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Dubstep has now been popular for a surprisingly long time, with the first club night dedicated to this emerging genre established as long ago as 2001. However, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s a brand-new sound for a new generation, such is the momentum the style has managed to build over the last few years.
Starting with artists such as Burial, dubstep first gained a loyal underground following. Recently, though, the style has exploded overground, popularised by much-talked-about artists such as Magnetic Man, Katy B and James Blake. Even pop songstress Britney Spears is getting in on the act - her new album Femme Fatale is littered with dubstep references.
Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of dubstep as a genre is the filthy bass wobble that throbs away underneath many tracks - so it should be no surprise that this is the area we’re going to focus on for the following tutorial. We’re going to explain how you can program these kinds of noises.
In essence, a tempo-locked wobble sound can be achieved when a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) is employed to open and close the frequency of a sound’s filter. Filters affect the tone quality of a sound, so if the filter opens, the sound gets brighter; whereas when it closes, the sound turns darker.
Dubstep basslines often use LFO-locked filters to rapidly open and close sounds, and happily, you can achieve exactly this effect in GarageBand through some careful use of the Automatic Filter plug-in, which contains a built-in LFO that can be used for exactly this purpose. To maximise the dubstep vibes, it’s important to choose a good sound and tweak the various effects’ parameters so that you end up with something that suits your track.
Use our settings below as a starting point and make sure you consider adding and removing different effects.
For a complete guide to using GarageBand for Mac and iPad, check out GarageBand: The Ultimate Guide, which is on sale now and features step-by-step tutorials on the software’s top features. It’s also available as a digital edition.