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samples from
future loops

Make better

Improve your groove with our essential drum
and percussion production tutorials

Get hands-on with NI Maschine, Akai MPC
Software and Vengeance Phalanx
Create perfect sampled acoustic drum kit tracks
The best software drum machines revealed
Talking beats with Mr Scruff, Reso, Om Unit and more

Special 66 2014
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As the bedrock on which all the other elements of
any dance or electronic track sit, getting your
drum and percussion parts – collectively, your
beats – sounding their best is probably the most
important part of the entire production process.
Weak beats will undermine everything else in an
otherwise solid mix, whether that weakness comes
in the form of bad (meaning bad) sound selection,
tepid processing or pedestrian programming.
With this
Special on your studio bookshelf,
such groove-sapping issues need never trouble
you again. Over these 98 walkthrough-packed
pages, we’ll get you up to speed on working with
synthesised and sampled drum sounds,
programming electronic and ‘acoustic’ drum and
percussion parts, creating larger-than-life,
Hollywood-style beats, getting hands-on with
Maschine and MPC Software, and more. Each and
every tutorial comes with all the files required to
follow along on your Mac or PC, and six of them
are brought to life onscreen in video form. As well
as that little lot, we’ll also reveal our pick of the
finest software drum machines on the market and
get some words of wisdom from seven masters or
the beat-making art.
So, whether you’re creating house, techno,
trance, chillwave, hip-hop, DnB, dubstep, EDM or
trap, rest assured that you’ve come to the right
place to righten your rhythms.

© Future Publishing Limited 2014. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be
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Computer Music special  /  3

co. Available digitally on these devices . samples and exclusive software to help you make great music now! www.Make great music on your PC or Mac! Computer Music is the magazine for musicians with a PC or Mac. It’s packed with tutorials.computermusic.

but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to make high-fat old-school beats 70 Make beats with MPC Software Go back to the future with the 21st-century incarnation of Akai’s seminal sample-based grooveboxes 98 DOWNLOAD You can get your hands on all the tutorial files. our pick of the finest virtual instruments on the market will see you right 24 Synthesised beats With our help you’ll soon feel right at home with analogue-style subtractive synthesis and physical modeling 32 P  rogramming realistic acoustic drums While the majority of this Special is dedicated to the discussion of ‘electronic’ beats. djembe. flexible drum sampler is a onestop shop for dance and electronic beats of all kinds 80 Gear guide Whether you’re after a synth-based drum machine or a realistic drum kit ROMpler. timbales – weaving intricate percussion lines into your beats isn’t as hard as you might think 48 Cinematic beats Inspired by the big. it’s time to get mixing Seven of the electronic music scene’s leading lights tell us how they go about the process of beat production. you need to get your sequencing chops together… 16 S  ampled beats Get more from your rhythm loops with our guide to slicing. bongos. processing and generally messing with sampled beats 76 B  uild a sample kit with Phalanx Vengeance Sound’s powerful.special Issue 66 contents 07 Drum sequencing essentials If you want to make awesome beats without relying on prefab loops. – select ‘Computer Music issue 66’ Computer Music special  /  5 . every producer should be able to program convincing drum kit parts should the need arise. bombastic sounds of Hollywood movies. layering. samples and videos that Special on the disc accompany this and at vault. we explore a range of larger-than-life percussion possibilities 89 The beat makers 54 Mixing beats Once you’ve selected your sounds and sequenced your We show you how 40 Programming percussion Congas. and let us in on some of the software they use to do it 64 Make beats with Maschine NI’s hybrid groovebox might be cutting-edge.

Mag/DVD Future Music is the mag for the latest gear and how today’s cutting-edge music makers use it. We’ve been making the future since 1992. . Make sure that you’re part of it.

though. Never fear. Creating rhythms using one-shot samples or drum machines gives you a far greater level of control over the sound than loops ever can – and. Computer Music special  /  7 . Knowing what gives a particular genre its groove and which drums are used to generate which sounds is a hugely useful skill when it comes to composing and mixing dance music.Drum sequencing essentials Sequence your own house. either using drum kits included with your DAW or samples provided in our Tutorial Files folder. But although they can be a convenient shortcut to producing professional-sounding music. relying on them for all your beats isn’t an approach we’d recommend. because that’s where this tutorial comes in! Over the following pages. both rhythmically and sonically. of course. The advantage of being able to program your own beats from scratch is that you’ll gain a better understanding of how they work. giving you a better understanding of how dance music beats are constructed and hopefully inspiring you to come up with ways in which you can put your own creative spin on them. it’s easy to find pre-programmed loops in practically any conceivable style these days. there’s nothing to stop you from combining both. we’ll show you how to make beats in three of the hottest dance music styles entirely from scratch. especially if you don’t even know what tempo you should be working at for your particular genre. trap and DnB beats from scratch with our easy-to-follow walkthroughs With countless excellent sample libraries just a few clicks and a credit card away. starting your beat production endeavours with nothing more than a blank arrange page can be somewhat intimidating. let alone the specifics of which sounds or rhythms you need to use to create an appropriate beat for it. Of course. Don’t worry if you’re an absolute production beginner – these walkthroughs will show you what to do click by click.

Press the Play button in the transport bar to hear how it sounds. This brings up a huge list of presets. Using the Drumstick tool. add hits by clicking the vertical lines. Select MIDI»Open Drum Editor from the menu. You can hear how it sounds by playing your MIDI controller or clicking the keys on HALion Sonic SE’s virtual keyboard. Open the window layout panel with the button at the bottom left-hand corner of the interface. . The darker lines represent the fours beats of the bar. Close the window layout panel by clicking outside it. making it much easier to find what we’re looking for. Close HALion Sonic SE’s interface. click the Load Program button (the square with the downwards-pointing arrow towards the top centre of the interface). 8  /  Computer Music special 2 4 6 To load a drum kit. let’s add some more sounds. a new instrument track with HALion Sonic SE on it will appear. and activate the Filters option if it’s not already on. Click the Loop button on the transport bar to activate the loop. then select the Drum&Perc filter in the Category column. Click every beat of the bar in the Bass Drum row to create a four-to-the-floor kick pattern. Let’s start with a four-to-the-floor kick drum. This closes the Load Program menu and loads ourchosen kit. Activating this filter means that only drum kit presets will be shown in the list on the right. and drag between bars 1 and 2 on the ruler above the arrangement to set up a loop. then double-click the first bar on the instrument track to create a new MIDI region. then right-click the Track List and select Add Instrument Track. Click the instrument slot in the window that appears and select Synth»HALion Sonic SE.>  drum programming essentials > Step by step 1. Making a house beat in Cubase video Tutorial Files 1 3 5 Create a new project in Cubase. While the beat continues to play. Click the Drumstick icon on the Tool Buttons menu at the top left-hand corner of the interface. Scroll down to the bottom of the list and double-click T9 Analog Kit. When you click the Add Track button.

