Tags: posts polarity-music Arrangement Beginners Bitwig Bitwig-5.1.2 Tutorial Finishing-Songs

Arranging a Drum and Bass Loop into a Full Song

Tutorial | Jan 01, 2024

In this video, I demonstrate the process of arranging a drum and bass loop into a full song. I explain that while the initial creative stage of creating loops is fun, arrangement requires more work and decision-making. I add various elements such as percussion sounds, rides, crashes, and additional effects to enhance the track and create an interesting DJ-friendly arrangement.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

The video tutorial focuses on expanding a 16-bar drum and bass loop into a full arrangement. Key points include:

  1. Arrangement Overview: Emphasizes that arrangement is more about putting in work (80% work, 20% creativity) compared to creating loops (purely creative).

  2. Structure: The track is structured in 8-bar sections, making it DJ-friendly for easy mixing.

  3. Extending and Varying Sections: Begins by duplicating sections to extend them. Introduces variety by alternating percussion sounds, such as hats, and adding new percussion loops using XO plugin.

  4. Dynamic Elements: Implements dynamic changes like filtering drums, using EQ on the kick drum, and introducing modulation for bass energy and tension. Suggests frequency shifting for additional texture.

  5. Sound Design: Adds rides, crash samples, reverse crashes, and creates custom sounds using Synth Land for the intro. Proposes altering the snare and kick drums to refine the groove.

  6. Arrangement Tips: Advises on using the Bitwig Polymer for arpeggios and pads, adjusting their introduction in the track. Recommends generating random sounds for intro variation.

  7. Final Touches: Focuses on supporting the main idea without altering it drastically. This includes adding claps, tweaking the bassline, and applying filters for subtle changes.

  8. Overall Strategy: The approach is to support and enhance the existing loop, not to overhaul it completely. Emphasizes the importance of small edits and additions for a cohesive arrangement.

  9. Next Steps: Mentions plans for further variety in bass and drums in future tutorials.

The tutorial is practical for producers looking to transition from loop-based compositions to full arrangements, particularly in a drum and bass context.

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How can I create an arrangement from an 8 or 16 bar loop?

To create an arrangement, it's important to settle on the sounds and elements in your loop that you're happy with. Then, you need to put in the work to flesh out the arrangement, which is about 80% work and 20% creative. The goal is to create a track that is compatible for DJ mixing by using 8 bar loops or sections and introducing new elements like percussion sounds, rides, and crashes to add variety and support the main idea.

What is the main purpose of the arrangement in a dance tune?

The main purpose of the arrangement in a dance tune is to make it easy for DJs to mix in or mix out of the track. By creating sections in 8 bar loops and introducing new elements, like percussion sounds and crashes, the arrangement supports the DJ in seamlessly transitioning between tracks during a set.

How can I add interest and variety to my arrangement?

To add interest and variety to your arrangement, consider making small edits and changes to the elements in your loop. This can include filtering the drums, adding delay to certain sounds like the bass or pads, and using modulation to make the elements more dynamic. Additionally, introducing new sounds and samples, such as intro sounds or random generated sounds, can also add a unique touch to your arrangement.

What are some tips for creating an engaging intro?

To create an engaging intro, you can use a combination of intro sounds, voice samples, or random generated sounds. Experiment with different effects, like reverb or delay, to create interesting textures. Also, consider adding automation or modulation to elements like the arpeggiator or pads to add movement and build anticipation for the main part of the track.


This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.

