Trifonic: Layering Your Way to Awesome Bass Lines

24 Dec

Great sounds in electronic music often do not stem from one killer source. Rather, they result from blending many small elements into what becomes a singular sound.

In this video, Brian demonstrates how Trifonic applies a “call and response” layering technique to create bass lines using multiple bass tracks.

P.S. The music you hear in the video is from Trifonic’s remix of Hecq’s forthcoming track “With Angels.”

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  • http://www.keyofgrey.com Sean

    Great idea with separating bands using the multipressor and soloing each!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! It seems to work a lot better with multipressor. No phasey weirdness that sometimes happens using EQs. I’ve been experimenting with 3 and 4 band settings. 4 gives you more control, but it is almost too many variables. I’m getting the best results with 3 bands. Still working it out though… if I have any epiphanies I’ll make sure to include it in another video.

  • deru

    sick man. keep it up!

  • Anonymous

    thanks! I’m going to try and post more frequently in 2011 if possible. nnAre you around during NAMM this year? If so we should kick it!

  • http://twitter.com/Morphido Morphido

    Nice to see you working with audio and DAW plugins again. I love how you show the diferent ways to use standard plugins and your workflow, it’s inspiring!.nnHecq is another great artist with a very deep knowledge about sound sources and designing. Nice to know your are working on a remix. nnI would like to know more about your fav instruments and process plugins, and how you use real instruments (like guitars or keys) and inspirational sound sources. nnThanks for this kind of present these days :) nnMorphido – (Fernando Zamorano)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Morphido, thanks for your input! Hmm that is a good idea to do some videos about processing guitars and other live instrument sound sources. It is an endless topic, but I’ll think about how I could present it. A big part of trifonic is real instruments seamlessly integrated into electronics.

  • prickstein

    Thanks Brian, I really appreciate you taking the time to do these videos. As a long time Pro Tools user who has made the switch to Logic, it’s nice to see your workflow as I don’t know any other accomplished Logic users to learn from. My sound design skills and synthesis knowledge have taken a large leap forward in recent months thanks to your tutorials. I love the drum sounds in this one too buddy. Did you make these or are they from a particular library?

  • Anonymous

    Hey prickstein (sweet name btw),nThanks! I’m really glad you are learning from the videos. I’ll keep them coming and keep sharing whatever I can :) nnRe: Logic switchnI cover bits of Logic in the videos in the process of showing my production approach and sound design approach. If you are looking for Logic beginning all the way to advanced crash course… I highly recommend you check out my good friend David Earl’s aka sflogicninja youtube channel. David is probably the most knowledgeable Logic user out there.nnre: drumsnMuch of those drums are from the forthcoming Hecq track “With Angels” that I’m remixing.. So maybe we can convince Hecq to talk about them in a later video :) I chopped up his pattern and added more layers, edited bits and sent all of the drums to a parallel compression bus to get them really rocking. Parallel compression really helps, because you can maintain the transient and dynamics of the original drums layered with the more heavily compressed version.nnJust like bass, drums are usually layers. I tend to use a combination of commercial libraries (Wave Alchemy, Shawn Lee Planet of The Breaks), my own sampled and synthesized sounds and sampled sets of classic drum machines. The layering and arranging is what makes drums sound unique. Most pro producers and hobbyists all have many of the same tools/sound libraries, but the art is in piecing it together and making something musical and aesthetically coherent with those tools.

  • Anonymous

    Hey prickstein (sweet name btw),nThanks! I’m really glad you are learning from the videos. I’ll keep them coming and keep sharing whatever I can :) nnRe: Logic switchnI cover bits of Logic in the videos in the process of showing my production approach and sound design approach. If you are looking for Logic beginning all the way to advanced crash course… I highly recommend you check out my good friend David Earl’s aka sflogicninja youtube channel. David is probably the most knowledgeable Logic user out there.nnre: drumsnMuch of those drums are from the forthcoming Hecq track “With Angels” that I’m remixing.. So maybe we can convince Hecq to talk about them in a later video :) I chopped up his pattern and added more layers, edited bits and sent all of the drums to a parallel compression bus to get them really rocking. Parallel compression really helps, because you can maintain the transient and dynamics of the original drums layered with the more heavily compressed version.nnJust like bass, drums are usually layers. I tend to use a combination of commercial libraries (Wave Alchemy, Shawn Lee Planet of The Breaks), my own sampled and synthesized sounds and sampled sets of classic drum machines. The layering and arranging is what makes drums sound unique. Most pro producers and hobbyists all have many of the same tools/sound libraries, but the art is in piecing it together and making something musical and aesthetically coherent with those tools.

