How To Create A Dubstep Bassline Pt. 2

Learning how to create a Dubstep track can seem a bit like dissecting an alien if you haven’t done it before.  The good news is that you can get some pretty cool results with the right knowledge and a decent catalog of grimy sounds.

Part 2 of this walkthrough will explore another method to creating dirty Dubstep basslines.  Nowadays, it’s also employed in off shoots of electronic music like Fidget and Complextro to create a randomly chaotic, yet seamless landscape of sound.

 

The idea is simple.  You start by recording or penciling in a MIDI clip.  Next, you bounce down many versions of that MIDI clip using different sounds.  And then, piece all of it together, by isolating certain sounds while removing others.

Take a listen to the audio example we’ll be recreating.

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Step 1 – Create a melody in the form of a MIDI clip.

Starting MIDI clip

 

Above, is the MIDI clip / melody I penciled in to get started.  You can have a few blank spaces in your sequence, but you’ll want to make sure the majority of space within your loop is filled up by your melody.

This is almost the opposite of what we covered in article 1, in which we wanted to leave plenty of space in between notes to get started.

Here’s an audio snippet of the first sound I chose.

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Step 2 – Create several versions of the same melody using different sounds.

Same melody, using different sounds.

 

Above, is an image of wave files I bounced down while applying the same melody to different sounds.

The easiest way to do this is to route the OUTPUT of your MIDI track to the input of an audio track and record the data.

Once you find another quality sound for your melody, then you repeat this process.  I normally get about 9 or 10 different sounds in the form of wave files before moving forward.

Here are a couple of other sounds I chose:

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Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Step 3 – Begin creating your sound palette.

Note: If you play back the entire set of wave files at once, then chances are it’s going to sound like a giant bag of smashed crabs.

Now is the time when you start removing certain sounds and isolating others for short periods of time.

If we look at the image below we can see I’ve done just that over the span of an 8 bar loop.

Knowledge and Understanding…

If you’re still having a bit of trouble wrapping your head around this concept – think about a picture collage.

One of my favorite pictures of Bob Marley, which is actually hanging on the wall in my studio, was put together by Robert Silvers.  What makes the picture so cool is that it uses a collection of small random pictures relating to Bob Marley and arranges them in such a way that together they form this massive, singular picture of his face.

Aside from using images rather than audio, this is no different from the Dubstep technique we’ve been discussing.  You’re trying to take short audio snippets and string them together to construct a cohesive, unified body of sound.

Step 4 – Fill any remaining spaces and polish it off with effects.

 You can fill in any remaining spaces with quirky sound FX or whatever you like.  If some of the sounds cut off too quickly then adding some reverb or slight delay can help blend things together and make them seem more cohesive.  Experiment!

Final Sound Palette

 

The image above is a screenshot of what my sound palette looked like after tweaking it to my liking.  I enlarged most of the tracks so you could see the actual wave files.

Take a listen to the corresponding audio snippet:

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Summary

A lot of this technique has to do with trial, error, and some experimentation.  There is no right or wrong way to do things in this situation, as long as the end result sounds good.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful!  Feel free to sound off in the comments and let us know about any tips or techniques you employ when creating a Dubstep track.

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