Morning After Dark - Learn Drums, Mix

  January 26, 2016

Timbaland - Morning After Dark

One of the most creative music producers of all time is, without question, Tim “Timbaland” Mosely. Timbaland quickly garnered a devoted following by constructing masterpiece beats so stylistically unique, he revolutionized¬†urban music¬†production. Timbaland became a pioneer by integrating organic samples into hard-hitting hip hop rhythms. In our latest Hit Report, we wanted to cover fresh techniques. Timbaland’s Morning After Dark was the obvious choice. The song is thick with valuable lessons. The drum beat alone sparkles with classic Mosely mischief. In the full report, we illuminate every aspect of the drum beat’s production from mix to rhythm, complete with step-by-step audio and illustrations. Plus, we cover the song’s mix and arrangement, and also reveal handy synth programming and arpeggiator tricks. Study this one closely, and you’ll walk out a better producer.

Morning After Dark - Drum Production Audio Tutorial

The rhythmic foundation of a song, the beat, is often thought of in the simplest of terms: lay down a pattern for the kick, the snare, and a ride cymbal or a tambourine, and you’re done; you can move on to the rest of the song. But carefully examining Timbaland’s drum beat shows the difference between making a beat and producing a beat. At left, is a quick glance at all the tracks it took our top producers to re-create Timbaland’s drum beat accurately. The image shows clearly what any producer with ears can hear: that there is more than just a drum recording here.

Let’s explain what’s going on. The blue samples at the top represent the kick drum. Above, we’ve recreated the kick drum sound by stacking the same kick three times, separating each layer with an equalizer in Sonar. As we explain in the full report, stacking the kick allows us to separate it in the frequency spectrum and treat the bass, mid, and high frequencies with different mastering processes, piecing them all together to form a very finely-tuned kick drum sound. On the backbeat are snare samples which have also been layered to match the original beat. Below that is the tambourine line (purple), sidesticking samples that have been separated using a Haas method (gray), and finally vocal samples.

You can click on the image to get a more detailed look at the sequencer, but if you want to see exactly how this beat was made, the answer lies in the full Hit Report. In what’s probably our best Hit Report yet, Hit Talk shows you the Morning After Dark drum beat in every detail complete with screenshots of mastering techniques and equalizer settings, plus audio examples. The fine result can be heard in our re-creation: Morning After Dark - Drum Production Audio Example. By downloading the full report and studying our complete lesson in drum production, you’ll learn how that beat can be built with very specific production techniques that you can apply to any song.

Melody Map Preview - Bass Synth

At the top of the report, you can see the Melody Map preview, showing the first 2 bars of the Morning After Dark bassline. Since many of our readers are new producers, some who don’t yet routinely compose by hand, we strongly encourage you to try to play this bassline as we’ve illustrated it in the Melody Map preview above. It’s a two-bar pattern. Although we’ve shown only one bar, you can simply substitute the B 8th note at the end of the first bar for another A flat, like what’s played in the rest of the melody.

This exercise is not to show you the melody, so much as it is about learning about dynamics. Carefully listening to another producer’s performance, whether or not it was originally played by hand, will train you to play with some sense of dynamics. To this end, you can pick a saw synth patch that’s roughly equivalent to the one that Timbaland uses, but really any synth with a short release time will do the trick. Below, you can see the oscillator section of Reason’s Thor synthesizer. We’ve modified Thor’s “chime bass” patch, which is already close in timbre to the bass synth used by Timbaland.

Above, we’ve modified the balance between oscillators one and two, plus switched up the filter routing. It’s close to Timbaland’s bass sound. The timbre isn’t really the point. Above, the amp envelope is shown just to the left of “Global Env” bottom right. Once you’ve set that envelope, give the melody a try on your own keyboard. You’ll quickly find that each 16th note has to be short and snappy, or else the feel and flow of this integral component to the song simply evaporate. It’s the dynamic contrast between these short staccato 16th notes, and the long drawn out 8th notes that give this bassline the feel and power to drive the song. Learning to re-produce these dynamic subtleties on the fly will make you a better composer, because while you’re playing a riff that you invented, you’ll know how to embellish it and bring it up to its full potential. The Melody Map acts as an aide to this process, and of course any report that contains a melody map will be useful for the same purpose.

