Today we’re keeping it high energy with a song we did for an NBA Commercial about legendary basketbal player Kurt Rambis. The topics we’ll discuss are:
- Let The Drums And Bass Lead
- Dynamics: Breaks & Silences
- Power Effects: Stutter Edit
3. Free Samples
1. Breaking The House Down:
How can you make a song that completely hypes people up? That makes them jump up and bounce to your beat, that makes them ecstatic and makes them want to cruise in their car with all the windows down, while your tune is pumping out of the speakers? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this making the beat.
Technique #1: Let The Drums And Bass lead
You’ve probably come across the following saying: “Melody is King”. And usually, I agree with that. But if you want to make die-hard bangers, you have to completely forget it and assign the main roles to your drums and bass. In some cases, you won’t even need a strong melody. In Kurt Rambis, you can hear a small lead melody in the Hooks (0:41 – 01:19 & 02:19 – 02:47), but obviously, it is nowhere comparable to the supremacy of the drums and bass. And that simply creates impact.
As a true producer, you should think about it this way, every time you’re creating a new song: Your song is like a hard disk on your iPhone: you can put multiple types of content on it, but there’s only a limited amount of space available. So you have to choose what is most important to you and you probably need to make some concessions. For example, if you choose to put 10 GB of audio on it, you only have (in this case) 4.46 GB left for something
The same holds true for every song you make. You cannot make your melody, harmony, bass, vocals, and drums all jump out of your song at the same time: you have to make choices about which aspects are going to stand out and which aspects are going to lay low and play just a supporting part.
Power Song Tip #1:
Forget always making the melody the core of your song. If you’re up for real bangers, assign the leading roles to the drums and bass.
Technique #2: Dynamics: Breaks & Silences
In the previous Making The Beat article we already talked about the fact that the impact of a specific part of any song does not only depend on its own power. It depends equally as much on the impact and power of the part right before. That’s why you have to build tension before the strong parts of your songs. And luckily, Crescendo’s and reversed crashes are not the only tools we have: Breaks and silences can do a terrific job when it comes to building tension and creating impact. Especially when you want your song to knock hard in all parts of the song, breaks and silences are vital to ensure that your song does not become too monotonous. Otherwise, your might start off just great, but people may lose their excitement quickly as the song progresses even with the best drum samples available at your disposal.
In Kurt Rambis, you can find breaks at 0:11, 0:40, 01:15, 01:35, 02:18 & 02:58. They work best if they are combined with silences. With silences, I mean muting a specific instrument or set of instruments (or even everything) for a short amount of time. I applied this a lot in Kurt Rambis. For example, there are no drums in the intro, while there are already chord progressions and rap-vocals present. Other examples are: (1) the bass only enters the song in the second half of the verse (0:27); and (2) from 0:39 to 0:42, there’s first only vocals, right before the break before the first hook. And (3) Right after the first hook, the drums and bass are muted again, just as in the intro of the song.
Technique #3: Power Effects: Stutter Edit
To improve the impact of your song even more, you can apply all kinds of effects to your beat, such as Sweeps, Flanging, Filters and Stutter Edits. Most of these are very common in modern electronic music. Stuttering effects on vocals are also quite often featured in Hip Hop and R&B songs. Check for example 01:23 – 01:26 in the song ‘Bottoms Up’ by Trey Songz & Nicki Minaj
In Kurt Rambis, I applied them at 02:12 – 02:20 with the help of Ozone Stutter Edit. This is an extensive plug-in with which you can create and apply all kinds of effects. Here’s a short video that shows what you can do with it:
But before you decide to buy it, I would recommend to Google: ‘Stutter Edit in your DAW’, because if you only want a few basic effects, there might be easier and cheaper ways.
2. The Inspiration:
For this beat, I got the inspiration from two different songs. First of all, I was heavily impressed and inspired by two of Alex Da Kid’s productions: ‘I Need a Doctor’ by Dr. Dre, Eminem & Skylar Grey:
and ‘Words I’ve Never Said’ by Lupe Fiasco and again, Skylar Grey:
The drums in those two songs seem to have some sort of a rock influence and just sound really thick and pounding. Finally, ‘Sail’ by Awolnation gave me the inspiration for the style of the breaks in Kurt Rambis:
3. Free Samples
Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this article and I hope it answered some of the questions you guys asked me! Also don’t forget to:
Read More: Making The Beat #5 – She Can Have It All…