[00:00:00] So in the last video we did this small 16 bar drum and bass loop and in this video we wanted to do an arrangement out of this small content we have here.
[00:00:10] It's actually not much. We have a kick, head, snare, additional heads, bass, re-bass sounds, melody loop and a pad sound here. I think that's it.
[00:00:22] And a lot of people are actually interested in arrangement, how to do arrangement, how to get something from an 8 bar loop or 16 bar loop to a full song.
[00:00:36] And I think the main problem for most people is that it's actually work. When you do these loops or these drafts here, these 8 bar loops, everything about this is just pure creative work.
[00:00:50] You can try out new sounds, you can try out new plug-ins, fiddle around with melodies and so on. So it's pure creative work, it's pure fun.
[00:01:01] But arrangement actually is you have to settle with some sounds here, so you have to make a big decision that you are actually happy with everything you have in this loop.
[00:01:12] And then you need to put in the hours or the work to flesh out an arrangement with these sounds. So it's probably 80% pure work and 20% creative work.
[00:01:25] So it's not that fun anymore, it's just only work basically. You can bring in some creative ideas here and there with arrangement, but most of the times it's just pure work.
[00:01:36] So this is a jump-based tune, so it's a dance tune, so I want to have this compatible with other tunes.
[00:01:45] So it's the main purpose of this arrangement is basically to do everything for the DJ. So you can mix in or mix out of this tune easily.
[00:01:55] So we do everything here in 8 bar loops or 8 bar sections. So these are 8 bars here, basically this, this and multiples of these.
[00:02:05] So I would say the first thing here we want to do is to take this section here and make it longer because I think it switches too fast here in the second part.
[00:02:19] So we just duplicate this and then we can also duplicate this.
[00:02:23] Bam, we have already a small arrangement. We made this twice as long.
[00:02:40] So here something needs to happen, right? You can already hear it. It's getting boring.
[00:02:45] So what we can do, the easiest way to actually progress something in these kind of dance tunes is to switch between different percussion sounds.
[00:02:55] And that's exactly what we do. So here we have some things in the clip launcher.
[00:03:02] We put this here in the arrangement view. Also we activate the arrangement.
[00:03:10] So now we make this here a bit longer and here I switch the additional hats to the second part.
[00:03:20] And the first part there is no additional hats. It's this stuff here.
[00:03:29] Right, something like this.
[00:03:31] So in the first part here we add some additional percussion sounds and I usually use XO for that.
[00:03:38] You can use whatever you want. You don't need to use XO. You can use a Trump synthesizer, maybe a different sampler, whatever.
[00:03:49] Here I'm selecting some percussion sounds, some short ones.
[00:04:08] So far like this. And then we built here a small little pattern out of this.
[00:04:16] Nothing complicated. Just to support the groove.
[00:04:21] And also I'm using here notes that are not drum positions. So kick drum and snare drum. Right in the middle here.
[00:04:43] Maybe another one here. Something like this.
[00:04:49] And then we need to make this a bit louder. So I'm using just your heart clipper.
[00:04:56] Because I can increase here the input gain and then push everything against zero dB.
[00:05:05] And a threshold line. So here I'm using also a reverb. And I use a really short reverb.
[00:05:38] So right so we have our first percussion loop here in there. And it brings the track.
[00:05:45] It brings some variety into the track. Right. And then we switch into the hats.
[00:05:54] Or maybe you can reverse that. You can also do it this way.
[00:06:01] So this is the first thing you want to do. Then we probably also want to delay here the polymer.
