I have a knife!
*** illest o.g. ***
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* This is part 7 of an 8-part series of articles on how to make beats. Mostly aimed at beginners, even experience beat makers can benefit from these articles.
Part 7: Creating a Bassline
Try to Always Have a Bassline
Over the years I've recommended to so many beat makers that they have a bassline in their beat. You don't always need to have one, but it really helps if you do.
Take a listen to some of your favorite Hip Hop songs and EQ the low-end out. How does it sound? Obviously you're not just cutting out the bass, but you'll get a pretty good idea of how it sounds without it.
It's sort of lifeless. Empty.
I've heard so many beats that sounded great but either lacked a bassline or the bass just didn't sit well in the mix.
Keep It Simple
I'm sure there are plenty of beat makers that don't want to bother making a bassline because it can seem boring, but I think after drums, it should be the next focal point of any beat.
And it's not hard. Most beats don't have complex basslines, so all you have to do is something like this:
So you can have one bass note, then copy it and pitch it up/down then simply mess with both notes. By following the kick in your drum pattern, it makes things so much simpler.
Another option is to solely use an 808 kick drum. The 808 is extremely popular but often it's used incorrectly, with many beats having too much bass and low-end. The reason for this is the 808 is a very heavy-sounding kick that resonates a lot. This means when it plays, the sound is very deep and trails off quite a bit. That's fine, but if you don't EQ it or add any sort of compression, it won't sit well with the other sounds in your beat because it will be too loud.
When done correctly, the 808 is beautiful. Most people will use it today almost like an actual kick, instead of using it to compliment another kick drum. But you can also take a piece of the 808 by chopping it and using it almost like an actual bass sound. Try it - I bet you will come up with some nice variations.
Get in Tune
One trick is to get your main bass note to be in the same key as your kick drum. It's not always possible, but you can get pretty close. Most of the time you will have a kick that has some "punch" to it, so it can be hard to match it to the bass note, but if you EQ your kick, it can be achievable.
Once you're able to do this, you will instantly notice how much better the bass sounds in your mix. It took me a long time to finally realize this, but once you do it, it's so smooth.
Right now I'm just showing you how to create a very simple bassline to match up with your drum track, but that's just to get a grasp on how a bassline can fit into your beat.
There are other more advanced things you can do, and I will cover that another time, but in the meantime the best thing you can do is to just play around with those bass notes.
You have to remember that the bass is an instrument, so play it just like you would anything else. Once you can wrap your head around that, your basslines will start to sound much better.
Further Reading About Beat Making