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Programming Jungle


Apparently 'jungle' style music was discovered accidentally when someone simply played a record at the wrong speed. Since then it has been a very experimental genre of music, fending off the many attempts to drag it into the mainstream of music. Due to its constantly evolving and experimental nature tutorials on programming Jungle are not easy to write. The most that can be done is to give an insight into some of the techniques involved and highlight some of the directions you might take to evolve these ideas. Jungle is often a deceptively simple style of music, relying heavily on the original use of basic elements and is similar to Drum'nBass in this respect.

While jungle files are readily available in MIDI format and are great for getting an overview of the techniques involved these are often a little on the thin side and at the end of the day if you want to produce authentic sounding jungle you really need to put in some hard work programming your favourite sequencer.

Getting Started

The most fundamental aspect of any jungle track is the use of high BPM values. These give the sequencer resolution needed to create the machine-gun snare fills and rolls that are so characteristic of the genre. Typically jungle music is sequenced around 160-170 BPM. If you want to get off to a kick start find or program a simple offbeat or breakbeat at around 80 BPM and then change the tempo to 160 BPM. As mentioned earlier this is pretty much how the style originated. If the drums sound cluttered or clumsy, particularly on the fills, pitch the drum sounds up. Try experimenting with different tunings for different drum sounds. Snares and hihats are perhaps the most productive. Tuning drums to different pitches gives the tonal separation that is necessary to create the space for such frenzied and chaotic rthyms.

Try copying the pattern and altering different sections - leave the actual notes as they are and just play with the dynamics. Velocity changes can be very effective and if you are using sampled beats try reversing one hit on a snare or bass drum. Trying swapping the bass to a snare part and vice versa, or doubling up parts using different voices. Small bits of midi or digital delay can also be effective in filling out patterns and adding the necessary layers. There are no hard and fast rules - experimentation is often the key to success.

Bass Lines
Bass lines are often one of the hardest things to get exactly right. The notes themselves are usually straightforward but the sound and groove take a bit more effort. The bass sound in jungle tracks is usually a sub bass - good patches to use for this are sine leads and even organ sounds. Sometimes the bass pattern can be lifted from the percussion. Try copying the kick drum to a bass part and altering the pitches to suit. This will give very tight timing and some immediate groove and is sometimes all you need to do.

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