In this article, I want to give a very quick tip about how to layer a bassline yet have a lot more control on how to reshape it while using a sequencer. For this tutorial about Deep House, I will skip using the Combinator (since I want it to be as flexible as I can). The idea here is to have two bass guitars basically playing at the same time. And to do this, we'll be needed two basslines which are playing at the same time. Yeah, call it cheap and easy, but there is that.
The benefit of this technique (something I tend to use a lot myself) is that while using two tonal different types of basses they can also make the song travel in all kind of different directions. Lets it be more uplifting (tonal), or let it be more dark and depressing (subtone). By balancing them differently they can add a third dimension (groove). Since the tonal and subtonal sounds can play well with each other.
The following download files are made with Reason 5.
The initial setup for layering a bass line
The first thing you will need to make it work is using a low bass guitar sound that does not have much tonal character. It sits more on the lower frequencies. Inside the factory soundbank from the NN-XT there are some decent patches to choose from. In the Bass section, you can find the Fretless Bass, the Hofner Pick (which might need some EQ to reduce the higher frequencies). These instruments will be focusing more on the lower frequencies. In the higher frequencies, you can apply the tonal bass sounds. Which could be bass sounds like the pick-bass. Or from the guitar section, there are a few Jazz Guitars to pick from.
Velocity to balance out the different layers
Most of the instruments which are sample based usually have a setting called "volume to velocity", which can be used to make minor volume changes while triggering different velocities. The whole concept and idea here is to mimic the idea that there are two different persons playing the guitar, while they never strike the same stroke twice. This will result in a more dynamic feeling in the bass line itself. While sometimes certain tonal frequencies come through while sometimes it moves more to the lower and deeper end of the sound spectrum.
While using this idea, it will make the soundtrack itself much more dynamic, rather than have a monotone bassline playing the same thing over and over again. Another benefit would be is that it only requires touching the velocity lane to make minor adjustments in the sound itself, and the direction you want to take it towards.
While this is a very short topic about layering a bass line, I thought I would bring this idea to the table. Since most of you might understand that I am a huge fan of layering multiple sounds using a combinator patch. In most cases that workflow does the trick nicely. Sometimes I need a more organic feel on an instrument this is where for instance the round robin approach on a single NN-XT patch does the trick. The problem here is that it is quite a time to consume to set this up from time to time. The above trick as mentioned (using 2 times the same sequence but with different velocity changes) is usually a quick magic trick to make a stiff sound becoming organic really fast. It requires more than just one sequence (that is its downside). But with making music, there are different solutions to the same problem.
Written by hydlide