Make Fred again.. ft The Blessed Madonna - Marea (We've Lost Dancing) Riff in Ableton - Luca Mucci

hello this is luca and welcome to a new sample sound music production tutorial

today we will analyze a popular deep house song named maria by fred again featuring the blessed madonna if you don't know already you can listen to the original song on all platforms it became really popular this year and it features these super catchy riff i've tried to recreate the instrumental on ableton live 11 so that we can isolate the parts and analyze this riff which has some distinctive traits both on the note writing and the sound design by analyzing this sound we will cover some basic sound synthesis techniques which will prove very useful for contemporary deep house music production so let's start from blank patch in this tutorial i'm going to use x-first serum but obviously you can do the same with any reasonably powerful vst or stock synthesizer if we listen and analyze the lead sound of the track we can notice some kind of brass and flute nuances so anytime we want to synthesize a brass like sound we need to start from sawtooth waves then we adjust the volume envelope the attack time is really important he has to be somewhere between 100 and 200 milliseconds then we set a short release and then maybe we adjust the curves

then we have the filter as it's often the case we're gonna need a low pass filter in serum i usually really like the 18 db mg low pass filter so we adjust the cutoff and pump up the drive to get that warm sound but having a static filter is never a good idea we need some envelope modulation so let's use envelope number 2 and do something similar to the volume envelope but with shorter attack and release times

then we assign the modulation to the filter cutoff

decrease its value and increase the amount of modulation here we go

now it starts getting really brassy

but we're not quite there yet we need to make the sound bigger and wider and the best technique to get a big dance sound what is usually called super so is obviously unison so we increase the unison voices adjust the tuning leave the blend to its default 75 value this is like the dry wet and we fully randomize the phase of the oscillators this gives a bit of that analog feel to it by making the start and the tone of each note slightly different

much better now

to get also that flute flavor of the original sound we need to have some noise especially at the attack of the note to simulate the puff on the mouthpiece this is fairly easy to do we just enable the noise oscillator and make sure it goes into the filter as the main oscillator we can use classic white noise or something more particular in this case i found that the organic noise samples work really well especially air can number four

just make sure you don't get too much of it it's just a tiny bit it's a detail

so well the core of the dry sound is pretty much there there are obviously many other small things we can do to improve the sound like adding another sine oscillator to reinforce the fundamental frequency and drive the filter a bit more

then maybe we can very slightly decrease the filtered dry wet in order to always let through a tiny bit of the higher harmonics

there's obviously many other things we can do to this sound but again the core is there so we'll move to the effects section now it's not difficult to realize that the original sound has a lot of effects on the most evident is the reverb but there's many of them at first i usually put those devices that intensify the effect of the unison which are the chorus and the hyper on the chorus i disable the filter and the modulation and increase the feedback value to get more of a metallic sound on the hyper we just increase the unison it's just a matter of getting that super so sound like more super hyper

then it's pretty clear to me that the artist put some heavy bit crushing effect on the sound on serum we have bit crushing on the distortion device so let's select downsample and adjust the drive intensity and dry wet no more than these i think

after this we have some classic eq and compression the eq is just to make the sound thinner and brighter by high passing the sound while the compressor is to get more uniform sound and to avoid peaks we just put some fast attack and release values some gain nothing special here

and finally we have the space and time effects delay and reverb delay is in sixteenth notes and it's just to get a bit of ambience and depth to the sound it's not a strong delay effect as the one we're gonna see in a minute but it's a really soft one the reverb on the other hand is very present

we can use a long plate reverb and adjust the dry wet amount so that the reaver will create this continuous pad like texture but also move the sound a bit further in the 3d space just not too much

outside of serum i have included some more effects just another eq to cut some more bass more precisely and add something to the 1000 hertz and another reverb and delay which are just for the automation before the drop if you listen to the original tune in this point there is like a freeze effect of the lead sound

these can be obtained by simply putting a reverb and delay as insert effects then automating the dry wet the delay is a simple preset just high feedback 3 16 as time value

while on the reverb i have used the freeze function of ableton's reverb but really you can also increase the decay time with another automation and get a similar effect

of course there's plenty more you can do for example adding some more reverb on a return track then making some send automation to give more accent to some specific notes

the last thing i want to discuss with you is the midi pattern of the riff when it comes to making a catchy riff the rhythmic aspect of it can be even more important than the melodic one so let's have a look here first of all the song key is g sharp major the chord progression is eight bar long with four different chords one every two bars it's pretty standard more specifically it's a 4-5-6-1 major progression with the sub-bass giving support to the harmony by playing the root note of every chord

having a progression like this which is quite typical in mainstream popular music allows you to have a very simple riff without too many notes or a particular melody to get a riff like this i would recommend playing with the keyboard even if you're not a keyboard player just pick some notes on the scale even only one or two and focus on the rhythm i mean that's just four different notes playing in this riff but really only two c and a sharp make ninety percent of the total so what really makes the difference here is the rhythm and the style of playing first of all the notes are played staccato there are poses between them and most of them are really really short which combined with the long attack values we have set on the envelopes result in a lot of variety between nodes a lot of dynamics secondly the human factor the irregularity if we look closer the position of most of the notes is off-grid i mean there is definitely some swing as it is in the drums and in the entire tune but this is not just wing like in this section this note and these i mean they shouldn't be affected by swing but they're all off the grid avoiding quantization is a technique sometimes used by producers to add that unique vibe to the pattern if we try to quantize this midi on a 16th grid it immediately loses its magic

this is after quantizing both the start and the end of the notes but even if i quantize only the start leaving all the poses and staccato it still lacks that something

because the pattern is too regular robotic and as such it can quickly get boring as an example i've just come up with this alternative idea

and recorded the riff without quantizing

i can maybe manually adjust some of the nodes

or another option is to apply not so strict quantization we open ableton's midi quantized settings and set a 50 amount in this way i can keep a bit of that human factor while not being completely off the grid

and finally i add some swing

so we've come to the end of today's tutorial where we have analyzed this very popular depos tune maria most of the song's uniqueness come from the main lead sound which we have recreated on serum we have built this sound from scratch analyzing every steps like super slow oscillators envelope modulation unizon and audio effects but we've also seen that irregularity naturalness and spontaneity are key elements here and when combined with some proper sound design that can make a really unique riff

so i guess we have all learned something from this tune thank you for watching and i'll see you next time