EDM: Basslines, Synth Parts, and Virtual Instruments


Hey everybody. Welcome to
Master the Art of Music Creation, right here at AvidBlogs.com. If you were here last time,
you know that we covered basically how I build drums and drum tracks
inside of Pro Tools using a really amazing
AAX 64 bit plug-in called Maschine 2.0 from Native Instruments. Today, we’re going to use some
of the plug-ins built into Pro Tools, some of our virtual instruments,
specifically Vacuum and Xpand² to build some musical elements
inside of that session. So we’ve got our MIDI and our drum clips
from our previous session. Now what we want to do is continue
building on the musical ideas for our song. I’ve got a couple of virtual instruments
that come with Pro Tools that are going to help us out.
The first one is Vacuum. Vacuum is a really great monophonic
dual oscillator synth, and it’s a great synth. I use it a lot
for bass lines, it sounds really great. I’m going to go ahead
and select an area, a couple of bars here, that we can go
ahead and do some playback grouping, just in case I want to go ahead
and change anything in the bass line. I do it a couple of times. To make sure you do that, you are going
to want to go up here to your Transport. You want to right-click
on the Play button, and make sure you’re in Loop mode. So I’m ready to record,
I’ve got my sound in Vacuum, so let’s go ahead and record something. If I happen to mess up
and I want to redo it, while it’s recording,
I can just go ahead and undo it, by hitting Command+Z
if you’re on a Mac, Control+Z if you’re on a PC, and I’m just going to keep recording.
Here we go. And there we go. Now I’ve got a pattern I’m happy with, I’m going to go ahead
and press Stop on the playback. I’m gonna go ahead and quantize this, which is, you know, a very typical
timing/fixing that we like to do, especially in Dance music,
to keep everything nice and tight. What’s really interesting in Pro Tools
is that we have Real Time Properties, which allows me to take the 5 most
common properties of MIDI, Quantization, Duration, Delay,
Velocity and Transposition. Now of course,
every DAW has these things, but what’s interesting in Pro Tools
is that we’re able to do them Real Time Properties non-destructively. If I go ahead and hit Quantize here, you can see that right now I’ve got
the 16th note quantize value selected. At any point in the performance
or in the playback, I can go ahead
and change the note value. So for instance, I can just go ahead
and do whole notes. But actually for this song, we want
to go ahead and do 16th notes. But I can also turn off Quantize
and go back to my original performance. That’s one of the features
that I love most about Pro Tools. So we’re going to go ahead
and quantize that, we’re good to go. I’m actually going to go ahead and
swing this a little bit, actually a lot. I’m going to enter a quantize value
of 67% on the swing. But let’s go ahead and go back
to our drums from last week, and maybe we’ll want to go ahead and
swing our drums as well that same 67%, because now we’ve got
a really nice and cool housy vibe, so now we’re swinging, right? Great. I’ve just showed you
how to record a MIDI pattern using a plug-in,
or a virtual instrument, that is a single MIDI channel.
In this case, it’s Vacuum. What happens if you want to go ahead and use a multitimbral virtual instrument
such as Xpand? Again, this comes with Pro Tools.
But how do you do that? Maybe I want to record a couple
of different sounds using a couple of different channels. So of course Xpand², you can see here
I’ve got two different sounds ready to go. On MIDI channel 1,
I’ve got this Bright Chords sound, and on MIDI channel 2,
I’ve got this Analog Pulse sound we are going to use to do
this really cool arpeggiation. I can’t record them both
on the same Instrument track, so of course,
I’m going to use MIDI tracks for that. I’ve got a couple of MIDI tracks here,
let’s set those up for record. We want to make sure we do everything
correctly, we’re going to rename these. I’ll rename the first 1 Chords, and I’ll go ahead and rename
the second one Arp. I’m going to be doing the arpeggiation
with that second channel. I’m going to go ahead
and put Xpand at the back here. We’re going to go back
to our Mix window, and let’s go ahead and make sure
we set these up correctly. You can see here, again we’re going
to go right back to our MIDI I/O section
in the Mix window, and we’re going to go
to the Output section here, and we’re going to make sure
that we choose Xpand, and we’re going to do channel-1 for
the first channel, already selected there and make sure that channel-2 is selected
on the second one. And there it is… with the check mark by it,
already selected, and ready to go. So now I’m using one plug-in, Xpand², two different MIDI channels, and let’s go ahead and quickly record
a couple of passes. Another thing that’s really cool
about Pro Tools, I’ve already got my couple of bars
selected here and ready to go, I’ve got the Chords selected,
and let’s go ahead and start recording. When I’m finished recording
the Chords section, I’m just going to go ahead and use
a really cool command, just Command+Arrow down, to jump down to our arpeggiation, so I can keep recording without
ever having to stop playback. I’m going to go ahead and start recording,
I hit Record, and play, and I’m already in Record mode.
Alright? So here we go. Of course, if I’m happy with that,
I just hit Command+Arrow down. I’m going to go and jump up
a couple of octaves here, and record my arpeggiation.
Here we go. Alright! So now I’ve got
something going on in there, I’m gonna go ahead,
come out of Record mode. I’m going to leave it playing. And of course I’ve got something
to fix here in the arpeggiation. To do that, I can quickly
just double-click the pattern, and now, we’re in our really amazing
MIDI Editor. I can go ahead and select a note
that I want to delete. Select it, just hit the Delete key…
There we go. Of course, everything is a little sloppy,
we’re going to want to quantize that. So I hit my Quantize button there. On the arpeggiation,
I’m going to swing that the same way I’ve got my drums
and our bass line. I’m going to go ahead
and enter again that 67% swing. There we go. So now we’ve got a bass line,
we’ve got some synth hooks, and now you can see that we’re starting
to build some musical elements to our song. I hope you guys enjoyed this episode
of Master the Art of Music Creation right here on AvidBlogs.com. Again, don’t forget to grab a copy
of the session and practice at home. And we’ll see you next time.