This tutorial will show you how to achieve that big pumping bass sound heard in many modern electro/house tracks, French house, and other dance genres. It’s very easy, and sounds great!
In this tutorial we will be using the new ‘Sidechain’ addition to ‘Compressor’ In Ableton Live 7, although you can use any plugin Sidechain Compressor to achieve the same effect.
The idea is to bounce your bassline off your kick drum, so the bass is quieter where the kick drum is, and louder in-between kick drums. This is known as ‘ducking’ and gives a great ‘pumping sound’ adding a real moving feel to your bassline.
Once you have opened up Live 7, choose a loop or VST instrument that you will be using for your bassline (in this case we have used the Vanguard VST Synth) and record your bassline on that channel.
Now we are going to add the kick drum. Create a MIDI Channel and drag and drop Impulse onto this channel (Or draw in a 4x4 bass kick pattern on every bar/use your favourite drum sampler) Drag and drop a solid Kick drum onto one of the impulse square pads. Now draw (or record) a 4x4 Kick as seen below.
Now go back to the channel with your bassline on and add ‘Compressor’ from the ‘Live devices’ (Audio effects) menu on the left-hand side.
On the compressor plugin, next-to the round green on/off button is a little button with an arrow pointing downwards, click on it!
The compressor will now extend, and you will see the Sidechain options. To turn the sidechain on, simply click on the rectangular box that says ‘Sidechain’
Now locate the ‘Audio From’ drop down menu on the Compressor and change from ‘No Input’ to the channel you have your Kick Drum on (in this case ‘KICK’)
Hit play. Now bring the threshhold on the Compressor down, and you will start to hear the effect coming in. The more you pull the threshold down the more extreme the effect. I generally find that just above the middle (around -35db) is a good sound, but it obviously depends on what effect you are going for...
Done! You can now Sidechain bass! If you want to experiment further, try adjusting the attack and release for interesting results!
And if you want to take it even further, why not Sidechain some vocals/synth loops, pads...