10 Press Ctrl+A on PC or Cmd+A on Mac to select all the drum hits. By default.7 9 Add a Hand Clap on the second and fourth beats. Swinging just one element (the hi-hats. In step 9 of the walkthrough. usually) teases the ear while maintaining the overall tightness of the beat. ‘shuffling’ the beat. Computer Music special  /  9 . but it’s easy to underestimate the importance of timing when it comes to making dance beats. eighth and tenth 16th-notes. This sounds OK. 8 Two 16th-notes are the same length as one eighth-note. Part of the reason that breakbeats (sampled drum breaks) are so popular in dance is that their inherent groove gives the producer a quick and effective way to lend a track a funky feel. This gives us a much funkier. giving the beat a shuffled feel. but the rhythm is very straight – it’ll sound a lot better with some swing.and 16th-notes in this example.wav) Timing is everything This may sound obvious. As well as putting sounds on beats. When we delay every other 16th-note in Step 10 by turning up the Swing parameter. “Note that you don’t have to apply swing to a whole drum track to capitalise on the effect” and examining the timing fluctuations. second. and why is it such a powerful tool? Swing – also known as ‘shuffle’ and ‘groove’ – is a rhythmic device that first emerged in a formal sense with the blues. the great-granddaddy of contemporary popular music. You can learn a lot about rhythm programming by simply loading a break you like the rhythm of into your DAW. which is pretty unexciting to listen to. (Audio: House beat. As you do this. setting the project tempo to that of the beat. The subtle ‘swing’ timing change applied in the last step of the walkthrough above only makes a difference of a fraction of a second to a handful of the sequenced hits. The beat instantly sounds funkier. every other 16th-note grid line will move to the right slightly. which we can make more interesting by adding other sounds. Some DAWs even have the ability to analyse audio clips and extract the timing and volume variations of their groove as a template that can then be applied to audio and MIDI parts. and we’ll also use eighth. usually so that every other eighth. all the beats have perfectly rigid timing. and is much easier to listen to for an extended period. It’s important to note that you don’t have to apply swing to a whole drum track to capitalise on the effect. This kick. Cubase’s grid also displays paler 16th-note divisions. Most of the hits will be unaffected because they’re on quarter. It involves varying the timing of the rhythm. Put Open Hi-Hats on every other eighth-note. but it greatly enhances the overall feel. too. Let’s give the beat more energy with the addition of some closed hats. So what exactly is swing. Add Closed Hi-Hats on the first. Turn the Swing parameter on the left up to 50%.or eighth-notes. clap and open hats pattern gives us a very basic house music template to work with. There are four beats in a bar – these are called quarter-notes. the slight timing variations from note to note turn the beat from flat to funky. we can put them between beats.or 16th-note plays slightly late. classic-style house groove. but the Closed Hi-Hats on 16th-notes will be moved to the shifted grid lines. then Q to quantise them.

This is important when creating a trap beat. 2 3 Double-click the Tempo field in the control bar and set it to 130bpm. and select EXS24 (Sampler)»Stereo from the list. Drag over bars 1 and 2 in the Cycle Area above the arrangement to set a loop. which we can spice up with extra elements. click the empty patch name slot above the Cutoff knob and select Drums & Percussion»Electronic Drum Kits»EXS 808. the Bus 2 send is turned up a little. In EXS24. then click the Display Mode button and select Custom.3. and click B0 on the first beats of the first and second bars. Add D1 notes on beats 1. 4 5 Double-click the MIDI region to bring up the Piano Roll Editor. We now have the bare bones of our trap rhythm. Click the button with the arrows on the right-hand side of the instrument slot in the Inspector to bring up a list of available instruments. Next. headphones or proper monitors are recommended. This gives us a set of awesome Roland TR-808 drum machine samples to play with – an essential ingredient of trap. We’ll start by adding the fundamental elements of the beat: the kick on beat 1 and the snare on beat 3. then right-click that area on the EXS24 track and select Create Empty MIDI Region. This creates a powerful.>  drum programming essentials > Step by step 2. . Hold Cmd to switch to the Pencil tool. drag the right-hand side of the region over to the end of the second bar – now we have a two-bar MIDI region to program our beat in.3 and 2. because it enables us to switch the Piano Roll Editor’s grid between time signatures on the fly. Sequencing a trap beat in Logic Pro 1 Start a new project in Logic Pro with a software instrument track. booming 808 sub note. though if you’re listening on laptop speakers all you’ll hear is its high-end attack! As always. so turn it down to 0. 6 10  /  Computer Music special By default.

