How to make an Dark Techno Chord


In this latest blog post we are going to be exploring how to create a rusty down right dirty chord that is perfect for Dark Techno. To create this dark techno chord we will be using Ableton’s gargantuan new synth Wavetable, as well as a selection of Ableton stock midi and audio effects. Wavetable is the perfect synth for Dark Techno sound design as you have a huge selection of wavetables to choose from and all can be easily manipulated and morphed. 

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.50.29.png

(If you like the drums from the loop, you can get them from our very own Dark Warehouse Techno Sample Pack)

Dark Warehouse Techno
Add To Cart

Let’s start by loading in Wavetable from the instrument browser. Once that is loaded in drop the chord midi effect in front of the synth. This will create our chord. In the shift values  set them to 3, 10 and 14. And also set one to 13, this will give us the chord a darker edge. When trying to create tension and edge which Dark Techno is great at use the note next to your root note but a octave up or down for example if you use G#3 also use the A2 or A4.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.14.14.png

Next program a simple midi pattern like bellow, In dark techno the chord are not overall complicated. It is really just 1 or 2 different not triggering the chord. Normally what gives the sound more depth is the effects and modulation added, which we will look at later on in the post.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.14.42.png

Now we are ready to start programming our synth, in oscillator 1 select the wavetable Bit Ring from the Complex menu. Place the wavetable position to 51% and from the oscillator FX’s section choose FM and set the tune to -50% and amount to 63% this will give the should a really metallic edge. 

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.19.26.png

The sound is a little low in pitch so set the global transpose to +12 (up an octave)

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.21.14.png

Lets select a simple wavetable from oscillator 2, choose Saw Dual 3. Set the volume to -13dB, wavetable position to 42% and again select FM from the oscillator FX’s menu. Set the amount to 55% and leave the tune at 0%. This helps thicken up the sound. When creating any sound in wavetable synthesis, it is worth using 1 standard waveform, like saws, squares and sines layered with more complex wavetables. This gives you a sort of morphed analog sound.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.21.28.png

It's time to move on to the filter section. Here we are going to use two low pass filters in serial mode so filter 1 runs into filter 2. Start by switching on both filters, double check you are in serial mode, which can be selected via the drop-down menu at the bottom of the filter window. Now set filter 1 to 70Hz for the cutoff frequency and resonance to 42%. While we are here lets set the filter circuit to MS2 and drive it by 6dB. 

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.24.44.png

Next move to the filter 2 and set it up to have the frequency cutoff at 153Hz and resonance to 33%. Set the slope to 12, circuit to OSR and drive it by 5-6dB.

This has cut out a lot of the harsher frequencies but we have lost most of the sound, so its time to utilise some envelopes. 

Click on the filter 1 cutoff frequency, this will allow it to be seen in the matrix. In the matrix set the amount to 100 for the envelope 2. Do the same for filter 2’s cutoff frequency. 

In envelope 2 set the attack to 0, decay to 697ms, sustain to 0% and release to 600ms. In the value section set the peak to 50%, this is our filter amount.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.33.14.png

Now its time to add some more modulation, in the matrix set the LFO 1 amount for the filter frequency cutoff to 30. In the LFO 1 section set the rate to 1.31Hz and the waveform to sine. 

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.35.07.png

Before we move on to adding in some audio effects, turn the master volume down a little to -15dB.

Add in two ping pong delays. In the first one set the time to 32.2ms, dry/wet to 23% and feedback to 48%. In the second one set the time to 2 (a 8th note), beat offset to 1.56%, dry/wet to 28% and feedback to 43%.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.37.19.png

Next add a echo delay audio effect, start by driving the input by 1-2dB (make sure the D is selected). Set the times to 1/16 and 1/8 (both should be dotted). Make the mode Mid/Side, feedback to 36%. 

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.39.17.png

Add in the filter to cutoff the low and high end from the delay signal, set the High Pass filter to 123Hz and the low pass filter to 5kHz. Next up is the reverb section, set this to 27% for the amount and 19% for the decay. Lastly set the ducking to -44dB for the threshold and release to 167ms. 

With echo this gives us a more analog feel. 

To help bring some more grit to the sound add a pedal audio effect in after the delays, set the mode to Fuzz. The gain to 11dB and dry/wet to 7.8%. The sound is a little harsh in the high frequencies so take the treble down to around 38%.

Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.43.41.png

Last audio effect in our chain is the convolution reverb which you can get in the max for live audio effects. Set the type to real places and IR to arundel nave. From there set the decay to 67%, pre delay to 14.3ms and in the EQ section drop the low and high frequencies out a little bit. 


Screenshot 2018-07-19 12.45.26.png

If you have enjoyed this blog post, why not check out our selection of other posts. 

Also do not forget you can download the preset bellow.