Thursday, January 7, 2010

Rolling Your Own Tech Stabs

Minimal and tech house are some of the many flavors of house popular in the clubs right now, and if you want to make this kind of music, you're probably going to need some nice, futuristic sounding stab/chord hit sounds. Sure, you can sample them from other tracks or look for synth presets that fit the bill, but it's so much more satisfying when you do it yourself - especially when it is so easy!

All you need is a vocoder, a softsynth of some sort (if your vocoder of choice doesn't have a built-in synth), and a nice, sharp snare drum sample. All vocoders operate a little differently, so I can't get too specific here and will assume you understand at least the basics of how to use one.

Basically speaking, you want your synth sound (built-in or otherwise) to act as the carrier, while your snare drum sound acts as the modulator. The selection of the synth sound will determine the basic timbre of your stab sound, so take some time to find a good one. For a more tech-oriented sound, you might want to look for something a bit more complex than the standard sawtooth wave. Choirs are always great, as are crisp 'digital' sounds.

Selection of the snare sample is less important, but keep in mind that it will be shaping the envelope of your stab sound. So if you want a longer stab, use a snare with some long reverb applied to it. Conversely, if you want shorter, percussive stabs, use something like an 808 snare.

Finally, you'll need to program a MIDI track for your synth/softsynth/vocoder's built-in synth with a chord on it. What type of chord really depends on what kind of atmosphere you're trying to set, but don't be afraid to grab some big, two-handed monster chords! Now, program a single note on your snare track. If you've got everything set up correctly, you should hear your new tech hit ready to be bounced down or exported to your sampler of choice. Be sure to experiment with applying different reverbs to your hit to give it that lush feel that will really fill out your tracks and add some sheen.

From here, all you have to do is experiment with different chords and synth sounds and you have access to a virtually limitless variety of different stab sounds with very little effort. You're generally going to want to use a vocoder with really clear high end. Native Instruments now defunct Vokator is a good one, but I think the best one for this type of thing is Prosoniq's excellent Orange Vocoder. (It's what I used for the free Tech Stab sample pack I posted recently...)

3 comments:

epiphanius said...

Thanks for this (and all your mini tutorials). Packs a lot of helpful information into a quick read.

Lord Kook said...

never would have thought to vocode those sounds, but it makes perfect sense. thanks for the how-to!

encontrar su mueble said...

It can't really have effect, I think this way.