8 9 In the control bar. To shorten the length of the 32nd-notes. as shown above. and these are typically the most complex part of the beat. which tells the EXS24 how loud you want the note to be. drag their right-hand edges to the left. Click the MIDI Draw button to show each hit’s velocity level. let’s beef the snare up by layering it up with D 1 (clap) and E1 (higher snare) notes on the same beat. return the grid to /16. This interplay between the kick and hi-hat rhythms is what a trap beat is all about. but the hi-hats would sound a bit more natural with some volume variation. we’ll change up the rhythm by introducing some triplets. This isn’t a problem for the kicks and snares in this particular beat. then drag its velocity value in the MIDI Draw panel. This makes it sound bigger and sharpens its attack. drag over it to select it in the piano roll editor. use /12 then /32 to add triplets followed by a quick roll.7 # For starters. 10 11 Currently. Adding some kicks gives the beat more of a rhythmic feel. To change the velocity level of a hit. 12 Trap isn’t trap without those sparkly hi-hats. all of the hits are at the same volume level. Add some variation to give the beat a more natural. which is a little more interesting and ‘danceable’. each hit has a velocity value. This is where we need to change the timing of the grid… Now enter another four eighth-notes on the first two beats of the second bar. human sound. Next. As you can see from the panel that appears. For the last two beats. click /16 under the time signature and select /12 instead. This enables us to quickly enter triplets. We’ll use the closed hi-hat # sound on F 1 for this pattern – start by drawing in eighth-notes for the first two beats. When you’re done. Add six more # hi-hats on F 1 on the final two beats of the first bar.wav) Computer Music special  /  11 . (Audio: Trap beat. Copy the kick pattern shown above. as we want them to be consistently loud and solid-sounding.

>  drum programming essentials
> Step by step 3. Programming a drum ’n’ bass beat in Ableton Live


Launch Live and press the Tab key to switch from Session to
Arrangement view. We don’t need to use the default setup’s audio
tracks, so select them all and press Backspace to get rid of them. Enter
174 into the tempo field at the top left-hand corner of the interface.



Drag over bar 5 on the MIDI track and press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+M to
create a MIDI clip, then Ctrl/Cmd+L to loop the region. Doubleclick the MIDI clip to bring up the MIDI editor.



Double-click the title of the second MIDI track to select it, and this
time drag Snare 1.wav onto the channel strip. Add hits on 1.2 and
1.4 that last until 1.2.3 and 1.4.3, as shown. This kind of kick-and-snare
rhythm is the foundation of most DnB beats, but it needs the addition
of a few more elements to make it fuller and faster.

12  /  Computer Music special


In the Tutorial Files/Drum programming essentials/
Programming a DnB beat in Ableton Live folder you’ll find some
DnB-ready drum sounds. Select the first MIDI track and drag Kick.wav
into the empty device chain pane at the bottom of the interface to
automatically create a Simpler instrument that we can trigger via MIDI
to play back the sound.

Double-click C3 on the first beat of the bar, and drag the right-hand
side of the note created so that it runs to 1.1.2 – this may not be
visible depending on your zoom level, but it’s half way between the
start of the first beat and 1.1.3. Create another beat of the same length
starting on 1.3.3. When combined with a snare on beats 2 and 4, this
creates a 2-step pattern.

Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+T to create a new MIDI track. Drag Hat.wav
onto it to call up a Simpler instrument, and create a new MIDI part.
Put a short note on the first beat of the bar that lasts until 1.1.1, then
press Ctrl/Cmd+4 to turn off snap to grid.


Hold Alt and drag the note over to just past 1.1.2 to make a copy of
it. Again, you can drag vertically on the ruler at the top of the editor
to zoom in and out. We want this hi-hat to be quieter than the first one,
so drag its velocity level in the panel below down to 40 or so.



The hi-hats are quite loud, so turn the Track Volume down to -3dB.
Now our beat is rolling along nicely, let’s funk it up a little bit. Add
another MIDI track, drag Snare 2.wav onto it and create a new MIDI
clip. We’re going to use this new sound to play some ‘ghost notes’.



We want this snare to be much quieter than the main one, so turn
its Track Volume down to -7.5dB. We can use this ghost snare part
to provide variation to the beat and help it sound less repetitive. Click
the arrow at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to hide the
MIDI editor. Drag over all the clips created so far and duplicate them.


This timing and velocity variation will give us a more natural,
rolling hi-hat pattern that will complement our rigid kicks and
snares. Press Ctrl/Cmd+4 to turn snap back on, then drag over the
area between beats 1 and 1.1.3. Now Press Ctrl/Cmd+D to duplicate the
hats and copy them out so that they last for the whole bar.

A ghost note is a quieter hit on the snare with a different timbre to
that of the main hits, used to make the rhythm more syncopated
and ‘involved’. Double-click the MIDI part to bring up the MIDI editor
and add 32nd-note hits on 1.2.3, 1.2.4 and 1.3.2.

Now click the first of the two ghost snare clips and press 0 to mute
it. This very quickly turns our one-bar loop into a two-bar loop
that’s easier to listen to for extended periods. Select the entire
sequence by dragging on one of the tracks, and press Ctrl/Cmd+L to
loop it. Another way to keep a dance music beat involving is to add
and remove elements as the track progresses.

Computer Music special  /  13

>  drum programming essentials
> Step by step 3. Programming a drum ’n’ bass beat in Ableton Live (continued)



Duplicate the two-bar section out three times to make an eight-bar
sequence. Add a new MIDI track and drag Ride cymbal.wav onto
it. Create a new one-bar-long MIDI clip at the start of the second half of
the sequence and trigger the ride cymbal sound on eighth-notes. Turn
the Track Volume down to -9dB.

Grouping the tracks enables us to edit them as a single entity.
Zoom in on the bar before the ride begins, then drag over the sixth
eighth-note on the group track and delete it. Highlight the fifth eighthnote and duplicate it.



Drag the right-hand side of the clip out so that it lasts until the end
of the sequence. To make the transition between the sections
more exciting, let’s create a fill. Select the kick and ride tracks (hold
Shift) and press Ctrl/Cmd+G to group them.

