Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers

#63: 2 Tips for Creating a Synth Arpeggiator Pattern | Produce a Song From Scratch III

January 24, 2023 Marc Matthews Season 3 Episode 63
Inside The Mix | Music Production and Mixing Tips for Music Producers
#63: 2 Tips for Creating a Synth Arpeggiator Pattern | Produce a Song From Scratch III
Subscribe to the Inside The Mix podcast today!!
You, can help me continue making great new content for listeners, just like you!
Starting at $3/month
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This is the third episode in a mini-series of music production tips, and songwriting tips. Whether you're a beginner or an expert, it's always useful to brush up on your skills. And I've got just the thing for you: a quick rundown of some of our favorite tips and tricks for producing killer beats.

First things first: when you're producing a song from scratch, it can be helpful to start with a drum pattern. Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Program a kick drum and snare pattern using the Logic Pro X step sequencer.

2. Program a hi-hat and clap pattern using a step sequence.

3. Write a lead synth arpeggio using Native Instrument's Massixe X, an arpegiator, and Scalar 2.

4. Write a sub-bass using MIDI pattern using ANA 2. Use the ANA2 side-chain effect to modulate a sub-bass and pad MIDI sequence.

5. Improve your bass line with 3rd and 5th notes!

Support the show

Contact Inside The Mix

Send a DM through IG @insidethemicpodcast
Email me at
Subscribe to the podcast today:

Download the Producer Growth Scorecard and immediately take your music production to lofty new heights. Download for free at:

Thanks for listening & Happy mixing!

Marc Matthews:

