The Secret Of Dance Music Production

The definitive guide to making cutting-edge electronic music INCLUDES 5 VOUCHER

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Featuring 312 colour pages packed with technique, tips, illustrations and hands-on walkthroughs, The Secrets of Dance Music Production pulls together all you need to take a mix from concept to club-ready master, featuring a wealth of exclusive content from Attack’s award-winning team of writers, including:

Studio fundamentals: Synthesis and sampling; studio setup and monitor placement; EQ, ambience and compression all covered in detailed 101-style guides.

The golden rules of mixing: Learn how the pros get loud, defined and dynamic mixes stacked with interest and energy.

Essential techniques: Layering, frequency bracketing, lo-fi processing, bass splitting, vocal production, mastering… It’s all inside.

Up your writing chops: Compose inspired bass and toplines with kick-starter approaches to voicing, arpeggios, syncopation, killer chord progressions and more. Arrange loops into tracks with analysis of tried-andtested dancefloor structures.

Bigger beats: 50+ pages of rhythm making insight. Masterclasses in drum sound design, transient shaping, swing crafting and ghost placement plus 30+ beats broken down.

Learn from the masters… Pro tips from the world’s finest producers. Huxley, Redlight, Breach, Tricky, Justice, Sigur Rós, Todd Edwards, Kenny Gonzalez and more share their secrets.

Get that sound: From vintage arps to supersize FX; ripping Reese basslines to stacked EDM leads; ethereal soundscapes to deep house keys – dozens of sounds built from the ground up in media-rich walkthroughs.


Chapter One: Drums & Beats

  • Drum essentials: tone, transients and tuning
  • The kick drum: compression and EQ. Myth of the ‘perfect’ kick
  • The snare drum: compression, EQ, layering and ambience
  • Hi-hats: sculpting and EQ. Mute groups
  • Percussion and cymbals
  • The theory of rhythm: tempo, phrasing, the grid
  • Breaking timing conventions: Polyrhythms, linear drumming and three as the magic number
  • Programming and sequencing drums: the three approaches
  • The fundamentals of beats: velocity, length, transients, hit placement
  • Quantisation, swing and groove. Faking the funk
  • Synthesising drum sounds: Analogue kick drum. Analogue snare. White noise hi-hat. Deep house tom
  • Layering drums: Thinking as one, phase, timing, EQ and bussing
  • Beat starters: 32+ beat grids dissected for multiple genres including; House and deep house; Garage and 2-step; Techno and tech-house; Chillout and chillwave; Prog and trance; Nu disco and indie dance; D&B and dubstep
  • The best… drum machines


Tuned toms / Tuning a kick and bass / Tuning and EQ tweaks for better drums / Voice groups in Battery / Choke groups in Ableton / Programming ‘live’ bongos and shakers / Programming ‘live’ hi-hats / Step sequencing a house beat / MIDI to program drums / Adding audio to and refining a MIDI beat / Extracting the snare from a drum loop / Swing in Logic, swing in Ableton / Extracting a groove / Layered clap/snare combo / Layered EDM clap/snare smash / Groove essentials: funky ghost snares

Chapter Two: Syntheses & Sound Design

  • Subtractive synthesis
  • Signal flow: oscillators, PWM, filters, envelopes and VCAs, modulation, monophony vs polyphony, MIDI and CV/gate
  • In depth: waveforms, harmonics
  • Is analogue better than digital?
  • Sequencers and arpeggiators
  • The pros and cons of… presets
  • Essential synths and emulations
  • Other forms of synthesis: inc. FM, modular and wavetable
  • Automation and tweak ability
  • Programming: synth leads and arps
  • Programming: synth pads
  • Programming: soundscapes
  • Programming: synth FX
  • Programming: deep house keys
  • Programming: EDM chords


Basic vintage arp / EDM lead / Funky synth brass / Moroder-style arp / Basic ‘string’ pad / Building a soundscape / White noise fall / White noise wind-up / Dub siren / Pitch riser / Deep house keys / Stacked EDM chords

Chapter Three: Bass & Basslines

  • Bassline archetypes
  • Bass programming
  • Bass synthesis
  • Sub bass: Generation and mixing
  • Mixing bass: Ground rules and challenges, splitting the bass, distortion for bulk, EQ


Moog bass for starters / Reese-style bass / Talking bass – The Skrillex sound / Whomp robot synth / Nu disco/indie; dance bass / House organ bass / Creating an additional sub pass part / Splitting the bass / Radio-friendly bass / Layered synth bass / Stereo floor-shaker