This creates a fairly subtle variation on the beat that indicates to
the listener that something is about to happen. Another useful tool
for accenting particular parts of a beat is the crash cymbal. Create a
new MIDI track, drag Crash.wav onto it and trigger a single note at the
start of the ride section lasting for an entire bar so that the whole
sound can play. (Audio: DnB beat.wav)

Pick and mix
In these walkthroughs, we’ve focused purely
on sequencing drum sounds rather than
processing them. The resulting beats might
be relatively simple, but they’re solidsounding and consistent with what you might
expect from their respective genres. An
important element of this is sound selection.
For each tutorial we’ve specified that you use
a particular set of sounds, and it’s easy to
hear how differently things can turn out – just
load the EXS24 or HALion Sonic SE with a
different kit after you’ve programmed the
beat. Sometimes the results will be
interesting (for example, the Goa Remix kit
makes a surprisingly cool substitute for the
EXS 808 one), but more often than not they
will be less than satisfying.
Trying to make a particular style of beat
without the right sounds is often frustrating,
14  /  Computer Music special

and it takes time to learn what kinds of
sounds work in any particular context. It can
be tempting for new producers to always pick
the biggest, baddest-sounding sample or kit,
and then make it sound even more extreme
by heavily processing
it in ill-advised ways. If
you find yourself
falling into this trap,
practice your beat
programming with
the pre-programmed
kits from sample
packs or your DAW’s
included library. These will offer a sonic
consistency that makes it easier to
concentrate on learning how to use each
sound and the tricks that you can achieve
with variations in velocity and timing.

Once you’ve got to grips with creating
beats using preset kits, you can take things to
the next level by selecting each sound
individually and processing it. Get your hands
on high-quality versions of tracks that you

“Practice your beat programming
with the pre-programmed kits
from sample packs”
consider to have decent beats – preferably
ones where the beat plays on its own during
the intro or outro – and load them into your
DAW, where you can loop the relevant
sections and study them more easily.

For more go to: www. Artist and Producer Subscribe for as little as 8 £pe4r. If you are dissatisfied in any issue Now available globally. tutorial files and more. complete with its DVD loaded with video. samples. you can write to us or call us to cancel your subscription at any time and we will refund you for all unmailed issues. Get the print edition of Future Music. They’re the best at keeping me up-to-date and focused Want our Digital Edition? Flip to p75 for details Armin van Code: FMUP19 Offer ends: 20th January 2014. You will receive 13 issues per year. delivered to your door every month on the day of release.Subscribe to and Save up to 35% I always get new ideas after reading Future Music. .

. you’re going to be limited to making only the most basic of alterations to your loops. more satisfying beats. it really helps to have a good understanding of how beats are programmed from scratch: if you don’t know how to construct the kind of rhythms you want to create. In these walkthroughs we’ll show you how to slice. say. and by fully exploiting them. rearrange. a genre that began with DJs creating extended. It’s a quick. particularly for beginners. Not all loops will sit together perfectly. though that’s not to say that it can’t also be a creatively valid and rewarding technique – you just have to look at hip-hop. because of differences in timing and/or tuning. baddest-sounding drum tracks yet. Ironically. easy and fun way to make music. Combine these techniques with the advice in Drum Programming Essentials on p7 and you’ll be fully tooled up with the beat-sculpting skills required you to make your biggest. layer. fade. DAWs are hugely powerful audio editing tools. we can turn loops into flexible musical building blocks that offer endless scope and potential. to get the most out of loops.Sampled beats Working with sampled loops is an effective and fun way to produce beats – but only if you know how to step beyond the obvious… 16  /  Computer Music special Using prefab drum loops to quickly make beats is probably one of the first things that you did upon coming face to face with a DAW for the first time. both of these issues can be resolved pretty easily with the advanced timestretching and pitchshifting trickery that today’s music software is capable of. EQ and pitchshift loops to create new rhythms and create fuller. timestretch. Thankfully. to see just how innovative and exciting loop-based music production can be. or have a grasp of how swing works. looping drum solos by using two turntables and two copies of the same record.

the beat’s pitch remains the same.sampled beats  < > Step by step 1. Computer Music special  /  17 . but unlike speeding up a tape or turntable. In this case it doesn’t matter whether we do this or not: this Apple Loop doesn’t have any tempo variation. and click the Apple Loops button at the top right-hand corner of the interface to bring up Logic’s Loop Browser. Now you can slice the audio by clicking it. The vertical lines created on either side of the hi-hat show that it’s now separate to the rest of the beat. type in 135bpm and press Enter. Basic beat-slicing in Logic Pro Tutorial Files 1 3 5 Create a new project with an audio track. and its tempo is 120bpm. which is the same as the project. You’ll hear that Logic switches to the new tempo. Because we’re working with an Apple Loop. it’ll automatically change its tempo to match the project. The hi-hats are the smaller events between the large kick drums that sit on each beat. Near the top left-hand corner of the matrix of search filters is a button that reads All Drums. As the beat plays back. as shown above. then just before the second kick. 2 4 6 Scroll down to House Grounded Beat 01 and drag it onto the audio track. Zoom in so that you can see the waveform more clearly. Drag over bars 1 and 2 in the ruler above the arrangement to activate Cycle mode and press Play on the transport bar to play the loop back. Click the waveform just before the first hi-hat. Click the Apple Loops button again to hide the menu. then click the left-click Tool menu and select the Scissors tool. asking if you’d like to import the loop’s tempo information. A window will pop up. Press Enter to select Import. double-click the Tempo field. We can change the rhythm of the beat quickly and easily by slicing the loop. because it’s being timestretched rather than resampled – see A Change of Pace on p20 for more on this. and the loop will appear on the audio track. Let’s slice out the first hi-hat. Click it to filter the view down to just drum loops.

Shorten the first kick so that it ends between 1. The gap we’ve created gives the beat a stop-start motion at the beginning. and you can avoid it by activating your DAW’s snap to zero-crossing function. You’ll notice that the sound ends abruptly. As we’re zoomed in pretty tight.1. Now when you play the sound back it’s still very short.1 and 1.1. (Audio: Short fade) . Logic’s Snap mode is set to Smart.1. 10 Sometimes when you slice a sample. 12 Click the More arrow in the Region Inspector – Fade In and Fade Out parameters will appear. Let’s demonstrate this. This is usually due to the sample starting or finishing at a ‘non-zero’ point in the waveform. (Audio: Removed hat. Because Logic’s Snap mode was active when we sliced the audio. In Logic’s Edit menu. you might get an audible click at its beginning or end. but the smooth volume fade at the end stops it sounding so unnatural. Basic beat-slicing in Logic Pro (continued) 7 9 11 Set the left-click Tool menu back to the Pointer tool.3. which gives it an unnatural feel. (Audio: Unwanted hat) By default. there’s an easy way to fix this. Drag up in the space to the right of the Fade Out parameter until it reads 10. we can drag the bottom right-hand edge of the waveform to the left slightly. then click the hi-hat slice and press Backspace to delete it. but the hat starts slightly before that. (Audio: No fade) 18  /  Computer Music special 8 Zoom in on the end of the first kick and you’ll see that the hi-hat does indeed start before the section we’ve cut.> Step by step 1. it might sound unnatural if it goes from a full sound to silence too quickly. but if you listen carefully. Thankfully. Snap Edits to Zero Crossing is active by default. getting rid of the start of the hi-hat without adversely affecting the kick.wav) Depending on where you a slice a loop.2. it was cut exactly at 1. you’ll hear the very start of the hi-hat before the gap. which means its resolution is dependent on the current zoom level.

