Here's part two of a 2 part series for Deep House production tips to get your creative juices flowing in the studio.
12. Don't forget about tried and tested techniques
While side-chain compression is generally used more in cheesy pop house, it's still worth employing in deeper forms of the genre. If you feel the need to emphasise your kick drums, side-chain them with a group featuring your track's musical elements. This will help the kicks punch through the mix a fair bit more.
13. Delay is your friend
Dub effects can be useful for creating textures and atmospheres, so it's always worth having a half-decent delay lying around. By automating the feedback level, you can create delay crescendos and sweeps - perfect for building up intensity or adding atmosphere to your tracks.
14. Vocoders aren't just for vocals
Funky filtering effects can be created with the use of a vocoder plug-in. This can be used to modulate sustained instruments (such as synth strings) with drum loops or vocals to make highly rhythmic, textured effects. Try bouncing down your vocoder experiments and then cutting them up to get the best bits. These can then be looped and delayed to create interesting pad effects.
15. Make samples your own.
If you intend to use an acappella to add vocals to your tracks, remember that you're not just limited to using it straight. Cut-up phrases can be spliced together to create new, less obvious vocal riffs.
16. In Deep House less is often more
Rather than using 101 sounds in a single track, deep house is more about getting the most out of each individual element and working it into the track to create a seamless whole. If your lead sound has its filter cutoff frequency tied to an LFO, for example, you can try turning up the LFO rate to a high speed to change the lead into a sound effect. This technique can be useful when you want to create transitions between different sections of your track.
17. Add some spice to your standard kits
While standard 909 kit sounds may be easy to come by, Deep House often requires something a little, err, deeper. Try lacing your 4/4 patterns with more exotic or unusual percussion. World music can be a great source of inspiration (or sounds, if you're feeling cheeky), especially if it's jazz-influenced. Take a trip to your local library to see what horizon-expanding CDs they have available.
18.When using instrumental samples or loops from another track, you'll almost certainly find that you need to cut them up and re-sequence them to fit.
If the instrument features sustained notes - strings usually do, for example - don't worry about time stretching it to fit exactly, as this will probably cause unwanted audio artifacts. If a particular part runs short, consider cross-fade looping, which can be done easily in any audio sequencer by fading the sample out on one track while simultaneously fading it in on another.
19. Use small changes to keep interest
Like all House music, Deep House relies on repetition to a certain extent, but there's a fine line between a catchy groove and a robotic lack of funk. Introducing variations to your lead lines will keep them from sounding stale, even if they're just subtle changes of timing or emphasis. If you feel that a transition needs a lift, consider letting the bass line break out a bit to take the focus off the track before returning to the familiar groove.
20. Set them free
When using processors that you might usually sync to your host's tempo (delay, phaser or filter effects, for example), consider letting them run free instead. This works particularly well with delay effects, helping to avoid unwanted phasing that may occur when a sound coincides with a delayed version of itself, as well as sounding groovy.
21. There's nothing wrong with a bit of random
When using synth riffs, it's possible to get a more organic feel by using any pitch randomise features that your synth may have. If your favourite synth doesn't have this feature, you can create a similar effect by applying small, differing amounts of LFO modulation to each oscillator's pitch. If it's too pronounced, turn the modulation amount or LFO speed down.
22. Keep it real
One of the things that drum machines allow us to do is create patterns that a normal drummer would never be able to physically perform - for example a live drummer is not going to be able to strike a single hat in both open and closed state at the same time. While using drum machines this way can often create some very cool patterns, Deep House often relies on a natural feeling swing. To make your hi-hat programming sound authentic, use mute/choke groups to ensure that open and closed hats don't trigger at the same time. If your drum machine or sampler doesn't have this feature, manually edit your drum patterns to stop this happening. **After some great free and paid-for plugins to inspire your Deep House creations? Go here
If you missed Part 1 then click here