1. Bass in the place
Whilst the basslines in Future R&B tend to be sparse, they’re undoubtedly strong – adding low-end power at just the right times to make heads nod and hips shake. Simply cranking the gain isn’t going to work, instead you need to carve space in the mix. Low- cutting is great way to do this. Sub bass frequencies (below 30Hz) are inaudible to the human ear so removing these is an easy way to free space without sacrificing sound. After that, it’s all about notch EQs in the bass where it’s fighting with other key elements such as the kick. And for the ultimate Future R&B bass? It’s hard to go wrong with a full-fat sine wave.
2. Beat it
The beats in Future R&B are heavily influenced by both swung west coast hip-hop and southern- style trap. Both employ their own unique rhythmic nuances to great effect. For that west coast groove, focus on the kick and snare, giving either or both a slightly forward lean. Slight nudges off the grid will give you that distinctive laid-back feel. For the trap vibe it pays to hone in on the hats and percussion. Use triplet that switch between 1/16 and 1/32 rhythms to create those skittering trap beats.
3. Jazz it up
As the name suggests, Future R&B draws on a rich rhythm and blues heritage – a fusion of hundreds of years of black music such as jazz, funk and soul. As such, you can expect to find certain chords popping up time and again: 7ths, 9ths, 13ths in major and minor flavours. Unlike in more pop orientated music, across four bars a sole key root is not always necessary. In fact, a key modulation lasting for only a few bars is typical of more experimental music. Try a two or three semitone key modulation: keep the same intervals in between the chords you are using and just change the main root the progression. You will be surprised at how many intriguing results you’ll can get from this kind of experimentation.
4. Percussive melodics
In Future R&B there’s often a lot of pitch-bent rhythmic elements, allowing them a key melodic role in the arrangement. Drum machines such as the 808 are perfect tools for creating melodic percussive lines. The 808 tom has a great harmonic character you can harness. Punch in a tom loop and get creative with the pitching of each hit placement to create a supporting or lead melody.
5. Digital and analogue
The digital vs analogue debate is an old and boring one. Both realms have their pros and cons so the challenge is to blend them together in creative ways. Future R&B is perhaps the embodiment of this dual approach. Hardware synths have a warm and unique personality of their own which a perfect for enveloping chords, rich pads and quirky modulating leads. But digital tools are also a staple of the Future R&B sounds. The powerful pitching and warping tools in your DAW are prefect for creating those woozy elements.
Delve into the world of chilled electronic futurism with our very own Future R&B pack.