Fruity Beats (I)

A tutorial to the TR-909 demo tracks

Introduction

In this tutorial I will show you how I produced the three demo tracks for our TR-909 drum synthesizer. What you need to recreate the beats is

(1) (obviously) the TR-909

(2) the free effects Camel Crusher and dblue Glitch

(3) Fruity Loops Studio (not free). If you don't use this program, you will also be able to follow my tutorial. You just don't have the convenience to work with the FLS-Files I offer and you will have to find alternative plugins for the FLS effects I used (but I will try to specify my settings as accurate as possible, so it should not be a big problem when I use common effects like reverbs and delays).

If you haven't familiarized yourself with the TR-909 yet, let me just explain that it contains sections for bassdrum, rimshot, toms (top row) and snare drum, hand clap, hihat, cymbal (bottom row). Each section has its own controls.

Beat I: House

mp3 without and with effects

FLS-File

You will need 6 different TR-909 channels for this beat. The tempo is 130 bpm.

Let's start with the bass drum. This is really simple: One hit each quarter. Turn decay, pitch and tune mod to minimum to get a deep and short sound. Leave the rest as it is. In the same channel I put closed hihats (F#3) on the same position as the bass drums (by doing that the bass drum seems to get more high frequencies and doesn't sound too dull). You can leave every of its controls where they are. Here is a picture to show you the piano roll:

As effects for this channel I used the Crusher's British Clean Preset which gives everything a nice boost, and a 7 band equalizer (-9.6 dB 63Hz which the Crusher made too loud, -9.0 dB 500 Hz which takes out a little aftertouch, -2 dB 1.500 Hz and +3.9 dB 8 kHz which makes it a little sharper).

For those who didn't know: In FLS chose an effect's or synthesizer's preset directly by klicking on the plug symbol in the upper left corner. In the menu chose "Presets". Here you go.

For the hihats I used different channels for open and closed hihats. The closed hihats play straight inbetween the bass drum hits. I turned the CH decay a little to the left so that it is not so full. For effects I used the EQ to increase the higher frequences (+1.1 dB 5 kHz, +2.2 db 8 kHz). This will make them sound less dry. It is also a good idea to give hihats some reverb (not too much, though: here I've chosen only 0.1 sec decay, room size 27 and 16% reverb with the Fruity Reverb). This will give them more presence in the mix.

The open hihats play a different beat: To save me the words I give you a picture:

This will bring some interesting rhythm into the straight 4 to the floor beat, which is essential when you want to make house music. There are no limits how to set these beat elements, but don't overdo it or you'll end up with a break beat... However, it is always a good choice to confront straight beats with uneven patterns, like every 3 1/16 steps. Here I combined this method (1st and 2nd note) with an off-beat (3rd note).

I turned the OH decay to the minimum. The more percussion elements you put into your tracks, the less decay they should have so that they don't overlay each other too much. As effects I used a similar reverb to that of the closed hihats (0.4 sec decay, 32 size room, 11% reverb). Next I put in the Fruity Love Philter which I have to admit is hard to describe and which I never bothered to really understand what it actually does. I used the default preset. Just pick something that makes the hihat more tubby and cosy (listen to what it should sound in the end here). Finally you bring in some EQ to put back some of the high frequences (+3.1 dB 5 kHz, +18 dB 8 kHz) and minimize the hollow sound (-2.8 dB 250 Hz, -5.3 dB 500 Hz).

Now we get to the snare and clap section. The snare (D3) plays the 2nd and 4th 1/4 note as well as the last 1/16 note to get it a little more funky. Tune stays at medium, the tone is just above minimum, the snappy control is at medium and the EQ at minimum. These adjustments are mostly a matter of taste and how the snare sound fits into the mix. However, house music can also tolerate some more agressive snares. The tone for the claps (D#3) is at minimum, decay just above minimum and afterverb and env spd are also turned to the most left. Again, this depends on how you like your claps, but for house music a big afterverb probably doesn't do the trick. Again I give you a nice picture to figure out how the claps (and, by the way, the snares too) are arranged in the channel. You can also make out the velocity differences.

The effects: Again I used the Camel Crusher (British Clean preset) that makes the brave sounds really kick in. There is also the Fruity Delay (steps: 2 notes, auto rpm and mode: Inv. stereo) and a little bit of reverb (0.4 sec decay, room size: 40, 20% reverb). (For non-FLS users: In the end it should sound like that).

Now it's getting interesting. What we have so far is nice, but it still sounds a little blank. So let us put in some electronic elements. This is actually a pretty alienated tom and snare section. I guess it is best to show you a picture of the channel and how the claps (D#3), snare (E3), tom1 (G3) and tom2 (C4) are arranged:

It is a basic snare pattern with the occasional note 1/16 before a bass drum hit. For each of the TR-909 settings I give you another picture, where I marked the relevant knob positions with a nice shining blue (I don't want to make any of my readers blind. Only deaf).

So, now that we have clarified that, what are we going to do with this stuff? I am not a very big fan of toms, so when I use some, I usually make them pay. First step: The Camel Crusher with its Tube Warmth preset, just to give it some drive. Next comes the equalizer that increases the mid and outermost frequencies (+1.7 dB 63Hz, -0.6 dB 250 Hz, +0.8 dB 500 Hz, +9 dB 1.500 Hz, +1.7 dB 3 kHz, -3.4 5 kHz, +2.0 dB 8 kHz). That will also bring in some of the so far missing frequencies. Then comes the Love Filter in again with its Preset Filter> Dist lowpass. So it is a distortion device (for the non-FLS-users: listen to this and see what the effect does to the plain sounds. I hope you find something similar). We are not finished with the effects just yet: There is also a Fruity Delay (Steps: 1 note, tempo: 65 bpm, which is half of the track's tempo). Furthermore there is a strange Fruity Flanger with the following settings:

And finally there is the Glitch's Modulator. Again, I just give you the picture and the John Winger quote: "Now do what I do and say what I say. And make me proud."

In the end this channel should sound like this.

There is one channel left which will give our rhythm some deepness and its little bass line. But basically it is nothing more than another bass and snare drum section. Looking at the following picture it is really a simple boing-tschak-boing-tschak-pattern:

Keep the bass drum's decay, pitch and attack as they are. Turn down the tune and tune mod completely and compress slightly left from medium. This way we get a very deep, long bass drum. With the snare the tune and snappy are medium, tone is in the middle between minimum and medium and the EQ on full maximum. This is a snare that you won't hear much in the full mix, but you will feel it's there.

So how we get the bass line in it? The reason we created a long and lasting bass drum sound is so that we can cut it in pieces with the channel volume (in FLS available in the piano roll menu at the very right):

It has to look like that:

So that is that. All that is left are the effects, and conveniently we use the same as for the first bass drum channel to give it a bright and hard sound.

Of course, this will hardly compensate for a real bass line. It's just to show you the possibilities you have with a drum synthesizer like the TR-909.

For the final mix use the following channel volume settings:

bass drum: 60%; closed hihats: 75% (default); open hihats: 100%; snare and clap: 35%; tom and snare: 50%. The volume of the last channel is regulated by our settings in the piano roll.

The channel pannings of open and closed hihats are slightly opposite (about 15%), the snare and clap 25% to the right, tom and snare 55% to the left. Leave the rest as it is.

That's it. The first demo track is complete. Feel free to play around with the FLS files and create some incredible songs with it or just get some inspiration out of it.

A tutorial for the other two demos will follow.