10 Deep House Production tips
I read a real helpful article to help any producers out there.
1. A lot of deep house's vibe comes from its rhythm. While the drum patterns don't generally deviate much from the 4/4 template, leaving them straight makes them sound too robotic. To give them a more human feel - à la Chris Brann's Ananda Project - you can apply 16th-note swing quantisation or some more sophisticated groove quantisation if your sequencer supports it. Analysing live drum breaks will give you a more human feel than straight quantisation, though you'll probably find that keeping the kicks dead on the beat works best.
2. While programming riffs and chord progressions with a mouse is convenient if you can't play the keyboard - and handy for tricky stuff, of course - you should at least give the old-fashioned live approach a try. Mistakes can always be corrected later using your sequencer's MIDI editor, and you might be surprised at how much better your sequences sound when you've played rather than programmed them. Plenty of top producers swear by the 'human touch' to inject a bit of life and soul into their tracks.
3. A very commonly used sound in deep house music is the electric piano. While it's possible to spend hundreds of pounds on a commercial electric piano emulation, there are some superb free plug-ins out there that are more than capable of doing the job. Check out the latest version of MrRay if you don't believe us.
4. If you want to create an authentic electric piano sound, it's crucial that you use the right effects. Check out the Kjaerhus Classic Series - the Auto-Filter effect in particular can be used to add movement and feeling to an electric piano sound. Start out with the Panning Notch preset and turn the LFO Rate up to around 1.5Hz. Then add the Kjaerhus Delay and Reverb plug-ins in that order. Turn the Dir/Eff level of the reverb down to make it sound more intimate.
5. If your chords don't have enough body, you can make them bigger by doubling them with another instrument. Even if the part you double it with is extremely quiet (you don't want it to overpower the original chords), it can still add character and definition.
6. You need to ensure that you're properly utilising space in the stereo image when you're creating deep house, and a stereo imaging plug-in can make this a lot easier. Try installing mda Image and turning the S Width value up to 200% for an extra wide stereo image that'll give your tracks a widescreen feel.
7. Another thing to try with mda Image is to turn the S Width down to 0%. This will 'mono-fy' the signal and enable you to place it precisely in the stereo panorama using your sequencer's pan control. This can be useful when you want to accurately position percussion sounds in the stereo mix.
8. When using doubled parts in this manner, you can use the stereo space to create different feels. Try doubling the Mr Ray electric piano with something else, using mda Image to increase the stereo spread of Mr Ray and mono-fying the other patch. This will keep the electric piano vibes rolling around the stereo field while retaining a lot of definition in the centre of the mix.
"If your chords don't have enough body, you can make them bigger by doubling them with another instrument."9. Effects are generally used quite sparsely in Deep House, so those that you do use need to be up to scratch or they'll stick out like sore thumbs. Reverbs, then delays are the most commonly used - if you're in need of a high quality reverb try Ambience and for delay, give Big Tick's Dual Delay. Both are free and cross-platform.
10. If you're using reverb or delay send effects on sounds that have a large amount of low end, you can curtail the amount of bass output from the send effect by adding a high-pass filter at any point of the effect chain.
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