Anyone here have a background in EDM?

I’ve been neck deep in Ableton teaching this semester. So far its been a great experience, and having to explain this stuff to the class has forced me to get a much more concrete handle on even some of the basics. The audio routing and signal flow was a breeze, but the curriculum is much more EDM focused than I realized going into it. And this particular group is especially interested in dubstep style music production.

It seems the mixing is a lot simpler because the majority of the creative and expressive sound design happens at the plugin level. Far less surgery and repair since most of the sounds coming out of Massive, Serum, Maschine, and Laser Bass don’t need as much tune up as a raw drum recording might. So the mixing seems to be much more centered around compression, EQing and balancing than creating expressive verbs and saturating vocals. Its been really interesting to observe how much you can do with a few Native Instrument tools and some warp/mangle plugins like Glitch 2 and the Ublik set. A lot of the knowledge I’ve had to research to stay a step ahead of some of the students is also really useful to me for sound effects design for movies and games :slight_smile:

All in all, the mechanics of the plugins and Ableton are easier to teach. Where I try to act more knowledgeable than I actually am is the approach to composition I’ve used a lot of the Lynda/LinkedIn learning materials as a supplement to the textbook.

Does anyone else here dabble in this stuff? Or listen to it much?

I try, but the process of making edm is too far removed from the process that I normally make music and every time I try, it comes out sounding dumb.

Sounds like you’re doing a great job of emulating that style! If it sounds dumb, that means you’re hitting it out of the park. :grin::wink:


No kidding - me too! Its easy to make a bunch of glitchy sounding synth garble (as our buddy CFP proved) but to put it to together in a way that is aesthetically coherent is a bit more difficult than I thought it’d be lol

I’ve dabbled a bit - more for curiosity’s sake than anything:
This was the first thing I ever put together when I got Sonar around 2007 - just messing about with soft synths and loops - absolutely no clue what I was doing…

Here’s a little remix I did way back in the RecordingReview days. I think it was a solo finger-picked acoustic guitar track John Tidey (of ReaperBlog fame - aka Audio Geek) put up for people to play with and remix. I quite liked the way this turned out (and still do):

This is one from the RR days too. One round of the 2012 Slate Cup year-long mixing competition was to mix/remix this crazy track by Brandon’s EDM project Animal Anomaly. Having never really mixed EDM stuff I just went all out nutso with it, and surprisingly actually won the round! Subtle it ain’t!!!

My most recent foray into EDM- type stuff was being commissioned to create an intro track for the live show of a band whose two EPs I had mixed. I used some elements of one of the tracks of the EP, but made an entirely new piece out of it - Here it is:

I also like using “found” bits of existing music or sounds and creating the basis for something new out of them. Simple editing, reversing, speeding up and slowing down are also really powerful tools with this type of music. One plugin that is great for total sound mangling is Trash 2 from iZotope - Also my old favorite: Guitar Rig.

Fun stuff!


Actually I spent my youth using Fasttracker cutting samples from songs to make Jungle tunes. Those were the days!

This is very much true. You will spend inordinate amounts of time getting that “kick” sample just right. You’ll layer 3 or 4 kicks, each full of plugins just to get the crowd moving! The same goes for snares, hats and you’re synths. The amount of processing on the way in is quite intimidating. Depending on your approach (and sometimes snootiness) you will forgo software synths and horde classic synths just to get that authentic sound in your songs.

Because of the amount of time and care you’ve put into getting those sounds, you’ll find that post processing is much more sparse (it kind of has to be to keep the sound the way it was designed on the way in).

It’s also not rare to find the bigger artists having hundreds of thousands of samples to get their sounds. For those of us who use traditional instruments and recording, it’s a completely different world. You’d maybe have 15 - 20 guitars to choose from, and a range of amps and pedals. It just doesn’t compare to the thousands and thousands of sounds you can have digitally. And do not get me started on Synth presets… that might need it’s own separate forum!

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