Make Acid Bass with Bitwig

29 Mar 2016

Back at the beginning of the month I read an update from wishing electronic music makers a happy 303 day.

Taking encouragement from the update, I decided to try my hand at making a 303-inspired track in Bitwig.  So I loaded the arpeggiator device into an instrument track, added a step modulator, dropped in a polysynth and got right to it.

The result is Acid Choo Choo, just about 3 minutes and 03 seconds of non-stop acid bass action.



Below are some details about how I put the track together.

1) The Bass

The raison d'etre is, of course, the bass.  I used the Acido preset from Bitwig's polysynth instrument.  The polysynth is loaded into the fx slot of a step modulator.

stepmod-polysynth A step modulator adds movement to the bass line.


An arpeggiator device precedes the step modulator and starts the device chain for the bass track.  (So the full chain is arpgeggiator > step mod > polysynth.)

arpeggiator Nothing but 16th notes


2) Cowbell

I decided the track should have some cowbell.  It didn't seem right to limit the use of arpeggiators and step modulators to just the bass track.  So I added them to the cowbell track for good measure.

stepmod-cow Don't fear the cowbell.


Here's what the arpeggiated, step modulated, and distorted cowbell sounds like.  (Not really anything resembling an actual cowbell!)



3) Compositional Approach

I tried something new with Acid Choo Choo and used both the clip launcher and arranger sequencers to put the track together.  I started by experimenting with some building block material and improvising using the clip launcher.  (I trigger clips using a control script I wrote for Korg's nanoPAD2 controller.)  Once I had the basic flow laid out as scenes I recorded several takes launching scenes, manipulating parameters, and recording the results to the arranger.


clip-launcher The basic structure laid out in clip launcher scenes.


With a good take recorded into the arranger timeline I began experimenting with layering in additional sounds.  I added a couple supporting tracks during this phase.


arranger-two-takes I used the arranger to capture multiple takes of clip launcher improvs.


And the result is a short, 303-ish bass track that I had a bunch of fun making.  Thanks for the idea, Team Bitwig!