You are listening to the Inside The Mix podcast with your host, Mark Matthews.Hello and welcome to the Inside the Mix podcast.I'm Mark Matthews, your host, musician, producer, and mix and mastering engineer.You've come to the right place if you want to know more about your favorite synth music artist, music, engineering and production, songwriting and the music industry.I've been writing, producing,mixing, and mastering music for over 15 years,and I wanna share what I.With you.Hey folks.So welcome back to the Inside the Mix podcast, and this is the third installment of this mini producer song from Scratch series.So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna start off by playing what I came up with at the end of episode 62.So here we go.So there we go, and we're gonna continue to build on this in this week's.Okay folks, so what I'm gonna do now is I'm gonna use the Logic Pro step sequencer and I'm gonna create a drum pattern to go from bar 21 to bar 37.Yeah, I had to double check them.So I'm going to go to my kit sample instrument,right click in the timeline and create pattern region.And uh, it comes up with a step sequences.So I'm gonna, Let's go with that kick, and I'm just gonna use the step sequencer and just programming some kicks,and I've got this set to 16steps at the moment, so let's hear what that sounds like.So I quite like that, so I'm going to duplicate that.I'm gonna leave it as it is, in fact.No, I'm not.I'm gonna go in and I just wanna change the velocity, so I'm just gonna loop this region.And I'm gonna just change the velocity cuz I want there to be an accent on the first kick.Now it, cool.Now I'm gonna duplicate it.Excellent.So I, now what I'm gonna do is I want the, so that's eight bars I'm gonna have, and then after.Eight bars at bar 29.I'm just gonna duplicate it again, but I want to kick and snare.So let's open that in the step sequence.Sir, I'm just gonna find a snare sample.So let's, let's see what we have.These are still my kicks.So I quite like that one.So I'm gonna have that come in on every second snare.In fact, I might leave it at that.Oh, duplicate the wrong one,and let's do that again.Excellent.So there we go.Really quick step sequencer, and I've got a kick and snap pan.Okay, so for this next part,I'm gonna follow a similar process and I'm gonna use the step er and I'm gonna come up with a high hat pattern.So I'm gonna find my percussion or rather symbols, software instrument.Here we go.And I'm just gonna make that slightly bigger and I'm gonna get rid of that.Actually, I want to keep that at the end.So I'm just gonna loop.25 to 29, and in there I'm gonna move my Playhead to 25 and I'm gonna create pattern region.Let's drag that to bar 25.Not sure why I didn't start there.And let's find a high hat.I quite like that one, so I'm just going to, once again, it's 16 steps and I'm gonna leave this.Cool.Right.The great thing about this step sequencer is here, you've got this note, repeat, so I'm gonna put in some note repeats.It's too many and maybe get rid of a few.Okay, cool.I like the sound of that and velocity wise, let's play Robinson Velocity here as well.Let's humanize it a bit.Just play around, just playing around with these velocity notes of this.Hi, let's get it somewhere roughly where I want it to be.Okay, let's drag that to the beginning.So I've got a symbol here,here, and I think it's gonna override that symbol here.Okay, so I got my hi hat.Kicked drum,and then at about 29it's gonna come in with the snail on top of it,which is incredibly loud.So what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna go into that kick pattern there.I'm kicking snare pattern and I'm just gonna adjust the velocity of that snare and do the same for this second one as.So what you could do here,rather than having these separate patterns, is you could just increase the steps,which is probably what I should have done, but, um,hindsight's a wonderful thing.Cool.So there we go.A really simple high hat pattern using the pattern Step sequencer in Logic Pro.Okay folks.So now what I want to add is an ARPEGGIATED lead over this sort of bar 21 to bar 37.So I've got my pad progression,which has an automated hike up filter, which I did in a previous episode,and it's also got that tape walk effect as well.I've got my.Program or rather pattern that I put in programmed just now.And I've also got my kick and snare.So I've got my lead summing stack here and I've got an instance of massive X.And what I've done is, I'm using the logics inbuilt arpeggiator,uh, which is going up and down.I actually might change it.So it's shuffled and it's set at one 16th in terms of rate.And I've got an instance of massive, and I'm using this all hands, uh, piano keys patch that is built in.So if you're watching this online, and I'll explain it to you, I've gone through and I've starred or rather favorited all the, the piano key patches that I particularly like to make this easier.So it kind of sound, well, it kind of sounds, it sounds like.Okay, so that's the art per, and I'm gonna change the A back to how it was.So I'm gonna go up and down.Okay.I quite like that, so I'm just gonna play along.Okay, that sounds quite cool.I'm now gonna attempt to program it in,so I'm just gonna stop that one again, as you can hear with the first one that I probably programmed it or rather played it a bit too hard.And I'm also gonna stop it there cause I haven't set up my loop