One of the best things about Dubstep is its unpredictability and originality. There is an irregularity to Dubstep that is different to other types of Electronic Dance Music.
No one could argue that Dubstep has pushed musical evolution over the last decade, throwing down its heavy growling basslines in an industry that can be saturated with fluffy, radio-friendly songs.
To start making Dubstep, you need to have the same energy as the music itself and be determinedly fierce despite any initial hiccups.
Is Making Dubstep Difficult?
Dubstep is a multilayered genre, and it is therefore not the easiest to produce. However, the essential steps outlined below will give you the skills needed to become the next Skrillex in no time!
This may sound like an overly technical and daunting word. Still, modulation is merely the technique used to create complex basslines.
For instance, you can create a basic Dubstep wobble bass using a Low-Frequency Oscillator (or LFO), usually found under your master-reverb settings.
An LFO will introduce different rhythms and textures into your sound, making it more expansive and dynamic for the listener.
Learn From Experience
Many people believe that they should become experts overnight and do not do the required research to develop their skill-set.
By reading this article, you are already outside of this category as you are taking the time to research your craft before diving in headfirst and potentially growing frustrated.
Many tutorials on YouTube thrive on outlining the process of mixing a Dubstep track step-by-step from design to mixing to the arrangement.
There are also great online courses on websites like Academy.fm that will teach you specificities like mixing in the infamous Dubstep growl.
The bottom line is to set aside the time to dive deep into your studies of the craft instead of being haphazard and growing frustrated straight away.
Producing Dubstep or any music takes time to learn. When considering that doctors study for years before practicing their craft, it is highly recommended that you treat your production education with the same outlook and patience.
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Ensure That Your Sub Is Tight
As the primary focus of Dubstep music is the bass line, it is essential to pay attention to the level of reverb and compression and how this affects the frequencies.
Dubstep is an amalgamation of differing sounds, and these should generally be set in the mid-frequency range.
However, your Dubstep bass may require more ‘oomph’ in the sub-range frequencies so that it doesn’t fall flat.
To achieve this, you should create a separate track for your sub-bass, remove any filters, and set it underneath your main lead sound. This creates a low thump without corrupting the other mid or higher-end waves.
Now that we’ve covered how to keep your sub-bass clean, it is also vital to ensure that this process does not override your kick drum/snare.
To do this, you can use something called ‘sidechain compression‘ on your sub-bass channel.
You can ensure that the sub does not override the kick drum by adding a compressor to the sub-bass at specific points when the kick drum is hitting.
This will create the necessary space for both elements within your mix and ensure that one sound does not overwhelm the other.
Layering is crucial to ensure that your beats maintain a punchy and hard-hitting sound. The easiest way to achieve this is to use different drum loops and layer them over each other.
However, when layering various drum samples/loops, you should be careful of any off-rhythm or phasing issues that may occur when one sound overrides the other.
For instance, layering two heavy drum kicks together will actually have the effect of making them sound thinner, which is the opposite of what you need to make an impactful Dubstep sound.
To become an expert in sound design, you need to have a heightened understanding of modulating your sound frequencies.
Frequency modulation is the process of using one particular sound to manipulate the sound of another. This is how Dubstep growls are created.
To achieve this, you need to use one oscillator as a ‘carrier wave’ while using a second oscillator to modulate the ‘carrier.’
This may sound more complex than it is, and plenty of tutorials on YouTube explain this process in depth.
Maintain Your Focus
You may have heard your favorite producers talk about ‘feeling through the music, which is an essential trait of a professional producer.
To transgress from an amateur to a pro, you should avoid overcomplicating your tracks at first. Instead, learn how to enhance each sound to its fullest potential, focusing wholly on one aspect of your mix at a time.
In the music world, particularly within Electronic Dance Music, it is no longer acceptable to copy and paste drops from one place to another within your tracks.
Bass music fans are more attuned to various sounds and will notice if your music becomes too repetitive. Therefore, it is essential to ‘switch it up when it comes to your drops.
However, you choose to do this is up to you. It may involve adding a different reverb or moving around the patterns contained within your first drop, or simply adding random sound effects.
Spontaneity is key to exciting the listener.
