How To Create Perfect Kick Drums For House Music

Getting the beat right is the most critical element of dance music, it provides the foundation for the rest of the mix but can also take on a life all of it’s own stirring up the dance floor with each new percussive introduction.

Everything starts with a kick. Whether it’s the solid thud of a 909, the subbed-out bass of an 808 or a tight hit from a disco kit, once the kick is in place the rest of the groove is able to build above it. Adding the hats, snares and percussion should compliment and support all the elements that have gone before adding to the rhythm of the track. If you are able to get the drums working then the rest of the track will surely follow.

In house music getting the kick right is one of the most important elements, it can be the difference between having a track that really works and one that doesn’t. So with literally thousands of kicks to choose from what are the key elements to consider when choosing or creating your kick?

It is important that the kick and the bass work together to drive the track. As they both sit in the same frequency range it is important that the compliment each other to create the maximum amount of energy. A general rule is that if the bass-line is deep and boomy then the kick should be high and short such as a disco kick, if on the other hand the bass is higher then a deep kick will work better with it such as an 808. A little adjustment in each case with tuning and envelopes will help to get the balance to work.

Certain sub genres of house have become associated with kicks that have certain characteristics. Selecting a kick with theses elements can be a good starting point in creating the vibe that you are looking for.

Classic, funky, and deep house producers will want to look for a 909 kick to get started layering with a sampled disco hit to give it that live party vibe. Electro or jackin house producers will want to look to samples from the 70’s and 80’s or maybe an 808 kick layered with a disco or electronic high hat to create some definition. With minimal house the focus is around simplicity and generally revolve around an 808 style or synthetic kick while tech house utilizes 909 style kits as well as obscure drum machines.

While compressing your kick it is a good idea to compress after any eq, that way you will not add compression to any unwanted frequencies. Using a fast attack and medium release will reduce clickyness while a medium attack and release will retain the original punch. Be careful not to set the attack or release too fast.

While eqing your kick it’s a good idea to think of it as three distinct areas, the high end providing the detail and clarity, the mid range providing the knock or the thump and the bottom range providing power and depth. Thinking of it in this way will help when it comes to making decisions about eq.

If you decide that you want to later your kick then you can approach it in one of several ways. Using an eq based approach you can use different samples to provide the elements in the different frequency ranges or you could use a trasient based approach where one sample provides the attack while another may be used for sustain and another for release, use eq to remove frequencies from each sample that are not required.

Taking a little time and thought while creating your kicks will help you to create a solid base for your new productions so open up your sample libraries and start creating the perfect kick for your new track.

How Gospel and House Music Created a New House Style

At first glance, the idea of gospel house music might seem a bit strange. After all, the marriage of club and dance culture with the religious message of gospel does seem a bit out of place. Closer examination, however, reveals that these two seemingly different musical genres actually have a lot of common ground, and in fact, represent a clear evolution of classic soul and dance music that stretches back to the 1960’s.

The first step towards understanding the origins of gospel house music is to leave your preconceptions at the door. This is a tough thing to do, because almost everyone associates gospel with choirs, church and prayer, while house music has been largely the province of huge sound systems, flashing lights and an overdose of sensuality. If you peel back the layers of each genre, however, you will discover that at the core, each of these musical styles has strong roots in spirituality. Both house and gospel music have always been about making an ethereal connection with a greater energy, and whether this energy happens to be found on a throbbing dance floor or in the arms of God, the overall idea is the same.

Further strengthening the ties between house and gospel music are the soul and R&B classics that were recorded in the 1960’s and 70’s. Much of the lyrical content and song structure of these heartfelt gems can be traced back to spirituals and gospel standards that classic soul artists were raised on. It was only natural that they incorporate these elements into their own songs. By extension, house producers in the 1980’s and 90’s had been heavily influenced by the sounds of Motown and Stax, and this shone through especially in their sampling, with James Brown becoming possibly the most sampled artist in history.

It was no unusual, then, that some house producers began to experiment with combining the soaring vocals of gospel with the dance beats of traditional house music. Generally, choir sounds were avoided but both male and female lead vocals meshed perfectly with modern house. Gospel house music was also able to eloquently express the themes of unity and love that frequently found themselves voiced by house singers. Masking some of the religious message that was usually part and parcel of gospel music, house producers would most often include only lyrics that referenced a vague higher power or a broader spirituality.

