Build-Up Sound for Trance

Tip to easily make a build-up sound for trance songs towards the breakdown.

  1. Use a cheesy synth sound.
  2. Put a long note for over 8 bars (or use a rhytmic synth sequence of short notes – preferably the same note).
  3. Automate pitch bend to go up from bar 1 to 8 over 2 octaves.
    • Just before the end of 8th bar, bring the pitch bend completely down by more than 2 octaves.
  4. Put a high-pass filter that closes or opens from beginning to end.
  5. Add effecs to the sound as you like and automate where you believe this can build even more up. Like adding reverb or delay.

Build-Up Picth Bend Sound

How To Make A Typical Trance Build-Up Sound

  1. Use an analogue synthesiser and set the Oscillator wave to White Noise
  2. Put a Flanger effect and set a slow LFO on the flanger
  3. Put a Phaser effect and set a slow LFO on the Phase
  4. Optionally play with the frequencies on the effect or set an LFO on the virtual synth as well

Example in Ableton Live done with Operator – click on picture for zoom in.

White Noise Build-Up Sound


Kraftwerk – The Model – Sweet Nostalgia

Kraftwerk have influenced me a lot. Next to Jean-Michel Jarre, these guys opened my mind to the wonderful world of electronic music

Let’s fac it: the below track was made in 197 8!! It still sounds
authentic today!

Kraftwerk – Das Model

The members of this group were musical visionaries.

Extract WikiPedia

“Das Model” (spelling on album: “Das Modell“; English version title: “The Model“) is a song recorded by the electro-pop group Kraftwerk in 197 8; written by musicians Ralf Hütter and Karl Bartos, with artist Emil Schult collaborating on the lyrics. It is featured on the album, Die Mensch-Maschine; English version title: The Man-Machine. It is one of the band’s most accessible and melodic songs.
First released as a 7.5 single in Germany (B-side: “Neonlicht”), under its English translation the song was ev entually included on the B-side of the “Computer Love” single released in July 1981 , which
reached #36 in the UK charts. When radio DJs started playing the B-side, EMI re-issued the single in December 1981 – apparently against the band’s wishes – with “The Model” as the A-side. It reached #1 in February 1982 and spent a total of 21 weeks in the top 75 of the UK singles charts.

Future Cool Bass Creation

Modern power synth plug-ins can create thick, complex and evolving bass sounds.

See some tricks below performed in Ableton Live.

Growling Bass Using FM Synthesis

The Sytrus soft-synth of FL Studio – Imageline is used here as FM Synth.

  1. Set Operator 1 to Square wave and play with some of its attributes: e.g. set the Attack Fast
  2. Set Operator 2 to Sine wave with fast attack. You can play as well with its parameters.
  3. Now set the OUT volume of Operator 1 on and Set in the Matrix Operator 1 / Operator 2 on. Screenshot Bass 1
  4. Go to Main and set the unison mode to 8 voices for example. You can play here as well with some unison parameters.Screenshot Bass 2
  5. Go to Operator 3 and set its envelope to a short loop, acting like an LFO to give some aggressive modulation and extra rhythm. Click in Operator 3 on LFO and set speed dial up. Adapt to your liking.
  6. Open Operator 2 OUT Volume and set Operator 2 / Operator 3 in the matrix on.
  7. We will now route Operator 1 to a filter for a touch of bite. Drive it hard. Set Filter on Operator 1 fully Open + the Filters OUT volume.
  8. All other operators are routed in parallel to the Out as well.Screenshot Bass 4
  9. For solid weight, we high-pass our synth channel and layer a sub tone underneath from a second Sytrus.
    1. This can easily be done in Ableton Live by grouping the Sytrus as an Instrument Rack and copying the Sytrus sound twice in the instrument Rack. As per picture below.    Screenshot Bass 5
  10. Izotope Ozone 5 then adds subtle width and grit to the original patch on the high-end via its multiband compressor, harmonic exciter and stereo imaging modules.Screenshot Bass 6

 Resampling and Frequency Splitting

Why not sample some outboard bass synth sound and then apply your favourite plug-in effects on several frequencies.