[00:06:09] Which is kind of an arpeggio here. And this is a pad sound.
[00:06:14] So we want to delay this a bit here. Maybe this one here. Something like this.
[00:06:22] Then we also need drums here. And bass of course.
[00:06:34] This is here a filtered bass. So we put this out. And use this here. This one here.
[00:06:44] So here's basically there's a low pass on this one here.
[00:06:50] And here's the filter completely open.
[00:06:59] And then we switch here to the pad.
[00:07:08] But I even want to delay this, I think more. I want to have this here.
[00:07:14] I want to do more with some percussion sounds. So instead of having the additional hats and these percussion sounds,
[00:07:20] we want to add here some rides. So I'm using XO again.
[00:07:27] And don't use my preset here. So I show you what I do.
[00:07:31] So I'm searching for rides.
[00:07:37] Something like this here.
[00:07:52] This is actually a... I need to put the CSO right.
[00:08:01] This goes into here.
[00:08:13] The second one has a bit lower velocity. So I feel like this. Then we can make this short.
[00:09:01] Bit of low cut here. And then we have basically here now a ride.
[00:09:07] We can also switch to a different ride here maybe. Ride 2.
[00:09:12] If this may be a different color. And here we just load a different sample.
[00:09:30] Something like this. I don't know.
[00:09:58] Okay. And then we can also use your second percussion loop maybe.
[00:10:02] Maybe here. With different set of samples.
[00:10:17] And here we make this a bit more minimal.
[00:10:22] Something like this. And maybe a bit more delay.
[00:10:25] Something like this.
[00:11:06] Okay. That's nice. Then we use your pretty old plug-in.
[00:11:11] And you don't need to use this plug-in here. That's I think 20 years old.
[00:11:15] You can use whatever you want to use. You can also edit here the drums.
[00:11:19] What I want to do with this here is basically to bring in some breakdowns here at the end.
[00:11:37] But this is too often here. So I bring in a step mod.
[00:11:44] Only one left to see at the end. And then use the mix knob here.
[00:11:49] I want to relate this.
[00:12:24] Okay. So the next thing you want to add here is some crash sounds.
[00:12:29] Crash samples. You can do a lot of, you know, you can do a lot of stuff.
[00:12:36] But these small sounds. So let's go for crash.
[00:12:50] Something like this.
[00:12:56] Crash.
[00:13:04] And we need to rev up.
[00:13:22] Too much reverb.
[00:13:35] Okay. And we just bounce this because we don't need to change this layer on.
[00:13:44] So that's a crash.
[00:13:48] Can just loop this here.
[00:13:50] Then we do another crash.
[00:13:56] Maybe a higher one. This one.
[00:14:06] Like this. And make more reverb.
[00:14:19] Maybe something lower. Something like this.
[00:14:35] And we bounce this also.
[00:14:38] This one becomes crash reversed.
[00:14:43] So we hit R here. So I can reverse this.
[00:14:47] So I can remove the crash XL.
[00:14:57] So now I change the volume of this a bit.
[00:15:03] It's only there to accentuate basically the groove or the patterns.
[00:15:10] Ah, it took quite.
[00:15:27] Okay. Put this over here.
[00:15:32] Put this in the groove and call it symbols or something like this.
[00:15:39] Okay.
[00:15:42] So this is already nice.
[00:15:49] What else? So we have here percussion sounds.
[00:15:52] We have some additional heads.
[00:15:54] We have some glitch breaks here.
[00:16:01] Okay. So then we can maybe change something in the base here.
[00:16:06] To mirror basically that something happens here in the arrangement.
[00:16:10] So we may bring in some filter movements.
[00:16:17] So we can say, so there's a normal filter here.
[00:16:21] The high pass.
[00:16:51] Let's pay the then.
[00:17:23] So we can also clone this.
[00:17:26] So here we make a small adjustment here.
[00:17:38] Okay. So then we want to increase maybe the tension of the base.
[00:17:44] So I'm using a global modulator macro.