There is of course another side to gospel house music that chooses to celebrate the Christian religion. Some pastors and congregations have used this style of house to reach out to a younger demographic than they are usually used to seeing in their churches. Unlike Christian rock and roll, which at times seems out of step with the rebellious image typically associated with the music, religious gospel house manages to avoid the awkwardness that can sometimes plague popular religious music.

House Music: My Favorite Songs and Artists

House music is a form of electronic dance music. It originated in what one might call post-disco America. House is a relative of disco music. Some may say that house evolved from disco music. It was also influenced by soul and funk.

Frankie Knuckles was one of the founding fathers of house. He was a DJ at a club in Chicago known as The Warehouse. Some people say that house music takes its name from The Warehouse where primitive house began. Frankie Knuckles would mix disco, Philly soul, European pop, synthesized drum beats, and sound effects to make his music. Later artists would use synthesizers, samplers, sequencers, mixers, electronic drum machines, vocals, and other effects to make the first original house records.

A genre of music known as garage house also became popular around the same time in New York City. Larry Levan was a DJ at the Paradise Garage from which garage house gets it name.

I had a friend named Mark who introduced me to house during my college days in the late 1980s. Mark was from the Chicago area so it’s no surprise that he was familiar with the genre. He used to play a lot of house and other dance music. He made me a few a mix tapes, some of which were recordings of WBMX and WGCI radio programs. I had never heard anything quite like Chicago house music before.

Some of house music’s popular songs contained the word jack. Jacking was the word used by Chicago club-goers to describe the frenzied body of a dancer when dancing to the Chicago house sound. Larry Heard uses the word jack in the opening of his song “Can You Feel It?” He says, “In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove. And, from this groove came the groove of all grooves. And, while one day viciously throwing down on his box, Jack boldly declared, “Let there be HOUSE!” and house music was born.”

Some Names Associated with House:

Frankie Knuckles

Larry Levan

Marshall Jefferson

Todd Terry

Farley “Jackmaster” Funk

Ralphi Rosario

Jesse Saunders

Tyree Cooper

Chip E.

Adonis

Steve “Silk” Hurley

Phuture

Lil’ Louis

J.M. Silk

Ron Hardy

Kevin Saunderson

Some of My Favorite House Songs:

1. Can You Feel It? – Larry Heard (a.k.a. Mr. Fingers)

2. Jack it All Night Long – Bad Boy Bill

3. Rhythem Method – Mink

4. House Nation – House Master Boyz

5. Whatever Turns You On – Mario Reyes

6. Pump Up Chicago – Mr. Lee

7. Used By DJ – MKII

8. Jack Me ’til I Scream – Julian Jumpin’ Perez

9. Can You Party? – Royal House

10. Can U Dance – Fast Eddie Smith and Kenny “Jammin” Jason

11. Can’t Stop the House – Thompson and Lenoir

12. How to Play Our Music – Reese and Santonio

13. Don’t Make Me Jack (Tonite I Wanna House You) – Paris Grey

14. Pump Up the Volume – M/A/R/R/S

Other songs I heard on WBMX or WGCI mixes that were house or dance music:

Big Fun – Inner City

Good Life – Inner City

American Soviets – C.C.C.P.

Baila – Raz

Rock This House – Mark Imperial and Dennis Ramirez

Bass Line (The Gemini Rap) – Mickey Oliver Project featuring M.C. Taste

I Want to Be Your Property (Street Latin Wolff Mix) – Blue Mercedes

I’m So Hot For You – Bobby Orlando

Birthday Suit (House Mix) – Johnny Kemp

Some different styles of house music include deep house, acid house, and ambient house.

An interesting genre related to house is hip-house. Hip-house is a blend of hip-hop and house components. Hip-house was extremely popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Some hip-house songs may include:

I’ll House You – Jungle Brothers

Pump Up the Jam – Technotronic

Groove is in the Heart – Deee Lite

Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) – C&C Music Factory

Strike it Up – Black Box

Everybody Everybody – Black Box

The Power – Snap!

Vogue – Madonna

Yo Yo Get Funky – Fast Eddie

It Takes Two – Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock

House continues to have a presence in contemporary times. My favorite is Chicago house from the 1980s. Trax Records and DJ International Records pressed many of the Chicago house songs onto vinyl. Some of these songs can be heard at online video websites. Compact discs can be found online and even some classic vinyl records are for sale as well.

I’m glad that my friend Mark introduced to me to house. I hope you enjoy it too.