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Puzzled Desire - Exploring Melodic House Production

Tutorial | Jan 19, 2023

In this video, I demonstrate how to create a melodic house/techno track from scratch. I start by creating a polygrid with a filter, envelope, and output, and then modulating the pitch with a step mode. I then add a kick drum, bass line, and percussion elements to the track, and use effects such as auto level, delays, and a reverb to create a more interesting sound. I also use the note side chain to duck the music with the kick drum.

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What is the key takeaway from this video?

The key takeaway from this video is that you can use a variety of sound design tools and effects to create a melodic track of any style. You can use filters, envelopes, step sequencers, auto levels, transient splitters, delays, and a variety of other effects to create your own unique sound. You can also experiment with different grooves, melodies, and sounds to further enhance the track.


If you don't want to watch the Video, or search for a specific topic, here is the transcription of the video with links to video markers:

[00:00.000] So today I want to take you with me to create some kind of draft or music, track or project.
[00:22.560] I don't know if I actually finish it in this video, but I want to create something.
[00:27.640] So I'm starting with the polygrid.
[00:30.320] So my idea was to create some kind of melodic house, techno thing, maybe.
[00:36.600] So 125 BPM, I don't know if I stay on that.
[00:41.320] I haven't prepared anything, but I try to come up with something.
[00:44.800] But my rough idea is basically to create some kind of percussion sounds that are melodic
[00:51.640] at the same time.
[00:54.140] So what I do is I'm using a filter here, double click that.
[00:58.600] So we are switching to C3 and using here the bandpass filter, and I'm using some noise.
[01:07.600] And I'm using an AD, which is an envelope.
[01:11.160] So we're going into the envelope here, into the filter, and we use some resonance then.
[01:19.040] And we also need an output, of course.
[01:23.520] Since we need to trigger here the AD, we want to trigger that with triggers.
[01:30.040] Two of them, one is 16 notes, and the clock quantizer, then trigger.
[01:44.080] Then we use maybe 10 here, pretty short pink noise, so it sounds like percussion, right?
[01:52.760] Maybe stereo, perfect.
[01:58.800] So now we use that, and we use a value, and this value is controlled by a step mode.
[02:12.320] The step mode has a, yeah, I like it a lot because you have this dice button here.
[02:19.320] You can also switch this to bipolar mode, we have negative values.
[02:24.020] And the first one, first bars here, I want to have zero, zero value.
[02:29.440] Then I switch this value here to bipolar on the left side, right?
[02:33.560] So we have positive and negative values, exactly like we have here with the step sequencer.
[02:38.560] And then we modulate this here by 100%.
[02:41.520] When we hit play, you can see we modulate this here with the step mode, right?
[02:47.240] So we get basically values from here in here, we call this pitch.
[02:56.480] And then we use, because we have it here, when you look at this oscilloscope, we have
[03:01.600] a lot of values here, up to minus one and plus one, so pretty drastic range.
[03:09.440] That's not what we want.
[03:10.440] We want to have, we want to scale this down, but then attenuate, which is basically more
[03:16.040] like a volume slide up, but with the unit of percentage here.
[03:19.920] So we pull this down, you can see we have the same values, but they're all scaled down.
[03:27.400] We have a different range now.
[03:31.120] And with this, we can go into quantize, I am, and dial in the scale of D sharp polarity
[03:38.520] here, something like this.
[03:42.840] And we also need to transpose, and I'll show you in a minute why.
[03:50.440] So here we have this step mode.
[03:54.000] And when we have the value of zero here, you can see the node is selected as C sharp.
[04:00.680] Why?
[04:01.680] Because zero on a node signal is always C.
[04:05.880] And because we have C deselected in the scale, it switches up to C sharp, but I want to have
[04:12.120] the root node of D sharp.
[04:13.440] So I'm adding here three semitones, right?
[04:17.680] So we step up from C to D sharp.
[04:21.120] So the default when we have zero here, it's basically an offset.
[04:25.040] So when we have dialed in the zero value, then we land on the root node, which is D
[04:30.560] sharp, which is exactly what we want, because that's the scale.
[04:34.440] Okay.