  • http://twitter.com/Morphido Morphido

    Regarding this video issue, how do you create each bass region? Did you create an idea with hard/soft synth in Logic and then bounce in-situ and re-arrange it? Do you remove the original patch or you keep it disabled in other hidden track?.nI’m usually work with MIDI instruments and I continue with them all session… but working with Audio is lighter and it has different way of inspirational arranging… What do you think about?nnAbout Layers, from drums for example, do you work with all parts in one file (compiled/bounced) or you prefer keep all parts separated for more later control, even when arranging could be more difficult than work with simple big blocks?nnSorry for these too many questions… I appreciate very much your active sharing about audio with us. nnCheers,

  • Anonymous

    Hey Morphido, I usually create some kind of simple bass line idea with one a soft synth or EXS sample kit. Then I create supporting, unison/layers or counter parts on additional tracks. I hardly ever make the entire perceived bass line with one sound, it usually a few sounds playing different notes. After I have the general shape and sounds I bounce them in place (on individual tracks) and hide the MIDI tracks (but leave them in the session so I can easily make changes if necessary.) nnOne of my biggest strengths is audio editing… so I tend to print things to audio once I feel that they are mostly the way I want them. However, if I were a MIDI wizard or audio editing wasn’t my strength it makes a lot more sense to keep things as MIDI…. that way you have a lot more flexibility. I feel most at home with a session full of audio slices though :) nnre drums: I much prefer to have the drums split out on separate tracks. If they are all combined into one track or I’m starting with a drum loop, I cut the drums at every transient and separate them out into different tracks. If the session gets too crazy with tracks and slices I’ll pack groups of tracks in folder tracks to keep things easier on the eyes.

  • http://www.generalfuzz.net general fuzz

    Always inspiring to see how artists lay out and treat their track elements. . .

  • Tucker

    It’s disgusting how good you are, Brian. If you don’t mind my asking, where did you attend school, and what was your emphasis? I’m already assuming you have a degree in music, so forgive me if I am wrong. :)

  • Anonymous

    Hey Tucker, thanks! Good guess… yes I do have a degree in music. I studied Studio/Jazz Guitar performance (yep that is a real major) at USC’s music school. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending who you are and what you like) I didn’t become a jazz guitarist :-)

  • Tucker

    Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed jazz guitar. (not saying, it’s a bad thing of course – my degree was in percussion performance). It’s just that I don’t hear jazz as an influence in your music. I was secretly guessing you had been a composition major. :) Where/how did you go about learning all of your production techniques?

  • wojtek

    thx Brian for another great tutorial. would be great if you could invite Hecq to share some of his techniques ;) too . all the best in a new year !!!

  • Anonymous

    haha yeah not too much of a jazz influence in trifonic other than a few brushed drum sounds here and there. I learned a lot studying jazz, but for whatever reason it burned me out a bit. In a reactionary way it made me appreciate 3 chord rock and other music that is harmonically simple. It got me thinking that I wanted to focus more on expression than technique and more on music and texture as a whole rather than only guitar. nnI learned production techniques from reading, experimenting and tons of practice. That led to professional work where I gained greater studio chops, tour experience, learned how to work with difficult people in difficult situations, gained more confidence, and learned that patience is my primary talent :) nn

  • Anonymous

    I can’t promise anything at this point, but hopefully we’ll get hecq and some other very special guests to contribute to the blog in 2011 :)

  • Bozeat

    Just want to say thank you so much for the all the videos that you have put up.nI have watched countless videos on sound design and mixing, but yours are far the best ones out they.nAnd the technique you used for mixing the bass has opened up a whole lot of possibilities in how to use this on other sounds.n

  • Mike Reese

    hey brian, i was wondering when you were going to do a video on that bass sound you made with NI’s FM8, because ive got a song ive been working on and i think a similar sound to that would complement the melodies well.nYou videos are amazing keep up the work!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Mike, I’ll post the FM8 patch/video first week of January.

  • Phunkmonk

    Brian, Your videos have helped me break from my comfort zone. Being away from that zone means I am learning and moving into new ways of thinking while I create. I just wanted to say thank you for doing what you do. I am glad we are all able to learn something from you. You have put valuable resources for many to “call and response” on har har har.. Many thank youz from FloridannP.S.nIf you have any time for a Reaktor 5 tutorial that would be awesome :O)

  • Mattlynch37

    Hey Brian,nnGreat tutorial as usual. Thanks so much. I have a quick question about another sound in the remix above. The gradually slowing, percussive synth sounds that occur between about 3:50-3:59 in the video – is that effect achieved through rhythmic gating?nnThanks again for the great resources!

  • Oliver

    Hey Brian,nnthanks so much for sharing all this knowledge with us. You’re not only a true sound and production wizard. Your tutorials are also really how tutorials should be: informative, inspiring, relaxed and technicallly well produced. nnUnfortunately I missed the broadcast of your master class at Pyramind (didn’t know your blog at that time). Is there any way to lay my hands on a recording of that one?nnAgain thanks for putting time and effort in something that grants us some kind of insight. Much appreciated!

