Music Production Tutorials

Massive Hard Dance LeadsAugust 08, 2013

Producers of multiple genres have brought hardcore dance leads into their hooks. These sounds are aggressive, cheesy, and abrasive and work well with a huge range of notes from bass to treble. In this tutorial we’ll start with a simple sound and turn it into an energetic, hyperactive monster.


Step 1 - Setup

First I’ll load the Massive Club Saw lead I made in a previous tutorial. This sound features lots of detuned saws, unison, vibrato, chorus and reverb. I added a distorted kick to design the sound more in-context.

Step 2 – Grittier Anthem

To add some grit, I’ll change the first oscillator to a square wave and pitch it down an octave, but I’ll move the midi up an octave. As a result the second two oscillators will be playing an octave above the first one. Stacking octaves almost always creates an anthemic sound. This is true even when creating orchestral parts, playing keys, or designing basses.

Step 3 – Create Frantic LFO

A basic principle with hard dance leads or any frantic sound (see: dubstep bass) is to link very fast LFOs to many knobs. I’m not talking about wobbles that you can count but oscillations so fast it changes the overall basic timbre of the sound. I’ll start by linking a very fast, unsynced saw LFO to the lowpass filter. And I’ll add some noise with a clip distortion effect. I chose a saw shape LFO but a square shape would work well too.


Step 4 – Link LFO to Everything

Now I’ll have some fun by linking this fast LFO to bunch of parameters just to see what it sounds like. I linked the fast saw LFO to Oscillator 3’s pitch, the distortion effect’s drive, and the volume of a noise oscillator I just added to accentuate the LFO pandemonium. I brought oscillator 3 up an octave for a total of 3 stacked octaves, and I had to reduce the amplitude of the LFO because the sound was starting to lose its apparent pitch.

Step 5 - Automation

As an additional option, one could change the sound throughout the song by tweaking the LFO rate and amplitude, as I did in this audio example:

Author Bio: Sean Duncan is an electronic music producer and freelance writer from Seattle, WA. 

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