Saturday, January 2, 2016

How to use Bass Drops in rock / metal music (a guide for dummies)

Hello everyone!
Today we are taking a look at an interesting trick, especially used by nu metal and metalcore bands to enhance the strenght of a particular moment (e.g. a breakdown part), by adding artificially a shot of bass frequences that quickly fades out, usually with a downward pitch bend.

How do they do that? Not with the bass, the bass drop is one or more octaves lower than a real bass, and it's made to not be noticed alone (unless you have a trained ear) but to enhance the impact of the other instruments in the breakdown part.
A bass drop can be noticed especially with a subwoofer or with headphones that reproduces well the lower area, while with other sources, sometimes it is almost inaudible.

A bass drop is a synth note, on a very low octave and with the same key of the riff, added to add punch to a single hit,
Where do you find these shots to apply to your song?

- There are packs with several bass drops, already made in different keys, that you just add on a new track to your song at the exact moment (but don't overdo, or it may become a bit annoying!): some of them are for free, some are paid.

- Some producer also uses orchestral parts, (like floor tom, or a bass drum) of a virtual instrument, and drops it down one or more octave, adjusting the key, to add more drama to an orchestral part, especially if applied to a metal song, like in this one, at min. 1.41:

(in this case the bass drum was added in the mastering phase, adding also a sidechain compression to give even more the "pump effect"!).

- There is also a third way: to create a bass drop yourself: you need a synth or a sound generator: generate a sound for 4 seconds, then add a pitch bend to make it go down of an octave during this 4 seconds, some fade out, and then just adjust note and octave until you reach your goal: a quick and nice tutorial can be seen here:

The only thing I suggest you is to not use bass drops too often in a song or in every song of the album, and to be VERY careful when mastering, because it can distort very easily and ruin a beautiful song, as it happened in this video of this amazing Strapping Young Lad masterpiece:

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