region properly as well, so that's probably not gonna help me in my.So let's quickly do that.Let's undo that recording back to the beginning.Well, I messed.I messed it up at the end there,but I'm gonna use the first sort of eight bars and I can just duplicate it rather than waste time recording it again.So let's go in there.I've gotta quantize this, delete that.As I mentioned in a previous episode, having the n the note labels in front of me really helps.Um, let's give that a play.As you can see there,it's quantized it, but it's not quantized.It quite.Enough.There we go To eighth notes.Cool.So what I'm gonna do now is this.I'm gonna go into scaler and I am going to mid-cap that performance.In fact, I'm gotta stop it there cuz listening back to it now, the, the, the variation of dynamic, how I've played it, it's quite so, I quite liked it around 60 in terms of velocity cuz the rest of them satter, that sort of mark and it sounds quite good.So now I'm gonna midcap it clear that midcap,stop that and I'm gonna drag that mid onto the.Rather, yeah, the piano region,the lead, uh, in Port Tempo, no.Cool.So now what I have here is the actual chord played.If you're watching this online, the, you can see from bar 29, the actual chords are there in the editor window four, or rather the piano roll in the editor window and you can see them.And if you go to the bars21 to 29, it is just the single notes, which are then triggering the chords in scaler.My apologies, I keep flicking between editor window and piano roll.And it's the actual piano roll, not the editor window.So if I click here, you can actually see the chord.So I'm just gonna.Delete that and I'm gonna put the cords there.So in theory, now if I turn off scaler,what I'm actually gonna try and do is, cuz this is a E one,I'm gonna select all the notes and I'm gonna go up and octave.Okay.Commander s just to save that, cuz Logic does have a habit of crashing.And uh, so there we go.That is my lead up section to go over this.And actually before I close this bit off, I'm just gonna duplicate that.Okay.To go over that.So from bars 21 to to 39 or either 37, I now have a lead r.There we go.Okay folks.So in the previous bit there I created the lead arpeggio, and what I'm gonna do now is I'm just gonna go through massive and see if I can come up.We'll find a different sound for it because although it sounded good at the time,I've moved it up in Octave and I'm not particularly.Happy with the sound I've got,so I'm just gonna cycle through.I quite like that one.I think for me, I think for me it's that one there.So that's called belly stage.Um, in fact, I wanted to do it.I'm just gonna play through and, and play around with some of the parameters in it.So I'm just gonna boost the cut off.So it's about 200 herz,maybe a bit of resonance.Okay, cool.So now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna try what I did with.With the pads in that I had the filter cutoff.So I'm, I'm gonna do the same for this.So I'm just gonna put a filter on the main summing stack and I don't wanna low pass.I wanna high pass.There we go.And so about 500 and I'm gonna automate that.So a, to open the automation lane and I've gotta follow the same automation.As the pads.So if you're watching this online, you can see above the pad automation.So I'm just gonna mirror that.How that.Okay.It's quite cool.But what I'm just gonna try out before I move on from this bit is I'm just gonna turn that off a minute and I'm gonna go into snap heat and I'm gonna see if there is a,can I hit snap heap and stare?I'm just gonna look at the plug-ins I've got here.Cuz actually what I'm thinking is I might get like a.shift of frequency.There's a frequency shifter here.I mean, I mean that might be one I'm thinking of.No, that's not gonna be it.But one I wanted to do is maybe go the the, rather than automate the filter cutoff going back and forth.I'm thinking if I could find one that will do it for me, it's gonna snappy.It's probably the easiest thing to do.See where we got on here?Browse and I'm gonna go and look at mod.I quite like that.I'm just gonna dial it back and I'm also gonna go to massive, and I'm just gonna pull back the cutoff as well.And I'm gonna turn on the channel high filter again.Cool.So there we go.Add a bit more, uh,interest to that particular.So we've got the pads there and we've got this lead arpeggio over the top of it now, both with a high cut automation,well, the automation of the high cut filter and, uh,I've used snap pee again.I do have, uh, snap heap.As you can see, you can quite quickly get a, a, a cool sound from it without having to do a great deal with massive x.Okay folks.And now what I'm gonna do is I'm going to add some subbase to this.So I've got my base summing stack here,and I've got Anna two.And in Anna two there is a signature 8 0 8 base.So if you go to 8 0 8, all signature, 8 0 8 and it sounds like this and I'm gonna use that as my subbase.So as you can see with Anna two again, I've gone through and there's only two I favored to be fair in the 8 0 8.Probably need to go through it.But what I'm gonna do is, in this section I've been working on, I want to add the subbase.So to do this, I'm gonna select the drop pads here,and I am going to grab, scale it too.And I'm gonna mid recapture.Those chords.Cool.Stop.And I'm gonna drag those, make sure I've got the right one onto my second base track.Yep.And I'm gonna drag those across,drag them