Drum n Bass Tips For Beginners, Advanced Techniques

Building on the techniques discussed in the previous post (click here for Part-1), a variety of more advanced methods can be applied to polish your D&B tracks to get those phat breakbeats out while on the go.

For instance, if at the time of performing, you notice that your track’s switch isn’t cutting it, then you could employ a different pattern of rhythm or breakbeat to get the crowd moving again. Then there are processing methods that you could try, some of which have been explained in detail below.

Working With Heavy Compression

At times, DJs face this problem with their beat getting overpowered every time a significant kick drum sound is triggered. Its generally the case when playing heavily compressed rhythm tracks.

As a rule of thumb, always consider segregating any potentially overpowering sound to a different channel. In fact, it’s a good idea to even have these sounds compressed separately.

Conversely, if your kick drum itself needs a kick, then you could try reinforcing it with a TR-909 sample of the kick drum albeit in a layered manner. But, be mindful of it becoming too loud. At the end of the day, the beat and the sub-bass need their space to function.

Introducing Complexity Into The Track    

There are tons of ways DJs go about making a complex D&B rhythm track but one common process is to use a variety of breakbeats, both layered as well as reprogrammed. It may sound hard to achieve given that there is always the chance of an errant cymbal or high-hat playing spoil sport with your track’s flow.

But the trick here is to produce a tight-knit sequence of breakbeats that feel like they are building as they go forward. And one surefire way to ensure this is to cut and program your drums with precision and then employ additional equalizing to minimize the effect of any sort of flabby drum kicks.


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Classic Drum n Bass Tips For Beginners

Its hard to miss the little footprints of D&B in mainstream music these days. From pop groups wanting that fashionable jungle remix for some of their tracks to advertising agencies looking for that trendy 160+BPM breakbeat to spice up their commercials, the trend to include D&B is everywhere.

That said, the path to being a good drum n bass producer is not so easy and it requires a certain learning curve to get it right. Here are some tips to help you get started the right way.

  1. Appropriate Processing

Notice how a lot of new-age D&B track samples sport single-hit percussion. The key to getting this right is getting the processing in order for the intro. In other words, the rhythm section of your track should have the adequate highs and lows apart from the general dynamics.

One way to do it is by beefing up the kicks and snares by way of compression and overdrive. Take for instance, Shadow Boxing by Doc Scott. It’s a great reference for any new DJ to learn about the maintaining minimality in the intro while keeping the necessary rhythm components intact.

  1. Chop It Up

A prime feature of an authentic DnB flavor is to serve breakbeats chopped-up, yet layered appropriately. In other words, its all about placing each hit’s end-point right before the next drum sound.

A novice mistake is when they leave an end-point at the end of a sample. Its logical since it allows one to program jungle beats with ease, but then you’ll also need to make the necessary adjustments to ensure it plays at the right tempo. That means extra tuning or time-stretching.

Another advantage of using beats chopped real tight is that you can avoid getting out of time sync by ‘pitch bending’ the part upwards or downwards. As a result, the technique proves quite useful in producing high and tight percussive effects. To get maximum purchase, try combining this technique with filtering or degrading effects.

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Still Embedded In The Underground – A History Of Drums n Bass

The year is 1991 and the setting is a warehouse in the middle of nowhere in the UK. Looks like someone broke into it and decided to have a ‘smash and grab’ dance party. And the music too sounds unlike any other – its called hardcore.

Hardcore flourished for the next few years to come, sometimes being referred to as rave. But as soon as Prodigy came out with “Charly”, and it gained widespread success, hardcore’s underground feel began to lose sheen. Some called it too cheesy whereas others began to look out for something new.

And it is this uncertainty that gave rise to drum n bass or jungle or D&B. Not content with the chipmunk vocals and manic piano combos used in happy hardcore, D&B took on a more breakbeat approach, and its popularity has only grown as the years passed.

While the first versions were essentially hip-hop beats on speed, with the likes of DJ Hype, subsequent D&B offerings featured more complicated breakbeats, thus providing oxygen for the jungle scene to breathe and prosper.

It went through phases of Ragga, with the likes of Ganja Kru, M-Beat and General Levy making it their signature, before finding its feet. Today, there is so much delineation within bass n drums that it has become a genre in itself. And its greatest allure till date remains its flexibility of serving outdoor events and the clublands of UK with equal ease.

Today, you would find terms like darkside, artcore, intelligent etc being served up but its important to remember that these are all forms of D&B. And its heart-warming to see D&B DJs finally getting their own radio slots as well as residencies in UK’s top clubs.

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