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Old 16-04-2018, 01:44 PM
joecc joecc is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 368
Default Some Useful Info for creating a house groove

I just found this on old laptop...
It's probably common knowledge to a lot of ye...
I dunno who to credit for the info...it was many year ago....

You're sitting there in a bar with your crew looking cool, but out of nowhere you just can't stop your hips moving, or if you get it really bad, (like I did all the time) then you give up looking cool all together, ditch your drink and your buddies and shake your undoubtedly sexy thing all over the place. What is it that gets those shoulders rollin', feet tapping and finger clicking? What is it that makes you feel like John Travolta,? What is it that makes you wanna crack on with every member of the opposite sex within sight?

It's the grooooooove man! And gettinyour groove right is key to writing a successful dance tune. It's a combination of many things, but mainly it's the interplay between the bassline and the percussion, or drums or rhythm section, (whatever terminology you prefer).
Kick drum

Spend ages getting this right. Listen to loads of samples. Bowie reputedly listened to kick drums for four weeks before choosing the one that appears on "Heroes". The point is, The kick drum is the "pump", the heartbeat and the engine. Use a weedy kick sound, and you'll still be packing shelves one year from now.
All your sounds need space, they need to sit somewhere. Whilst a kick drum may sound buried in the mix, go listen to 5 of your favourite dance 12 inch singles. At the start of the tune you will get a good 30 seconds of kick drum that you can analyse. Listen carefully, particularly to the "tail" (the part of the kick drum sound that is not the initial hit). I almost guarantee it is not dry. It will have some form of "decay" or reverb. Good reverbs for kick drums are "gated" which decay to a certain amplitude then cut immediately to silence. The length size and shape of this reverb or decay depend upon the tempo of the tune, your taste and whether or not you are creating a deliberate audible effect or ambience.


Wow! The number of hours I've spent trying to get the right bass sound! The type of bassline you've written will dictate the type of sound you want. Also, listen to what's in your head. This isn't as easy as it sounds, but it comes with practice. Is it like a "real" bass? Is it squidgy? (like you hear in acid techno), is it deep and resonant? You get the picture.

Listen to your bass sound with your kick. How do they work together?

Now they probably won't be perfect. Don't worry. There is a whole world of pain between here and trying to get it perfect, including compression, mixing, limiting bla bla blaÖ (but all that is for another time). All we're interested at this point is getting the kick and bass in roughly the right ball park. Is the bass too loud? Does that kick sound too fat? Just use faders and a little EQ. Get them roughly right.

Now that bass line, is it doing exactly what's in your head or is it, well, groovier in your brain? Listen very carefully to what your brain is playing. Have you definitely written all the notes, are you missing crafty little "finger picks" or grace notes, does one of your bass notes bend, is one of the notes slightly late giving it swing, or early giving it push? If youíve definitely got all the notes down. EXACTLY as youíre hearing them, then your "brain" version sounds groovier because of production elements and that's for another lesson. So, all notes written, let's move on.

Try using two bass sounds. The most obvious example of this is any dance tune with a "slap bass". Most of the bassline will be played by a nice round fatty, with the occasional slap. This slap will be on a higher note and using a different sound. Usually a less fat mid-frequency sound. Play with velocities. ..Eer, try this, just for an exercise. Write four bars of sixteenths accenting every third sixteenth. Get that rolling feel? Write another four bars of sixteenths and accent the 2nd, 5th, 8th, 11th 14th, 16th, Ötotally different feel right? But the notes and their lengths are just the same. Play about with this, and then play about with the velocities on your bassline.

Crafty tips:


So your hats are on the off beats. Your snares/claps are on beats 2 and 4 of each bar. So why doesnít it sound groovy? Because it's way too straight! Try putting snare hits on the 2nd, 8th and 10th sixteenths of the bar, and taking their velocities right down. This will give you a feel for the massive potential in those "hidden 16ths". With your snare sound play around with them.


So you have a nice fat hat on the off beats. Now take a much smaller, tighter closed hat sound and write one on the 5th, 6th, 13th, 14th and 16th sixteenths of the bar. Again, play around with the positioning of these.


Careful here! They're beginning to sound a bit tired these days. That said, I put them in my last tune! Haha! Tunings for all your sounds are important but for your congas etc, it's key! ('scuse the pun!)

They have to be tuned in relation to each other. Try putting them a 4th apart, or a 5th or a major 2nd in relation to the rest of the tune. Can't lie. This is difficult. But you'll know when you've got it right.


Try having one conga biased to the right,
the other slightly leftÖ(no hard panning.. it will just make things sound barnyard, and won't play well on mono systems)
Velocities are crucial in congas, because unlike the other drum sounds, theyíre supposed to sound human.
Humans don't play the same velocity twice!

Use "swing quantise" on your sequencer (also known as "humanise"). Personally, I always found this gave random and undesirable results (as though the conga player had had a few too many disco biscuits) so I always "nudge" the timings myself. Tedious, but more realistic results.
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Old 16-04-2018, 01:46 PM
joecc joecc is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 368

the hats bit is definitley worth a try...
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