[04:35.440] So now we can dial in here some nodes.
[04:37.720] What I want to have here at the beginning, zero, so the listener knows exactly in kind
[04:44.800] of which scale we are, because we want to start the melody on the root node.
[04:50.040] So this is my thinking about it.
[04:52.880] Go here into the SVF, we want to change basically the frequency of the filter here, and we also
[04:58.400] dial this down because we want to receive midi data from the outside world, from the
[05:05.840] keyboard or from the piano role, we want to change basically the frequency of the filter
[05:10.480] here, just with this input.
[05:12.120] So we pull this up to 120.
[05:15.800] And then we need and sample and hold, because now it sounds like, sounds like this, right?
[05:23.840] Every time we change here pitch, we have, yeah, the filter makes a noise, which is not
[05:31.920] what we want.
[05:32.920] We just sample and hold here, we hold only or update the value only when we have a trigger.
[05:42.360] So we have kind of the sound.
[05:50.840] So nice.
[05:51.840] So this is basically kind of a percussion sound with the melody or melody step or plug
[06:01.520] sound kind of.
[06:04.640] So what we can do now is we can duplicate this and do just the second one.
[06:09.880] Also duplicate your the step sequencer, randomize this.
[06:15.600] And instead of the first one, we use the second one here for this.
[06:25.480] We change the triggers here, we can also bring in here an octaver and say the second one
[06:41.440] is one octa fire, or maybe the first one is one octa floor, and this one is zero.
[06:47.680] So we get also kind of bassy sound with this.
[06:56.120] So dial back here the resonance, so it's not too, so it's not what I want, I want to also
[07:08.480] duplicate this side like this.
[07:13.960] So you dial in a different trigger setting and also duplicate this here again, delete
[07:24.920] that.
[07:25.920] It also sounds also nice here, but no, just on the root note, could be something.
[07:43.800] Okay, so I like this groove already.
[07:48.960] So we can put on here a super massive for some reverb.
[08:03.480] So now we can hear we have a lot of noise in this reverb because of the plug of the
[08:08.200] attack of sound.
[08:11.200] So I'm using transient split here, and just put the reverb on the tonal part, not on the
[08:17.760] percussion on the attack phase here, sounds much better, much smoother, so this could
[08:39.640] be a nice backdrop for a track, in my opinion.
[08:43.960] So now the problem is when we hit stop here, it's still playing, so we want to address
[08:49.680] that, and we also want to introduce here an auto level, which is a preset I made in my
[08:56.160] recent videos, which brings up the volume to zero db peak wise, that doesn't exceed
[09:04.960] zero db, and it's also always leveled, which is nice to have here when I tweak around all
[09:11.960] the time, so I don't need to care for the loudness or volume knobs.
[09:17.440] So I know everything that comes out here at the end of this plug in or this device is
[09:23.440] peaking at zero db.
[09:26.040] So because I know this, I can dial in here minus 40b, and I know exactly now this track
[09:30.720] is peaking at minus 40b, which is nice control to have.
[09:38.240] So again, back to problem was that it's still playing when we hit here to transport that
[09:42.600] stop, so we use a select, just do this here, pretty simple, or not select, that's what
[09:53.240] I want, select, select, and we choose the second input, so default is basically be quiet,
[10:04.520] and we switch the select on when we hit play on the transport.
[10:10.480] So now it's quiet, when we hit play, it plays, so when we hit stop, it stops, easy.
[10:22.440] So now to make this more interesting here, because it's really just one bar loop, we
[10:28.480] can select the grid here and make this whole sequence two bars long, which is also nice,
[10:43.760] we can maybe introduce some delay now, and we can also introduce here a step mode and
[11:03.360] change the speed of the step mode to maybe a quarter note, you can see it takes maybe
[11:08.640] now four bars or two bars to actually complete the cycle here, and at the end of these two
[11:15.880] bars we want to change something, and we want to change the melody by maybe let's say change
[11:26.200] the tenuator here, open this up a bit, so we have different note range, and maybe increase
[11:44.960] here the triggers speed, so to keep it interesting basically over a longer time period.
