The Fatbass Principle

Fat “bass”, I would call powerfull, loud, intense bass. Composed out of a bassdrum (kickdrum) and a bass (bassline).

Having a fat bass seems to be one of the most convincing arguments for tracks in many scenes.

I made the following partially IRONIC! recipe of how to make a typical psytrance foundation, to give anybody the possibility of having a more or less fat bass to start with. So you can invest your energy in the music and the creativity. More tutorial files for making a fatt bass are here (they are much more useful for bass imho) – or better, forget about fat bass and first go here: How to do your own thing? or here How to write meaningful electronic music?

Here is the recipe for typical fatbass-principle Psytrance:

Get “Bazzism” from it’s a brilliant plugin to create kickdrums. Or take this one OkKick . The Kick has a length of 100ms, which is a good length when the kickdrum is combined with many bassnotes at around 142BPM. Trust your ears and try different speakers when making own ones.

Cubase and the VB-1 VST Plugin, there you choose the Synthibass preset, on the EQ, cut the deep bass up to 40Hz, raise the bass around 50-80Hz, lower around 150Hz, cut the the high frequencies down to 2kHz. Play around with the EQ. Maybe you don’t want much low end, or you want more of it. Around 400Hz you can make the bass more crisp. It’s all a matter of taste.
Important principle: Bass and Kickdrum have to have enough highfrequent parts in order to hear them clearly in the mix. Use good EQ-Plugins like UAD or Voxengo. If you want to make it extra annoying for the listener emphasize around 100Hz and don’t lower 150Hz. It will sound hollow and hard especially loved by all the numbed-people.

For the typical FullOn rollingbass set 3 16th notes between every kick. Start with every note on G0 like everybody else, then start playing around with some notes an octave up or so. To have a good and groovy result you have to play around with the note lengths and the velocity. Try for example to emphasize the offbeat or, if you like, the last of the three to get the extra boring “gallop-bass”.

The two elements kickdrum and bass have to come along. This means (if you want to have it clean without big effort) not to use too long notes for Bass a rather short kickdrum and no kick and bass ath the same time. If you want to have bass and kick at the same time you should use a sidechain compressor triggered by the kickdrum on the bass. Or you can make two basstracks, one extratrack for the bassnotes that come together with the kick. In this track you use the EQ and cut away everything that disturbes the kickdrum. This will give you a clean result.

Offbeat hihat, 8th closed hihat, snarelike clap on 2 and 4, or/and a DrumnBass or Chemical drumloop with lowered bass from Reasons DR.Rex or any sample bank. Will give you a beat to start with. Analize other tracks you will see this is the basis of most beats. Make sure you use the same sample banks and Plugins like everybody else (just google psytrance samples and you will soon understand why everybody sounds the same). Under no circumstances you want your track to be any different than the others. It will not sell well. (This goes for non-fatbass-music too. No matter which genre, just don’t ever be original if you want to sell well.)

Now you take some clear and crystal like noises which you can get from movies or sample banks. The best is if they are long and with a lot of high frequencies. throw them anywhere into your track. It doesn’t really matter where, just add plenty of filtered delay for the illusion of “psychedelic-ness”. Again: Make sure you use the same sample banks and plugins like everybody else. People are used to a certain kind of sounds and under no circumstances you want the people on the dance floor to experience something new which could frighten them.

Get some sharp, raspy, cantankerous or cheesy, trancy sounds out of a VST synth like z3ta, serum or vanguard. If possible without melody or with one that we have heard 100 times before. The best is not to use any melody at all, because so much could go wrong. Imagine if people would call your melody kitsch or it could even make them sad or cause any other unwanted emotions. Best ist therefore to do what all do: Just use one note. G is very popular. If you really want to make a melody, make sure it is very superficial and sounds like other melodies, that way you don’t risk anyone get into any serious emotion or become overtaxed.

