Progressive house is all about the big payoff at the end of a tension-filled build. And if you’re a producer who has spent hours crafting a perfectly melodic breakdown that only builds 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 the details, create contrast, and you need to listen to how the pros do it.
Enamour’s latest remix is a true masterclass on this as it manages to create tension that explodes into the track’s peak-time finale. We had the opportunity to sit down with the Anjunadeep and Armada-signed producer to pick his brain about what exactly goes into making his signature variety of club tracks hit as hard as they do.
Stream Enamour’s Latest Remix Here!!!
Before we dive headfirst into the high-level production tips shared by the artist, it is important to study exactly how he manages to create the explosive impacts that he does.
If you are 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 sticks out as to why his final drop hits so hard:
- Contrasting elements that are melodic at the start and distorted and energetic at the end.
- A tight, warm kick drum that packs a punch when the beat comes back in.
- White noise and filter sweeps to fill the frequency spectrum in a soft and massive way just before the drop comes in at full volume
- The emotive music that pulls at the heartstrings, creating musical tension that rises as the track’s energy builds.
The rest I will leave up to Enamour as he dives into the 7 ways to make your progressive house and club productions hit hard no matter where you’re listening to them.
Use Silence To Create Contrast In Your Productions
Make use of negative space before the drop. The power and impact of anything is very relative to what comes before it—contrast is key.
Try adding a few bars before the drop for reverb and delay tails to fade out, or have the buildup naturally climax earlier and then slowly fade before dropping it back in. These both have the added advantage of giving listeners some empty space, which almost always leads to shouts, whistles, and cheers–if that’s what you’re going for.
You can even try cutting to abrupt silence for a beat before the drop like I did in my track ‘Run Away.’
Include Moments That Are “Weak”
Like the tip above, you can effectively “weaken” the end of your build up to make the drop feel bigger in comparison.
The two most common ways of doing this are filtering out the low end or automating the gain on the master downward leading into the drop. Sometimes washing everything out with a bit of reverb and delay can work well too.
These techniques above all apply to DJing as well. If you can arrange your track in a way that naturally creates contrast before the drop, that is 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 and then basically combines both for a 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 kick and bass for example–actually hits harder than one with a white noise blast, full drums, bass, AND melody. This is especially true with a very full and energetic buildup.
Remember that your target listening environment is a big space at very loud volume, so less is often more, even though it may not seem like it 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 at the drop, especially if you used it in the build-up.
Tension Needs A Good Payoff In Progressive House
Make sure your buildup has a lot of tension so the drop is actually providing some kind of relief. If your buildup doesn’t get people excited or on edge, then the drop can only hit so hard.
Drum rolls and risers are the easiest tension-creators, but you can get even more creative.
There are limitless possibilities when it comes to adding tension; try adding distortion, changing reverb size for a pitch effect, cranking up delay feedback, or detuning (using a frequency shifter or just detune an oscillator/add frequency modulation within the synth itself).
Prep Your Dance Floor For What Is To Come
Use a drum fill, sweep, vocal, or one-shot sound right before the drop. This can help resynchronize the entire crowd after a buildup and prepare them for the drop.
The “Pryda Snare” or a “1-2-3 JUMP!” type of thing has done to death and is basically a faux pas at this point, but there are ways to still do this tastefully, and depending on your genre it can be way more acceptable anyway.
Kick Drums Are King: Full Stop
Ensure you’ve got a good kick drum!
I can’t overstate this enough, but in most genres of dance music, the kick drum is king and is the main contributor to the club success of a track. No amount of clever production can save your drop if the kick sucks. You want something that really punches through in the sub region.
And at least in the genres I play like melodic house and techno, you want it to be the primary driver of energy in the low-end
Have One Element Assist Another Element To Create Peak Moments
When DJing, play anticipation-building tracks before one that you want to really shine. A common DJ misstep is to relentlessly play non-stop bangers. This can often result in each one progressively hitting weaker and weaker because of the lack of contrast.
If instead you play a repetitive/loopy track, or something edgy and uncomfortable, it will have the crowd eagerly waiting for the next one and will make that next one that much more satisfying. In a longer set you can even go 20-30 minutes never giving the crowd a big payoff, and when you finally do the room explodes.