[12:03.440] Okay, let's add the kick drum, and I go straight for the Bitwig internal kick drum, so so far
[12:12.920] we only used Bitwig native devices besides here the Valhalla supermessives which is free
[12:18.600] to use.
[12:21.320] So let's bring in a kick here, and because we know we want to make a four to the four
[12:26.760] beat or four to the floor beat, we just cut this down here to one quarter note, play and
[12:39.600] the loops here in this clip launcher.
[12:46.240] So in here we want to use an FX2 and use an EQ in the top box here, just cut this out,
[12:56.640] so we cut basically everything out from three thirds upwards to one K, and use the distortion
[13:05.840] here after that, so we only distort on the top end here, we only distort basically at
[13:11.640] the top part, which emphasizes the click, so we can do this however you want, it's basically
[13:23.120] how you like your kick drums, distortion at the end here, that's too much, want to have
[13:30.880] more like a soft and electronic kick drum, and maybe at the end limiter, just to make
[13:40.280] sure we are picking at 0 dB here, bam, that's okay.
[13:51.560] So maybe we can add now some kind of bass line, and I would say I go here for Polymer,
[13:58.440] just make the solo, in here we dial in the root note, maybe here, I don't know which kind
[14:13.480] of bass we want this octave, it's probably better this octave here, so we have to kick
[14:20.720] drum below the bass, and then we dial in here a repeater, play, so we get this, we want
[14:36.640] to switch the Polymer to Monophonic mode, so we have only one voice active, and we want
[14:43.800] to dial in some noise, we want to restart the oscillator, and maybe we bring in here
[15:00.040] also a step mod, and make the step mod pretty short, maybe four steps, randomize, and you
[15:07.880] want to change something here, so how the filter opens up, so we have kind of a more
[15:18.800] interesting bass, we could also choose three steps here, we start with four, and then we
[15:44.080] need to use a quantizer here, and the quantizer is to a 16 note grid, and we also enable the
[15:49.560] groove, we get this kind of nice groove already, and I have here already dialed in a global
[16:01.880] groove, if you can pull it out, for now, yeah, the same old groove for now, so now the thing
[16:21.760] is that the bass starts basically every time we have a kick drum, we also have a bass sound,
[16:29.560] so we delay basically the first trigger of the bass here by just two steps, two 16 notes,
[16:38.920] so you can hear the bass starts on the offbeat, so first you start with a kick, and then becomes
[16:44.920] the bass in the offbeat, and then we use a step mod here, and dial in also a slower
[16:58.680] speed 8 notes, and then at the end of the sequence here, after two bars, we maybe change
[17:07.240] the speed setting here, so with a bit of variety in the groove also there, and then all we
[17:35.640] can do then is here just, and this one is a bit too loud, so maybe we use here again
[18:00.400] our auto level from here, just track this over here, in there, so we can pull this down
[18:12.040] to minus 4 dB, I'm not sure how I want to have, so let's try that again, and we can
[18:41.880] leave it at that for the moment, so we call this bass here, so maybe we add some percussion
[18:56.040] elements to it, so a lot of ways to do that, I'll probably start here with some claps,
[19:06.200] so I'll layer some claps, some organic ones, like this, and then here and here, then we
[19:31.720] nudge these a bit around, so this one comes a bit earlier, so let's try that again, and
[20:01.560] then here, again through the 8 Elements, but here we don't have any more sound, so what
[20:28.240] These are the claps here, we do some more stuff later on with the claps here but for
[20:46.240] now just to get an idea how we want to create this track.
[20:53.640] So we have some hi-hats here, in there we only want to have, also we have one four,
[20:59.840] one quarter, this is actually a quarter I have no idea, I have no idea, let's put this
[21:07.640] down so this is the offbeat here, offbeat hat, alright something like this, that sounds
[21:22.760] already nice, we use an expression here, we can use the velocity to increase the decay
[21:27.560] time for this one here because here the velocity is higher here, so we modulate this decay
[21:33.840] time.