  • Anonymous

    thanks! I’m glad you are learning something. Reaktor 5 is such a broad topic, it would be pretty difficult to cover. That being said it might be interesting if I show some of the ensembles I use and show how they work and why I like them. I’m not too much of a Reaktor nut, in that I haven’t built any *good* ensembles from scratch… but I certainly enjoy using the 1000′s of amazing ensembles that are in the user library!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Matt, I think the sound you are referring to are percussion hits that are edited to feel like they slow down. I did not use rhythmic gate, just audio slices placed in the arrange. I think the source of the sound is a slice from the “amen” beat. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about watch the very first 2 videos on this blog…. I think it has been a year since I posted those!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Oliver, Thanks! There is not a way to view the Pyramind masterclass at the moment, but there will be… It’s on my list of things to do. I should see if I can get a tape of the master class/seminar that I did in Beirut… It was 3 days long!

  • Me

    Really great tutorial! (as they all are)nnThank you!nKeep them coming…n

  • Mason H

    Great Videos!nnI really like that bass sound you have for each track and have been trying to create one similar to those myself, the harmonic style midrange bass. I’m having trouble figuring out how to come up with a sound similar, are you using specific plugins for those sounds? or are they formed through logic via Es2, etc?nnIf you could give me a breakdown of those synth style sounds (I’m trying to make dubstep and am only a couple of months into producing it as well as working with logic). I appreciate any tips you could give me on building such an awesome bass sound, and ill tweak it to my tastes and styles of course, but I am having trouble figuring it out at the moment with my limited knowledge on digital music production.nnThanks again!

  • Mason H

    I forgot to mention, if you could also let me know of the filters or effects used specifically for the transforming style bass sound? The one that happens on the highest (placement wise) bass track in the video. I really appreciate any tips!

  • shadowproducer

    I too am curious about the high pitch bass part. I think it might actually be from a different patch, perhaps from the EMU sample kits he was demonstrating in his other vids. The rate of movement also sounds like its double the main part. nnOr…it could be the same patch with LFO rate double the main part? Also notice some pitch fades at the beginning and end of audio. nnThat’s my .005 cents, hopefully Brian can chime in. It is definitely crazy/interesting tryin to figure these sounds out by ear which is why it’s cool he puts these vids up. Thanks for the education and helping people make better MUSIC!n

  • Anonymous

    Mason and Shadowproducer, yeah no problem. The high filtered bass part is from the EMU and it is one of the kits from the previous video. I don’t have any active LFO or filters going it is all baked into the multi-samples I made from the emu. I lucked out with the timing of the filtering as I had no control over the filtering speed. Although if it was completely out of time I would use the flex-audio mode in Logic and stretch or time-compress the region to get the filter movements in time. I put the pitch envelope on some of the regions to get descending bass slide sound at the end of the phrase. It didn’t sound right without it!

  • Jonathan Tucker

    Hey Brian! Quick question: do you use Ultrabeat for all of your beat programming? Or do you use something else. OR do you use a variety of plugins. Honestly, I realize this isn’t too important of a question, but damn it, I’m so curious. Also, have you thought about dedicating a future tutorial to sharing one of your many beat-programming secrets?nnIn a different tutorials, I have noticed that you sometimes work with preexisting drum loops that you warp and mangle into something else (you demonstrated this with your first tutorial, I think). Do you have a preference? I demand that you elaborate…. Please. :)

  • Simon

    Sounds great!nWhen’s this track being released?nnWho/what would you recommend that sounds similar to this; stuff that you like (love Emergence/Remergence…but want MORE! :P ).

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jon! I honestly don’t use Ultrabeat too much (although it is amazing powerful,) I mainly use EXS24 and Battery 3 and lots of drum one-shots. I sometimes cut-up loops into new patterns or layer them. I don’t use too many apple loops other than as examples in videos or as placeholder percussion while I develop other sounds for a track.

  • Anonymous

    thanks Simon! I don’t know when this remix will be released. I’m guessing pretty soon (Q1 of 2011,) but I don’t know for sure yet. Re: music recommendations… oh man…. well recently I’ve been listening to: Hecq, Hybrid, Murcof, Teebee, Apparat, Moderat, Burial, Ital Tek, Break, Tim Hecker, Trentemu00f8ller. All of these producers are worth listening to and studying!

  • Mattlynch37

    Yup, that’s it! Thanks very much.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sensitize Sensitize

    Great track Brian, I listen it with my jaw on the floor :) definitely put my imagination on big field where angels fight with demonsnnI personally use Ableton, I saw your video where you were using it too, so could you tell me why Logic? Are there any benefits in this program that tells you “this is the one”? Better effects and arrangement toys? :) I’ve never used Logic so I’m just wondering.nnAnd from where did you take those angel choirs? ;) nnCan’t wait to hear this remix in full version :)