Most digital streaming platforms now encourage the artist to start their track with something instantly impressionable, whether the main chorus in a Pop song or something jolting and exciting within an EDM track.
While most artists will want to create for themselves, it is also worth considering that the modern listener’s ears are attuned to this modality.
Traditionally, Dubstep has been about ‘waiting for the drop,’ which can pose a difficulty.
However, kicking off your track with a soul-shattering synth or a wholesome growl will ensure that you have drawn your listener’s attention straight away without destroying the ‘build-up for the drop.
Distortion will always be one of the most essential aspects when it comes to Dubstep. This is because of the added brutality, grit, and loudness that distortion can add to your mix.
Be sure to maximize the distortion to add a heavier, more dynamic energy at every given opportunity.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
It can be too easy to take yourself seriously as a musician, which kills the creative process. While tutorials are great, over-reliance can also lead to stagnation.
Learn the basics, and then allow yourself to dive deeper into your creativity.
If you want to ‘stand out as a Dubstep producer, you will need to craft your own unique sound.
Experimentation is the perfect way to find this sound, so push yourself to discover new sonic evolution, utilizing quirky synths and random samples to make your mark.
Mixing & Mastering
The purpose of mixing and mastering is to ensure that your mix sounds good on any sound system. This process is crucial in creating a vibrant, Dubstep sound, and you should never rush it, no matter how eager you are to release your music into the world.
If the crowd cannot feel the pulsating vibrations of your sub-bass, then your track becomes redundant.
Focus as much as you can on optimizing all aspects of your mix and play it back through various devices before releasing it into the world.
Is Dubstep BPM 70 or 140?
The BPM (beats per minute) of Dubstep is a disputed topic. Some people say that it’s 140 and others say that it’s 70. We need to understand the difference between the two and then we can say which one is right.
The first thing to know about Dubstep is that its tempo (BPM) ranges from 100-180 beats per minute, which is significantly slower than most other electronic dance music genres. When we talk about Dubstep BPM we’re actually referring to its “tempo” as one of the primary factors in determining the overall mood and style of a particular song.
Dubstep is actually 140BPM but due to its halftime nature, it feels like 70BPM.
How many bars is a Dubstep drop?
A Dubstep drop is a drum sequence that usually features a cymbal crash, followed by an increase in drum intensity and tempo, and then followed by a drop in volume.
The number of bars in a Dubstep drop depends on the song’s tempo. A typical Dubstep drop lasts for 4 bars or 16 beats.
What software is used to make Dubstep?
A DAW (digital audio workstation) can range in price from free up to hundreds of dollars depending on the features and functions it has available. The most popular DAWs are FL Studio, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, and Pro Tools by Avid.
Where or how can you learn to make Dubstep music?
There are many music production guides available online. One of the best ways to learn is through tutorials.
Some websites provide interactive tutorials which allow users to follow step-by-step instructions for certain types of Dubstep songs. YouTube also offers plenty of tutorials that you can follow, or you can take a look at various Dubstep production books available.
What equipment pieces are needed to make Dubstep music?
Some equipment pieces needed to make a Dubstep song are:
Audio interface (used to connect equipment)
DAW (recording software)
Headphones or monitors (speakers)
Should I use Fruityloops to write Dubstep music as a beginner?
For those of you who want to use Fruityloops (FL Studio) to start producing Dubstep music, we recommend that you keep practicing and learning the software. You can click here for our FL Studio beginners tutorial.
Who are popular Dubstep artists?
A few popular Dubstep artists are Skrillex, Flux Pavilion, Skream, Benga, Nero, Funtcase, and Magnetic Man.
To conclude, you need a patient mindset and a pulsating heart to make a Dubstep tune. The energy required to research and learn the technicalities should be coupled with the focus needed to hone in on specificity and find your own unique sound.
Once you have mastered the basics of layering drum loops and manipulating the frequencies, it will be easier to add multifaceted layers to your work and find that ‘stand out’ sound that emboldens your musicality and career.
Ensure that you do not neglect the mastering process and take regular breaks to keep your ears fresh to hear any discrepancies within the mix.
Above all, enjoy the process of research, creativity, and development in a genre that offers endless possibilities.