[21:47.320] So modulate here the filter at the end, so this one has basically more lower frequencies
[21:59.840] than these ones, so we get a bit of variety into the hi-hat pattern, and with the velocity
[22:20.080] sensitivity here, you can basically remove the dynamics completely so everything is
[22:26.400] even then, oh yeah in the XO here we can use these two buttons, which basically delays
[22:51.520] one channel and you get the stereo effect, which makes everything a bit wider and top
[23:10.920] end, we also have here the width to 100%, which also makes stereo or uses stereo noise for
[23:29.600] stereo.
[23:41.520] So now that we have this, we probably want to introduce some percussion sounds here,
[23:46.720] or even more percussion sounds, so we select here some bongo samples, something around
[24:00.440] here, I don't care so much for how long these samples are because we cut them pretty short,
[24:21.440] anyway so here I dialed down basically the transient shaper, the decay time, I only want
[24:28.880] to have basically the tag, and I don't use the internal sequencer, I use the Bitwig piano
[24:38.800] roll, and just dial in here some off-beat percussion positions, so we get this kind
[25:06.960] of sound, and we probably also want to have an auto level, I really need to make myself
[25:19.720] here some kind of collection for that, I'm always using the internal browser, so cut
[25:38.440] here we can dial in some delays, and the benefit of that is here we can maybe use, or the benefit
[25:53.200] of using the piano roll is that we can use the operators here of Bitwig studio, so probabilities
[25:59.880] and stuff like this, and we can also use the global groove here, let's exchange the samples
[26:22.880] here.
[27:10.980] Let's play around to the bass here a bit more.
[27:36.980] Let's play around here some volume changes.
[28:00.980] I think this sounds a bit better because we have a lot of low end sound so we just shift
[28:18.980] everything up here and we maybe can use your macro for the resonators or for the resonance.
[28:38.980] We use here 1.1.
[29:06.980] We add some kind of drone sound or something like this.
[29:28.980] We know we are on the sharp here.
[29:38.980] We probably want to use the other sound.
[30:06.980] Let's scale it up and we also probably want to put the reverb on that.
[30:22.980] Or maybe first a random mod here.
[30:38.980] We also want to modulate the panning for all notes and for all voices.
[31:06.980] And on that we want to put the reverb when I use the new one I just bought today.
[31:22.980] We want to reverb at the end.
[31:34.980] Nice.
[31:54.980] Modulation.
[32:02.980] Degrades too much.
[32:12.980] Maybe a step mod to give it some modulation patterns here.
[32:40.980] Just for the background.
[33:00.980] Also level on there.
[33:06.980] Let's back to minus 16 maybe.
[33:34.980] Let's go back to minus 16.
[33:54.980] Maybe it's better.
[34:22.980] I can't decide usually what kind of groove I want.
[34:46.980] Here we introduce at least the side chain, note side chain.
[34:56.980] And we want to use the kick drum as an input.
[35:12.980] For kick drum plays we want to move the bass away.
[35:22.980] It could be interesting actually to use also your side chain, note side chain and also use the kick drum as an input.
[35:40.980] Let's switch to the second oscillator.
[36:10.980] Pull this down to minus 18.
[36:24.980] I don't want to have it that loud and we can also use here an AQ2 cut some frequencies.
[36:46.980] A little tap here with the resonator.
[36:58.980] Then modulate only here by what's that.
[37:16.980] So the sensibility of this macro is not too much.
[37:44.980] Let's go back to minus 18.
[38:12.980] I don't know if I want to have that much melody in the bass.
[38:26.980] Probably not.
[38:54.980] Kind of like it.
[39:22.980] Kind of like it in a way.
[39:46.980] Maybe let's try out some kind of melody on top.
[39:56.980] And maybe you'll see also the rich reverb after that.
[40:24.980] Maybe it's too much melody because we have already
[40:52.980] some kind of melody with this thing here.
[41:00.980] I can also change the melody here by.
[41:28.980] Yeah, we can.
[41:56.980] Yeah, we can later on bounce this out here and create multiple versions of this by just bouncing.
[42:14.980] Exchange the samples here and then bounce it again.
[42:30.980] There are two versions here.
[42:38.980] We can mute that.
[42:54.980] We can also use the bass here at the top and say all the rest of that stuff is just the music.
[43:06.980] Also in here.
[43:16.980] These are the drums.
[43:28.980] Drum and bass bass.