  1. Sample for example a Bass sound from the E-MU Orbit Dance Planet. Sample one note (tip: use C as base note) and hold it for 1 bar.e-mu-orbit-197961
  2. Record the audio of that 1 bar note into your DAW. I’m using Ableton Live.
  3. Import the audio file into your plug-in sampler. In Ableton Live this is very easy: just drag the audio into the sampler instrument and voila.Smapler 1
  4. Zoom in on the audio in the sampler and make sure your starting point of the sample is the beginning of the bass sound.Sampler 2
  5. The sound will now retrigger perfectly every time a key is pressed, and it’s modulation will change speed as we play notes up and down the keyboard.
  6. Apply portamento inside the sampler: i.e. Go to Pitch/Osc tab and select Portamento in the Glide field.Sampler 3
  7. Group the sampler into an Instrument Rack. Right click on the sampler and select Group.
  8. Copy the instrument in the rack and paste it again in the rack. Now we have two instances of the sampler.
  9. We will use these splitted instances to apply different effects on the low and high frequencies.Sampler 4
  10. Apply a low pass filter on the first instance for manipulating the higher frequencies. Use EQ Eight from Ableton Live.Sampler 5
  11. Apply a high pass filter on the second instance for manipulating the lower frequencies.Sampler 6
  12. Experiment on the higher frequencies with multiple effects like wideners such as AutoPan, modulation and spatial effects like reverb and delays. Below I used Distortion (Overdrive), Chorus and Reverb on the Higher Frequencies.Sampler 7
  13. I used an Amp and Distortion (Overdrive) on the lower frquency.Sampler 8

808 Day: Celebrating an Iconic Drum Machine

Source: Ableton Website:

“Nothing sounds quite like an 8-0-8.” Those words, from the legendary Beastie Boys, sum up how pretty much all hip-hop, house, electro, and techno producers feel about Roland’s legendary drum machine. First introduced in 1980, the TR-808 (“TR” standing for “Transistor Rhythm” – now you know) was an all-analog drum machine, know for it’s bassy kick, snappy snare, tinny hi-hats, and a rather alien “cowbell” sound. Today – on August 8, aka 8/08 – we’re going to celebrate the legacy of this rhythm box, and share some of our favorite 808 tracks.

“Nothing sounds quite like an 8-0-8.”

Like a number of now-legendary analog instruments, the 808 was initially scoffed at for it’s electronic sounds – especially compared to alternatives like the sample-based Linndrum (the TR-909, a follow-up machine from Roland, would incorporate some samples, while the later TR-707 consisted entirely of samples). Some immediately saw it’s charm, however – listen to Marvin Gaye’s 1982 classic, “Sexual Healing”:

The real legend of the 808 was born via electro and hip-hop producers, who took to the machine in the early- and mid-’80s. Its tinny, alien sounds provided a jolt of futureshock – and it didn’t hurt that it was often available for cheap, in second-hand stores. New York electro and hip-hop artist Africa Bambaataa used the 808 heavily on the breakin’ essential, “Planet Rock”:

Not to be left out, the burgeoning West Coast hip-hop/electro scene also took to the 808 – throwback to LA-bred Egyptian Lover’s ironclad “Egypt, Egypt”:

Meanwhile, in Detroit, the seeds of techno were sewn by electro group Cybotron, featuring techno pioneer Juan Atkins and Richard “3070” Davis:

Cybotron’s “Clear”

Flash forward a few years, and the UK’s burgeoning Northern acid house scene finds a lot of inspiration in the 808. Formerly a member of 808 State (named after the machine, naturally), A Guy Called Gerald strikes out on his own with “Voodoo Ray”, anchored by an infectious groove featuring the conga and rimshot sounds of the 808:

Into the ‘90s, Richie Hawtin’s Plastikman project strips back acid techno to its bare elements, such as on “Spastik” – a track made entirely with an 808 and effects. Paying homage to his legacy, Richie was known to end Plastikman gigs between 2010 and 2012 by emerging from behind his LED cage to perform Spastik solo on an 808:

Richie Hawtin as Plastikman plays “Spastik” at Detroit’s Movement Festival 2010.

It’s been 34 years since the release of the 808, and it doesn’t seem to be going away. Last decade, Kanye West made the 808 a household name by titling his album, 808s and Heartbreak, after the machine. Since then, a new generation of hip-hop, house and techno producers have embraced the 808 anew – in particular, trap and footwork/juke make frequent use of its bassy and tinny/snappy sounds. Here’s an aggressive footwork melody to dance to, in Chicagoan RP Boo’s fiery “Speakers R4”:

And repping trap, here’s 2 Chainz with “Trap Back”, featuring the ubiquitous hi-hat trills:

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