[00:17:48] I'm in 10, or let's say energy all the way up.
[00:17:56] And then we create just some modulations that actually make the base more interesting.
[00:18:23] And I want to have here on the bus, on the base bus, I want to bring in here a bit of mid-filtering.
[00:19:22] Okay.
[00:19:24] What else we can also create a macro here and say,
[00:19:31] all the sweep maybe, and then put here on the base bus,
[00:19:37] we put the frequency shifter.
[00:19:50] Zero.
[00:19:52] Zero.
[00:19:54] Sweep goes up 100%.
[00:19:59] And the modulation for the mix here gets an exponential here.
[00:20:04] So you can see the exponential mix actually gives us a very small amount of modulation when we are basically half through the macro.
[00:20:13] But then at the end we get all the way.
[00:20:17] So it's a different scaling for the modulation.
[00:20:46] So then we can modulate on the master.
[00:20:50] The energy.
[00:20:53] Let's say here at the end,
[00:20:58] bring in a bit of energy and maybe a sweep.
[00:21:22] And we have to bring this down again, of course.
[00:21:38] Maybe not the best idea to do this on the base, but it's okay for now.
[00:21:45] We can also do this then later on on the pad sounds here on the arpeggiator, of course.
[00:21:51] What else?
[00:21:54] We can also do something like delaying the base here.
[00:21:59] Delay.
[00:22:01] Delay one.
[00:22:02] Feedback is zero.
[00:22:04] This is all the way up here.
[00:22:06] And then just delay everything by two 16 notes.
[00:22:38] Sounds a bit better in my opinion.
[00:22:40] Just it's a different group.
[00:22:47] So I want to make the kick a bit shorter.
[00:22:49] It's near drum a bit shorter.
[00:24:59] I think that's okay.
[00:25:01] I can tweak the snare here for a bit.
[00:25:23] Okay.
[00:25:33] I don't like the hi-hats, but it's just white noise at the moment here.
[00:25:37] So we probably have to use some real hi-hats there.
[00:25:43] I think it's cool so far.
[00:25:47] So we have the bass here.
[00:25:49] We bring in here some additional sounds to transport actually the idea.
[00:25:59] And what we want to do is we also want to move here everything just to 65 here.
[00:26:11] This is also over here.
[00:26:13] 65 is my most used drop point here because it's 8, 8, 8, 60, 60 and so on.
[00:26:21] So it's a multiple of 8.
[00:26:23] And you can see we have here two sections we can use for pad sounds.
[00:26:29] And then we bring in here the drums at some point.
[00:26:33] So let's do this.
[00:26:37] And here we want to have the pads.
[00:26:45] We probably also want to use your melody at some point.
[00:27:01] So here we want to filter the drums.
[00:27:05] Let me see.
[00:27:07] We have an EQ on that so we can use that.
[00:27:11] This one here.
[00:27:27] Maybe bring down the volume of everything.
[00:28:17] Maybe I need an EQ here on the kick drum.
[00:28:57] In the intro, we want to add a lot of sounds
[00:29:00] because there's basically nothing happening at all here.
[00:29:04] You can use some voice samples or some samples
[00:29:08] you have lying around, and you think they sound cool.
[00:29:12] Or maybe do it like I do it all the time.
[00:29:15] I just generate some random sounds.
[00:29:17] So can you use Synth Land for that?
[00:29:23] It's a perfect synth for these type of sounds.
[00:29:29] So use here.
[00:29:31] Here.
[00:29:34] And maybe also use here the mod wheel.
[00:29:39] And use Reverb on that.
[00:30:42] Something like this.
[00:30:44] Let's sample it for the intro.
[00:30:51] Then maybe here, a different sound, something shorter.
[00:31:16] Sounds.
[00:31:17] So we basically generate a bunch of sounds.
[00:31:52] Sounds.
[00:31:53] Then we can reverse that.
[00:31:56] Maybe here.
[00:32:05] Maybe a different reverb preset here.
[00:32:23] Yeah, that's maybe also interesting if we're reversed.
[00:32:35] Why not?
[00:32:55] Sounds cool.
[00:32:56] Let's put this over here.
[00:33:04] Let's give it another one.
[00:33:16] Cool.
[00:33:17] Another one.
[00:33:28] OK, that's it.