[43:32.980] And here on the music bus we want to have something like...
[43:36.980] Okay, let's implement that.
[43:38.980] We have a tool device here with a side chain.
[43:44.980] A note side chain.
[43:46.980] Get the kick here and just duck the music.
[44:04.980] It depends on how you like it, right?
[44:08.980] What kind of sound you're going for.
[44:12.980] We can also use this ducking effect here maybe on the heads.
[44:22.980] Just a tad.
[44:50.980] And then maybe here on the drums we want to have something in shape.
[45:16.980] We can also use a compressor if you want to.
[45:28.980] The compressor basically pulls the volume of the kick drums down and brings the rest up.
[45:34.980] And here we can just say everything that's not a kick drum or that's not a transient, pull it up.
[45:42.980] That's basically the same thing.
[45:44.980] It's probably nice to have some saturation on it.
[45:54.980] But I want to keep it clean for this tutorial here.
[46:14.980] That's pretty picky.
[46:18.980] Maybe bring in a small bit of attack.
[46:31.980] Or maybe pull this here down.
[46:37.980] I don't like the peaky attacks so you have a lot of space now.
[47:02.980] I know what's going to fit in here.
[47:08.980] This long lead.
[47:36.980] That's pretty good.
[47:46.980] That's pretty good.
[47:56.980] That's pretty good.
[48:06.980] That's pretty good.
[48:26.980] That's pretty good.
[48:36.980] That's pretty good.
[49:00.980] Something like this could be something for a part of the track where you have additional lead sound on top.
[49:11.980] Maybe some kind of chord steps in there.
[49:40.980] Yeah, too long.
[49:57.980] Also lead up on there or just delay.
[50:21.980] Maybe you don't want to play this pulligritcher all the time.
[50:27.980] You can switch to a different instrument.
[50:56.980] That's pretty good.
[51:06.980] That's pretty good.
[51:16.980] Alright, this one.
[51:36.980] So an idea could be that you have this maybe on the beginning.
[52:01.980] And then a second phase where you don't have this but we bring in here the melody.
[52:10.980] But we don't bring in the melody with the volume fader.
[52:16.980] We bring it in with the resonance.
[52:27.980] At the beginning it's just kind of percussion sound in the background.
[52:37.980] But then the resonance goes up and it becomes more and more melodic.
[52:52.980] Right, so.
[53:08.980] Yeah, we have this modulation which is okay and nice.
[53:23.980] You can also open this up here a bit with the modulation to have some sense of arrangement.
[53:49.980] You can also play around with the hi-hats maybe.
[54:08.980] Let me see.
[54:17.980] So instead of removing the hi-hats or removing certain things we can just say this is here.
[54:23.980] Velocity plus 60 dB.
[54:27.980] You only hear the offbeat hi-hats.
[54:35.980] This could be a break.
[54:47.980] So in here play this and velocity sensitivity is here.
[54:56.980] Super high.
[55:09.980] And here we pull this down.
[55:35.980] So the second part is more hi-hats playing.
[55:57.980] And here we can play with the claps and at the end of the sequence we bring up the delay or mix it in.
[56:27.980] Too much.
[56:56.980] Okay.
[57:25.980] We should save this.
[57:52.980] Maybe the sequence is too short here maybe we should extend this to four of these blocks.
[58:00.980] But for the sake of this tutorial thing it's okay.
[58:05.980] So you probably also can cut something.
[58:10.980] I only have headphones so I have no idea if I'm actually right.
[58:21.980] And then we probably want to have an all-boss here.
[58:26.980] Maybe we can put on some smart things.
[58:30.980] This is the smart compressor I am by.
[58:59.980] That's 58 minutes nice.
[59:03.980] So it's a small little draft.
[59:06.980] Melodic techno, melodic hours I don't know.
[59:10.980] Call it what you want but that's it.
[59:17.980] You can download this project of course on my Patreon if you want to.
[59:22.980] So make sure you subscribe there.
[59:24.980] Subscribe also to the channel and leave a like if you like this video.
[59:28.980] And I'll see you in the next one.
[59:30.980] Thanks for watching and bye.
01:00:00.980] I hope you enjoyed this video.