Here’s a quick look at how I made this funk beat. I wanted to try an idea somewhere between Bruno Mars 24K Magic, Pharrell Williams Neptunes work and Calvin Harris Funk Wav tracks.
I think starting with real instruments is a great way to come up with some fresh ideas. Picking up a guitar, bass or keys instrument can really help you break out of patterns in your DAW. It forces your brain to come up with different ideas instead of drawing them in. I played around with a muted guitar sound until I had come up with the main riff which was a muted funk part.
The guitar riff is in C minor, goes into a chromatic line and then uses a turnaround. I mixed the guitar with a little compression a bit crusher and some subtle reverb. For more ideas on getting a consistent high end sound on a guitar for modern productions and mixes check out this post.
Next I added a beat using the Launchpad and some samples loaded into a Drum Rack in Ableton. I’m a big fan of Decap’s Drums That Knock and I used a fair few of his sounds in the Drum Rack. I also used some of Boi1da’s brilliant RnB drum samples.
Once I have a beat down with Drum Rack I almost always then separate out the individual drum channels. This means that you can mix each drum sound separately.
With the Drums down I added some chords on a Fender Rhodes. Here I used the Kontakt EP73 Rhodes Instrument from Soniccouture. The main part is a Gm7 to Abmaj7 with a chromatic line in octaves. This resolves to a Cm11 at the end of each 4 bars.
With the chords and most of the beat laid down I added some bass guitar underneath. Here I was really going for a bass sound like Pharrell achieved in the Snoop Dogg track ‘The City’.
Although I didn’t quite get that sound, the bass line in that Snoop tune was a good inspiration from which to start. The bass ended up mainly following the guitar riff and has a few 16th notes here and there to give it a bit of forward momentum.
The final part I added to the beat was doubles layered on the main chord hits at the start of each bar. For these I used the NORD 2X layered with a keys patch on Reveal Sound Spire (see above). I added some saturation to the Spire sound to get it to sparkle a bit more and sit brighter at the front of the mix along with the guitar.
I also added some Multiband compression, EQ taking out lows, highs and some low Mid woodiness and a widening effect using sample delay. You can see the main FX on this sound in the pic below:
For more on the widening effect using Delay you can check out this post where I used the concept on a funk guitar part.
Hope you enjoyed these vibes! Let me know what you think in the comments.