This year at BPM, we teamed up with our pals at Ableton and took over the Learning Zone, offering budding producers, DJs and anyone else who walked into our zone tips and techniques on music-making and production. As well as Ableton kitting out the booth with Live’s hardware partner Push, we hosted our very own masterclasses and deconstructions with our course tutors Paul Crossman and Ben Bristow. As part of the Learning Zone we took our famous deconstructions on the road.
Watch the full deconstruction tutorial of Rudimental’s ‘Right Here’ below and make sure you subscribe to our channel to keep up with our live broadcasts and free tutorials.
Paul: Good afternoon again. We’re back now with the second of the deconstructions. This track is one that was voted for by people from Ableton site and the Pointblank site. The track is Rudimental, ‘Right Here’.
One of those things that I get asked quite a lot about is the whole drummer base, bassline drums thing, What we’ve actually got here is the track itself. Let me just play it a bit. Essentially, let me just start that one again. Very unusual steel drum solo. Don’t get many of those in drummer base tracks. The first thing that I want to be looking for here is not the sound you can recreate using analogs. What I’ve actually gone and done with it is find the sample. I’m going to give you a quick run through of where we’ve gone, and then my interpretation of it.
Big drops. What you can notice as well in there, or should becoming in a second. Let me just give you a bit more volume. It kicks up bass: 808 starts; lots of [inaudible: 01:31] giving it the punch. That bit that you want to cut through, bit of the amen break. Big splashy sounds, lots of white noise; lots and lots of … stop that for a minute … energy. Think about the drummer bass side of things: Lots of powers, lots and lots of energy, lots of white noise in there, as well.
What I’ve done with this, and I restricted myself as much as I can to doing it with an Ableton. The first stages of this really was to look at the melodics; very melodic track. Actually, that’s starting to ring there, I think, feedback slightly. There we go. Let’s go have a look through what we’ve actually got here. Over here we have the steel drum itself, and I’ve used a very basic; I’ve used Simplar. Simplar is the more stripped-down version of the sampler which is the Biggon. Actually for one-shot in the samples, its fine. [inaudible: 02:39]
The first thing we’ve got here is the steel drum, literally just dragged-and-dropped. A bit of, also, filtering just to take a little bit of brightness out of it, and then a delay on the end. One of the things that got me about this track … there we go. It’s Carnival time. What can I say? We’ve got the first stuff in there, and essentially what I’ve done with it is work out the notes. Those of you who saw the deconstruction earlier on would have seen … I’m not much of a keyboard player, but these 3 fingers have got me this far. I’m going to work my way through it and work the cords out. Also in here you’ll notice there is a piano, and I’ve used Ableton’s grand piano for this. Essentially, very simple cord pattern with deviation of a root note on the second part of it, giving it a different flavor. It’s quite simple. Those of you that saw this earlier on know, simplicity is the key to all of this. That’s the very basic one
The other side of this, we have this sound. In the original version of it, it’s very, very panned; very hard left, hard right. What I’ve done with it, really, is duplicate up the steel drum channel and just reverse the sample. What happens is it’s playing backwards. You’re getting the same tonality, you getting the same timbre, but you’re getting that very [inaudible: 04:25] sounds with a bit of filtering on it. Let’s get to the good stuff; the drums and/or the bass. In my version of this, what I’ve done is I’ve used Impulse; it’s a 8-slot drum machine in Ableton. I’m going to bring this up, got the bassline out for a minute. Let’s have a look at how these drums have actually been put together.
The first thing and you can probably hear it, compression in spades; lots of compression, but at different stages. I’m not trying to get one compressor to do everything. If you look through this, let’s take a shot; kick drum, big. What I’ve done with this as a sound is I’ve created layers. I’ve got a layer there which is providing me a low-end punchy bit. You can also hear [inaudible: 05:33] almost like a white noise-type of [inaudible: 05:35]. That white noise is what’s giving me the definition. I see a lot of stuff like with people where they go with kick drums, and what they do is they bring it in and then they do that. It’s a kick drum, it’s a punch, but where’s the rest of it? Actually, how you know it’s where it is … let me get the right one [inaudible: 05:55], is that bit higher up. What’s that? We’re around … let me have a look at this a minute. There we go. That’s high-frequency stuff. Not what you would expect with a kick drum, but it’s going to cut through. Let’s go have a look at the rest of the drum sounds in here.
