Advertisement
  1. Music & Audio
  2. Sound Design
Music

How to Create a Progressive Christmas Song

by
Difficulty:IntermediateLength:ShortLanguages:

In mid December last year, I decided to create a special electronic music version of a popular Christmas song. I began my search for MIDI files on the net, and I chose Silent Night after about one hour surfing. Here's how I created the track.

Basic Settings

I set the tempo to 120 BPM and used the C major scale. For this project, the time signature is 4/4. The channel colours are: green for mid melodies, brown for bass and blue for drums.


Score Editing

I edited the original score of the song in MIDI (piano roll), but its time signature was in 3/4. I wanted the new one to be in 4/4—this is the normal for dance music—so I edited all the notes, pushing and shifting them until I was satisfied, working four bars at a time. 

I also wanted it to be consistent. It was a bit slower than the original when I finished it, but I still liked the results, so I kept it.


Lead

For this part I made a simple synth patch in Analog, with an efffects chain containing smooth saturation, and a bit of Ping Pong delay.


  • Analog: OSC1 0dB, square wave, amp adsr 5ms - 626ms - 0 - 626ms, LFO1 rate 1/4t, pulse width 50%, LFO1 modulating it with 1.0, volume 3dB
  • Saturator: drive +6 dB, Analog Clip mode, base 16, freq 471Hz, width 50%, depth 12, 40% dry wet
  • Ping Pong Delay: default settings with 70% feedback and 44% dry wet
  • Limiter: default settings
  • EQ Eight: 370Hz lo cut with 0.71 Q


Bass

This channel is also programmed in MIDI, and the notes follow the lead track. (The musical term is similar contrapuntal motion.) The bass is based on a square and a saw wave one octave apart. I also use a default sidechain compressor with the trigger set to the kick drum.


  • Analog: osc1 saw 0dB octave 0, osc2 square -3dB with octave -1, filter is at 3.8kHz, LP12 - 0% reso, amp adsr is 12ms - 3.54sec - 1.0 - 40ms
  • Compressor: ratio 1.8:1, threshold -14dB, medium attack, auto release
  • EQ Eight: lo cut at 40Hz with 0.71 Q - 4x slope


Pad

For filling the frequency spectrum with some content and vibe, I made a pad track as well, which uses an Analog synth with two square oscillators. At the melody buildup section, the pad is played at C, then C + E, and finally C + E + G, which is a C major chord.


  • Analog: osc1 square wave octave 0, osc2 square wave octave -1, LP12 filter set to 6.3 kHz and 6 kHz, panned hard left and hard right, LFO1 1/4t, LFO2 1/8 both modulating pulse width at 1.0
  • Ping Pong Delay: default settings with 39% feedback and 38% dry wet
  • Reverb: lo cut and hi cut (626 Hz to 5.8 kHz), maximum size, medium decay, 39% dry wet
  • Compressor: ratio 2:1, threshold -19 dB, medium attack, auto release
  • EQ Eight: 4x lo cut at 285Hz and 0.71 Q



Piano

The outro section has a nice piano part, for which I used the free plugin called Piano One from Sound Magic. I improvised a tune for this part with my MIDI keyboard.


  • Piano One: default settings
  • Simple Delay: type 4 and type 5 with 41% feedback and 38% dry wet
  • Reverb: lo cut and hi cut, size 100, decay 8.9s, dry wet 40%
  • Utility: this amplifies +5dB gain
  • EQ Eight: lo cut at 300Hz



Kick

I loaded a punchy house kick into Simpler and used a simple four to the floor pattern. There is a slight amount of high pass filtering going on, to clean out some lower frequencies.


  • Simpler: volume at -2dB
  • EQ Eight: 4x lo cut at 52Hz


Clap

Again, I used Simpler with a clap sample. The clap is on every second downbeat and I set the same EQ twice, to increase the removing effect of the lower frequencies. Both have a 4x roll off, but with this setting it translates to 8x, so the slope is even steeper.


  • Simpler: volume at -2dB
  • two EQ Eights both with 650Hz
  • Limiter: default settings

Clap With Big Reverb

This sound is used for the end of every second bar, to emphasize the drum beat. The giant sized reverb gives the sound its main character. It is set to maximum size with long decay. I applied EQ to remove the low end and brighten the mid and top end and then finally sidechained to the kick for a slight attenuation.


  • Reverb: lo cut and hi cut (627Hz to 5.8kHz), maximum size, 20s decay, 50% dry wet
  • EQ Eight: lo cut at 300Hz and high-mid shelf boost at 2kHz with 6dB
  • Compressor: sidechain trigger is the kick, 2:1 ratio, medium attack, medium threshold, auto release


Loop1 and Loop2 (Percussion)

To widen the stereo image, we can use these top loops and also pan them in opposite directions (20 left and 20 right).



  • Both EQ Eight: lo cut at 300Hz
  • Utility: Give Loop2 a 2dB volume boost to get even energy for the whole sound

Breakbeat

This is a very light sounding percussion breakbeat, intended for the intro of the song. One low and one high sound is in the drum rack.


  • Drum rack: the basic instrument for the two samples, both at -12dB
  • Utility: boost with 4dB
  • EQ Eight: lo cut at 300Hz (for removing low end)


Master Channel

Here is the chain I used on the master channel. Spectrum is there for checking what is happening with the frequencies. EQ Eight for removing low frequency content on the sides (in mid/side mode). Limiter is at 0dB to catch the distorting peaks if there are any. 

The exact settings were these:

  • Spectrum: default settings
  • EQ Eight: 200Hz cut from the sides in mid/side mode
  • Limiter: default settings

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our session of creating a progressive house version of Silent Night. We first made the melodic instrument tracks like lead, bass, pad, piano, and then added the drum samples and loops. EQ is used extensively to remove unnecessary information, while reverb and delay gives the effects, mainly for the mid frequencies.

What is your favourite Christmas song? What style would you remix it? Tell us in the comments!

Advertisement
Advertisement
Looking for something to help kick start your next project?
Envato Market has a range of items for sale to help get you started.