so we can either change the project tempo or tweak the loop to fit.wav into the space below Kick. which now plays back in time with the metronome. Select the Scissors tool and click midway through the Ghetto beat to slice it in two. With the metronome deactivated. Close the audio editor and drag Tops. This loop has an extra kick at the end. Turn the metronome off by deactivating Click in the transport panel. so its pitch drops slightly but the transient of each kick is better preserved. and change it to élastique»élastique Pro Tape. If you play the loop back and activate the metronome.wav in the arrangement to open the sample editor. then click the AudioWarp tab to expand it. which makes the rhythm a little messy. you’ll hear that the kick drum goes out of time towards the end of the bar. (Audio: Resampled kick) Next.wav in it. In the ruler above the arrangement. Activate Musical mode and change the algorithm to élastique Pro Tape again. Create a new empty project in Cubase. Now let’s add another loop to complement the kick. (Audio: Kick and tops) 2 4 6 Let’s make the loop fit our 120bpm project. (Audio: Timestretched kick) In this mode. Activate Musical mode by clicking the musical note button. Computer Music special  /  19 . Double-click Kick. This automatically timestretches the loop.sampled beats  < > Step by step 2. it’s easier to hear that Cubase’s default timestretching mode has had an undesirable effect – if you listen closely you’ll hear a slight pitched ‘whoosh’ on each beat. beefier rhythms. the audio is resampled rather than timestretched. and drag Kick. Layering and rearranging loops in Cubase 1 3 5 Layering drum loops can be a great technique for making more complex. then click the Cycle On/Off button in the transport panel to loop that region.wav. add Ghetto beat. Locate the Algorithm parameter at the top of the window. This loop is a bit faster than the default Cubase project tempo of 120bpm.wav below the previous two samples and repeat the same process.wav into the arrangement. drag over the bar with Kick.

Apple Loops (AIF) and REX (RX2) file formats. It doesn’t sound terrible. though. we can make beats with different rhythms work together. you’ll want to change the tempo or pitch of a loop to make it fit with other elements of a track. so it’s worth investigating your existing software’s loopslicing capabilities to see what it’s capable of. but there’s a way we can get a much clearer sound while retaining the Ghetto beat’s characteristic top end.> Step by step 2. which is why most DAWs and samplers offer a choice of granular processing or warping algorithms. This technique preserves the pitch of the audio and leaves the loop’s transients unaffected. Frequently. others with pitched ‘musical’ material or vocals. then expand the Equalizers tab in the Inspector. For the uninitiated. and it usually maintains the transients and texture of the audio well. most DAWs and samplers can slice loops into sections and create sampler patches and MIDI timing sequences automatically. Click the Ghetto beat track in the Track List. and most current software can work with all three. Layering and rearranging loops in Cubase (continued) 7 9 Delete the second half of the loop. Hover your mouse pointer over the lowest band’s 1 to make it a power button. Propellerheads ReCycle (€229. so the slower the audio data is played back. then select the remaining half. (Audio: Rearranged beat) On playback. the higher in pitch it rises. 10 Now click the EQ shape on the right to bring up a list of available filter types. Click it to activate the band. (Audio: EQed beat) A change of pace Often. though. The catch is that this process is more likely to have an impact on the quality of the audio. it’s possible to make an audio clip much longer or shorter – a technique known as timestretching. you’ll see the channel’s frequency content displayed in the analyser – there’s a big peak in the low end where the loop’s big. automatically adjusting imported audio in any of these formats to fit your project’s is a venerable piece of software for slicing loops and exporting RX2 files. and this is where granular processing (often known in this context as ‘warping’) comes into play. the lower in pitch it becomes. and the faster it’s played back. 8 There’s still one problem with our beat: Ghetto beat. Let’s high-pass filter it out. although it can sound unnatural if the loop features longer sounds such as ride cymbals. Another way in which DAWs and samplers can be used to change the tempo of loops is by slicing them into individual beats. And when combined with resampling. then drag the Frequency of the band up to 1. it’s beneficial to be able to control the tempo and pitch of a sound independently. The advantage of this method is that it’s quick and easy for software to perform. There are two ways to do this: resampling and granular processing.55kHz. This takes out the loop’s low end. so it’s worth getting to know all of your software’s available algorithms to find out which are best suited to particular tasks. Press Ctrl+D on PC or Cmd+D on Mac to duplicate this half of the beat. By replacing unwanted material like this. Some algorithms will work better with beats. bassy kick drum sits. propellerheads. By slicing the audio into thousands of tiny 20  /  Computer Music special sections and duplicating or removing them as necessary. helping our original kick sound clear in the mix.wav’s kick drum is interfering with the main kick. . These days. This slicing information can be stored in the Acidized WAV. Select High Pass I. Resampling works much like speeding up or slowing down a tape machine or vinyl record player. which can then be played back faster or slower. it can also be used to change the pitch of the audio – that’s pitchshifting. available from www. The tempo and pitch are inextricably linked.

