How do I Make Drum and Bass Music

Latest posts by Liya Swift (see all)

Like many forms of electronic dance music, the drum and bass genre formed in United Kingdom underground clubs, the genesis coming from Jamaican reggae and breakbeats first heard in the U.S. in the late 1970s. Heavy bass, samples, and synthesizers all come together for a fast-paced sound reminiscent of techno.

The music itself was buoyed by the proliferation of home computers in the ‘80s and the music software that followed shortly thereafter. Of course, there were kick drums and snares and hi-hats before digital audio workstations (DAWs) were even a gleam in Soundstream’s eye.

In fact, one of the most used samples of all time – the Amen Break – was conceived more than a decade before DAWs start appearing on the market.

The Breakbeat Birth

It took roughly eight seconds to complete, but the Amen Break would act as the seed that almost all electronic music grew from. Around the 1:26 mark of the Winstons’ 1969 song Amen, Brother, drummer Gregory Coleman breaks from the familiar drumbeat after two bars, the drum break syncopation being just enough to catch the listener’s attention. Listened to in its original context, the break that’s behind so many dance anthems and infectious tracks, is cool and surprisingly understated.

More than a decade after its original appearance, the Amen Break was widely sampled in hip hop and a staple in the earliest examples of the Drum and Bass genre. With DAWs becoming more accessible, the now-famous break has been sampled thousands of times.

Used in loops, cut up, and repurposed, the Amen Break brought drum beats to the forefront of music. Today, actual breakbeats or highly percussive beats and solos are crucial elements in dubstep, hip hop, and an array of electronic dance music, giving it much of its energy, vibe, and, when not completely quantized, its soulfulness.

Now the boss of the song instead of a supporting player, looped breakbeats gave dancers extended time to show their skills on the floor. The Amen Break not only gave rise to several genres of music, it helped name a new way of getting funky on the dance floor: Breakdancing.

The Drum and Bass genre uses very fast breakbeats – we’re talking 180 beats a minute – with thick bass lines and dirty, under current sub-bass lines. Drum and Bass uses notable, hooky bass lines, heavy samples, and synthesizer. Among the many subgenres of “drum ‘n’ bass” are hardstep, darkstep, neurofunk, and techstep.

Digital Audio Workstations

The driving force behind drum and bass and most others EDM is the Digital Audio Workstation. These powerful pieces of software allow music producers to make everything from synth-pop to house to hardcore dance music. The biggest names in EDM – Skrillex, Deadmau5, David Guetta – all use a DAW to lay down their tracks. Drum and bass is no different.

Whether it’s the most updated version of Ableton, Logic Pro, or Pro Tools, or one of the multitudes of free apps you can find in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, there’s a DAW for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a noob or have been producing music for years. Most DAWs operate the same way.

There is an area where you can arrange tracks, an instrument panel, and a host of editing and mixing options. This is where you’ll begin your drum programming. Open a track on the stage, choose your kick, snare, or hi-hat, and choose a tempo. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Make it Your Own

Breakbeats (any beat really) rely heavily on how you use the kick and snare drums in your music. Percussive instruments have been setting the tone for hundreds, even thousands, of years. Whether it’s a hollowed-out log or a sample pack of drum beats, nearly anyone with a sense of rhythm can make Drum and Bass beats.

But if you want to set yourself apart, create something no one has ever heard before. Digital Audio Workstations give you the ability to alter the sounds in a variety of ways. Come up with a sound, a beat, transition, anything that will set you apart.

If it’s just you, your computer, and headphones, the only way to get better is to keep working at it. As they say, practice makes perfect. However, if you’re interested in getting something more out of your time, the Recording Connection has a solution.

Fast Track Your Learning

The Recording Connection offers several programs to help you learn digital audio workstations, including introductory and advanced options. Our Logic Pro, Ableton, and Advanced Ableton Electronic Music Production Programs enable you to get the knowledge you need to make the most out of what these digital audio workstations have to offer.

We also offer Hip Hop and Beatmaking and Live DJ Programs to show you how to make the music you want to make. The best part? Instead of a teacher in a classroom, you’ll be working with an industry professional in a real-world setting. From day one, your mentor will show the process of making music and what it takes to make music your career.

Something you should already know before starting? Responsibility. Show up on time, work hard, then work some more. Our programs are approximately six to nine months long, which means there’s no time for showing up late or playing on your phone. This isn’t a hobby anymore – this could be your life.

Our most successful students are hired by the studios they externed at, have started their own labels, and work with some of the biggest names in the business. Are you ready to follow in their footsteps? Apply today.

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