How To Make - Melodic Techno with Christian Vance / 559

Melodic Techno with Christian Vance

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Sonic Academy presents another awesome course this week with How To Make Melodic Techno, and proudly welcomes back techno and house fusion producer Christian Vance to show you the ropes with this increasingly popular genre.

In this creative and experimental two and a half hour course, Christian takes us step by step through the process of building this epic track.

From the initial set up, through to building a simple, driving groove, to using Ableton’s full sequencing potential to create melodic phrases that can be edited and automated with various effects, all resulting in something truly unique.

Bursting with pro tips and tricks, Christian shares the tools he uses while emphasising how versatile these techniques can be in creating your own unique sound and getting the software to do the hard work, so you can get on with having fun!

I don’t subscribe at the moment, so I just watched the intro and the kick part. I noticed the track had some sounds that where sounding very very harsh and loud. Not very comfordable so I turned down the volume a lot. Didn’t help much though haha :slight_smile: And you don’t have to use a calculator to figure out how long the kick should be when using Kick 2. There’s a beat time ruler at the bottom to guide you and the plugin follows the bpm. I tested it myself and as long as you stop just before 1.2 with at least a slight bit of space then you are good to go. On 125 bpm it fits with 788 ms in Kick 2. Then I did freeze and flattern to check and it fits perfectly. It stops just before the next one. Simpler does also have a beat time ruler. Sampler does only have a time ruler though.

Nice tutorial man! Love the note generator technique. I usually play notes in but I will definitely be trying this out. Nice touch on the bass sound edit. It sounds completely different than the preset.

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I’ve never posted something negative with regarding to a Sonic Academy Tutorial… all the tutors do a top notch job… As has Christian Vance each and every time.

I’m trying to bite my tongue on this one… but… is it just me or does this song sound like it has a problem with the mix? There are some pretty harsh frequencies for me … mostly in the highest synths and the hats…they both tend to get quite loud and crispy at times… I’m having a really hard time listening straight though comfortably…

Not AS much of a big deal but the mid range of a few samples sound flat as well…

Meh!.. maybe it’s subjective?

Hi @deejay27, I’d like to answer this directly (also in response to the @JonasNymose reply) Thanks for taking the time to submit constructive feedback… happy to answer!

This tutorial was done in the style of several currently popular songs and acts that make music in this genre. In many instances they feature a pulsing bottom end with very discernible melodic parts. Because melody becomes quite noticeable in the human vocal range and ever upward it works quite well against the backdrop of a club style kick and bass and this track has set out to reflect that. This track is mixed with all frequencies considered just like all previous tutorials, it is not mastered of course but does have a different pre-mastering chain in the final tweaks - something that I tend to use more and more and which can deliver literally “exciting” results. I hope to explain a couple of things:

  1. It can be subjective to a point. I have listened to this on 3 pairs of studio monitors, Sony mdr 7506 headphones and also a well tuned Funktion One club system… all unmastered… and yes the high frequencies sparkle with alot of harmonic content with both synth melody and the matching fx from the snare. I would never deny that. The intent was to demonstrate that it can have a great effect working the synth melody in various ways.
  2. I have found from experience that supplying all dynamics (provided they don’t kill the mix) is better than shelving and deleting content prior to handing a song over to a mastering engineer. They can notch out content if required but they cannot add. One way that might help define those frequencies would be to use the hi hats as the sidechain source at a certain frequency input against the higher melody and corresponding fx. I did not personally find this necessary.
  3. Not sure what is meant by “mid range samples” but the mid and high from the synth is modulated, worked and non-linear in order to be noticeable when present and when not. The driving low endpulse used primarily as a backdrop for that.The fx of the snare might also add to what might technically be called harmonic distortion - covered a little in the tutorial - about how frequencies can hit sweet spots by rubbing together and creating their own texture. This is perhaps subjective and to taste of course. We are not talking lo-fi aesthetic here either but a more purposeful way of helping something cut through in a certain way.
  4. Some of us are also more or less sensitive to different parts of the spectrum. My aim and intention was to demonstrate that a stacked melody with fx can cut through with brilliance and sheen. It has obviously done that and then some for a couple of you. The pre-master chain also adds harmonic drive and saturation. I also tend to use these kind of tools more than compression these days. It has macro options that can be utilised to taste.
  5. No need to bite your tongue… it’s the weekend! Please feel free to field any other questions or observations.

For starters why not grab the ANA 2? :slight_smile: Great tutorials man. Keep them coming…

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Thanks! Been trialling the beta of ANA2 … a monster! Hopefully next time :slight_smile:

p.s @JonasNymose - I used a calculator to show the methodology behind kick length. It is just one of many ways to approach our precious kick drums :wink:

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Very nice and helpful tutorial!

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Thanks for the tutorial.
I learned quite a bit, since I’m not so familiar with this genre.
As im more of a player I really like the happy incidents you get with the sequencing, creating things I would never have created by just playing.
I like the creation constant tension building during the arranging.
However by doing this I get the feleing you never get to a point where you can say ‘This is the main part of the track’, or ‘this is what I’m building towards’. Is this intentially done? Or maybe this is genre specific?

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Hi @maartensiem. Really happy you enjoyed the sequencing! In another lifetime I was also an instrumentalist and like to use this method to open up new ways/ideas/channels to squeezing more out of a simple idea. It is the simple idea of repetition, something hypnotic, that also leads me to make less of “the main part of the track” or actually building to any kind of crescendo, extended break down or mega-drop - to answer your question - with more of a focus on shifting energies within the main idea/s. I think this is totally stylistic and not genre dependent to be honest as both exist harmoniously. I just have found over the years, from playing both live and from DJing, that over the course of the performance I prefer to build towards things over extended periods of time and crave for ideas and tracks that don’t rely in and of themselves to be an all-in-one piece. It is always up to you! Generally, that which is more emo and trancey can get a bit fromage-like and almost needs a breakdown whereas the repetitive nature of modern techno can suffice without. I still like both persuasions.

A very nice tutorial series!

Quite a few trick for generating melodies that I haven’t seen before, good value for the money (or time to watch). But I have to agree with some other commenters, the highs are harsh and over the top, especialy when the “mmm pre-master” thing is put on at the end, it brings out the worst of the track.

But all in all, a great tutorial!

Keep up the good work.

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So excited to start this :slight_smile:

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Christian’s tutorials are not only about sound design and arrangement, they all offer very good tips to enhance workflow.
With this tutorial I think one get’s a road to create something in the direction of the amazing track ‘Duo Tone’ by Petar Dundov and Gregor Tresher from 2011 and other kind of tracks.

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Thanks @chriz ! It is definitely a path to create tracks in a similar vein to those. Petar Dundov makes some fantastic melodic Techno.

Just wanted to share my track in which I used the techniques explained in this tutorial.

Its my first attempt, but I like it. The producion needs some work and maybe its too melodic, but thats fine by me. Already working on next track :wink: Maybe you have some tips, Chris?


Thanks for sharing @maartensiem !

Great for a first attempt for sure. “Too” melodic is subject to taste and this is definitely not overblown. I would say that perhaps a little diversity, slight builds and accents along the way in your arrangement of percussion might go a long way to add and subtract energy and focus throughout the track. Looking forward to the next one. Great stuff

Very nice and usefull tutorial!

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