onto the wrong one,and make that a bit smaller.Double click and here we go.So if you're looking at this online, you'd be,you'll be able to see the,the chords that are played.And I'm just gonna stick with the root notes.There we go.And I can delete all the other notes cause they're not needed and might move it up An Octa.Yeah, there we go.Now we got some bass.Everything comes alive with bass.In fact, I'm gonna do the same.I'm gonna add the subbase to the section before, so from bar five to bar 21.So I've got my verse pads, and I've already got the mid here.So I'm just gonna drag that up and do the same thing.And I'm gonna delete the notes.I don't want, I'm gonna move it up.I think it was already at the right one.No, E two.That's the one I want,but I'm not gonna have that subbase coming straight away.With songwriting, it's a good idea to sort of break your songs up into eight bars.So after every eight bars,you want to either add or remove something to keep the interest going.So from bar five to 13, they're not gonna have the subbase,it's not gonna have the subbase.So let's see how that sounds.I'm gonna go from bar nine,so the subway is gonna come in now.Cool.I like the sound of that.So there we go.Really quick way to add some subbase.So with that subbase, what I would probably usually do is site chain it to the kick,just to add a bit of movement.But the cool thing about Anna two in this instance is because I've got the kick and the snare sort of in this instrument channel at the top, and I don't really wanna dive into that just yet, but if I go into Anna too, and you probably get this in other plug-ins as well, but in the actual.I dunno what they called it.Insert, I guess it's called the insert section of an two.There's a dynamic dropdown.Well, there's a dropdown with a dynamic option and there's sidekick.So I'm gonna solo that channel.And it sounds like this.So this is without, and this is with, okay, now I'm gonna play it in context.Okay.And the cool thing is,because I, I've got it side chained, um, well, it's not actually side chained.It's a side chain kick,but it's actually synced to the host tempo.So it's falling in line.It's in tempo.It's not in tempo.It's in time with the kick drum already.So that's a really quick way just to get that side chain.Let's try it with the bit before as well and see what that sounds like.Yeah, I think that sounds pretty cool.You could probably do the same with the pads as well.Actually, I never thought of doing that.Maybe I'll try actually, what pads have I got with Anna too?I've got them here.So let's see what that sounds like with these pads.And I've really got a chorus effect on there.Let's try, it might, it might not sound right.I'm gonna, so it,what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna put the dry, wet, all the way down and I'm just gonna play it in context and, and bring it in and see if it actually works.Cause it might not,but we'll give it a.I was making all those changes there and I was thinking, it doesn't sound any different.Why doesn't it sound any different?And I did the classic of making a change to a parameter and dragging things around, whether actually having it enabled.Okay, I'm just gonna go into these mini notes actually,because it seems to die a bit throughout the performance,so I'm just gonna go in.Mid transform and do,uh, random velocity.And I wanna keep a bit of a humanized element, but I'm just gonna make it a bit more, what, why are they at the moment sort of, they're ranging between Christ anywhere between 23 to 75.So let's sort that out.Um, we'll do the top as80 and . Can't remember which way around it is.Do 75.There we go.Let's give that a.We're gonna have to replace them all now.Now it's more audible's.Those mini notes to begin with.Yeah, the mini notes what I had originally, because they're all over the place.The, the effect wasn't so pronounced, but now it is.So I'm just gonna delete the other regions I've got there and I'm gonna duplicate that.We'll replicate and.I've gotta delete everything at the beginning too, cause I'm gonna come back and create an intro for this at some point.So I'm just gonna delete everything at the beginning there.So now let's try it.Just dial it back a bit.And then it's gonna shortly come into the next section.I think with that kick pattern,I'm just gonna go in and I'm gonna remove, I don't want it.I want every other.Let's try that.Yeah, that's better.Okay.And I think there is, it needs to come, there needs to be some,some more percussion there.So I'm thinking either collapse.Oh, it does.It comes in with a snare, doesn't it?I'm just gonna try creating a pattern here.Um, with some collapse.Um, just double click on that.I'm just gonna cycle that region.Select the whole lot.Don't want that.There we go.Um,still got fresh air.I'm just gonna turn that off while I do this.That one might do the job.Let's give that.I quite like that.Um,anything I say is I think their velocity needs to come down again.There probably is a way to set it so the velocity doesn't start at 100, but that's another day.That's still really loud.Let's go and have a look at that.Something's,it's better.Cool.So there I digressed a bit cause I added some claps.I had a little playground with the snares there as well.And I also added the, the side chain effect to the synth pad at the beginning of the progression or rather the piece and also added it to the base as well.So, bit more than