Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig Bitwig-5.1.2 FromScratch Synthwave Tutorial fawm

Synthwave - Building a Retro-Inspired Bitwig Track

Tutorial | Feb 07, 2024

In this video, I start off by creating a synthwave-style drum pattern using traditional 707 sounds. I then create chords using a synth plugin, layering them to create a retro 80s sound. Next, I add a bassline and a simple top line melody to complete the arrangement. Finally, I add vocals, strings, and additional piano elements to enhance the track, creating a full synthwave composition.

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

Today, I worked on creating a synthwave track in Bitwig, starting with a tempo of around 105 BPM. Here's a summary of the process:

  1. Drums Creation: I began by crafting drum patterns using traditional 707 samples for that authentic '80s vibe. This included snares, claps, and hi-hats with varying velocities for dynamic patterns. I applied effects like EQ, OTT compression, and a clipper for polish and punch.

  2. Chord Progression: Using the SOAR synth, I laid down some standard synthwave chords with techniques like phase distribution, unison, and LP2 filtering for that fat, lush sound. I experimented with minor and major chords, aiming for a classic synthwave feel.

  3. Bass Line: For the bass, I used a monophonic saw patch, focusing on the lower notes to underpin the track's harmonic foundation.

  4. Melodic Elements: I added a top line melody with a bit of reverb and delay, positioning it more in the background for ambiance.

  5. Arrangement Tweaks: The track arrangement involved fading in different elements, like the bass and chords, and experimenting with filtering to vary the texture. I also tried out various melodies and vocals, applying reverb generously to fit the synthwave style.

  6. Drums Enhancement: I exported the drum MIDI to fine-tune the groove, adding crashes and adjusting the mix for a fuller sound.

  7. Mastering Touches: On the master track, I used auto-level for consistent loudness without limiting, and adjusted dynamics for a more polished sound.

  8. Vocals and Finishing Touches: I explored adding '80s-style vocals with ample reverb to complement the track's vibe. The arrangement was designed to keep the listener engaged with alternating melodic elements and strategic use of space for the vocals.

  9. Additional Elements: I considered introducing strings and additional pianos to enrich the texture and extend the track length, emphasizing the importance of detail in creating a compelling synthwave piece.

Throughout this process, I paid close attention to the sonic characteristics typical of synthwave, such as lush pads, dynamic drums, and atmospheric melodies, all while experimenting with arrangement and mixing techniques to achieve the desired aesthetic.

Questions & Answers

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

What is the goal of the video?

The goal of the video is to build a synth wave track in Bitwig and showcase the process of creating the drums, chords, bass, melodies, and adding vocals.

What techniques and tools are used in the video?

The video demonstrates the use of Bitwig as the DAW and various instruments and effects within the software. The producer utilizes drum samples, chord generators, bass plugins, and vocal samples to create the desired synth wave sound.

How does the producer create the synth wave sound?

The producer starts by setting the BPM around 105 and creates a standard drum pattern using traditional 707 drum samples. They then use plugins like EQ, OTT, and clipper for balance and saturation. For chords, they use a synth plugin with saw waveform, unison, and pitch modulation. The bass is created using a saw waveform and the melodies are created using various plugins and effects.

What is the overall structure and arrangement of the track?