Morning After Dark - Closing Thoughts

Morning After Dark is a classic example of the depth, detail and creativity Timbaland is capable of as a producer. And though the vampire-themed song has fared better on charts overseas than it has at home, Morning After Dark is still an irrefutably sizzling track, well-worth studying.

Order the “Morning After Dark” Hit Report & Get it all…

Morning After Dark Drum Production Audio Tutorial! (Play MP3)
Morning After Dark Song Format Map! (View All)
Morning After Dark Frequency Separation Map! (View All)
Morning After Dark Song Arrangement Map! (View All)
Morning After Dark Melody Map! (View All)
Morning After Dark - Detailed Audio Examples & Screenshots
Morning After Dark - Step By Step Drum Production Report!
Morning After Dark - Song Arrangement Step-by-Step Report!
Morning After Dark - Synth Sound Design Report!
Morning After Dark - Production Instruction with Cakewalk Sonar!
Morning After Dark - Production Instruction with Reason 4!
Morning After Dark - Mastering and Equalization Report!
Morning After Dark - Synth Arpeggio Production!
Super Bonus: VIPKIT#24, 135 Samples, $30 value!
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42 Responses to “Morning After Dark - Learn Drums, Mix”

  1. Emanuel Dragomir on March 10th, 2010 8:06 am

    Good Hit Report
    I really like this one, because it teaches how to re-create the bass & the drum loop (and more)!


  2. kakumba andrew on March 14th, 2010 3:11 am

    I wan’ be a great producer in Uganda, i am in need of your help. please help

  3. tony on March 15th, 2010 9:23 am

    I have plenty of drum kits for my mpc2500 but how can I get instrument kits?

  4. Van on March 15th, 2010 2:47 pm

    Will you guys be doing drum production audio tutorial with all future hit reports. I really like the idea .. makes it easier to learn

  5. Hit Talk Staff on March 17th, 2010 12:22 am

    You should be able to find what you need here: MPC samples

  6. Hit Talk Staff on March 17th, 2010 12:24 am

    We will definitely be doing detailed audio tutorials with upcoming reports. Glad it has lead you to quicker insight. A wave file is worth a thousand words?

  7. Terrance W on March 24th, 2010 1:23 pm

    @ tony….
    Another thing is, get some Modernbeats Platinum Loops or other and cut the various patterns out and turn them into one shots. at least until you’re able to buy a lot of different moc sounds.

  8. Terrance W on March 24th, 2010 1:49 pm

    Sup HT,
    Got a real one for your now… lol

    In Logic Pro 9 (dun dun dun),

    How can I change the parameters/ step pattern count as shown in this HR. I know that RPG-8 is the bomb, but I don’t use Reason anymore, although, i miss that RPG-8 functionality, is there a way to change the step count with the Logic Pro Arpeggiator? i.e. the endless ‘Environment’ window…

    Also, this arpeggiator doesn’t allow ‘Manual’ or the functionality of RPG-8 ‘INSERT’ tab(s). (to my knowledge). Lastly, if there is no known way, what are the alternative AU plugin for Mac with similar RPG-8 functions, like the VST Sanford Arp…?

    This is mind bogglin’ please help.
    Thanks in advance…

  9. Hit Talk Staff on March 26th, 2010 1:39 pm

    Hey Terrance,

    Very good question. The manual functionality of the RPG-8 really just provides that one extra shortcut…

    As far as changing the step count without actually changing the chord you’ve played, the RPG-8 is the only arp we’ve tried with taht functionality. I guess, in short, nothing comes to mind either for step count or manual functionality.

    We’d suggest, though, that you try the steps with another arpeggiator with more traditional “note in melody per note in chord” functionality and try rearranging from there. You’ll have a few extra notes to move around, but it’s basically the same process, and should still save you time.

