From Creation to Completion: The Bass Line

Creating the bass click

As good of a plan as this was, I needed a few things before I could actually provide a click for Jason to sing to. I needed the pitches and the duration of the notes. But in order to get the set of pitches, I had to map out the entire song to make sure I only asked Jason to record what I needed.

Example of the tonal click track I provided to Jason.

Bass note selection

I happened to be sitting at my computer when Jason synced his recorded tracks to my Creative Cloud folder. A sense of anticipatory pleasure snapped through me as I watched the sync notifications pop up on my desktop: the game was on! I launched Adobe Audition, loaded the files, and began evaluating each note separately.

Visual sequencing

The next step was aligning the selected notes. I created a version of my click that only contained the bass line, and ensured that I selected a piano as the instrument. This gave me two things: a clean attack and a reference tone.

The waveform on top was the bass and rhythm click.

Level alignment

For the bass to sound as human as possible, the sound had to be about the same level across the board. By selecting the quieter sections and increasing the volume, I made it sound as close to level as possible, but didn’t sweat the little details, knowing that it would sound even more level after some compression.

EQ, compression, and reverb

The last three pieces of magic were equalization, compression, and reverb. I discovered later that I could have simply squished the first two steps together via compression — chalk that up to “I do things the way I would live music,” which, Jason explained to me after I’d finished the final mix, was only half the equation.

Equalization for Jason’s voice. Note that I bumped up the bass and pulled down the highs.
A little touch of reverb to even things out.

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Elaine Chao

Elaine Chao

2.2K Followers

I work for Adobe on Adobe XD. Also a martial arts instructor, musician, writer, volunteerism advocate. Opinions mine.