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Hardstyle mixes influences from hard trance, hard house and hardcore. One of the more aggressive forms of dance music often employing a hard, distorted (“barking”) kick drum mixed amongst melodic leads and binary motifs. It is also one of the more complex genres of dance music for artists to produce, requiring knowledge of a number of techniques including unusually excessive EQ, judicious frequency specific distortion, detuning, sound design and synthesis layering. Running close to 12 hours of video, this tutorial has been divided into three areas.

Module 1: Kick - The Hardstyle kick is perhaps the most elusive timbre of the genre and a major sticking point for many producers. As a result, we’ve dedicated close to 4 hours of this tutorial to the production and design involved in a Hardstlye kick. We begin by designing and modifying a simple 909 kick and then walk through, step-by-step, the initial creative decisions and techniques for the production of a typical Hardstyle “barking” kick. We explain and show the various techniques and plug-ins used by many Hardstyle artists before reviewing the audio editing and various techniques involved to further modify the previously created barking kick.

Module 2: Composition, Sound Design and Arranging - In the second part we examine the various techniques in musical composition for the lead, the use of counterpoint to create dissonance and the ancillary/binary melodies and motifs. We also discuss into the sound design principles and practices for leads, screeches, reverse bass, sound layering and EQ.

Module 3: Arranging and Further Sound Design - For the final module, we examine further synthesis layering, lead effects busses and chains, a typical processing chain for Hardstyle vocals and then we work towards building a skeleton Hardstyle arrangement examining the build techniques, reverse bass, drop and general arrangement principles before finally returning again to sound design. Here we employ a Virus Ti and show how it can be used to create leads and screeches.

NOTE: Logic Pro X is used with this tutorial due to the importance of the Clip Distortion plug-in

Runtime: 11 Hours 40 Minutes

Module 1: The Kick

An introduction to the tutorial

Session 01: Drumazon: 20 minutes
We examine the D16 Drumazon 909 and how to program it for the foundations of a Hardstyle kick sound.

Session 02: 909 Synthesis: 20 minutes
It’s not necessary to own or use the D16 for the kick and here we show how to program the same timbre in other drum synths..

Session 03: Clip Distortion: 25 minutes
Logic Pro’s Clip Distortion is a fundamental part of the sound design, we examine its interface and use.

Session 04: Harmonic Processing: 20 minutes
Here we employ and examine further harmonic effects that are used in the creation of the kick.

Session 05: EQ Application: 30 minutes
In this session, we employ EQ’s into the kick chain and discuss positioning in the chain.

Session 06: Further Processing: 35 minutes
For this session, we look at applying further processing to begin building the foundations of the hardstyle kick.

Session 07: The Tok: 30 minutes
With the basic hardstyle kick re-imported as audio, we explain the processing that can be used to produce the tok, or transient stage of the kick.

Session 08: The Bark: 25 minutes
With the Tok complete, we examine how to edit and process audio to produce the bark of the kick.

Session 09: Pitching the Kick: 20 minutes
We examine how to pitch the kick and also experiment with the previously programmed kicks.

Module 2: Composition, Sound Design and Arranging

Session 01: Melodic Composition: 40 minutes
For the first session we examine how to compose a hardstyle melody using counterpoint to create dissonance.

Session 02: Melodic Rhythm: 15 minutes
For the second session, we examine and employ the use of triplets and rhythm into the melody.

Session 03: More Melodic Rhythm: 15 minutes
We continue from the previous session by examining further methods to add rhythm to hardstyle melodies.

Session 04: Lead Synthesis: 45 minutes
Here we investigate lead synthesis and begin to construct lead sounds with synthesisers and layering.

Session 05: Breakdown: 35 minutes
In this session, we examine the breakdown and the construction/composition of chords.

Session 06: The Reverse Bass: 35 minutes
Here, we discuss the approaches and sound design for the reverse bass.

Session 07: Screeches & Motifs: 40 minutes
In this session, we examine the screech, how to synthesise it and how to write motifs.

Session 08: Effects Chains: 30 minutes
During this session we examine how to construct effects chains for chords.

Module 3: Arranging and Further Sound Design

Session 01: More Lead Synthesis: 30 minutes
For the first session we examine more lead synthesis and layering to build a larger lead.

Session 02: Lead Effects Bus: 25 minutes
For the second session, we examine the typical effects bus that can be employed on leads.

Session 03: More Effects Chains: 20 minutes
We continue from the previous session and examine some alternative effects chains.

Session 04: Hardstyle Vocals: 25 minutes
Here we produce a skeleton vocal narration to explain the uses of effects with vocals.

Session 05: Arrangement Techniques: 50 minutes
In this session, we examine the basic techniques for creating builds, intros and how to modify the reverse bass in an arrangement.

Session 06: Arrangement Walkthrough: 35 minutes
Here, we walkthrough a rough skeletal arrangement created using all the parts discussed throughout the tutorial.

Session 07: The Access Virus: 25 minutes
In this final session, we show how to approach leads and screeches on the Access Virus Ti.

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