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How to make a Prodigy Breathe-style bassline

Six steps to a Liam Howlett-esque growl


The prodigy

Released in 1996, Breathe was the second single to be taken from The Prodigy's The Fat Of The Land album and a massive worldwide hit. The song's churning bassline is one of its standout components – we're going to show you how to create something similar.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 1: The bass from Breathe is actually a rather simple sound that can be replicated in pretty much any synth with pitch modulation capabilities. We're going to use Future Audio Workshop's Circle, the demo of which can be downloaded here. Load up the synth in your host and click the New button in the top left-hand corner.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 2: Now the synth is initialised, we can program it from scratch. Start by changing the wave shape for the first oscillator from sawtooth to pulse. We want the patch to play at a constant volume level, so turn down the Attack time and turn up the Sustain level of the first envelope like so.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 3: Put the filter in LP 4P mode and set the cutoff frequency to 312.139Hz and the Resonance to 1.574. Assign the keynote to the filter cutoff by dragging the KEYB 1 modulator to one of the slots under the filter. This causes the cutoff to follow the pitch of the note, rather than staying at a fixed value.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 4: We're already quite close to the Breathe sound, but we need a little pitch modulation. The Prodigy tone incorporates two pitch modulations: an envelope, which gives the rising effect at the start, and an LFO that creates the rapid wobbling. Activate the second envelope and copy the settings we've used here – the Attack time should be 0.061 seconds.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 5: Drag the envelope's modulation connection (the orange circle) over to the first oscillator's Coarse tuning slot. Now, when you play a note, you'll hear the oscillator's pitch rising up at the start. Next, activate the first LFO, and set the Rate to 9.202Hz and the Level to 1. Drag the modulation connection (the red circle) over to the Coarse tuning slot, too.


Prodigy breathe bassline

Step 6: At these settings we've got too much wobble, so turn the modulation amount (the ring around the red circle under the Coarse knob) down to 0.161. Now you have a Breathe bass sound that you can customise to suit your project. Parameters you might want to experiment with include the filter Frequency, Resonance and Attack, and the LFO Rate.

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