Chapter Four: Using Samples

  • The evolution of sampling: samplers then and now
  • The right sampler for the job
  • The old-school sample vibe: how a sampler works, crafting character
  • Stretch and pitch
  • Creative sampling and resampling
  • The art of multi-sampling
  • Amen to that: the last word on breaks
  • Mixing samples: prep, mixing, isolation
  • The rights and wrong of sampling: legal questions answered


The old-school sample vibe / Old-school melodic drum effects / Resampling a filthy Reese bassline / Making a custom multi-sampled instrument / Make your own resampled break / Isolating a bassline / A-cappella extract – isolating a vocal

Chapter Five: Theory Crash Course

  • Intro: keys and chords, relative minors, modes and triads
  • Beyond the triad: 7ths and 9ths
  • Sampled chords
  • Chord progressions: circle of fifths, anticipation and resolution, classic progressions
  • Taking chords further: voicing and inversions, changing a chord with the bass
  • More chords and progressions: 11ths and 13ths, added tone chords, suspended chords
  • Melodies and toplines: contrary motion; anacrusis; arpeggios and arpeggiators; ostinato
  • Syncopation

Chapter Six: Vocals

  • Vocal archetypes
  • Setting up a recording: prep, right mic for the job, the recording, levels, the ‘perfect take’
  • Vocal pre-production: comping, edits, pitching and timing
  • Vocal production: EQ, compression, automation, sibilance, ambient and spatial effects, modulation and character effects, making way for vocals
  • The best… vocal performances, the pro studio
  • Vocal treatments: prog lead, gutsy disco, spoken word, pumping chillwave, backing vox, double-tracks, ad-libs, chorus vocal blocks, ear candy and FX
  • Vocal effects: vocoders, talk-boxes, auto-tune, resampling, reverse reverb, cut-up glitched vocals


Vocal sounds: prog-style lead, gutsy disco and pumping chillwave / Fake double-tracks / The chorus block / Vocal FX: vocal riser, telephone EQ, reverse reverb, vocoded vocals and glitched vocals

Chapter Seven: The Studio & it's Tools

  • What you hear in the studio, improving acoustics, speakers vs headphones, ergonomics.
  • Processors and effects: routing, groups and signal flow
  • EQ and tonal enhancers
  • Compression and limiting, de-essers and expanders
  • Modulation and pitch effects: chorus, vibrato, flange, phase
  • Reverb
  • Echo and delay
  • Stereo effects: width enhancers and stereo spreaders
  • Distortion and overdrive effects, tape emulation, amp and speaker simulators, bit-crushers
  • Lo-fi and found sound production
  • Ring modulation and frequency shifters, vocoders


Compression – drum bus / Parallel compression – drum bus / Extreme pump compression = master bus / Techno beat using field recordings / Mirror EQ separation / EQ ‘search and destroy’

Chapter Eight: Mixing & Mastering

  • Great mixdowns: context, response, intention. The best… mixes
  • The golden rules of mixing, how mixes look, mixing for club systems
  • Great mixes: dynamics, width and depth, sustained interest.
  • Arrangement, and why it matters.
  • Structure. The breakdown. Track deconstructions: EDM crossover, underground techno, chillout
  • Transitions and FX
  • Loudness and levels: dynamic range and headroom, measuring audio, increasing loudness
  • Monitoring and knowing your room, mixing on headphones, A/Bing
  • Mixdown: prep, groups, smart working
  • Creating an initial balance: headroom, automation, EQ bracketing, panning, wider sounds
  • Compression in the mix: bus ‘glue’ compression, flavours, the master bus, parallel compression, multi-band compression
  • EQ in the mix: masking, corrective EQ, tone sculpting, rebalancing the bus, what goes where, generating new frequencies
  • Mixing kick and bass: complementary sounds, the three models of kick/bass mixing, sidechained kicks, arrangement to solve overlap
  • Ambient effects in the mix: tone and shape, depth and space, mix coherence, SFX, taming returns
  • Ear candy, automation and endgame, checking the mix
  • Common mix problems and how to fix them
  • Mastering: an introduction, mastering for vinyl
  • Mastering: the process, EQ, compression, limiting, mono bass and m/s, other tools
  • Mastering: find duties and edits, stem mixing


Transition FX: ambient bus build, the bomb, full mix FX, vocal riser / Grouping in Ableton / Fader and bus groups in Logic / EQ treatment: hi-hats and bracketing / EQ treatment: bass / Widening a signal – five approaches / Sidechain compression in Logic and Ableton / Parallel compression – drum bus / Distortion to generate new frequencies / Building a tape-style saturator / Kick and bass mixing: low bass, upper kick; low kick, upper bass; side-by-side kick and bass; arrangement to solve the problem / Mastering: a 12 step approach / Edits to the master / The pre-drop fade


  • BPM to tempo chart
  • Note to frequency guide: what goes where
  • Index

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