Electronic Dance Music Grooves (Softcover)
By Anderton |
Looking to go "into the groove"? This book is a fine place to start
By Craig Anderton
Hal Leonard Books
Softcover, 263 pages, $17.48
If you want to get into EDM, you’re going to need some cool beats. And if you’re already into it, additional sources of inspiration never hurt. Enter this book from Josh Bess, an Ableton Certified Trainer and percussionist. But don’t think this book is relevant only to Ableton Live users—it’s applicable to just about anything with a MIDI piano roll view, and arguably even more so to programs like SONAR that include a step sequencer.
The first chapter describes Live basics, which complements the downloadable demo version of Live. The second chapter has useful concepts for beginners that translate to a variety of DAWs, but the real meat of the book—170 pages—starts with Chapter 3, which shows screen shots for grooves. Musical styles include house, techno, breakbeat (e.g., hip-hip, drum ‘n’ bass), and world (e.g., dance hall), but these are also broken down into various sub-genres.
Although beats are shown using Live’s Piano Roll View, it’s easy to translate to other piano roll views or step sequencers. Each pattern also includes info about some of the techniques used in the pattern, as well as occasional tips. I consider this a strong addition to the book, as they suggest avenues for additional exploration, and give some interesting insights into how particular beats are constructed.
Chapter 4 is 14 pages about drum fills and transitions, again using screen shots for examples, while Chapter 5 covers Groove, Swing, and Feel. This takes only slightly more effort to translate into equivalents for other programs. Chapter 6 has 22 pages of how to build drum kits in Live from one-shots, and Chapter 7 is a one-page summary.
For an even more universal appeal, the book also includes a download code for a variety of media that are suitable for all DAWs. There are 292 drum samples (mostly WAV, some AIF), along with 642 MIDI files for the grooves described in the book and the 19 described MIDI files for fills.
For under $20, some might consider the samples and MIDI files alone worth the price, and the files let you take advantage of what’s presented in the book without even having to read most of it. However, the explanations for the rationale behind programming the beats provide a helpful background for those who want to go beyond just importing something and using it “as is.” Bess’s background as a percussionist certainly helps, as it gives a perspective beyond just “put these notes on these beats.”
Overall, for those getting into dance music, this book lets you hit the ground running with actual files you can use in a wide cross-section of styles. I could also see this information as being useful for those doing soundtracks if they’re not as familiar with certain styles, yet need to create music using, for example, Dance Hall of Dubstep beats. For less than the cost of a 12-pack of Red Bull at Walmart, you’ll have something with much greater staying power.
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.