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Groovy Train (Part 4)

The fourth part of our dance music series, with more drum patterns and basslines for you to programme yourself.

Kickstart your creativity with more rhythms from RM's resident tunesmith EDGAR G. ROOVER.

The patterns we published in last month's issue seem to have gone down well, from what we've heard, so this month, here's some more of the same. Well — not exactly the same. For this instalment, we remain in the dance vein, with three more drum patterns and associated basslines and chord parts, but we've changed the presentation of the patterns just slightly, for even easier programming. Chords, instead of being denoted in the grids as chord names, are presented as single notes, which, when programmed in, make up the necessary chords. For those of you who like to see chords on the keyboard, though, we've also included them in a separate box, as last month.

The Patterns

Once more into the breach, then, with Pattern 1, which I like to think of as an indie/dance crossover, featuring drums, bassline and a distorted guitar patch or sample. The pattern runs at the dance standard speed of 120bpm, and will require the most live-sounding kit at your disposal. The bass drum should be solid and woody, the snare should be tight, punchy and powerful and the hi-hat ringing but not too thin. The crash cymbal should be authentic sounding but not too splashy, and either program it with a low velocity or mix it well back so that it's not intrusive. You're looking for a pretty authentic sounding kit — like a real drummer (except that this one keeps time better). You want this to sound pretty grungy, so if you're feeling adventurous, you might try feeding your drum pattern through a combo and miking up the combo... worth a try.

Pattern 1.

Likewise, your bass patch should be a real-sounding rather than a synth bass. 'Real' bass patches from synths, or samples, sometimes lack 'guts', so if yours isn't totally satisfactory, why not cheat and try layering it with a bit of really low bass synth patch, mixed well back, to improve the bottom end? A bit of distortion might not go amiss, either, but don't overdo it — you don't want to muddy up the track too much. The guitar part needs a distorted guitar patch or sample, and if possible, not the sustaining, distinct type of classic rock distortion, but the softer, muffled, chainsaw-type distortion of indie rock. If you don't have access to the sort of guitar patch or sample you need but do have an electric guitar and fuzz box, try the real thing. It'll sound a lot more like a distorted guitar if it really is one, after all!

You could open with the guitar chords solo, then bring in the other elements gradually, or drop out the drums and bass in the middle of your track and solo the guitar chords. Also note that the crash cymbal needn't be present all the way through the track — save it just for choruses for a bit more impact, if you like.

Pattern 2

Pattern 2, running at 90bpm, is another ambient dance groove, and this one's a real gem, though I do say so myself. The drum kit for this pattern consists of a floppy, analogue-style bass drum, a snare which is a tight burst of sound, and an electronic, well-defined hi-hat sound. If you have access to a Roland TR909-style kit, this will fit the bill very well. The bass sound should be a big, fat analogue patch with a lot of resonance — the sort of sound that reminds you of someone going 'Ow', if you know what I mean. The string or pad sound should be, again, analogue style, with a lot of movement, a sound with a long, slow filter sweep, which evolves as it is held. Choice of pad is really quite important here, so experiment.

You'll notice that Pattern 2 has a very simple bassline, but it's one of those basslines which fits very well under slow chord changes. You'll also notice that the bassline drops out completely every other bar, leaving single notes on the pad/string sound. This gives a very sparse, dreamy feel, but you could use this only as an intro or break, and program the bassline in every bar when the track gets going. There are loads of possibilities for this one.

Speaking of possibilities, if you have access to two drum machines, or a drum machine and a sequencer, try hoiking up Pattern 2 to 120bpm and running it in sync with Pattern 1 (drum parts only, of course, otherwise you'll end up with a hell of a mess). Running the two patterns together results in a really hectic, ravey feel, like running a sampled drum loop in tandem with a pattern you've programmed yourself (which, incidentally, is something else you could try out if you have a sampler — check out dance sample CDs for a huge variety of drum breaks). If you only have one drum machine, you could record one pattern to a multitrack tape recorder striped with timecode and then run the other in sync with the first, using time code to keep them together. Beware though — once you've run the two drum patterns together, you won't want to go back to running them singly!

Pattern 3.

Pattern 3 takes us back to the Italo-dance feel, with a straight, four-on-the-floor drum pattern, bassline and piano patch. Once more, you'll get the best results with a TR909 kit, bass drum and snare tuned down somewhat, if you can. If you don't have access to a 909 kit, your bass drum should be analogue style, solid and woody, and the snare should have lots of 'snare' and crack in it. Hi-hat should be more real-sounding (a sample, perhaps), and a bit splashy. You'll also notice that the snare is layered with a hand clap; I used an 808-style clap, though any artificial, electronic-sounding clap should do. For the bassline, you need a bouncy synth bass, and the piano should be dance style, with not too much body or authenticity (the Yamaha SY85 synth I was using has one called 'Dance Piano', which I took advantage of).

With all the patterns, as always, add in your own ideas for the best results. Next month there will be more grooves to spark your imagination and keep those fingers busy.

Series - "Making Dance Tracks"

Read the next part in this series:

All parts in this series:

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Viewing) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

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Production Masterclass With Hugh Padgham

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Monsters of Rock

Recording Musician - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.


Recording Musician - Oct 1992


Arranging / Songwriting

Drum Programming


Making Dance Tracks

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 (Viewing) | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

Feature by Edgar G. Roover

Previous article in this issue:

> Production Masterclass With ...

Next article in this issue:

> Monsters of Rock

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