I’ve got a white noise, 909 snare; those of you who know that thing. I’ve really accentuated the top end in here. I want that fizz, the white noise to come out of it, and it’s been compressed. I’ve got the attack back on the compressor, which is allowing the initial transient hit to come through, which is giving me that, and then I’m using a very quick release. It’s in your face. There’s no room for subtlety in this. Then my other snares, just slightly different timbres of snare. Let’s look at the pattern a minute here. The first thing I did with this, again, work out the pattern; what I did with the deconstruction earlier on. We go round. Ableton’s great for this: You can loop. Get you loop running around. Concentrate on one element, the kick drum, the snare, whatever it is just program it in, let it go around and let it program like that. Make your life easy. You don’t have to make it difficult all the time.
We’ve also got a third snare, which is just white noise again, pretty much. I’ve kept this fairly short. A bit of gentle EQ on it, no too much, compressed really hard again. Another thing about compressors is that, essentially, they reduce dynamic range; they make the louder bits quieter, the quieter bits louder, but roughly. What that means I can do is because I’ve squashed it like this, I can then turn it up. Although it sounds like I’m losing a lot of the dynamics, it’s the punch that I’m after. Bring it all back in again. I’ve also got on here a splash, which is … where I can find it in a minute. There we go. The amen break; I’m not using the whole thing. I’m not actually using much of it as a kick drum. I’ve use the EQ3 to remove all of the low frequencies. All this is doing is adding another layer. It’s adding an energy to the top of the track, which is what I’m after, and that’s just following the kick pattern.
I’m also making a lot of use of grouping. For example, the kick and the snare I’ve run into a compressor. Actually quite gentle; little bit of [inaudible: 08:53] compression. I’m just gluing, hence, glue. A little bit of a gel. I don’t want too much of it, I just want it to bring everything together; make it sound like it’s roughly the same thing. Then that is running into my main drum bust. I’ve got to be honest; I’ve cheated a little bit. The saturator, quite cool for this. All it’s actually doing is driving the channel. Let me remove these a minute and you’ll see what I mean. Where’s it gone? A little bit of drive; again, I don’t want to destroy it. Overdrive’s great in a way because it will give you a natural compression, but it’s a bit like sugar in the tea; 4 or 5 is maybe a little bit too much. That doesn’t work for me either. Anyways, let’s move on.
Let me bring that in again. Really hear how it’s bringing that snare out. Then I’m compressing, again, really hard. When we actually look at the metering on this, it’s consistent. I’m not getting any spikes. It means I can turn it up. I know that I’m not going to get anything that’s going to let the whole thing
[inaudible: 10:07]. Again, I should probably admit that I’m using another little plugin here. I don’t know if you’re aware of this one. This isn’t the Ableton plugin. The Sausage Fattener, let me hear it for the Sausage Fattener. There you go. The best 25 quid you can spend, basically; happy little fellow. Again all I’m doing with it is squashing the life out of it. Let me just bypass and you can see what I mean. Very, very subtle. There we go. Again, lots and lots of different levels and layers of compression. I’m not trying to get one compressor to do everything. It’s enabling me to make the sound bigger for each stage, which then means that by the time I get to where I want with it, it’s as big as I can get it.
The bassline in this track is a version of the standard re-space. Those of you … do we have any drum and base aficionados out there? Anybody know your drum and base? The re-space is a classic bassline. It’s essentially the product of 2 maybe 3 saw-tooths. What I’ve done with this is I started off with, like I said, a basic analog. If I play the actual sound, let’s bring the chorus in a minute. Morning. There it is. It’s quite a large sound. Essentially like I said, it’s a couple of saw-tooths, and detuning it to the oscillators is just fattening it up, and then that is actually being run into an EQ8 in which I brought out… let me just turn this down a little bit. I’ve taken all the low-end out of it. I’m treating my bassline as a layer. You’ll see in a minute there’s a sub-line that’s sitting alongside this. I want to remove all the frequencies that my sub-line is going to be taking up. Don’t be frightened to use EQ like this. Next up, I use the saturator. Ableton, as I said, is a great one, but in the same way that certain sounds, like a Les Paul into a Marshall Stack is a certain sound. If you want that sound, you get a Les Paul, you plug it into a Marshall Stack.
Another drummer bass secret weapons is this little fellow, the CamelPhat. The CamelPhat is a whole bunch of plugins in one. This is giving me, for example, 4 different types of distortion, if that wasn’t enough for you. We’ve also got a couple of different filters in here. Actually the way that this plugin works, the way it all comes together makes it really easy to use and also means you can get the sound of hell out of it, which is ace. There it is. You’ve got that slight digitalness at the top just coming straight from the analog. This isn’t doing that much, but it’s removed the little bit of the harshness, also it’s providing a beating. Can you hear the [inaudible: 13:24]…? With this, what I’ve gone onto do is resample it. Rather than play it from here, I’ve taken a note, and with that note, I’ve essentially sampled. What I’ve got here is the product of that. You can use very, very good rooting in Ableton. You can see here, for example, I’ve taken the output of this [inaudible: 13:51] channel into my audio channel here, and then I’ve taken this and I’ve just bounced the note out. If I find it and I play it … what have I got that rooting to? It’s over here, isn’t it? There we go. I could listen to that for days. Let’s move on.
