most important thing to mention is the lyrics – if they aren’t ridiculously cheesy and related to the fact that since this is a dance song you probably want people to dance, or referencing the fact that there is probably a DJ involved then you’re probably missing a trick or two.

In this case, I’ve also forced Sketch to rap really cockily about some relationship or other, that always works well in dance music too if you’re an awesome sounding small girl. Worst comes to worst, either tell a city to raise its hands or even just emphasize a city with a four syllable swear word of your choice if you’re feeling particularly concise.

So that’s all my vocal tips for today, tune in tomorrow for day 6 where I’ll run through the arrangement of the track and my thinking behind the riffs and chord progressions for each of the synths I’ve made! Ta ta!


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