    In addition, you may want to check KVRaudio’s listing of arpeggio plugins.
    Hope that’s some help.


  10. Terrance W on March 27th, 2010 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the info…!

  11. DavidG on April 1st, 2010 11:10 am

    Awesome report!

    Do you think you could do one for a RedOne track(He has plenty of hits lol)? Would love to see how you breakdown his sound.


  12. Hit Talk Staff on April 1st, 2010 7:53 pm

    We’re in the deciding stages of the new report, we’ll take your request into consideration, David. Thanks!

  13. Terrance W on April 1st, 2010 8:55 pm

    i agree, excellent choice…..

  14. Hit Talk Staff on April 1st, 2010 9:01 pm

    hmm… two votes RedOne. Anyone else?

  15. Bryan on April 2nd, 2010 11:16 pm

    I’m also a big fan of RedOnes stuff . I’d have to vote for Red too!

    The guy uses Logic pro 9 for all of his productions I.E. Bad Romance was crazy. The synths, arrangement imo were great. Though he has a whole bunch of hits ranging from a whole spectrum of artists, just check out the dudes discography on wikipedia. Crazy!

    cmon Hit Talk you know what to do :]

  16. Hit Talk Staff on April 2nd, 2010 11:28 pm

    alright, no solid promises, but we’ll definitely do what we can, as soon as we can. Thanks guys!

  17. td on April 12th, 2010 2:10 pm

    woo cant wait for RedOne hit talk

  18. Terrance W on April 12th, 2010 5:53 pm

    Dont cross your laces to

  19. Terrance W on April 12th, 2010 5:54 pm

    This is a great report by the way

  20. V on May 9th, 2010 2:39 pm

    Yeah you guys should deff do a RedOne tutorail

  21. V on May 9th, 2010 2:50 pm

    After buying this tutorial and working out how to program drums properly .. HitTalk … have you heard the song ‘under’ by Pleasure P … how can i make a kick drum similar to the one in that song … ive been trying to do this for ages and cant work it out .. the kick has a sort of ‘airy’ feel to it with a bit of low end but not too much … that ‘airy’ feel is what im after. Hittalk .. any advice ? check out the song here

    select the highest quailty if you can


  22. Hit Talk Staff on May 12th, 2010 7:16 pm

    @ everyone… Red One . Yes.
    @ V - See what you mean about that kick sample. It’s a familiar sound… It’s got a wide stereo presence, sounds like the decay was shortened… as for the timbre… might be a dampened kick drum… cool timbre… we’ll listen harder and hit you back.

  23. Hit Talk Staff on May 12th, 2010 8:54 pm

    Yeah, this is a cool kick sample. Softer attack, nice thick acoustic resonance. If you wanted to recreate it you could try it this way:
    1) You could record an acoustic kick with an AKG D12 or some mic that’ll pick up lots of bass frequencies.
    2) You might also use a condenser somewhere in the recording room to capture the room ambience, mix it in very quietly on a separate channel
    3) compress the the acoustic kick with a medium attack
    4) EQ is definitely critical, try a highpass filter at 39 HZ, bell (bandpass) EQ at 40Hz with a narrow Q (say 20), boost that 40Hz bandpass depending on the original resonance of the recorded kick.
    5) the attack has a bit of an 808 pop to it, you might consider layering an 808 attack with it. So crossfade the 808 attack, and the acoustic sustain… the sustain on the acoustic kick is almost gated… definitely fades out prematurely, you could use automation or a soft-knee gate…
    6) Finally you could hit the 808 kick attack with a highpass to remove the sub frequencies that may conflict with the original kick.

    Follow all that? Maybe we’ll whip up some screen caps and put it in the tips section… next report first tho

  24. V on May 13th, 2010 3:15 am

    Nice one Hittalk ! thanks for the advice … i will try follow your advice and see what i get .. If you could put up some screen caps for this re-creation in the tips section that would be AMAZING !

