Tutorials / 19 April 2021

How to make a jackin’ house beat on BandLab

How to make a jackin’ house beat on BandLab tutorial

Jackin’ house music refers to high energy house tracks with a strong disco or funk influence, arguably making it the closest contemporary genre to the “classic” house music of the 80s and early 90s.

The roots of jackin’ house can be traced back to the Chicago house scene of the 80s. Chicagoan producer Farley “Jackmaster” Funk’s “Love Can’t Turn Around” featuring Darryl Pandy (heavily inspired by J.M. Silk AKA Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley’s  “I Can’t Turn Around”, itself a cover of an Isaac Hayes disco track) is the earliest example of a house track to cross over into the mainstream, and it features many of the elements still present in current jackin’ house music: four to the floor kick drums, energetic hi-hat-fuelled beats, repetitive bass grooves and jazzy instrumentation.

In the early 90s New York would also become a major contributor to the jackin’ house sound thanks to the likes of seminal label Strictly Rhythm, and producers such as Chicago’s DJ Sneak and Boston’s Armand Van Helden would continue to develop the style as new forms of house music began to evolve from the genre’s roots.

Current jackin’ house artists include the likes of veteran producers Hatiras and Joe T Vannelli as well as new jacks such as Rubber People and Foo Funkers.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a jackin’ house beat from scratch in BandLab, a free online digital audio workstation that allows you to share your beats with friends anywhere in the world. BandLab can be accessed on both smartphones and web browsers, making it easy for collaborators to add vocals to your tracks. 

Here are six easy steps that show you how to make a jackin’ house beat that you can use as a foundation for your own track. You can open this project yourself by forking the beat below and use it for the basis of your own productions!

1. Pump up the tempo

Jackin’ house typically sits in the 120-130BPM range, so let’s push up the tempo a little: click on the project tempo and enter a new value of 126BPM. Next we need some drum sounds, and BandLab has a kit designed explicitly for creating jackin’ house sounds. Add a new instrument track, select the creator Creator Kits category, then choose the Jack Chicago House kit.

Step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

2. Making the beat’s foundation

Right-click on the virtual instrument track and select Create Region to create a MIDI clip. Drag the handle at the bottom right-hand corner of the clip to set it to one bar in length.

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

Double click the MIDI clip to edit it, and double-click on the MIDI grid editor to add kicks on every beat.

3. Adding hats and claps

The four to the floor kick is what everything else in the beat will be based around. The next most important elements are the open hi-hats and claps. Add open hi-hats between every beat, and claps on the second and fourth beats. 

Piano roll step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

4. Funking things up with a snare

We now have the most basic form of house beat, but it’s pretty rigid and robotic sounding. What gives house that jackin’ flavour is swing, that is rhythm elements that play slightly late or early. We’re going to use a snare sound to provide this. Create a new instrument track, and set it to Drum Pads > 606 Kit. 

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

Set the View > Snap to Grid option off, create a new one-bar MIDI clip, and add snares slightly after the last sixteenth of the second beat, and the second sixteenth of the third beat. Then add a snare halfway through the fourth beat. 

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

5. Rolling out with rides

Adding these shuffly, swing snares gives the beat that characteristic jackin’ house groove, but we still need to bring up the intensity a notch with some more highs. Create a new instrument track, and this time select Drum Pads and the 909 Kit. 

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

Turn snap to grid back on, make a new one-bar MIDI clip on the 909 Kit track, and add rides on every beat. This is the final element we need to add for that jackin’ house feel, but our work isn’t done yet.

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

6. A final polish

Let’s clean the ride up a touch with some EQ. Click the Effects button to open the FX section, and add a Tone > Multi Filter effect. Set its mode to Highpass, and its frequency to around 1500Hz. This takes out some of the ride’s low end and makes it sound brightener and cleaner. 

Effects panel step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

Next add a Reverb > Space Maker effect, and turn up its mix to 23% or so. Adding a touch of reverb like this gives the ride a more natural, roomy sound.

How to make a jackin’ house beat step by step animation on BandLab web Mix Editor

Finally, we need to balance the mix. Turn the Snare track down around -2dB, and the ride track down to around -8dB.

There you go! That’s how we create a jackin’ house beat. You now have a funky house groove that can serve as the foundation for your own Afrobeats track. Have fun!

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Read more: Beat maker series: How to produce a Logic style beat on BandLab

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