How to make modern music with samples, sequenced drums, and synths – A SONAR Master Class

Modern music production combines many different elements. Loops and samples, sequenced drums and synths, live instruments and more. In this video, you can sit in on a session where all of these elements are used to create a piece of music from start to finish with SONAR X1 Producer.

Pull up a chair, crank up the volume and see just how easy and fun it is to create music when the inspiration strikes using SONAR! After watching the video, download the content pack which includes the Track Templates and presets used in this project.

Here’s a breakdown of the steps covered in this video session:

Starting with some inspiration from a sample taken from a cartoon and a blank slate, we enter the Matrix View inside of SONAR X1 Producer. After exploring some of the Matrix View options this sample is brought into the Matrix and the musical journey begins. (Topics included: Auditioning audio clips in the Browser, the Matrix View and its’ settings, populating the Matrix View with audio clips)

Using a simple drag and drop method, a track template containing a soft synth is inserted into the Track View to record a midi piano track. (Topics included: Track Templates, Auto- input Quantizing, recording a MIDI track)

After recording the piano part, the MIDI clip is converted into a Groove Clip and dragged from the Track View to the Matrix View to be triggered with the vocal sample. (Topics included: Groove Clip Looping, dragging a clip to the Matrix View)

To begin building the rhythmic parts of the piece, a Track Template containing Session Drummer 3 is inserted into the project and using the Step Sequencer a pattern is constructed by using SONAR‘s “fill every” function to automatically fill in predetermined notes. Once completed, this pattern is also added to the Matrix View. (Topics included: Session Drummer 3, Step Sequencer functions and pattern construction, importing a Step Sequencer pattern to the Matrix View)

To build upon the Step Sequencer pattern for more complex rhythms, drum loops are auditioned in the Browser View while the original piano and drum pattern play simultaneously in the Matrix View. These loops are then dragged into the Matrix View after duplicating the piano and drum pattern cells in the Matrix View. (Topics included: auditioning clips in the Browser View, duplicating Matrix View columns, populating Matrix cells, Triggering cells and columns in the Matrix View)

After adding some reggae style break beat loops, a dub style delay effect is added to the vocal sample and these loops by assigning their output to a track template containing the VX-64 Vocal Processor for some really cool Lee Perry sounding effects! (Topics included: copying Matrix cells, VX-64 Vocal Processor, routing the audio output of Matrix rows to audio tracks)

In most cases when using multiple drum loops from different sources, the volume levels of the loops will vary and sometimes drastically. To easily solve this problem the outputs of these loops are routed to an audio track implementing the PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor in the ProChannel to keep an evenly matched, powerful output level of this group of mixed loops.

After populating the cells and rows in the Matrix View with MIDI clips, Step Sequencer patterns and audio loops they are MIDI learned to pads on a MIDI controller for real time triggering. (Topics include: MIDI learning Matrix cells and rows to keys or pads on a hardware MIDI controller, triggering cells and rows from a MIDI controller)

With all the parts laid out and assigned to pads on the controller, a live performance of these parts in the Matrix View is captured on tracks in the Track View where the performance can be edited and added upon.

Once the Matrix View performance is captured, a synth solo using Dimension Pro is added on top of the performance. (Topics include: Dimension Pro, recording a MIDI track)

To complete the piece of music a live guitar part is recorded using the included Guitar Rig 4 LE VST plugin effect in place of a traditional mic’d amplifier setup. (Topics include: Guitar Rig 4 LE, recording an audio track along with Matrix View performance)

In the last step the finished piece of music is readied for mixdown and export by implementing the ProChannel‘s PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor in the master bus to give the mix a punchier, more cohesive sound. (Topics included: ProChannel, ProChannel presets, PC4K S-Type Bus Compressor)

Learn more about the world of music production in SONAR X1 Producer and watch more videos in HD on CakeTV.