6 Bass Sequencing Tricks From Daft Punk

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Daft Punk Bass Tutorial on MIDI Sequencing. One of the best ways to learn about producing music is to see the actual notes used to make other people’s songs. This process allows you to discover the thousands of tiny adjustments needed to produce a strong bassline, intricate drum track, or a moving piano solo. This tutorial will show you the notation for one of the funkiest basslines in modern house music: Daft Punk’s Around The World. For this lesson you will need:

  • A music composition program capable of MIDI sequencing. (e.g. Ableton Live, Propellerhead Reason, Cubase, etc.)

Daft Punk’s Around The World

Around The World was released in 1997 on Daft Punk’s debut album, Homework. It was a major success throughout the world and it is credited by many for bringing funk back to the dance music scene. This song has a simple, yet distinct, bassline that provides a great example of french house music style.

Click here to listen to a MP3 sample of Around The World.

Like most house music, Around The World uses repetition – lots of repetition. The bassline is composed from only three main patterns. This makes Around The World an excellent choice for an instrument notation tutorial.

Setting Up Your Music Software

The purpose of this tutorial is to analyze common notation techniques used in funky basslines. So if you want to follow along using your own music composition program, click here to download a MIDI file of Around The World’s bassline. Be sure to set your software’s tempo to 121.32 BPM.

Bass Pattern 1: So Simple It Hurts

At the beginning of the song, the first bass pattern is introduced. The notation shown in the image above reveals that this pattern is very simple. Almost every bass note plays on top of the kick or hihat. In house music, placing your bass notes on top of the kick or hihat produces a driving feel. Notice how the melody flows down the scale. This gives the bassline continuity. This is probably the least funky pattern in the song. The reason for this is that the note lengths and position relative to the drums are largely identical. However, this is exactly what you want if you are trying to create a driving, energetic feel.

Bass Pattern 2: Much Funkier

About 30 seconds into the song, the dominant bass pattern is introduced. Its notation is shown above. This pattern is now four measures long, meaning that it is much less repetitive than the first pattern. For the first three measures, the rhythm of the bassline is still largely identical to the rhythm of the kick and hihat. However, beat 1 of measures 2 and 3 comes a little bit early. This rhythmic technique is known as anticipated bass and produces syncopation. Anticipated bass is a common trick that will make your bassline funkier. Click here to read a Wikipedia article on syncopation.

Notice that the note lengths get much shorter in measure 4. Variety between longer and shorter note lengths often produces funky results. Also notice that the notes from beat four of measure 1 to the start of measure 2 are all connected. That is, they don’t have any space between them. The notes flow from A to B to C without any gaps in between. These are known as legato notes. The opposite of legato is stacatto, meaning short and disconnected. All of the notes in measure 4 (except for the last two) are stacatto. See the gaps in between them? Alternating between stacatto and legato notes makes basslines more interesting.

The notes in measures 1, 2, and 3 are all ascending. Each group of notes has a higher pitch than the previous group of notes. Then, at measure 4 the notes descend down the same scale. Predictably ascending and descending the scale gives your bassline more continuity.

Lastly, notice that there is a pitch bend on beat 1 of measure 4. Tasteful pitch bends can turn dull basslines into super-funk. Daft Punk typically uses only one or two bassline pitch bends per pattern. If your bass just isn’t feeling funky enough, you should definitely try adding a pitch bend.

Bass Pattern 3: Review

The final bass pattern in Around The World is notated above. This pattern contains most of the important ingredients mentioned above. Can you spot them?

Here is the complete list of bass tips mentioned above:

  1. In house music, placing your bass notes on top of the kick or hihat produces a driving feel
  2. Anticipated bass is a common trick that will make your bassline funkier
  3. Variety between longer and shorter note lengths often produces funky results
  4. Alternating between stacatto and legato notes makes basslines more interesting
  5. Predictably ascending and descending the scale gives your bassline more continuity
  6. Tasteful pitch bends can turn dull basslines into super-funk

Conclusion

These bass tips and tricks work for Daft Punk and they will work for you too. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I love to hear any songs that you produce using these tips.

Happy Producing!

Matt Sonic