The second most notable aspect of the composition of ‘Au Seve’ is the harmonic interaction between the bassline and the synth melody.
The synth melody which comes in at 0:31 is in the key of F# minor. It is, in fact, just the notes of an F# minor 7 chord (see Passing Notes – Deep House Chords). Here’s how it looks and sounds:
However, when the bass line comes in at 1:18, it uses a flattened 2nd (highlighted below in red) – in this case, that’s a G.
This puts the bassline in the Phrygian mode (see Passing Notes – Understanding Modes), which gives the bassline its slightly darker sound.
Importantly, it also means that the G in the bassline plays under the E in the synth part. This very brief harmony creates an inverted minor 3rd interval. If the bassline was in the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode), the bass would instead be playing a G#, creating an inverted major 3rd interval.
The flattened 2nd also means that when the bassline descends in the third bar, the G sounds underneath the A in the melody, thus avoiding the dissonance of the A in the synth melody playing over a G# in the bass.
The interaction between the descending synth melody and the rising bassline is also a great example of contrary motion, as was astutely noted in the comments section of this recent Passing Notes.
Finally, let’s examine a clever sound design technique employed in ‘Au Seve’: the percussive white noise bursts which follow the synth melody in places. Are they percussion sounds triggered in time with the synth or part of the synth patch? It’s not entirely clear, but it also doesn’t matter – they link the synth melody to the percussion rhythm and help to propel the rhythm of the track, especially as they interact with the snare/clap and hi-hat patterns.
Here’s how the rhythm of the noise sounds on its own:
This is particularly prominent throughout the intro, during the second and fourth bars of each repetition of the synth melody. A more stripped-down example occurs at 2:40, showing how the white noise and the four-to-the-floor kick pattern work together.
In this audio clip we can hear the hats and clap pattern on their own, then hear how the rhythm is enhanced by the addition of the off-beat noise hits in the second half of each phrase:
In the piano roll below, the hats are on the top line, the clap/snare in red, and the white noise in purple.
The interaction between the clap/snare, hi-hats and noise creates an incredible rolling percussion pattern. In combination with the kick, the synth and the bassline it’s a simple but devastatingly effective groove:
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.