In previous Dance Mix columns, we’ve covered white noise as a tool for creating whooshes, percussion, and other effects to spice up your track. But there are oodles of other uses for noise. Since white noise contains all frequencies at equal amplitude, it’s well suited to brightening leads and looping riffs. What’s more, with a few automation tricks, white noise can be used to take a tiny sound and make it massive – perfect for builds, breakdowns, and peaks.
To illustrate this approach, we started with a basic house drum loop from Sample Magic’s new Funky House Grooves 2 library (available at bigfishaudio.com) and added a simple synth pattern using Reason’s Subtractor synth. From there, we’ll apply automation to transform the sound in ways that may surprise you.
Click the images below to see them bigger.
Step 1 (click for audio). Start with Subtractor’s super-basic Init Patch and lower the cutoff frequency slightly. Then create a simple, looping, one-bar riff.
Step 2 (click for audio). Now, using automation, add a classic, eight-bar filter cutoff build to the riff by increasing the cutoff frequency as the riff plays. You can create better-sounding automation by using multiple points in your automation envelope, rather than by simply applying a linear build.
Step 3 (click for audio). Here’s where the noise comes into play. Keeping the existing filter swell, add another lane of automation for the noise volume and change the noise level over the same eight-bar duration. Done correctly, this will add energy and intensity to the riff.
Step 4 (click for audio). Finally, we’ll add one more automation lane for the amp envelope release. This will make the combination of filter build and noise swell even more dramatic as it goes into the peak — or the next section — of your track.
Finally, click here for an extended audio example of the final mix, dressed up with a bit of reverb and delay.