When constructing a house/dance track that is destined for the dance floor or club, it’s really important to include defined, clear drum intros and outros so that the DJ can easily mix your track into the previous one and the next one in his set.
This is a pretty simple process and the programming doesn’t have to be overly complex to achieve the required results. It’s a good idea to keep things as non musical as possible at this point to avoid serious tuning issues between the productions being mixed. So try and stick to using only the percussion elements in your track for this section.
The overall sound of this intro may seem a touch sparse at this stage but this is only the bare bones, using this method we can quickly move into the next section of the arrangement and build up a basic picture of the whole track. Extra sounds, fills and effects will be added at a later stage to add more depth and this will be covered in another tutorial.
Although these tutorials are completed in Logic Pro 8 and in a one particular style of house, the techniques are very much generic and can be applied to any software and genre of electronic music. Obviously this track isn’t going to be a chart hit but it should give you some useable guidelines as it unfolds.
First of all, take a good look at all the parts that you have available. In this screen shot you can see the loop we had at the end of the last tutorial. There are plenty of drum tracks available and a good amount of instrument parts as well.
Make sure all the drums are clearly labelled and are located in consecutive tracks. This way it’s easy to grab what you need when constructing the arrangement. Also ensure that all your drum groups are working correctly and that the mix is at least halfway decent, this will allow you to focus on the task at hand without having to worry too much about levels.
Move the locators to the next available area in the arrange screen. This will act as temporary marker for the start of your track and will allow you to quickly navigate to the start of the section your working on.
I have chosen bar number 33 as the start of my track, for the simple reason that in a lot of house tracks we work in 8, 16 and 32 bar sections and starting at one of these intervals makes it easy to locate transition points and different sections of our arrangement as things progress.
At this point I have also changed the cursor mode from ‘bar’ to ‘bar and time’ so that the current length of our arrangement can be easily viewed. You can see that the drums start at pretty much exactly a minute. This means that when you’re looking at the time later in your arrangement you can simply minus this from whatever time is shown and you have the current running time of the project.
Now grab all the drum parts you intend to use in the drum intro (in this case all of them) and copy them to the area we have designated. Obviously you won’t be using all the drum parts at the very start of your track and you will probably want to introduce them gradually.
Having all the drums in one place like this allows us to audition different combinations, which should help you decide what works and what doesn’t.
Start by muting all the drum parts and ensure that ‘cycle’ is enabled so that your drums are looped. Then start to unmute each drum part until you come up with a good combination of parts to start the track with. Look for something minimal that works, so that you have plenty of room to work in, this way it will be easy to introduce all the drum tracks.
Once you have your winning combo of parts you can go ahead and delete these from this section and disengage all the mute buttons on the mixer. Your selection will now play back normally.
You can now start to introduce more of your drum parts at 8, 16 or 32 bar intervals. Bring each new part in at a point you feel is right. There are no rules set in stone here and you should really go with your instincts. The only thing I would advise is to make your drum intro at least a minute long as this gives the DJ a good amount of time to get the mix correct.
Making things easy for the DJ is not essential but if you want your material played it can be a wise move!
As you bring in each new part (or parts) you can use the effects and crashes made earlier to emphasize the transition. Not only will this create impact but it will act as a signal to the DJ and dance floor that new energy has been injected in to the track.
Try to vary the combination of crashes and FX used at each stage so that things don’t become too repetitive. If you need to, import or create some new sounds of this kind.
Constructing small fills and rolls is another great way to introduce new parts and sections of your drum track. In this case I have simply looped and repeated part of a percussion sound to create a small roll.
Some volume automation has been used here to fade the roll in slightly as it was a touch overbearing when played at a static level. If you want to add processing or effects to these fills and rolls you can duplicate them and move the sounds to a new track.
Continue copying the drum parts from the original loop and repeat the process until you have constructed enough of the track to introduce all the drum parts and give the DJ enough time to mix your track into their set.
Here I have made the intro about a minute long and in the second section I have brought the two loop samples into the mix. I have used more crashes and effects to introduce these parts and an extra reverse effect to create some anticipation.
Looking at the whole section you can see a structure starting to develop and our track is now ready for some instrumentation to be introduced. There are many ways of doing this and I shall cover a few possibilities in the next tutorial in this series.
- Logic Pro Source Files