The track starts with an intro featuring the chords and drums gradually fading in. The vocals come in and alternate with the melodies. The track also includes sections where strings and additional pianos are introduced. The arrangement follows a pattern of building and releasing tension throughout 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 today I'm trying to gonna build something synth wavy in Bitwig.
[00:00:05] So I start off probably with around 105 BPM, maybe slower later on.
[00:00:12] And I start by creating some drums.
[00:00:16] And I go for samples here.
[00:00:19] Because I want to use some traditional 7-0-7 sounds.
[00:00:29] Something like this.
[00:00:32] Let's use the snare. Maybe a clap.
[00:00:38] So a pretty standard pattern here.
[00:00:44] Some hi-hats.
[00:00:48] Some lower velocity ones in the middle.
[00:00:55] Also really low ones here.
[00:00:59] Second pattern has a different kick drum pattern and also a clap on the last snare.
[00:01:08] I really like to do this sometimes.
[00:01:12] [drums]
[00:01:28] This already sounds like nicely 80s.
[00:01:35] So now on this I start by using an FX3 to balance this a bit here.
[00:01:44] Let's actually, let's use here something really unusual for me.
[00:01:51] Let's try and use OTT.
[00:01:54] [drums]
[00:01:56] Yeah.
[00:01:57] Why not?
[00:02:00] [drums]
[00:02:06] Let's EQ this a bit here in front of the OTT.
[00:02:10] [drums]
[00:02:20] And then some kind of clipper at the end.
[00:02:23] [drums]
[00:02:29] That's too much.
[00:02:31] [drums]
[00:02:47] Oh yeah, we need to switch this to AB here.
[00:02:49] So we have first the first sequence and then the second sequence.
[00:02:52] [drums]
[00:03:05] Okay, nice.
[00:03:06] So we have something to play along with some drums, some rhythmic elements.
[00:03:13] And let's put this here to Never.
[00:03:19] So drums and then we use some chords.
[00:03:24] Lay down some chords here.
[00:03:27] So I use SOAR, face distribution, then of course Unison, FAT, this one.
[00:03:38] Put this up.
[00:03:42] LP2.
[00:03:46] A bit of pitch modulation here.
[00:03:50] [piano]
[00:04:00] That's okay.
[00:04:02] So we try to find some nice chords here, but I think I will probably use something pretty standard, pretty default, so ROOT.
[00:04:15] It's a minor chord.
[00:04:18] We double the bass.
[00:04:21] Put this on top.
[00:04:24] [piano]
[00:04:34] Then we go maybe 2 down and this should be maybe here suspended.
[00:04:43] Or major chord.
[00:04:45] [piano]
[00:04:59] I'll play like this.
[00:05:01] [piano]
[00:05:09] And then we do the same trick, but here we go to the fifth.
[00:05:15] This should be a minor again.
[00:05:19] [piano]
[00:05:30] Okay, loop on.
[00:05:33] [piano]
[00:05:53] Or maybe we go to this one.
[00:05:57] Maybe that's better.
[00:05:59] [piano]
[00:06:11] Then we put here third on top.
[00:06:15] One, two, three, four.
[00:06:18] [piano]
[00:06:45] I think it sounds already pretty synth wavy.
[00:06:49] Let's double this.
[00:06:53] And here.
[00:06:58] [piano]
[00:07:02] Maybe bring some chords in between.
[00:07:06] [piano]
[00:07:35] [piano]
[00:07:46] I'm not sure if this fits.
[00:07:49] I don't think it fits.
[00:07:56] [piano]
[00:08:07] It doesn't fit.
[00:08:09] I think I stick with this.
[00:08:12] This chord progression.
[00:08:15] These are the chords.
[00:08:18] Then I need a bass.
[00:08:22] Move this polynomial.
[00:08:25] And I only need here the lower notes.
[00:08:30] Bass, saw, harp.
[00:08:41] Maybe three, unison, one.
[00:08:45] [piano]
[00:08:54] Monophonic, because we only need one bass voice.
[00:08:58] Let's go down to four here.
[00:09:02] Put this up one octave.
[00:09:05] [piano]
[00:09:15] [piano]
[00:09:25] [piano]
[00:09:35] [piano]
[00:09:45] [piano]
[00:10:01] Okay, then we do some kind of stupid top line here.
[00:10:07] [piano]
[00:10:28] Bit of reverb.
[00:10:31] Put it more like in the background.
[00:10:34] Delay two.
[00:10:37] [piano]
[00:11:05] [piano]
