Psytrance … the hype is REAL ninjas! To me there is nothing more exciting than seeing a genre with so much history be reawakened and respected by young festival goers.
I see more and more new EDM fans become absolutely blown away and lose their shit when they hear their first psytrance drop live and in person.
This makes me a very happy ninja indeed.
Psytrance and hard-psy are being sprinkled into the sets of very new EDM artists on the rise because it can be so easily mixed with trap and dubstep sets and this is responsible for so many new people getting interest in it. That’s why this new Psytrance Pack is going to be absolutely amazing for all the producers looking to get those sounds into their own tracks and the psytrance veterans looking for a breath of fresh creativity.
In this blog post, I will be going over the main elements of the psytrance bassline and how you can recreate them yourself by understanding the fundamentals of how they work. As always, these are just my thoughts on this topic and I always encourage you to learn from multiple sources and always tweak the rules to make your own sound and experiment with new ideas.
Sound Design Concepts (Serum)
For sound design I recommend watching the Zen World video called “The Psytrance BASS”. I will be outlining some KEY takeaways from that video for you guys to solidify the main elements when creating them for yourself. If you understand what I will be covering you can recreate this is any decent VSTi.
Sound design for a psytrance bassline is actually not difficult at all so I wouldn’t be intimidated by it. This leaves great room to experiment to get very awesome sounds that not many people have used before just by changing wave forms, adding interesting attack sounds, and using FM modulation.
The typical waveforms we see in psytrance are a saw tooth, square, or even a sine wave. These are very clean and easy to work with and give a great snappy front end to it when you send “Rand” to 0 and change the Phase around to find a nice bite on the waveform.
In serum it is possible to just run one oscillator for the desired psytrance sound, but I recommend using two oscillators, ONE for the mono layer, and the other with an even number of voices and an octave up to add some width to the bassline. The waveforms can be identical but at least preserve one of the waveform with a clean sine or saw tooth.
Don’t be afraid to try unique waveforms and see what you can come up with because you will often times be surprised by what happens.
You also want to make sure on the MONO Layer that the RAND = Random Phase is set to 0. This will make it so the phase always starts at the same position resulting in a punchier bass.We don't do this to the Stereo Layer as it will collapse it into MONO.
ADSR (Envelope 1)
The attack is going to be very fast (0.5 default). We don’t want there to be any delay before it hits because we want to keep it punchy and fat. 0.5 is a good setting as it prevents any fast clicks from being present due to the ADSR being to fast.
The decay will be somewhere around 150- 320ms Approximately. Try different things but it should be fairly abrupt and short.
The sustain will be inexistent so set that to 0.
Release can stay at the default 15ms.
We can mostly keep the filter on MG Low 12, but you can change it to 18 or even 24 for different feels. But mostly we want a low filter and then map Envelope 1 to the cutoff and automate it from 0 to around the 3 o clock position, again play with your cutoff here and find your own sweet spot and what you but it should be around this general area for that psy sound.
Last I would add some distortion to taste or saturate it and add some OTT to the end to polish it off.
This last section is really where you can put your signature style on what sound you want to create by adding these FX elements and getting creative with it.
How To Program The Psytrance Bass
One reason why psytrance basslines are so unique is because when crafted right they can stand on their own with only a fat kick and some other percussion spread throughout.
We often see them added rhythmically on the off beats from the kick either in eighth note form, or some 16th note pattern.
These rhythms are common because it gives a trance feel, it’s repetitive, and mixing wise it is easier on the kick drum.
Also note that the midi usually hovers on the root note of the track and doesn’t move around sporadically. It stays one steady stream of notes in most cases. In my opinion this is the underbelly of what makes psytrance what it is. The better you can craft a clean bassline the better your tracks will be.
When mixing the bassline you want it to be in the front of the mix because this will be the main focus of the psy drop. Having it in mono is a very standard practice and a necessity to have it mono compatible. Personally I really like having some parts of the bassline hit on the sides as well (frequencies above 150HZ approx).
This helps fill out the stereo field since there is so much room in the mix already so we can have the luxury of adding another oscillator (or layer) that can punch the sides a little bit.
We will also want to clean up the basslines with a sidechain because even though the bassline will be rhythmically on the offbeats of the kick, there will be some overlap somewhere in there and having the sidechain on it will help tidy everything up to ensure the mix is pristine!
Remember the majority of our bassline will be in mono and so is our kick so getting a happy relationship between the two is critical. I highly recommend using LFO tool to shape the sidechain.
I wouldn’t recommend using any reverb on the (or any bassline really), so keep it pretty dry and organic. The simpler the better and it will slip right into the mix.
As a last step just add an EQ to the bassline rack, and do a small notch where your kick is hitting and roll off the extreme highs and extreme lows <30hz.
Conclusion I hope this long written article helps a bit with Psytrance baselines. Psytrance is a very rewarding genre to get into right now as more and more artist seem to be incorporating it into their sets due to the bpm range of it.