Every now and then you create a short break. It means there is no bass and kick anymore. The more often the better. Since you are not delivering any musical ideas in the part with bass you need to get the listeners attention back at least every 16 bars. You do that with breaks. In those breaks use an atmospheric Pad (from a synth like Atmosphere) or anything that pretends to express feelings or convey some message… like maybe a voice sample from “matrix” or “Fear and Loathing Las Vegas” or any other well known movie or some timothy leary speech. Then wind up to the start of bass and kick with some wushes or pitch-raising noises. Again, don’t be creative here, don’t do melodies except if you are really desperate and already made so many breaks that you have no other choice to get listeners interested again. But under no circumstances use meaningfull melodies it could scare people.

After the break, which as mentioned ends with wooshes (upfiltered noise), reverse percussion (like crashes, cymbals etc.) and any strange noises, come again with your fat bass. Of course accompaigned with cymbal, crash, explosions of noises as huge as possible… Almost nobody will notice that you didnt deliver a new idea, because almost everyone will be convinced by the fatbasspriniple. Just trust in the Subwoofers and roll on with the bassline. People will be very happy and shout, because fat-bass is the ultimative currency and corrupts almost everyone. Almost: Some people will be bored and annoyed and will see through your trick, but those people are a minority, don’t worry about them, they will leave the scene sooner or later and make more space for people who fall for this trick and make it easier for you.

Be efficient: Before you finish your track make sure that it contains only as many ideas as neccessairy. If you have a lot of ideas in the track, better take them out and use them in another track. so you can make more tracks and therefore more money and get more attention. You know, to be successful with music you best release 50 minimally creative but well produced tracks following the fatbass principle (which convinces over 90% of the people). Like this you can flood the market with your name, which is much better than releasing only 5 highly creative artworks which will only drown in the mass of fatbassprinciples anyway. Don’t be afraid of using the same ideas in many of your tracks over and over again. Everybody does it, you can do it too. People on the dancefloor really don’t like new ideas, they like to hear what they know.

Get famous: Look at the headliners of big festivals, copy what they do, add a little twist to it so that it is quite the same, but not exactly the same and then seed your music wherever you can. Make compliments to the big names when you can meat them, especially those who are not only artist, but also in charge of a festival. Half of those headliners did it like that. This is your road to success. Better yet, start organizing own parties and book those artists and DJs who happen to be festival organizers (many of them) to your party, let the people pay for their fee and flight and in return, they will book you for their festival or party. Don’t believe it? It is how it works best.

Hopefully you noticed that I became a little little bit ironic but also tragically truthfull towards the end 😉 . I hope nobody will really follow this recipe after point 4 or 5… Going till point 5 will give you a place to start, but really it’s already pretty boring there. Sure, the Idea of taking noises from films is usable, but hopefully you will process the noises so heavily that its finally your OWN noise. Rather get a mic and record your own stuff.

Anyways. You wanted a tutorial, you get a tutorial:

Fatbass , a projectfolder for cubase SX3, unzip and open the cubase file.

Inside you will find a short passage created following the receipe above. It was created on the 5th feb. 2003 within an hour and reedited for cubase sx3 in 2006 within 10 minutes. The used plugins are inside… vb1, classiccompressor and doubledelay. Copy the included *.dll files in you VSTPlugins folder. You will also see the use of the “midigate” plugin as a chopper.

Or just listen to the result here .

But please note, the example is, in view of the creativity, the most stupid, heartless, callous and ugliest I have ever made. I mean it ironic, take it as warning and a more or less good bass setup to start with when you are really really not having any clue yet. (I have better cubase files on the site)

For the composing I want to say the following: Its a formula. There are formulas for any kind of music. Once you understood the formula of a musical style you can easily reproduce this music.

But what do you want to be? Musician or producer?
What do you want to give to the world? Music or products?
Your own artwork or copys?
Do you want to be a replacable day-fly or a unique creature with personality?
Do you want to run after the trends or to set the trends?

A recipe, a formula can be followed by a computer. Something that a computer can not imitate and a formula cant include is personality, feeling.

How to do your own thing? or How to write meaningful electronic music?