usual in that bit, in that little segment there.But, um, some pretty cool stuff.Okay folks, so for this next part, which we're coming to the end of this episode now what I want to do is I just wanna extend beyond Bar 37 now.So what I want is, Two.Dunno why I clicked on that.There we go.Sorry folks.If you're listening to this on the podcast player of your choice, I uh, accidentally went to zoom in and zoom out and it went all weird.Um, so I want to take these midi, uh, this arpeggio and I'm going to option click and I'm gonna drag it to the right and I'm gonna stick it on my next lead instrument.And, uh, I've got the art already set up on here.So we're gonna use the same art pattern.And, uh, this time I'm using pigments now.I haven't used pigments in a while, and this is pigments four, and I haven't touched pigments four yet, so we're gonna give this a go.Before I do that, I just wanna add, I'm just gonna add the kick behind this and the sim and the percussion and the collapse as well, just to gimme a beat to work with.Okay, so that's pigment.So that's, let's,let's have a look.There's a lot of presets in here that I have not been through yet.If you're watching this on YouTube , you can see there's a lot.Um, and that is just in the keys section.Um, so I'm thinking keys,and let's go from the, I'm not gonna go through them all, but I got a feeling This Annabelle one sounds quite good.Uh, let's go from the top.I'll go for a few and see what we have.I tell you what, I really like this new sleek interface for pigments.It looks very nice, so I quite like this, Annabelle.So I think what I'm gonna do is dial back the cutoff a bit.Now what I wanna do actually is.I wanna use an LFO to control this cutoff.So I'm gonna drag the l o over to the cutoff for LFO two, and I'm going to,I'm gonna set the rate on this.I, I.Now, when it comes to this, I never like free start freehand it with the, with the hertz.I always go for sink, just to make it easier on myself and leave it as a, let's just go with a sore tooth,not, yeah, sore wave.Um, a triangle, wave rather not sore tooth.Slap my hand and I'm going to, I don't want free running.I'm just o two sequence start.Let's try that.That's moving a lot.See, that's quite cool, but I want to dial it back a bit.I don't want it to be so broad there you.So sorry folks.I'm still trying to get familiar with pigments again.It's been a while since I've used it.So with pigments you can go to the filter, the parameter,and there's a little sort of dial that, that that's how you control the amount of modulation or control this parameter's having on the cutoff.See, I think that sounds quite cool.Let's do the base underneath it.So when you're recording these things, I've got the microphone in the way and I can't see the keyboard a lot of the time,so I'm going on muscle memory.So hence why sometimes I'll press the wrong key.So if I ever do that and uh, you know why, it's cuz I'm going on muscle memory.Let's play, play around with those parameters a bit more.That's all I did there was I just turned off the second filter and I think that.Probably sounds better.Uh, it's got the classic,I love doing this.Um, it's got the,the modulation.I think that's a modulation where, yeah.So the modulation where was controlling the fine tuning of the, um, Of the synth.That's a really cool thing to do.So no matter what synth you have, if you, there's using the mo wheel.But usually what I would probably use or do rather as an l o and just control, just really subtly control the fine tuning of the instrument cuz it adds a bit more character to it.Um, I'm led to believe it makes it sound more real, not realistic, but it makes it mount, makes it sound more authentic as a synth because you've got that fluctuation.Uh, but it could be wrong either way.It sounds cool.Give it a try.Um, I'm gonna leave pigments for now.I kind of want a base pattern to go underneath this.What base pattern am I using earlier in the progression?Let's have a look.Ah, keep using the, uh,I mean, that might work.Let's drag that.So I'm just playing around with notes here.Cool.So what I've done there is I've just moved the notes.So the last note of that particular bar, I've just moved it up to the third.Let's try the fifth And ah, there we go again.See keyboard in the way.I think I throw the third.Let's try that.I might drag that down.Route note third,Bruno, the chord.Oh no, God.. That wasn't even the right key.I am gonna stick with thirds.Um,I might stick a fifth in there.Otherwise, it's gonna be the same note as the call before.Maybe it needs to be the same.I dunno if this is gonna work here.Let's try that.Whoa fell.I might just leave that as is cause I didn't like.Um, but what I'm gonna do now is close the piano roll and delete that.And then, so what I could do here, so just to give you a run through, what I've done there is I've added, um, a third at the end of each note.So from bar 37 to 39,you've got the sort of repeating, chugging base.Chugging is probably the wrong word, and then it does the root of E and then it goes up.Just add a bit of variation.And what I'd probably do then in the next bar Z from bars 45 onwards.Maybe it's just mix that up,maybe use some seventh or something in there just to make it sound a bit more different.Let's try that.Stick a seventh in there.I'll play it.So this is with the thirds and now it's gonna move up to seventh.Didn't hell that I moved.I know.Then maybe.That