Every Psytrance track needs a great groove if we want to make better results and the groove itself will be taking up the biggest space in psytrance tracks. Every Psytrance groove is made of drum elements together with the bassline, and all of them together are categorised as rhythm sections. The most common order for starting a psytrance track is by adding the kick, then bassline, hi-hats, snare and crash, but Juns creating these elements or selecting them is not enough to create a groove, as in this process we only choose and select the sound design colours or the types of these elements. This process is important in making the right groove, but it is not enough. Small details in setting the right parameters are crucial for getting the advanced psytrance groove.
These parameters are the most important to move from the mediate level sounding tracks to advanced sounding tracks. There is not even one successful psytrance track without a groove that moves people to dance, and my first advice is that you invest a bit more time, effort and energy and pay attention to the groove itself, as it can be a super powerful drive to the whole track.
I used to start every track with an empty project, but the more I work, the more I realise how hard it is to create the kick from scratch, create bassline, select or create hi-hats, snare, clap, loops and then glue everything into a groove that will stand out and drive the whole track. I believe that all of these together in this order, is too much work and makes the whole process a way more difficult.
I changed the order of processes by moving the rhythm section sound design for a bit later in a track, and I’m starting tracks lately with the drum template for previous tracks I made. I do change all of them later on as I do not want to repeat myself and in the end, get 1 track set where all tracks will sound alike. I am using a template mostly because of the levels, and I use the template as I have all the elements in the project already. So I’m starting a track with the material that sounds good from the beginning. I add, change or modify the elements in the moments I feel the need for a change, but the most important is that I won’t start adding the single shot sounds and other elements before I am pretty satisfied with the results of the groove.
I do believe that most of you are interested in how to create all these elements, and most likely many of you believe that only a selection of the elements is what makes the groove, but actually by selection or sound design, we only decide how these elements will sound individually while connecting all of them is another story, and this video is about that.
I would say that the first step toward the great psytrance groove can start from the bassline, after we added all elements, just the choice of the key root note will already create a track mood. Choosing the track mood will dictate what type of groove we can create. There are many different psytrance moods and grooves, but I will stick to the rolling bassline groove for this track, and I make a video about something that I just have created in the studio as I believe this way the presentation will be the best and that am already deep into the topic.
This process is around a week long in my case. I will start it, and do small corrections each day until I find that coombination that drives me, and only after I’m 100% sure that that’s it, I will start writing the track down. How do I know when is that moment, it is when I start getting tons of ideas of what should I do in that track. In other words, the track will drive me and the inspiration flow started.
So I will guide you through the process I went through for starting this track.
Just before the European Festival summer session this year, I started opening certain projects of tracks that I already released, on which I wanted to change something. I love certain tracks, but as time passes, I sometimes feel that I can modify some of them and change something so that they fit better in the new mix. Sometimes it’s only arrangement, sometimes is only a mix, but sometimes I end up creating a better groove and editing that track a bit more. So what I did, is that I made a track, released it, and after a few years I changed its rhythm section and that way created a new one which I haven't used in any released tracks. So instead of wasting tons of time designing all from the beginning, I decided to import that rhythm section into a new project, and I spent a few days testing it out. Trying to feel it to be 100% sure that Groove is good enough. I was extending, changing the elements, and adding new loops, I did some modifications on that groove, but somehow I couldn’t connect with it. This is the groove that was first imported from my track Sacred Dance which I changed before the summer festival season.
Now after importing that template from the previous track, I spent a bit of time modifying it and making it sound better, tighter, more drivy or in one word I tried to make the groove better. By changing the details of the kick, bassline and other settings, I made it sound way better form the previous one. I changed a kick pretty much, added a different punch on the kick, modified the bassline and ducking effect or what most of us call “sidechain”
After that, I didn’t feel this groove to start a track, so I decided to play a bit more and find that spot or moment when it would start driving me. So I made another version of the project, and I added a few bass layers, as well as changing the snare and clap, adding some loops modifying the hi-hats and rearranging them. After a few days of listening, I couldn’t connect with it and I decided to try changing the key root note. I could do that as I didn’t have any other tonal elements in a track besides the bassline, so it was pretty easy. I played around with a few keynotes, and somehow the A got my intention. So I needed to modify the bassline so it sounded better after changing it from F#, as every time we transpose the bassline note, some modifications on the processing are smart moves. If you use multiband plugins to shape the phase of the bassline as I do, the crossover position between the first two bands will have the biggest effect on the bassline phase, so this is the first thing I start changing and find in the best possible settings. Also, after transposing the bassline to another note, the harmonic balance needs corrections as well. We can't have the same harmonic balance in every note, as there are dramatic changes in harmonic position in different keys. It’s not the same in D# and A# for example. [Play the second project - 2023 A Electric hypnotic.cpr]
Now, the bassline changes or modifications of the bassline for a better psytrance groove are next. I tried to open and close the cutoff of the bassline filter, I tried many phase positions on the bassline and tried to find which one would be the best for the better groove. I have changed a lot of the ducking of the bassline, modifying the LFO tool settings. I also used EQ to find the best balance for the bassline harmonics and bassline interaction with the kick, and this is not a technique for mixing, I simply was changing the balance between harmonics, for example, after boosting the 100hz area on the bassline, it can bring a bit more drive sound bassline, the bassline that sound a bit more full and warmer. While for some other grooves and moods, we can make a balance of harmonics that way so the first or second harmonic is dominating. All these will give a different groove vibe, and not necessarily only mixing balance. [show the processes on the bassline, LFO, EQ, Cuttof…] [play the last project - 2023 A Electric 1. cpr]
I made many corrections and changes on the kick as well. I’m changing the kick end frequency, extending the kick or adding the fadeout on the kick. I do not follow any rules anymore about the kick length just because some YouTuber has said that. I know for sure that using all existing techniques and listening to them will lead me to the best-sounding combination. I do try all of them, and carefully listen, and I know for sure that the best results will come by trying as many as possible tricks and techniques and not by following certain rules. All the rules we create simply by getting the result we wanted in a certain situation, while in different situations that same process set of the kick or the bassline can be a wrong choice. So just because we once got the result we wanted does not necessarily mean that we should implement it every time. In some cases, just the opposite can be the right move. So trying as many as possible and carefully listening is the right way in my opinion. So I wanted to create a bit more uplifting and a bit more modern sounding track, so I made a bassline groove to be chopped and these gaps were filled with the effects that were covering the spots where the bassline stops, but as I am 100% hypnotic psytrance lover, I couldn’t connect with that groove after few days of listening, even though it sounded great in the first few days. So I decided to bring back my beloved hypnotic psytrance bassline and see if it would be a good fit. After I did that and Made a hypnotic rolling bassline, I started to get that inspiration injection I was looking for, and as I love to say, the track started to speak to me and tell me what should I do. I did make a few more corrections on the kick and bass to make them fit the groove even better. I reduced the kid frequencies on the kick and bassline and pushed a bit lower frequencies on the bass to get away from that clicky kick and bass which suit a way better to uplifting tacks.
So if you wish to start a track this way, I recommend you to use some of your previous rhythm templates that you are happy with, and use them for the start of a track. Then you can start changing the bassline, and some other elements and play around with it. I believe that if you use the uplifters and certain tension-building elements will also help to feel the energy of a groove and play around with it for a few days. Don’t forget to save a new version each day, as you will maybe make a mistake, and the easiest way to get back to some point is by keeping the backup projects. If you still do not have any of the good-sounding templates, you can find some online to buy, and of course, I have one in my webshop shop as well 🙂