[00:33:30] Then we can also use something like generate.
[00:33:37] Generate.
[00:33:38] And then record everything into an audio track.
[00:33:49] And put this generate out for the cam.
[00:33:52] So we just play around here a bit with the keyboard
[00:33:55] and the sounds itself.
[00:34:06] Maybe randomize.
[00:34:11] Reverb.
[00:36:28] OK, that's the idea for the intro.
[00:36:31] So you don't need to use the MIDI data.
[00:36:34] You just want to use basically this audio file.
[00:36:47] So we put this here into a group.
[00:36:49] We call this intro stuff.
[00:36:52] Maybe put the reverb on that to glue everything together a bit.
[00:37:20] So the arp itself is a bit static.
[00:37:22] So we do something about it.
[00:37:26] There's a macro here.
[00:37:29] And let's see.
[00:38:01] All this fade.
[00:38:03] And then we do another one.
[00:38:07] All this energy.
[00:38:49] So you can play around with these two knobs here.
[00:38:53] Fade in.
[00:40:04] I kind of like it.
[00:40:20] We also do something about this patch here.
[00:40:23] So we want to change the modulation amount of this, of course.
[00:40:53] So we start at the pads.
[00:40:59] Oh, it's this one.
[00:41:04] And become slowly more rhythmical here at the end.
[00:41:27] And slowly louder.
[00:41:33] Maybe a low cut here.
[00:41:46] Oh, yeah, we can also use a frequency shifter in here.
[00:41:59] For the energy.
[00:42:02] Mix in 50%.
[00:42:06] This goes all the way up.
[00:42:09] And the mix for the frequency shifter is exponential.
[00:43:19] Yeah, I want to have a clap here on the snare.
[00:43:24] Using XO again.
[00:43:40] Something like this.
[00:43:46] Let's see all the sounds.
[00:43:52] So I'm doing basically everything I can to support the track.
[00:43:56] I don't want to change the track.
[00:43:58] I just want to support it.
[00:44:01] Some additional sounds here.
[00:44:24] This one's too much.
[00:44:50] Or maybe 9-9 clap.
[00:44:56] Something basic.
[00:45:45] Or maybe I use a Bitwig E-Clap.
[00:46:49] That's OK.
[00:47:27] I bounce this.
[00:47:30] Bounce, post, yeah.
[00:47:35] Clap.
[00:47:39] Oh, I feel the reverb of that.
[00:47:52] And then we use the looping here.
[00:48:04] Let's go on a block.
[00:48:59] OK, so I want also to change the bass.
[00:49:02] I want to remove this sound here.
[00:49:08] To this here.
[00:50:19] So it's all about bringing in some interesting ideas,
[00:50:25] some small edits here and there,
[00:50:27] and you can create the arrangement with this.
[00:50:30] And as I said, multiple times already,
[00:50:32] it's only there to support basically the main idea.
[00:50:36] The bass loop here is the same.
[00:50:38] I just bring in some variation.
[00:50:41] The drums are the same.
[00:50:43] And all I do is basically adding additional sounds
[00:50:46] just to support what's already there.
[00:51:49] That's better.
[00:52:51] Maybe we can even remove this here.
[00:54:23] Maybe a low pass here.
[00:54:27] Bass.
[00:54:29] This one. OK.
[00:54:45] I'll do it this way.
[00:56:03] OK. We do. Yeah. What's this?
[00:56:59] So we can use some stuff on the intro.
[00:57:07] It's actually here.
[00:57:59] We have here five minutes, 47. I mean, it's already a bit too long.
[00:59:13] And then at the end here.
[00:59:41] That's it for the first draft of this arrangement.
[00:59:44] We have an intro here with a lot of nice intro sounds, a main part,
[00:59:49] then a breakdown, end part, and also an outro.
[00:59:53] And I think in the next video, I add some variety to the bass sound here,
[00:59:58] maybe also to the drums. It's a bit rough still.
[01:00:02] But this video is mainly about the arrangement, a pure, you know,
[01:00:07] jazz-oriented DJ arrangement.
[01:00:10] And I think that's pretty interesting as a video so far.
[01:00:15] Okay, so that's it.
[01:00:17] Leave me a question in the comments below.
[01:00:19] Leave a like if you like the video.
[01:00:21] Subscribe to the channel, of course, and see you in the next video.
[01:00:24] Bye.