(Audio: Aligned beats) Computer Music special  /  21 .wav. Applying swing to loops in Ableton Live  video 1 3 5 Because not all loops have exactly the same groove (see Timing Is Everything on p9). Changes that are made in the Clip View will be reflected in the waveforms on the arrangement – move the castanets to the right until they sit perfectly under the closed hi-hat. but it would take quite a while to tweak the rest of the beat in this manner.wav. Finally. There are a couple of ways to do this in Ableton Live. This is where Live’s Groove Extraction capability comes in handy. This technique works well for small jobs.1. We can now adjust the timing of the second castanet without affecting the rest of the loop.2. Drag Shuffle house.wav and Straight castanets. Right-click House shuffle. turn the clip’s Transpose parameter up to 3 so that it sits more comfortably with House shuffle. Look at Shuffle house. you may need to tweak a loop’s timing to work with its accompanying material.wav and select Extract Groove(s).3. Double-click the warp markers you’ve created to delete them. Press Ctrl/Cmd+4 to deactivate Live’s Snap mode. You’ll see House Shuffle in there – this is the groove we just created. but Straight castanets.wav onto separate audio tracks in the first bar of a Live arrangement. sitting perfectly on 1.sampled beats  < > Step by step 3. Drag the groove onto Straight Castanets and its timing will automatically be adjusted to fit the groove.1. Double-click the ruler above the third castanet to add a yellow warp marker. click the wavy button on the left of the interface to bring up the Groove Pool.wav has much more rigid timing. 2 4 6 Press Ctrl/Cmd+L to set up a loop around the samples. We can adjust the castanets’ timing by double-clicking the waveform to bring it up in the Clip View. Drag down on the ruler over the arrangement to zoom in on the waveforms. You’ll see that the closed hat of the first beat plays a bit after 1. (Audio: Unaligned beats) You can now drag the castanets into exactly the right position. When it’s done. Live will take a few moments to analyse the audio.



you can easily apply it to another. Eventually. but they needn’t be. ear-catching sounds from the ground up. and 24  /  Computer Music special with all the power of modern software synthesisers at our disposal. Over the years the terminology has gained something of a common language. however. snares. And why not? Acoustic drums are ubiquitous to the point of drawing almost no attention. For the novice electronic musician. and there’s no better way of carving out your own identity than by creating your own drum sounds from scratch The earliest drum machines were little more than preset analogue cheese machines. . and their organic nature just doesn’t suit the majority of electronic and dance music. beeps and bloops that bore no resemblance to actual drums whatsoever. and once you learn one. synthetic character of those sounds. There are numerous drum machine plugins out there that draw purely upon synthesis to forge their beats. these potential-packed devices were rediscovered by a new generation of musicians who embraced the quirky. describing them in terms that anyone can understand. these instruments can seem arcane and even intimidating. ticking off time in a series of thin clicks. We’ll draw upon a number of instruments. We’ll teach you how to exploit those techniques for specific types of sounds and take you step-by-step through the functions you’ll need to make your own kicks. In this tutorial we’ll give you the lowdown on drum synths and how you can use them to craft your own sound. it ought to be easy to craft unique.>  synthesised beats Synthesised beats We all want to stand out from the crowd. hi-hats and more. We’ll clue you in on various synthesis techniques. as many of them tap into the same technologies that form the basis of your regular non-drumspecific synthesisers. but most of what you will learn can be applied to any drum synth.

You can use audio oscillators to modulate the pitch or amplitude of other audio oscillators. too – even keyboard synths. the waveform of an LFO oscillates below the audible range. We’ll start. This is the drum we’ll edit. Computer Music special  /  25 . When applied to amplitude (volume). It all starts with the oscillators Tutorial Files 1 3 Let’s begin at the beginning – with the oscillator(s) that generate the basic waveform(s) or sound. This sets all the controls to their default starting points. There are many different types of modulator. the selected Pitch Mod type is the amplitude envelope. An envelope generator is a modulator. The others are triangle and sawtooth. amplitude modulation (AM) and ring modulation (where only the sum and difference of the two inputs remain. Try them. Trigger the C note from your MIDI keyboard. you already have a head start. it’s bound to seem somewhat arcane at first” overall volume might be shaped over time using an envelope generator. This envelope generator might consist of two or more adjustable parameters that enable you to. but is also used in other forms of synthesis. This gets rid of the noise. resulting in tremolo. clangorous tones – very useful for drums and percussion. It consists of a common modulation source called an LFO (low-frequency oscillator) – unlike the oscillator described above. Let’s use the triangle waveform. with the most common form of synthesis employed by drum machines: subtractive synthesis. which have more harmonics. 2 4 Make sure the 1 c button is highlighted. Microtonic allows us to modulate the pitch of our oscillator – currently. click the downward arrow at the top-left corner and choose Initialize Preset. if you’re new to synthesis. which we can transform into a kick drum. We’ll discuss this in more detail a little later on. > Step by step 1. an LFO causes the volume to shift up and down. In the Oscillator section. A typical tremolo is a good example. Now our sounds is a nice. push the Osc Freq slider all the way to the left to lower the pitch. Try moving the Pitch Mod Amount knob to +30 or so to hear how this affects the sound. More on envelopes later.synthesised beats  < Artificial intelligence: synthesis exposed Creating your own sounds with a drum synthesiser requires learning a little about one or more synthesis techniques. This technique is most commonly associated with retro-styled analogue synths. woody ‘thok’. but for now it’s enough to know that this one affects the pitch over time when you play a note. Drums are often synthesised from both a pitched tone and a noise layer. These often produce metallic. fade the sound or frequencies in or out. Push the Mix slider in the left-hand section all the way to Osc. but these techniques will apply to many other machines.soniccharge. If it’s applied to pitch. Note that the sine waveform is selected (it looks like a snake).com). you subtract frequencies from that waveform until you achieve the desired tone. pitch of the oscillator(s) and “If you’re new to synthesis. say. First. hence the name. including velocity level and pressure. and a modulator is any function that directly affects (modulates) another. even sample playback varieties. producing frequency modulation (FM). meaning they sound richer. We’re using Sonic Charge’s Microtonic here (www. without the input signals themselves). Using a filter. The idea is pretty simple: you start with an oscillator that generates a waveform. If you already know a bit about programming your own sounds on a standard ‘melodic’ synth. The filter frequency. it’s bound to seem somewhat arcane at first. fuzzy sort of snare drum. It sounds like a tiny. you get vibrato. then. However.

