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In this section you can find things that will assist you in your own computer-based musical productions. There's a lot of original Dubroom material which you can use, but also third party material. There's much more than "just" sampled material, as you can find some little pieces of software, presets and other things as well. Everything in this section is, like all stuff in the Dubroom by the way, legal and -a lot of times- absolutely free of charge. Definitely worth a visit, for novice to veteran.

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ABOUT CHAPTER 36

We heard why and what you need to record MIDI and AUDIO into your DAW's composition environment. 

MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - CHAPTER 37: AUDIO (5) THE COMPOSITION ENVIRONMENT

In what is the last chapter before we dive into the actual fun, that is the mixing of Dub music, I'll show you my current composition environment. Yes, it is in Reason 11 and although I think it will be more difficult in other DAW's, it can be done. You'll have to know your own DAW of choice (usually Ableton Live) and translate what you see here into what works for your DAW.

Basically, what you want to do in the composition environment is create multi-tracks from different instruments and sources. Some things you'll want to play, some you want to use loops for, others you want to program. It's a lot of fun, for example to actually program drum patterns that can be played by a real drummer. I also saw an interview with Sly Dunbar wherein he revealed it was one of his hobbies to actually program drum computers. So don't think too low about programmed drum patterns.

the console

Let's start with the end. Two or so chapters ago I showed that I mix the dry instruments with the right settings when it comes to volume. One thing louder than the other, and then I save them away as individual tracks. I use 8 tracks maximum, and that is because I use a piece of hardware during Dub mixing which is not neccesary but does enhance the experience significantly. Here are the relevant parts of the console. You will see that I keep everything dry, with the exception of the bass. (Click for enlargement)

Bigger Picture

The reason why I keep everything dry, is because I want to add effects in the mixing environment. When for example I would apply a phaser over the brass, I would only have a phasered brass in my mixing environment and maybe I want to use a bigger and better phaser or no phaser at all. Same thing for example why I keep the drums dry. Applying reverb, sure, but when you mix a Drum that already has reverb in the recording, things get messy in the Dub mix. 

In this riddim, I only use 7 tracks. Here they are:

  1. Kick
  2. Bass
  3. Drums
  4. Riddim
  5. Brass
  6. Clavinet
  7. Empty
  8. Vocals

Yes, maybe I'll add another track on channel 7. Could be a conga, a backing voice, maybe even an instrument. But for now, I saved them away in such a matter that all tracks can be opened into the mixing environment with the right volume relations. This will come in very handy as you will see in the next chapters. 

the rack

Sure, the actual recording is done in the sequencer. But you can record all you want, when you do not have an instrument or virtual tape to record on, it's nothing. So we need the rack, This is also the same in studio's. You have a console and a rack full of effects, plus instruments. In Reason, it's all in a rack.

I have the following (virtual/software) instruments within Reason:

  • 3 Redrum Drumcomputers (two for drums, 1 for guitar)
  • 1 Bass Amp (Softube)
  • 1 Piano (Reason ID8 Device)
  • 1 Organ (Reason ID8 Device)
  • 1 (three part) Brass section (Reason ID8 Device)
  • 1 Clavinet (Native Instruments Kontakt Free Player)

I have the bass and the kick directly linked to the console (channels 1 and 2), the piano organ and guitar go through a seperate mixing board named "Riddim", the output of that mixing board goes to channel 4. I have the same with the drums, and a mixing board called "drums" links to channel 3 on the console. The brass and clavinet each have their own channel on the console as well, plus of course the vocal recording. 

Bigger Picture
click to enlarge

a conclusion of the riddim creation process (for now)

This short run-through through my composition environment concludes 37 chapters wherein I tried to describe the process of creating a Reggae track. Of course, some things changed as this tutorial started closer to two decades than to one decade ago but the basics stay the same. Not in the least because I use the computer to simulate the situation in a real Reggae studio. I tried to give close to everything I basically know about Reggae Music, about computers, about technology, alla dat.

And yes, it is necessary to go in-depth and deal with what Reggae is, how a Reggae riddim is made. How chords relate to the bass, how the bass relates to the drums, how the horns relate to the chords, and how a pucking guitar follows the bass. To name just a little bit of musical ingredients.

Those that know me, know that I am a big fan of Neil Frazer, aka the Mad Professor and his Ariwa Studio's. You might not know that Mad Professor does not use any DAW. In fact he still uses analogue multitrack tapes. He swears by it and does everything by his ears. Mad Professor is a genius. If toward the end of my career I'm able to create some music similar to what he did in the early 1980's, I'm more than satisfied.

I'll be talking more about Mad Professor and his enormous works. How his dubs can be seen as individual Dub lessons. And that is, because the next part in this tutorial will finally be about Dub mixing proper. Not just a few tips and tricks, but how you can build an environment where you can turn the multi track recordings into fat Dubwise tracks.

I do that in the mixing environment.

<<<PREVIOUS CHAPTER<<< - MAKING DUB WITH COMPUTERS - >>>NEXT CHAPTER>>>

This tutorial is in an unfinished stage, but it does contain the basics to get yourself equipped to use just about any DAW or even hardware studio in order to make DUB from Reggae Music in the authentic and original way. When you have a question or comment you'd like to see addressed, feel free to use the Dubroom Contact pages or post your words publicly on our Forum. Click here to read about the latest updates to this tutorial.

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