7 ways to make progressive house productions hit harder in a club
The progressive house is all about the big win at the end of a tension-filled build. And if you’re a producer who’s spent hours crafting a perfectly melodic breakdown that only turns into a flimsy final drop, your entire production will be dead on arrival.
If you want your progressive house productions to hit hard in a club, car, or headphones, then you pay attention to detail, create contrast, and you have to listen to how the pros do it.
Enamour’s latest remix is a true masterclass in this as it manages to create tension that explodes in the track’s finale. We had the opportunity to sit down with the producer signed by Anjunadeep and Armada to ask him what exactly goes into making sure his variety of club tracks are as strong as they are.
Stream Enamour’s latest remix here!!!
Before diving headfirst into the high-level production advice shared by the artist, it’s important to study exactly how he manages to create the explosive impacts he makes.
If you’re looking to create similar levels of energy in your own track, listen to the stream below (multiple times if you can) and save it to your reference playlist for later inspiration.
Here’s what instantly stands out as to why his last drop hits so hard:
- Melodic contrasting elements at the beginning and distorted and energetic at the end.
- A tight, warm bass drum that packs a punch when the beat picks up.
- White noise and filter sweeps to fill the frequency spectrum softly and massively just before the drop reaches full volume
- Emotional music that tugs at heartstrings, creating musical tension that builds as the energy of the track builds.
The rest I’ll leave to Enamour as he dives into 7 ways to make your progressive house and club productions hit hard no matter where you listen to them.
Use silence to create contrast in your productions
Use the negative space before the fall. The power and impact of everything is very relative to the above – contrast is key.
Try adding a few bars before the decay so that the reverb and delay tails fade out, or have the buildup naturally peak sooner, then fade slowly before building it back up. Both of these have the added benefit of giving listeners empty space, which almost always leads to shouts, whistles and cheers – if that’s what you’re looking for.
You can even try breaking an abrupt silence for a beat before the drop, like I did in my track “Run Away”.
Include “weak” moments
Like the tip above, you can effectively “weaken” the end of your buildup to make the drop seem larger in comparison.
The two most common ways to do this are to filter out the low end or to automate the gain on the master down leading to the dropout. Sometimes washing it all down with a bit of reverb and delay can work just as well.
These techniques apply above all also to DJing. If you can arrange your track in a way that naturally creates contrast before the drop, it’s usually more interesting (or at least less generic) and works well.
For example, “Midnight Zone” by Digitalism has a heavy sub-bass solo, followed by a gritty synth loop solo, then combines the two for minimal but effective drop.
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less is more
Don’t underestimate the power of a sparser drop.
Sometimes a more minimal drop – just a kick and bass for example – actually hits harder than one with a blast of white noise, full drums, bass and melody. This is especially true with a very full and forceful build.
Remember that your target listening environment is a large space at a very high volume, so less is often more, even if that doesn’t seem to be the case in your studio.
I often recommend leaving out the melody, or just looping the first bar of it, like in my track “Hands That Feed”, right on the drop, especially if you used it in the prep.
Voltage needs good gain in progressive house
Make sure your buildup has plenty of tension so that the drop provides some sort of relief. If your buildup isn’t getting people excited or pissed off, the drop can only hit so hard.
Drum rolls and risers are the easiest tension builders, but you can get even more creative.
There are limitless possibilities when it comes to adding tension; try adding distortion, changing the reverb size for a pitch effect, increasing delay feedback or detuning (using a frequency shifter or just detuning an oscillator/adding frequency modulation in the synth itself).
Learn how to create ambient voices for your productions HERE
Get your dance floor ready for what’s to come
Use a drum fill, sweep, voice, or single sound right before the drop. This can help re-sync the entire mob after a build up and prepare them for the drop.
The “Pryda Snare” or a “1-2-3 JUMP!” the type of thing has done to death and is basically a faux pas at this point, but there are ways to do it tastefully, and depending on your genre, it may be far more palatable anyway.
Kick drums are king: period
Make sure you have a good bass drum!
I can’t stress this enough, but in most genres of dance music, the kick drum is king and is the biggest contributor to a track’s success in a club. No amount of smart production can save your drop if the kick sucks. You want something that really punches out in the sub-region.
And at least in the genres I play like melodic house and techno you want that to be the main energy driver in the low end
Have one element assist another element to create peak moments
When DJing, play songs that build anticipation before the ones you really want to shine. A common faux pas among DJs is to relentlessly play non-stop bangers. This can often cause each to hit progressively lower and lower due to the lack of contrast.
If instead you play a repetitive/loopy track, or something edgy and uncomfortable, the crowd will eagerly await the next one and make it even more satisfying. In a longer set, you can even go 20-30 minutes without ever giving the crowd a big win, and when you finally do, the room explodes.