    Thanks again


  25. Joey on May 13th, 2010 3:22 am

    yeah i think screen caps would be a great addition to this tip, especially for us semi-newbie’s. Steps 3 - 6 i found a lil confusing .. would be easy to understand with pics of the settings used etc. Thanks for the tip though ! … this is a really nice R&B kick sample ! good looking out V and Hittalk !.


  26. kingkirby08 on June 9th, 2010 9:17 am

    we want a red one track to b the next hit report

  27. kingkirby08 on June 9th, 2010 9:18 am

    any kind of lady gaga song

  28. Hit Talk Staff on June 9th, 2010 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the feedback, K.K. We’re already working on satisfying your requests.

  29. Emanuel D. on June 10th, 2010 3:09 pm

    Sean Kingston - Fire Burning (prod. by RedOne)

    A Hit Report for this one would be nice!

  30. L on July 18th, 2010 12:53 pm

    Timbaland steals his music. His hooks are reworking of old songs and frankly, at certain times, he’s outright stolen from other lesser known producers. That, is pathetic.

  31. Hit Talk Staff on July 19th, 2010 7:55 pm

    @L - He’s a good producer. You can hardly make such sweeping judgments based on a 3-yr old case that’s still in appellate court, regardless of who’s in the right. As for reworking old songs, well, pretty much everyone is guilty of that - to varying degrees.

  32. Dan on January 29th, 2011 6:34 am

    Hi, i was wondering, do you have any of the production hit report that’s on logic pro 9?

  33. Jr. on April 17th, 2011 1:00 pm

    Its was a koo read. It really didn’t talk about the tone or pitch changes in the drums. For beginners that will be reading it, that should of been one of the man points yaw should of hit on because that plays a big part in a drum groove. Now they still don’t know why their drum loops isn’t grooving. Due to the fact they don’t have dynamics and pitch and tone changes. I was at least expecting a very very detail report. It wasn’t detail enough for me. BUT there are some good tips in there though.

  34. Elkay on June 11th, 2011 8:15 am

    i really appreciate what u guys r doing. Keep it coming HR.

  35. Etido Paul on July 10th, 2011 11:53 pm

    How can i mix my music without distorting?

  36. Terrance W. on July 11th, 2011 12:03 pm

    @ Etido Paul.

    Use a Gain plugin on each track as 1st plugin, then Bus the over all mix i.e. Vocal Bus, etc… and balance that overall volume

  37. Xander Meiring on October 9th, 2011 2:51 pm

    What makes a good dance track? is it in the bass, the drive to get some hard thrust out of a sound? and what type of kick does one use? Is it alright if I use a mid range kick for the “sound” of the kick and a compressed kick with it to give it it’s body?

    PLZ Help

  38. Theron on November 11th, 2011 2:42 pm

    This is really great! This tough me how to create more dynamic sounding drums.

  39. Lucas Keatshotse on November 30th, 2011 8:59 am

    which software is used for the best beat?

  40. DRH GUY on December 11th, 2011 3:01 pm

    you guys are great and i really wanna produce like you one day. thanks for the free hit theories, my skills is gaining what it takes to be a producer and by the end of the coming 5 years, surely i will be one of the great hip hop producers.

  41. Hicham on February 4th, 2012 9:33 am

    Hi Champs. I use modernbeats tips in all of my song. it quite helpfull. but i ve find that if i clip the kik track and soft-clip the main master track. the kik wil be punchy. and if i make a peak controled EQ for the kik track : the attack will be in 500Hz -release 30Hz APPROXIMATIVLY . dont make a frequency separation until you record it. so do your EQ and make a Compressor . it 3 years knowing about the timbo riping. from abdalhalim. so ginus

  42. Hicham on February 4th, 2012 9:36 am

    Hi Champs. I use modernbeats tips in all of my song. it quite helpfull. but i ve find that if i clip the kik track and soft-clip the main master track. the kik wil be punchy. and if i make a peak controled EQ for the kik track : the attack will be in 500Hz -release 30Hz APPROXIMATIVLY . dont make a frequency separation until you record it. so do your EQ and make a Compressor . it 3 years knowing about the timbo riping. from abdalhalim. so ginus

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