How to Create a David Guetta Style Synth and Beat in NI Massive

Most everyone has heard of David Guetta—one of the most popular DJs and producers in existence today. In this tutorial, Sara Simms shows how to create a basic synth line and beat in his style.  

Step 1 - Load Massive

Begin by opening up your DAW, create a MIDI track, and load Massive onto the track.

To reset Massive's controls, press file, then click New Sound.

Step 2 - Oscillators

On Oscillator One, select the Square-Saw I waveform and turn the Wave Table position (the control marked Wt-position) all the way to the far left (approximately seven o'clock).

Turn on Oscillator 2 (OSC 2) by clicking the blue button to the left of OSC 2, select the Square-Saw I waveform and turn up the pitch by an octave (to + 12.00). Turn the Wave Table position all the way to the left (approximately seven o'clock). Turn the intensity up to approximately one o'clock and the amp up to almost two o'clock.

Osc 1 & 2

No filters are needed for this sound, so skip over the filter section.

Step 3 - Envelope

In the Envelope section, click on the blue area labelled 4 Env to select it. The Decay's Level (located to the right of the Decay) should be set all the way up, to approximately five o'clock and the Release up to nine o'clock.

Env

Step 4 - LFO

Click on the Green 5 LFO, located directly to the right of the 4 Env section to engage it. 

Rate

Click and hold on the green arrow button in the 5 LFO section and drag the green number five up to the first slot below the pitch underneath OSC 1. Detune OSC 1 by turning it up to 0.31.

Click and drag the same green number five (from the LFO section) into the first slot underneath OSC 2 and detune OSC 2 by dragging the pitch down to 0.29. Back in the LFO section, turn the rate all the way up. 

env and rate

Step 5 - Insert

Turn on Insert One by clicking on the blue button to the left of the Insert 1 heading and select Bitcrusher from the drop-down list. SET the Dry/Wet knob to just before eleven o'clock and set Crush just slightly higher than the Dry/Wet control.

bitcrusher

Step 6 - FX

For the finishing touch, add some delay to the sound. In the FX 1 Section, click on Delay Synced to select it. Turn the Dry/Wet control down to around eight o'clock and the feedback down to ten o'clock.

delay s

Step 7 - Programming a Synth Line

Once you've created your sound, the next thing you'll need to do is to create a melodic synth line. Start out by setting the BPM of your DAW to 128. Fiddle around with your keyboard until you come up with a poppy sounding melody that makes musical sense. In a DAW, you can either play in your melody line using a MIDI controller or draw in the MIDI notes using the Pencil tool.

Here's what my melodic line looks and sounds like:

synth line

Step 7 - The Kick

Now it's time to start to build drums and create some basic drum programming. 

A good dance track starts with a strong kick. Choose a kick from your sample collection (or use one that you have created) and place it on the downbeats (beats one, two, three and four). You may want to EQ the kick by emphasizing its main frequency. In Logic, you can use the Analyzer located in the EQ to see a visual display of the track's frequencies. This tool is meant to assist you and enable you to make good EQ decisions. After you've turned the Analyzer on, click on Resolution high. After analyzing the frequencies, you may want to emphasize around 80-100 kHz, the main frequency in your kick.

Here's what the kick looks and sounds like in the session:

Kick

Step 8 - The Snare

Program in your snare on beats two and four by dragging and dropping samples into your DAW, or using a drum sampler like Ultrabeat. To program drums with Ultrabeat, create a Software Instrument track (by clicking Track/New) and select Software Instrument. Load up Ultrabeat on the track by clicking in the I/O area and selecting Ultrabeat, then Multi-Output. 

I/O with Ultrabeat

Open up Ultrabeat by double-clicking on the blue Ultrabeat button. From the drop-down menu, select Drum Kits, then navigate to the Drum Kit of your choice (I've selected the Vintage 08 Kit). Along the left-hand side, you'll see the individual drum components listed. Select the snare drum by clicking on the Snare button. Next you'll want to create a blank pattern to program the Snare drum. To do this, click on the Pattern button on the far left hand side of Ultrabeat and select a blank pattern. (A blank pattern will have a zero next to it.)

selecting a blank pattern

Snares are traditionally programmed on beats two and four. To program these hits in Ultrabeat, in the sequencer click on the numbers five, thirteen, twenty one and twenty nine. 

programming snare

You will also want to route the snare to an individual track by setting the Snare's output to 3-4. The output section is located to the right of the blue Snare button. (The default setting is Main.)

snare routing

Next, click on the 'Mixer' button in Logic to open the Mixer. To create an individual track for the Snare, click on the plus (+) button located right above the Ultrabeat title. 

Ultrabeat +

You can EQ your snare to suit the track; it's a good idea to roll off the low frequencies below 100 or 150 Hz. I like to add a Bitcrusher to my snares, to give them a bit of that 8-bit distorted sound. On the Snare's track, click on the Insert Section and navigate to Distortion, then select Bitcrusher. From the drop-down menu, experiment with using the '8-bit Classic' setting. You can change the parameters to your own taste.

bitcrusher on Snare track

Here's what the track sounds like now:

Step 9 - Percussion

Lastly, add some percussion to your beat to give it additional flair. You can also program notes with Ultrabeat directly on the Arrange Page. To do this, click on the Mixer button again to navigate back to the Arrange window. Press ESC (Logic Pro 9) or T (Logic Pro X) to pull up a list of Tools and select the Pencil tool. Click once on the Arrange page with the Pencil tool to create a blank MIDI window. Press Command-6 (Logic Pro 9) or Command-4 (Logic Pro X) to open the Piano Roll editor in separate window. Use your MIDI keyboard, or use the pencil tool to program a percussive line that works with your composition.

Tom Drum programming

In my session, I've created a rhythm with a Tom. Here's what the results sound like:

After this, you should have the basic beat for your track created. Continue to use Ultrabeat to program the drums, or add loops to fill out the rest of the percussion. Of course, you'll have to continue the work to create the rest of the song, but at least you're off to a good start with a strong synth line and drums. Hope you can find the inspiration you need to finish off the rest of your David Guetta inspired tune!

Sara Simms captivates the world as an innovative musician, DJ, turntablist and electronic music producer. She's a multi-instrumentalist who's known for her love of music technology. Sara makes her mark in the music community by crafting diverse sets with styles ranging from pulsating techno to house. She balances technical skills wi... Read More

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