Making Dark Electronic – how to start

Last update:23 September, 2012 | Author: Andy | Category: Blog

Understanding compression

This is connected with the above, you will not get a fat sounding kickdrum without understanding compression. This is not about making files smaller like mp3, it is about levelling differencies between loud and quiet parts of the sound, to make it sound ”fat”. The subject of compression is very difficult to grasp for a newbie. Usually you will not hear any difference where subtle compression is used. Do not give up, watch some tutorials. Gradually you will start to hear and understand it.


Again, it is you who makes the sound, not the synth. To make you believe, watch what you can do with free, and four years old now (latest version released in 2006) Synth1 written by just one guy. This will also show you some synth basics.

Now you are  probably dying to put your hands on this little synth – here you can download it. The page is in Japanese, look for the download link on the top of the page.

In dark electro style you will create all your sounds from the basic wave shapes, saw, triangle, sine, square. These waves, put together and filtered will give you all the dark electronic sounds you may dream of. What synthesizers to use? Again the answer is simple – the ones you can get hold of.

A word of warning, do not try to start learning synths with Zeta (Z3ta). This is an excellent and very popular synthesize because of the way it sounds, but it has very unintuitive sound flow pattern. If  you like for example Nurzery Rhymes – they use it. You have total control over everything, and this will make you completely lost. Start from the simple ones like Synth1. Avoid so called FM synths for a while.

Hardware synthesizers and analogues.

Do not bother at this stage unless you are rich. I will say a heresy now: I do not think that analogs sound better than soft synths. I think that any simple recent soft synth beats all the analog oldtimers.  I also say that vinyl sounds awful – I am just a digital guy, that is it.

Mixing Your song

When you understand a bit all the above, it is time to make your fist mix. The mix is where you put everything together: your synth lines, your bass, drums, vocal etc. Nowdays the mix blends with the actual process of writing or composing music – in electronic music those two things are done simultaneously. The reason for this is that you no longer have to go to the studio to record and mix your music, you can do it yourself.

Mixing is an extremely broad subject. Quick advice – cut off all the bass (low frequencies) from all the instruments that do not need or use it (or sound ok without it – you have to experiment)– e.g. leave it only on bass and kick drum. This will make your mix much cleaner. Find videos about mixing in your chosen DAW. Learn about equalization first.  Find out how to avoid the situation when instruments occupy the same frequency ranges and cancel each other, killing the space in your mix. Use parametric equalizers even if they seem unintuitive at first. You can not avoid using them.