Psytrance Tutorial Day 1: Psytrance Beat

Hi, I’m Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to day 1 of my 7 day song on Psytrance, where I’ll be going through the process of making an LSD-eriffic tune over 7 days.

At the end, I’ll post the finished song and you guys can post your completed songs as video responses.

Psytrance is a genre that advocates raves with intense, hypnotic music and getting horrendously mashed on hard drugs… ah, some good childhood memories there.

In this Reason 5 Tutorial, I’ll go through things like making a driving heavy psytrance beat, a dirty acid synth bass, some acid leads, pads, those all-important fx, structure, and mixing and mastering. I’ll also try and keep you in the loop with some bits of music theory as we go along.

This is the 10th 7 day song, so holy crap at that. Be sure to check out the other ones too! And also, I encourage you to post your tracks on the boyinaband.com forum and share your music, make some friends and learn more about production!

So let’s get on with day 1 of the tutorial, where I’ll be teaching you how to make a Psytrance beat, with techniques like parallel distortion, EQing, compression and layering with Kong.

Okay! Let’s begin.

MClass mastering suite it up, keeping it bypassed for now so we can get a decent mix without the master, since it can change the overall mix considerably.

So after the mixer 14:2, create a combinator, name it Beat and inside it make a mixer – this is what you’ll be doing some parallel distortion with later on.

Next, make ourselves an instance of Kong!

After you’ve entertained yourself with the MPC-ness of it for a good half hour, it’s time to get to work. Initialize it, then let’s load up some simple sounds into the sweet sampler!

First pad, we’re going to add a Synth bass drum module. This will be the thudding undertone that will punctuate the entire track, so you want to make sure you get it sounding good!

To give it a bit of a trancey attack to the kick, turn the bend amount up a notch and the kick will start to have a more noticeable attack. Turn the noise mix to 0, since we want a nice clean kick, and the tone adjust to taste – I’ll set mine to around 40, where it’s not distorted that it’s a gabba kick, but simultaneously it’s not so clean that it might be used in vanish oxi action adverts. If you’re not from England, substitute that reference with your favourite dishwasher tablet of choice.

Now for a nice and prominent click for the kick. Flick the click freq to full and the click reso to just over a half and listen to how the click kick freq sounds more slick – it’s much more prominent.

Lastly, take the attack to 0 so it punches fast and the decay to 1/4 so it’s not too long.

So there’s our undertone, but it needs beefing to throw on a compressor, 3/4 amount and make up gain, just boosting the volume and taming the variation a bit.

Lastly, chuck on a parametric EQ and boost the lowest freq possible by a couple of notches (90) – You can start to feel that sub poking through now.

There’s the first part of the kick, now we’re going to layer that with a sample. On the pad above, make an NN-Nano sampler and load up the sample. I’m going for kick 11 from the boyinaband trance sample pack which is pretty sweet. Make sure the sample triggers as soon as the pad is pressed, so adjust the s. start if necessary, then all we’re going to do is hit the “D” button on “Link” under “Pad Group” on the right side bar. Do the same for the 1st pad, then watch – ta da! Both pads trigger at the same time. Simultaneously, you might say. Unless you suffer from hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, of course.

Now throw a filter on the FX1 slot, High pass, and bring the freq down to about 40. This will just stop the subs from overlapping between the two kicks. This one will just add some tone to the high end. Bring the reso down to 0 as well for extra tonality.

The FX2 slot is perfect for an overdrive – take the drive up a few notches and the size to 3/4 – check out the tone difference. Now mix it in with the “Level” parameter up in the little drum window up in the top part of kong et voila! Puncheriffic kick!

Next let’s tackle the snare. First thing will be a synth snare drum modeller on pad 2, pitch down a notch, decay up to half, giving it a longer, deeper tone. The harmonic balance would be better at one notch below half and the noise mix and decay could do with coming up a few notches. This noise gives it a nice long trancey tail, so instead of “Pskh” it sounds more like “Pskhhhhhhh”.

Compress it with 0 release (so the tail is nice and loud) and over half gain (so the whole sample is nice and loud) then we’re going to link it to the pad above.

Do that in the same way we did before – link E this time. The snare on the module above will have the nice tonality we want, cruelly using the other snare to make it seem better than it actually is. There’s a lot of emotional torment involved in layering snares. I’m loading up trance snare 5, again from the boyinaband sample pack into the nn-nano sampler this time. Bring up that s.start if need be (I think I had a problem with the sample start points when I made them) and compress it with a slight increase in gain.

Now to really make it shine, we’re going to use a parametric EQ to bring up a hidden gem of a frequency in the sample – keep the freq to half, gain to full and leave Q to its own devices. Check out the difference – a million times better. Sometimes exploring with big notches with an EQ can result in finding tones in samples that you didn’t know were there!

So, that’s our snare all sorted, mix it together and then route the output to 3-4. Take outputs 3 and 4 from the back to a spare channel in the mixer above – this way, we can apply some parallel distortion to the rest of the beat without harming the snare.

The snare currently lacks a certain something, so in the Bus FX, add a Drum room reverb. Take the wet to full, then route the sample we were just playing with to the bus with the little screen to the side of the pads. I’ve opted for a half. Much airier.

Now for the hats. Add a synth hi hat module, pitch and decay down a notch, giving it a faster, deeper tone, then bring the click tone to full so it’s brighter and ring down a few notches so it’s less metallic.

Add a reverb with a large size (3/4) and decay (full) and route it to the bus reverb as well by 3/4. This will really make it fill out the sound. We’re going to layer this with a quick trance hat (number 6) from the biab sample pack as well just to give it that extra tone. Link it with F.

There’s the beat made! Now if we add some parallel distortion, we’ll be ready to draw in the beats for the tune! Simply create scream 4 after the mixer, turn off cut and body, turn the p1 and p2 on distortion mode to full so it’s nice and bright, then damage control at half and aux on the kick and hi hat channel to 1/4.

It’s punchier, but also muddier – so create a stereo imager and solo hi band to cut off the muddy low end distortion. Et voila! That’s one sweet beat!

Now simply load up block mode and draw in a stereotypical 4 on the floor beat! I usually make a note lane for each element of percussion so I can alter them quickly.

And there we go! A beat as simple as pie. Which is not that simple, because I can neither bake one or recite enough of the number to appear more than moderately intelligent.

Join me tomorrow for Day 2 where I’ll be showing you how to make a driving arpeggiated acid bass to sit on top of this pounding beat!

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Hi! I'm Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to the site!

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