note wasn't right.Um, third year, uh, I said I moved of the seventh is not.I've actually moved it up to fifths.Sorry folks.It's fifths not seventh.Get my counting wrong.Let's try it.I think it'll.Yeah, a bit of variation.Dunno about that note.That one's okay.It's food for thought anyway.Um, so what I'm gonna do now is I'm sort of like coming to the pro where I kind of wanna start building.Mapping this out.So what I want to do then I think is come back into the beginning, the intro session, because I'm just gonna go and customize my toolbar cause I haven't got,uh, time and beats in there.There we go.So a really useful thing to have in your toolbar when you are songwriting,I find is the CPU load.Um, I've got a Mac studio now and it's significantly less than it was, which is quite nice.Cause I remember when I had the, the old Mac book Bright, which is great, and I still use it, um, as soon as I start pigments massive working in the same project.So what it's gonna do, I dunno how this is gonna sound.Let's give it a go.I'm gonna go from.Bar 49, so four bars, and then it's gonna go back into the,I'm not short at the moment.I, I think they might be sounding like two different songs, but I'll persevere and see where we get to.If I get two different songs out of this, then fantastic.Um, but we'll see how we go.But I think the idea here is you can see the workflow and progression and the idea is coming to.Coming to through to fruition.Um, by the moment,possibly sounding like two different songs.I'll be interested to know what your thoughts are.If you're watching this on YouTube, please do leave a comment.Um, if you're listening to this on your podcast, player of Choice, leave a leave a comment.If you can alternatively DM me on a at Inside The Mix podcast and let me know what you think.Two different songs or not, not sure.At the moment, I'm probably leaning towards two different.Okay folks, so that is the end of this episode.So quite a lot gone on this episode.So I added a kick and a snare to the, well, two bar 21 to bar 37.I also added some high hat as well.So in that instance, or rather the workflow there was using the step sequencer in logic.I then went and added a lead arpeggio in there as well.So I used massive for that.And I used the inbuilt arpeggio built into logic cuz it's inbuilt and, um, using too many words there, I think.And then I also added a base or subbase to it as well, um, using an Anna two patch called 8 0 8.8 0 8 signature and it uses the sidekick, um, effect in Anna two, which is pretty cool.And I also added that to the intro pads as well.What else to do?I added some claps too,um, to the progression from sort of bars.Uh, bars 29.I then added another variation of the arpeggio using massive from bars 37 to bar 53 and just duplicated the drums and percussion throughout.And then I've brought the intro sort of bars back into it at the end.And, uh, how many bars is that little?It's 16 bars at the end.Um, and at the moment it's sitting around two minutes, 20.I'm not bothered about the length at the moment cause I'm still flashing out.There's gonna be an intro,there's gonna be an outro.That's probably gonna be a bit more to it.But as I said previously in this video, whether it's two songs or not, I'm not entirely sure, but I think it sounded pretty cool.Um, what I'll probably move on to next is maybe bringing some more vocal, um, chops in there as well and seeing what else we can do with that.But it's getting there I think for me.What brings it to life and helps me map it out is actually having the kit there and being able to hear that as I'm songwriting.So even though it's just a,a basic, um, sort of pattern that I've used, it just helps flash out that sound.So I'd be interested to know what you think, to reiterate what I said previously.Please do leave a comment if you're watching this on YouTube or DM me at Inside The Mix Podcast on Instagram and let me know what you think next week's.It is gonna take a break from the production.It is gonna come back, but next week's episode is gonna be the first Synth Pals Pub episode of the year, and it's a full house and I'm excited about it.It's gonna be a great episode.So that's episode64 by my count.If you want a feature on the Synth Pals pub, please do go to,and you can sign up there under the free resources section.But that is the end of this week.So, so what I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna play this sort of from the beginning up until bar 53, so you can get a flavor for what we have.So here we.Listening back.Now that pigment patch might sound a bit too wild, but,um, I'll let it breathe for a bit and come back to it.So folks, don't forget to leave a comment.Um, and let me know what your thoughts are.If you're watching this on YouTube, please do subscribe and hit that notification bell as well.And if you're listening to this on your podcast Player of Choice, please do also hit subscribe and look out for next week's episode.Just as a reminder, as I mentioned just now, next week will be the Synth Powell's Virtual Pub, the Synth Powell's Pub, the first one of 2023.And then we.It back into this project from episode 65,so look out for that.Thanks for watching and listening.

Program drums with Logic Pro step sequencer
Two tips for creating a synth arpeggiator pattern
Two tips for creating the perfect sub bass
My favourite sidechain compression hack
One simple way to improve your bass lines