10:08 pm PHT

You learn something new everyday. While exploring the website of silverfilter, a local electronica act I saw at last Saturday’s Fête, I came across this tutorial explaining how to make a dance track. It’s interesting to say the least, and it might’ve ruined the way I listen to music (at least for a while).

In the tutorial, Cyril lays down the basics of what makes a dance track. Basically, we have the “four-to-the-floor” drum pattern where a synthetic bass drum pounds on every quarter of a 4/4 measure. A closed hi-hat then kicks at the off-beat (i.e., at every eight note except were the bass drum goes). A particularly common addition is a snare drum or a clap at every other bass drum kick. To see how it sounds like, here’s an MP3 of a basic drum pattern. (I made that MP3 with the help of HammerHead, a freeware drum sequencer application. Nice to play around with.)

I’ve looked around the net some more and saw that this defining characteristic of dance tracks has been explained elsewhere (like the Musicology section of the House music article on Wikipedia [I wonder why I missed this before]). This constant drum pattern is what separates dance music from rock or pop music.

Anyway, upon learning this bit of information, I listened to my music collection and recognized this drum pattern in almost every EDM track I have. I listened to other types of songs and found that they employ different, often more complicated, drum patterns—if they use drums at all. A common dance-like drum pattern used in pop songs has the same 4/4 bass drumline but the hi-hats are now synchronous to the bass drum, instead of kicking at the off-beats.

This has probably ruined the way I listen to music because I’m sure I’d be listening to songs from now own by paying attention to the drumline. (Hopefully, I can suppress that, or I’d go crazy.)  :P

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