5 EDM Production Lessons From Rock Guitarists
Nov 25, 2020 | by Farah Davis
If you've seen our article on The Top 8 Must-See Virtual DJ Sets From 2020, then you're probably inspired to come up with amazing sets of your own. Now, there's no one way to go about doing this. Music is an art form that values creativity above anything else. And while you can try to read about guides online that tell you how to produce good DJ sets, you'll often produce something that's already been made before.
To add a new spin to things, why not draw inspiration from other genres of music? Since rock is one of the most popular genres in music right now, it makes sense to go in this direction. In this article, we'll be giving you five EDM production tips drawn from rock music and rock guitarists. With these tips, you'll be able to create music that's unique and makes use of the best elements from the two genres.
Follow the Song Structure
A lot about music has to do with how the song feels. One way you can play around with this is by the structure of your mixes. Many popular rock songs follow the verse-chorus-verse structure that all lead up to a big finish. Given its success, why not apply the same concept with your mixes?
While your mixes may not include any lyrics, you can apply the same concept by repeating certain instrumentals, beats, or chord progressions during the respective parts of the song structure. You can take this even further and add an instrumental solo in the middle of a song, as all rock guitarists would with a guitar solo.
Guitar pedals are vital when it comes to rock music. Distortion pedals give riffs that heavy crunchy sound most associated with rock and roll. However, another pedal is also considered crucial to making rock music. The reverb pedal is one of the most utilized sounds in rock music. In fact, inventor of surf rock Dick Dale made heavy use of reverb to create a sound so unique it would define the genre for years to come. This is because adding reverb makes a sound fuller without making it sound unnatural. You can take this same principle and apply it to your EDM sets.
By adding reverb to your mixes, you can get the same effect that it has on rock music. One thing you have to take note of when using reverb in your EDM sets is the EQ. Your mix may sound too muddy when you first add in the reverb but all you have to do from there is to lower the frequency below 300Hz. This should help clean the sound up, all while getting the most out of the reverb.
Sample Rock Songs
Sampling has been quite popular in recent years, with many popular songs making use of sampling. Most of the time, the samples are so seamlessly integrated that listeners usually assume that they're part of the original song. While common in the hip hop and rap scene, sampling is also quite popular in rock music. In fact, rock trio The Beastie Boys makes use of a Jimi Hendrix sample on their song "Jimmy James".
Sampling is a great way to make your mixes more unique, all while adding some depth and texture to EDM. Sampling a popular rock song is also a good way to get the crowd going. You can use sampling to build up hype and increase the overall excitement during your set. However, you'll want to balance this out as you don't want it to stand out too much and be jarring for your listeners.
Similar to how reverb is used for rock music, adding vibrato to your mixes can also improve the sound quality of your sets. Taigen Kawabe of Bo Ningen uses a combination of pedals along with a vibrato pedal to add electronic texture to his guitar. Synths can benefit from a little vibrato as they share certain sound qualities with the guitar.
This means that adding vibrato to you synths will uplift the tone, which could be quite useful depending on the sound that you're trying to achieve. If you want to sharpen your synths, you can do so by adjusting the pitch with an LFO. You can also thicken up the sound of your synths by throwing in a little slow phase vibrato lead with a fast one.
Give it a Rock Beat
There's a reason why former rock producers such as Rezz, Marshmello, and Skrillex have had pretty successful careers in the electronic music scene. They managed to inject rock and roll into their mixes, thus creating chaotic sets that crowds from all over the world have grown to love.
And while not everyone has the same experience with rock music, you can still incorporate its elements into EDM. An easy way to do this is to insert rock-inspired drum beats into your songs. Accompany this with a bass line that amplifies the drums, and you've pretty much nailed the rock sound.