[00:11:26] That's already an arrangement here.
[00:11:30] So we play this for a moment, then we bring this in.
[00:11:35] And this one fades slowly in the mount here.
[00:11:39] [music]
[00:12:05] [music]
[00:12:24] That's cool.
[00:12:31] Then we do here the same thing.
[00:12:35] Maybe we need to filter here the chords differently.
[00:12:41] [music]
[00:13:07] [music]
[00:13:21] Okay, that's nice.
[00:13:23] That sounds always nice on everything.
[00:13:28] Okay, let's record this here for a moment.
[00:13:32] [music]
[00:13:57] Again.
[00:13:59] [music]
[00:14:09] [music]
[00:14:19] [music]
[00:14:39] I mean, it's not the best melody, but it sounds kind of synth-wavy.
[00:14:47] [music]
[00:15:10] So now we need to do something with the drums.
[00:15:15] Let's export the MIDI file here.
[00:15:18] And maybe let's get you some...
[00:15:21] [music]
[00:15:29] And maybe this one.
[00:15:31] [music]
[00:15:37] Okay.
[00:15:39] [music]
[00:15:44] Looks weird.
[00:15:47] Track.
[00:15:49] Plums. Okay.
[00:15:51] [music]
[00:16:11] [music]
[00:16:31] I need to crash.
[00:16:35] Let's use here separate XL.
[00:16:40] [music]
[00:16:54] That's cool.
[00:16:58] That's enough.
[00:16:59] It's more than I need.
[00:17:02] Super massive.
[00:17:04] [music]
[00:17:30] Let's call this crash.
[00:17:38] Bounce.
[00:17:46] And different crash.
[00:17:56] [music]
[00:18:06] Bounce.
[00:18:10] Okay.
[00:18:24] Okay. Nice.
[00:18:26] So we pull this down 3D view.
[00:20:12] Not perfect.
[00:20:31] Okay. Different color maybe.
[00:22:34] I really like it.
[00:22:36] On the master I put here for just the auto level.
[00:22:40] To level the loudness.
[00:22:42] I don't want to put the limit on there.
[00:22:48] So maybe I can do here a small little intro.
[00:23:06] This is off.
[00:23:20] Okay.
[00:24:22] What happened here?
[00:24:24] I moved this to the wrong position.
[00:24:44] Put this down here on volume a bit.
[00:24:50] Piano tech.
[00:25:36] More dynamic.
[00:25:50] It's probably because of the auto level.
[00:25:54] Let's put the limit on now.
[00:29:22] It's better when I
[00:29:24] pay the slowly in terms of
[00:29:28] slowly in with the velocity curve here.
[00:29:34] I think that's better.
[00:29:38] Macro.
[00:29:42] Put this down.
[00:30:06] Bring this slowly in.
[00:30:10] Or let's actually do it only here.
[00:30:16] I think that's better.
[00:32:22] That's the name of the track.
[00:32:26] Yeah.
[00:32:28] Let's see if I can put some stupid vocals on top.
[00:32:34] It's always nice.
[00:32:40] Can I search here maybe for 80s?
[00:32:54] I thought I was still... oh, you also felt okay.
[00:32:58] 80s?
[00:33:02] Synthwave?
[00:33:04] Let's see.
[00:33:16] Now vocals of course.
[00:33:46] Let's try this one.
[00:33:50] So we are in minor.
[00:34:00] Okay.
[00:34:02] Use lots of reverb.
[00:34:30] a bit louder.
[00:35:06] That's a fit, but it's okay.
[00:37:00] I think this is okay.
[00:38:06] Something went wrong with my drums cloning.
[00:38:48] This melody takes over from this melody.
[00:38:52] The vocals play, then the vocals go away,
[00:38:56] and then I come in with this here.
[00:39:00] These two alternates between.
[00:39:04] So you have always something nice to listen to on top.
[00:40:06] I make a bit roomier for the vocals,
[00:40:10] because the chords are pretty thick in the middle.
[00:40:22] I need the volume fade on.
[00:40:26] In here.
[00:40:34] Maybe I can bring in some strings here.
[00:40:38] Just bought something recently.
[00:40:46] Tastefully taste, I don't know.
[00:41:52] I think I disabled this,
[00:41:56] and put some reverb on this one here.
[00:44:14] That's a bit too loud, the second one here.
[00:44:34] Then we go back here to the first part.
[00:45:56] I mean, it's okay.
[00:45:58] There needs to be some additional details here and there.
[00:46:04] Maybe I can bring in some more things here.
[00:47:36] Maybe let's try and keep this.
[00:52:08] Two minutes, thirty, could be longer.
[00:52:36] Maybe some additional pianos here.