AMA with Jack Denney (Ternion Sound)


Today we have an interesting and pretty nerdy takeaway from Jack Denney’s Instagram AMA. Jack shares his secrets on creating basses. It’s a must check for every Dubstep and Bass Music producer.

Q: if you could only use one form of synthesis what would it b
A: Honestly, probably just boring old regular subtractive synthesis. I get so much out of just clever modulation and stacking of filters over saw waves. If I’m allowed infinite parallel chain processing with notch/band filters and saturation as well then I’m set.
Second up is probably FM because of the capability to get metallic/atonal overtones and do drum synthesis and form a good basis for physical modelling. As much as I love granular it couldn’t cover enough bases for me, wavetable synthesis is basically sampling though and idk if I count that as cheating. Combination wavetable + FM + subtractive is kind of my go-to for everything though (via Phase Plant/Vital/Serum)

Q: What is your basic bass building process, if you had to generalize start to finish?
A: To really overgeneralize:
1. Start with something with a lot of harmonies/ overtones (saws/squares, wavetables, FM stuff, etc)
2. Cut those harmonies out with something (filters, phasers, parallel freq shifting, etc)
3. Reintroduce harmonies (distortion, saturation, bit reduction, OTT, etc)
4. Repeat the process of cutting and reintroducing frequencies ad infinitum (literally ad infinitum because some of my bass sounds are resamples of bass sounds I made in 2014 or before that have been continually resampled, filtered, processed, et etc dozens of times)
There’s other little tricks too. Tape processing, vinyl processing, adding various kinds of noise at different stages, adding reverb at various stages, using combs/short delays to get metallic overtones at various stages, ring mod, granular resampling, etc. I get bored no fast I’m always switching up my habits for this.

Q: How do I make the high bass sound from Takeoff by Daladubz
A: Might need a timestamp on this one I’m not sure what you’re referring to and I can only listen on my phone currently, but it just sounds like a simple saw and some distortion? I really hated vague answers like that when I was trying to reverse engineer but a lot of the time the sauce isn’t in what process you’re using but it’s the envelopes you’re using for modulation and finding sweet spots in parameters and stuff.

Q: how deep into sine shaping distortion can we go?
A: Theoretically with enough layering and clever automations you could make anything out of sines and waveshaping.

Q: Which kind of baseline do you prefer to make and why
A: prefer Gabber kicks most of all @djkdrive (modulated saturated subs are up there tho)

Q: Besides notch filtering, what are some ways to add movement to neuro style bass?
A: There’s lots! Try automating distortion amounts and dry/wet, filter dry/wet, filter morph, phasers, flangers, chorus, freq shift at 50/50 dry wet and like +/- 1-5hz, vinyl/tape FX, pitch modulation, tremolo/volume mod, ring mod, resample and do FM (easy in Ableton sampler), if your base sound is FM you have all kinds of automation options for the modulators, you can resample into wavetables, spectral FX are becoming a common thing and can get pretty bizarre, etc etc etc. Try anything and everything!

Q: How are your kicks mixed in relationship to the sub bass level?
A: Reaaaalllyyy depends on the track, sometimes it’s even the same level I think. Probably no more than 6db louder. Depends on how much I’m trying to have them gel together, I usually have subby kicks louder because low-end is less perceivable, but higher kicks don’t need as much. Depends on the sub too, if its pure sine I push it.

Q: How do you write bass grooves
A: Depends on the tune.
If I’m writing a deep tune that’s just pure sub, usually I get a decent sub patch going and just jam out on the keyboard (I can’t play keys for shit I just hit random notes) until I find a line I like and then I record/quantize and add flourishes and modifications in MIDI. Usually lay midbass sounds over the top.
If its more of a midbass tune usually resample a grip to get 8-16 different bass sound one shots mapped across a drum pad and I’ll either tap out a groove physically or pencil it in in MIDI.
The one writing style I can’t stand doing is where some producers have a million automation lanes open and sit tweaking envelopes for the entire session. I always resample and work with cut samples. Very rare I work with a synth patch unless its a simple one like a pure sine sub or 808.


About Jack Denney (Ternion Sound)

Currently 1/3rd of the Dubstep supergroup Ternion Sound, Jack has had experience over the years as a producer of many different styles of music.  Starting with a copy of FL Studio at age 14 in 2004 he began in the world of extreme music, making Speedcore, but quickly became bored and sought to expand his horizons to the rest of the Electronic Music spectrum, and other DAWs like Ableton Live. Learning lessons from the various schools of thought and taking parts from each genre to create unique music has been his main focus as an experienced producer.  No matter what type of sound you’re going for there’s a good chance Jack will have some insight on how to achieve it.

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