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How to make a Heavy Drop?

Hi there, producer! My name is Gabriel Henrique Budemberg and today I want to talk about a very important subject: the drop of your music.

I want to talk about a subject that haunts the head of beginners to experienced: why does my drop have no energy?

Let's see if you identify yourself: after finishing your 8 bar loop with drums, bass, leads, you build your build-up and ... the drop looks more like a continuation of the build-up than something with an impact.

There are a few things you can do to end this problem in your life and start your successful producer career! Don't think it's your fault or anything like that, we've all gone through this stage at some point (sometimes it still happens).

1) Reference

2) Rhythm

3) Choice of Samples

4) The right melody

5) Effects

6) Layers

7) Return channel

8) Create at a low volume

1) Reference

The reference is super important to build a song that is more professional when you are starting out in the business. Put a song that you like and already sounds great in another channel, this can help you identify effects and percussions you would never have imagined.

For the reference not to come out as a copy, there is a limit to how far you can rely, and in my case, the following strategy works a lot:

  • Find the scale of the song

Make your music on the same scale as the reference. Sites like beatport manage to inform you the note and bpm of the song, which already helps a lot to limit your choices and avoid mistakes.

  • Changes along the drop

I usually notice a slightly drier drop, which adds elements in the second sentence and gets drier again to gradually enter the break section. This becomes more noticeable with the reference, avoiding arriving with all the elements at once and removing the impact.

  • Build Up

This tip is gold! I use the build-up of the reference song to make my drop, I only make my own build-up after finishing my drop that sounds good with the reference one.

A very common fact was to make an incredible drop that did not match any build (so, it was not that incredible).

Using the build, that fill before the reference song drops, I can hear my loop already in context, instead of just hearing those 8 bars that I'm producing.

(Build-up from the reference in red with my drop on the right)

2) Rhythm

I'm a fan of the 1/16 grid at Ableton to build drum and bass elements. With it, I limit my choices and manage to make quick decisions on where to place my elements.

Rhythm your bass by attaching yourself to one note! Right now, the ideal is to look for the groove, not do something melodically incredible.

(1/16 bass example)

3) Choice of Samples

The choice of samples influences the result too much. My mistake was to get EDM packs to produce tech house thinking it was going to be the same because the kick simply had "impact".

Don't rely on your ear so much when it's just starting. Limit yourself to taking samples from packs related to your style and that, above all, are up to date! Say goodbye to your 2012 torrent pack to produce.

You can use the drum rack to choose the right drums for your music. I explain it better in the video I made about kicks:

4) The right melody

You don't have to be the genius of music theory to create a heavy, energetic drop.

Usually drops are attached to a note only, with halftone variation.

Varying a lot in the melody is valid depending on the style you are doing, but generally the whole melody fits the break better. In several styles, the drop remains more "straight".

Here are some examples:

Fisher - Losing it:

Bass Midi:

Chris Lake – Turn off the lights

Bass Midi:

5) Effects

Some effects help to give the desired impact, as long as they are used subtly.

  • Kick reverse

The reverse kick before the first kick in the drop gives a pull effect, a good effect to get a different result.

  • White noise

White noise can be used either as an exhaust (type of impact that fades away little by little) or a shot only on the first kick, to get the listener's attention.

Try using sidechain in white noise, it gives more energy throughout the drop.

  • Crash

The battery crash is great mainly to mark the turns of the drop. It brings a feeling that the drop has changed, as a relax time after all the tension generated by the build.

Use the crash in the second sentence of your drop, when the other drum elements enter.

  • Synth shots

They are unique samples to mark the first hit in the drop.

With a lot of impact, it can be a wooble bass, a sample of horn, sax, or something in style.

Several tracks by brazilian producers abuse this technique, such as Jord's songs, for example.

6) Layers

Use layers to bring your music to life. Most of the times you use a preset from your vst, the result turns out to be a bit generic.

Of course, it is possible to improve the sound with several effects, but it ends up killing your sound when it comes to a bass, for example. That's where the concept of layers comes in!

When creating layers, pay attention to choosing the right sound. Many different sounds will only tangle your music if you don't have a goal.

In Ableton, you can make a group of instruments on one channel and make only 1 midi activate all of your instruments.

(example of instrument rack with several Serum channels playing simultaneously)

7) Return channel

To fill your leads, basses and batteries without losing energy, use return channels. The return channel duplicates the sound, according to how much you put in the "send" parameter.

In a practical example, let's say you want to add reverb to your lead. If you put it directly on the channel, you may lose the information and impact of your instrument, as it will end up with an echo that will play the sound to the "background" of the track.

Here the trick is to put a 100% reverb in the return channel and through your lead channel, sending information to that channel. This way, you keep your lead intact, while adding the same sound over the top, however, with reverb.

As you are duplicating the sound, it is important to mix the return channel, adding sidechain, equalizing, etc.

8) Create at a low volume

When we are not very satisfied with the track, we usually increase the volume to see if it improves. Our ears tend to deceive us when we do this, as we understand that music has, in fact, gotten better.

In addition to damaging your ears, you totally lose track of the mix and how each instrument is sounding. The greatest example of this is those who produce at dawn with the loud phone to, the following morning, be disappointed with the result.

If something is good at low volume, it will be great when it increases. Try to produce your music at a volume where you can hear someone talking next to you.

I hope all these tips will help you develop the drop without getting too lost. There are several other techniques that do not fit in just one article, but I separated the most "unknown".

For those who want to know more about my work, I am posting weekly tips on my Youtube channel, as well as content for producers on Instagram too!

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