I’ve taken that as a note, and then what I’ve done with it is that I then put it into a sampler. There’s the note, which means that when I play this, any of the modulations that’s in the sample itself is going to retrigger at different pitches. If I can bring it out, there it is. That’s the sound I’ve wanted all my life. I’ve got filter on it, as well. Let me just play that out. What’s that doing that for? What’s going on there? Let me just play him. There it is. Again, if I bring the filter up, you should hear it beating to the different pitches. It’s a subtle thing, but it’s a very different effect than actually just playing the note straight from analog. It’s a very old-school thing, really. There’s slight degree of authenticity-ish with it. That’s my first bass.
The second bassline, classic soundwave 808-style bassline. I created this in Operator. Operator is an FM synthesizer. Very simple sound and its root it’s a soundwave. The pitch envelope is giving me that knock, that frontend, and I’m letting the release make it bounce for me. When I was working this one out, I noticed that the main part of the bassline is very sustained. The problem I was finding was if I laid it up with the soundwave underneath and had that sustaining too, the power wasn’t there. The aggression or the noise of it is there, but the actual punch of it wasn’t working. As soon as I changed this over into a more
note-y bass like this, actually, you bring the two in together and they work really well. Trust me, they work really well. Do you see what I mean? I’ve got that punch coming from the 808, it’s giving me the drive, it’s giving me the power, but the release itself is then giving me the aggression I need on top.
Once I’ve done that, compression. I was playing around with [inaudible: 16:52]; I’m not a fan of them. It’s very easy to mess things up. Again, I’m going to keep the thing simple. Let me just bring it in with the beats. What we then get … let me just bring out one of the other sounds. Let me cut the organ out for a minute. What you can see here, the bassline is being [inaudible: 17:25] by the kick of the snare. It’s one of those decisions; I’ve decided that I want my drums to be the thing that are going to punch and carry through. The bassline is like a constant companion, but what that means is, I want to make allowances. Using compression, I can just duck the sound out of the way just the tiniest amount, which gives a little bit more room. Doing it like that rather than using EQ to cut my way out of it. The final sound in this, to what I’ve been doing here, again, is quite a cool one that they’ve done. It’s the idea of using a Hammond Organ, which is the one I dropped out here.
You can hear the organ sound, which is giving you the melody. When you hear the vocal, the vocal is following that, as well. This started out from the preset; it’s an analog synth organ sound. What I’ve done with it, is add a [inaudible: 18:29]; it’s giving that Lesley Speaker a feel, very ’60s. Lesley Speaker,rotating cones in a box gives you that sound. I can do this within the Ableton plugins. Bit of EQ, just to knock out a little of this high frequency stuff. The next thing, saturator. Again, just roughing it up, but the secret weapon is the cabinet simulator. Anybody play guitar? When you marking up a guitar cabinet, the thing about guitar cabinets, for example, is they’re voiced in a particular way. Not that much top-end, not that much bottom-end; you mic it up, you get a lovely sound. If you want to get that simulated amp effect, just stick a cabinet speaker on it. It gives you roughly an old-school feel to it, which seems to be a theme for today.
I know it’s been a very short demonstration, but that’s how I’ve gone about putting that rudimental track together. I’m going to be sat here, if you want to actually ask me anything specific, please feel free to come up in front and we can have a chat. Thanks for your time. Enjoy the rest of your time at BPN. I’ll see you well here for bit longer. Take care, folks.
Danny: At Pointblank Online, you got two methods of interaction with your tutor: Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class, which is in real time, and then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments, and that’s known as DVR. The online master class is a 1-hour session that you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about the lesson content, you get instant feedback, and also demonstrations on-the-fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology.
DVR stands for Direct Video Response, and concept is really simple: You upload you Ableton, Logic, or Q Base project file to your computer, you download it, and then pushed record on screen capturing software and it evaluates your work; basically giving you one-to-one feedback. You see all of the mouse movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor. It’s like sitting in the studio, over their shoulder watching what they’re doing whilst they work. We found the DVR process is truly revolutionize the way we teach online, and the results speak for themselves.
. . .
Editor’s Note: This is an old article and things have moved on considerably since the original publication date 🙂
For more information head over to the Point Blank Music School website to learn the very latest about our school.