Moulton Laboratories
the art and science of sound
Kick/Bass Revisited: A New Dimension Is Added By Rap And Hip-Hop
David Moulton and Alex Case
August 1994

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Kick/Bass Revisited: A New Dimension Is Added By Rap And Hip-Hop

The View from 2005: This is still relevant, except that the rap/hip-hop players have gotten a lot more sophisticated as well as a lot more mainstream. I think all the points are still valid.

A producer’s job is never done. Just when you thought it was safe to use the kick drum and bass as a single instrument (see the May, 1993 issue of H&SR, The Kick/Bass Relationship), innovations from rap and hip-hop offer the pop music producer/arranger/engineer/sequencer/whatever a significantly new and different range of possibilities, particularly in the bottom three octaves of the spectrum.

Effective use of the low frequencies is a requirement for success in pop record production today. Like Pavlov’s dogs, listeners salivate whenever they hear THE STUFF that lives below 100 Hz. If high frequencies are the salt and pepper in any good mix, then low frequencies are the caffeine. In this article, we'll explore some of the adventurous strategies for using the low end of the audio spectrum. When you break your bass out of its traditional root/fifth-of-chord prison, you’ll find the new freedom to make your arrangement and your mix more exciting, sexy, heart-wrenching and whatever else you want.

Loyal H&SR readers who have created meta-instruments by linking their kick and bass patches for fun and profit should benefit further from this look at additional uses for the two instruments. The basic rules are the same. Fundamental low-frequency tempo and harmony cues are essential in almost all commercial music. The earlier Kick/Bass article described the common yet very hip way of using the kick as an important indicator of time and the bass as the primary indicator of harmony and linking them together for maximum effect. Analysis of alternative techniques used by rap and hip-hop musicians reveals additional sources of fun and profit.
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COMMENTS

US     Sep 16, 2013 11:35 AM
Over the past couple year I have begun using bass to gain the distortion on certain elements. While working on a synth patch a wonderful tone came through the speakers; I just happened to glance at the master to see the red light pegged. Subsequently I turned the instruments volume down, added a limiter, played another note and thought "Well that doesn't sound anywhere near as amazing as before." The solution? Undoing the previous edits and letting the master go WAY over, laid down the notes that did what I liked, bounced out and sampled. Upon re-sampling I rolled off the low end and added a sine wave (acutally a pair of sine detuned a little) Glorius wild distortion with solid fundamental noted low end.

At all volumes it's intense but not deafening, although first impressions make one think otherwise.

Thank you for reinforcing my reality. Never a dull moment around here!!
Jackson 

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