Play an E2 on your keyboard to trigger it. lengthening the tail – that is. The Amp Envelope section in the middle-left of the GUI has three knobs labelled is a good candidate for this one – the default startup kit is fine. so let’s check them out. You can trigger the sound with the button. and any given envelope might have a varying number of stages. Try it for yourself. Click the right-most little square in the Noise Amp Envelope and drag it to the left.audiodamage. Drum machines usually have only a few envelope controls.robpapen. holding the sound at full volume for a period of time before the decay begins. You’ll probably need to shorten the Decay time to hear it. Rob Papen’s Punch (www. select Snare 9 by clicking it in the column on the left. click the BD2 button to select that drum for editing. The display at the top will show its parameters. Envelope generators 1 3 5 As we’ve mentioned. Hold and Decay. Try the sound. which controls how long it takes the sound to reach full volume. The top of the screen will reflect your selection. Turn the Attack control up halfway or so and listen to the effect. The two windows at the top are graphical envelopes. 26  /  Computer Music special 2 4 6 Trigger the sound. but let’s take a closer look at the process. Different developers present their envelopes in different ways. The first stage is the too. meaning that their settings are visualised in the displays. Let’s take a look at a knob-based envelope generator. Let’s look at Audio Damage Tattoo (www. envelope generators shape a sound over time. Hear how it now fades out over a longer period of time? That’s our decay increase in action.>  synthesised beats > Step by step 2. In the Dynamic Select section. We’ll continue with the Microtonic sound we started on the previous page. . Hold does what the name implies. We’ve already used an envelope to modulate the pitch. the final stage – of the sound. You’ve just changed the decay of this envelope. Crank up the Oscillator section’s Decay knob. Using the default Light House kit.

Filters+noise=hi-hats 1 Let’s make a hi-hat. Use the cutoff to filter out the highs – set the Cut knob to 4 o’clock. Crank it fully clockwise for noise. increase the Osc Freq to C1 and push the Oscillator Decay to 1197ms. Nudge it up to about 10 o’clock to make the sound more shrill. Currently. we need to reduce the envelope’s Rate to around 890ms and Amount to around and select Pad 7 (a hi-hat sample). Set the Noise Filter Freq to around 1300Hz for less fizz.linplug. For a classic disco tom. There’s a low-pass filter in the Noise section. That’s a classic beatbox hi-hat. 2 3 The Reso(nance) control emphasises the frequencies around the cutoff point. Push the Mix slider slightly to the right. You can use the same patch as a cymbal by simply increasing the envelope Decay. using filters to sculpt a complex waveform into the required sound. Change the Module at the top left to a Drum Synth. Call up LinPlug RMV (www.synthesised beats  < > Step by step 3. Pitch envelope for tom tom sounds 1 Let’s adjust some envelopes to create that recognisable synthetic tom sound – our Microtonic SimpleKick patch is a good start. This will filter out some lows for a more metallic sound. Set the Filter Cutoff to 11 o’clock and the Env knob to around 2 o’clock. > Step by step 4. Try switching the waveform to a sine wave for a more ‘realistic’ sound. Sounds pretty good already! 2 Now for some finishing touches. the Mix between the two is all the way to the left (oscillator). Computer Music special  /  27 . Activate the Filter section at the lower left and select HP24 mode. This replaces the sample with an electronic tone. 4 There are two components to our synth: the Oscillator and the Noise section. The Noise section’s envelope Decay is set pretty high – reduce it to around 8 o’clock for a shorter sound.

>  synthesised beats

Physical modelling
Let’s take a break from subtractive synthesis to
discuss physical modelling. This is a relatively
modern technique that uses mathematical
models of the behaviour of real-world acoustic
and electric instruments. Physical modelling has
the ability to introduce subtle changes based on
performance, just like a ‘real’ instrument. It’s
actually been around since 1971, but it didn’t
become practical until computers became
commonplace. Early hardware attempts weren’t
terribly successful, as musicians discovered that
they were, in fact, a little bit too much like
acoustic instruments – meaning it took a lot of
practice to make them sound good.
However, we desktop producers are an
intrepid lot and always clamouring for new
sounds, and a few software developers have
rekindled the promise of physical modelling,
providing new and interesting instruments that

have a life and breath you simply won’t get from
samples or analogue synths. Logic Pro users, for
example, have a superb physical modelling
instrument built into their DAW in the form of
Sculpture, while Ableton Live users can avail
themselves of Collision, a modelling instrument
specifically designed for percussion. Applied
Acoustics Systems have an entire product line
based on physical modelling, including the
mighty Tassman, a modular synth that allows
you to mix physical modelling synthesis with
old-fashioned analogue, and Chromaphone, a
dedicated percussion instrument.
Physical modelling breaks down the
behaviour of acoustic and electric instruments
into exciters and resonators. The resonator is
the part of an instrument that vibrates (a drum
skin, for example), while the exciter is the bit that
sets that vibration into motion (a hand or a

“Modelling has the
ability to introduce
subtle changes based
on performance”
drumstick striking said skin). A drum’s shell or
body is also a resonator.
Depending on the instrument, you may be
able to define things like the stiffness of the
drum skin, the size of the shell or the material
that each element is made from. This means not
only the potential to recreate instruments but
even the ability to create entirely new ones.

> Step by step 5. Physical modelling basics



We’ve learned a little about analogue-style subtractive synthesis;
now let’s take a brief detour into physical modelling. We’ll be using
Image-Line’s Drumaxx ( for this walkthrough,
but most of what we do can be applied to any physical modelling
synth. Open Drumaxx in your host. We’ll start with the default kit; click

Audition the sound. It’s a loud, noisy ‘thwack’. The Amplitude knob
controls the force with which the mallet strikes the drum. There’s a
lot of noise, though. That noise is used to add realism to the sound,
emulating the sound of softer mallets and brushes. Reduce the Noise
Level knob to around 34%.

