2. Bass vs Kick
In the realm of club-oriented music, there’s no getting away from the fact that the two most important elements in a track inhabit the low frequencies: the bassline and the kick drum. The challenge is to ensure they interact without clashing.
It usually helps to think in terms of the frequencies each element will occupy in order to ensure each sits in its own space. As a rule, avoid combining sub-based kicks with subby basslines as the frequencies are likely to clash:
However, a fuller, higher frequency kick can work with a tonally stripped-down bassline:
If you’re not sure which frequencies each element of your track occupies, use a spectrum analyser to check where the core energy of each lies:
The kick drum can sometimes be made to fit better with a little judicious retuning:
Some tracks do away with a conventional bassline altogether and merely use a kick drum playing different notes across the keyboard to achieve the same effect.
Space can also be created for the kick by ensuring that it doesn’t overlap with the timing of the bass. Try making bass notes shorter and avoid playing them at the same time as the kick. This creates more space, opening up more potential headroom, which in turn means more scope for dynamic processing across the track to create a louder, punchier mix.
EQ can also be useful, as we’ll see in tip number 5.