28  /  Computer Music special



As you can hear, this pad triggers a bass drum. Let’s take a look at
the synthesis section just below the drum pads. As we’ve learned,
physical modelling synths use exciters and resonators to make their
sounds. Drumaxx’s exciter is controlled by the Mallet section, in which
there’s an Amplitude knob. Turn it all the way up.

Now let’s check out the Mallet section’s Decay function. You’ve
already learned how decay works in a typical envelope generator,
and this works in a similar way, affecting the decay time of the mallet
hit. Longer decay times equal slower, boomier hits. Short times are
more precise and sudden. Turn the Decay knob to around 44% and
trigger the sound to hear the effect.

synthesised beats  <



On to the Membrane section. This is our resonator, or the part of
the drum that’s excited into action by the mallet – the skin or head.
It, too, has a Decay knob, which affects the decay time of the skin’s
response. Turn it up to around 77% and trigger your sound. It now has
a resonant, ringing tone.

We now have a very loud crash. As useful as that is, the high
frequencies are overpowering, so lower the Cutoff knob to around
24%. This reduces the amount of high-frequency content, just as it did
in the previous walkthrough.



The Tension function is very important in a modelled sound, just
as it is on an actual acoustic drum. Reduce the Tension to around
68% and trigger the sound. That’s a bigger, beefier tone, if still a little
metallic. Now let’s have a play with the Size knob. We needn’t tell you
what that does! Set it to around 30%.

Now let’s get really tricky. Go to the Velocity Modulation section on
the right. Click the top slot and choose Mallet Decay from the
menu. Set the slot’s knob to 65%. This will increase the Mallet Decay
with harder strikes. You’ll likely need to reduce the Mallet’s Amplitude
to around 72% as we have here. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Computer Music special  /  29

>  synthesised beats
> Step by step 6. Putting it all together: classic kicks




You’re now armed with a basic understanding of two very different
methods of synthesising drum sounds, so let’s put that knowledge
to work. For this walkthrough, we’re using FXPansion’s Tremor (www. Fire it up in your host DAW, right-click the Kick
channel in the mixer section and select Reset to initialise the sound.

Start in the Oscillator section, reducing the Pitch to C1. Turn the
Shape knob fully clockwise to select a triangle waveform and turn
the Roll knob all the way down in the adjacent Harmonics section. This
rolls off the upper harmonics and sounds much more like the familiar
analogue triangle wave.

Next, set the Filter Cutoff to around 81.00Hz. This will all but kill
the sound, but only temporarily. Assign Tremor’s Fast Envelope to
the Cutoff by clicking FENV in the Voice Modulations Sources section,
and move the arrow in the outer ring of the Cutoff knob to maximum
for full modulation.

30  /  Computer Music special




Trigger the sound by hitting C2 on your MIDI keyboard. We now
have a clanking, bell-like tone. Believe it or not, we’re going to
transform that into a kick drum. Click the Synth button just above the
Kick channel to open the synth editor for this channel. As you can see,
there are many familiar parameters on display.

Next, find the Amp Env(elope) section. The Attack and Hold are
fine at 0, but reduce the Decay to around 0.645s and the Curve to
31%. The Curve parameter affects how steep the Decay slope is –
you’ll see how it changes in the display. OK, we’re getting closer to a
kick now. Go to the Filter section and select LPF4 mode.

Click SRC in the Voice Modulation Sources section. Set the Fast
Envelope’s Decay to 0.041s and Curve to 31%. Go to the Pre
section and boost the Drive slider to around 13dB. Audition the sound.
Use the dropdown menu in the Synth FX section to add a Channel
Compressor and tweak the levels to taste for a big impact.

set the Decay to around 0. Give the Pre section’s Drive a boost for more oomph if you like.synthesised beats  < > Step by step 7. Click SRC and play the sound. Computer Music special  /  31 . temporarily turn the Osc knob all the way down and the Noise knob all the way up. Our sound is really taking shape. You should hear the Oscillator Pitch go down slightly as the sound plays out. Experiment with the Slow Envelope settings until you get a sound you like. The oscillator still sounds like a cowbell. Click SENV in Voice Modulation Sources and assign it to Oscillator Pitch with an amount of 98Hz.688s. then drag the outer ring of the Osc knob in the Mixer section fully clockwise to push the mod amount all the way up. Now when you trigger the sound. but it’s a terrible snare! We’ll fix that. Click the Synth button to bring up the Snare # channel’s editor and increase the Oscillator section’s Pitch to F 4. Click the SRC button in the Voice Modulation Sources section when you’re done. so reduce the Space knob in the Membrane section until you get a slightly less metallic sound. Go back to the Mixer and reduce the Noise level until you can hear a good blend of noise and oscillator. Now. We’ve routed the FENV to the Cutoff and added a little distortion and reverb to ours. In Tremor’s Mixer. increase the Rez (resonance) to about 12%. In the Amp Envelope section. Click the FENV button in the Voice Modulation Sources section. Crank the Noise section’s Tone knob up to around 88Hz. in the Filter section. Return to the Kit section and reset the Snare to initialise the sound. so keep that in mind. Audition the sound. Putting it all together: classic snares 1 3 5 Let’s add a snare to our Tremor kit. You’ll note that it’s much brighter – you could almost use it for a hi-hat or cymbal with a bit of envelope shaping. you should hear a nice. as we did with the Kick in the previous walkthrough. 2 4 6 We can use noise as the basis for a classic drum machine-style snare. noisy burst. That would make a good tubular bell.

Here we go. While acoustic drum ROMplers usually include large libraries of pre-programmed 32  /  Computer Music special patterns. exploring each stage of the process in order to bestow upon you all the techniques required to program drum kit grooves of your own. After we’ve addressed those fundamentals we’ll look at how to program a basic beat.Programming realistic acoustic drums No in-depth guide to the production of beats could claim to be complete without a tutorial on making your own realistic drum kit parts. including the techniques required to make it sound realistic and the variations you’ll need to work in through different sections of a track. We’ll then take things to the next level with a look at drumming rudiments and how they can help you to create more technically complex parts. Drumming is a highly physical process. So. Stage one is understanding the anatomy of both the kit and the player. Not only that. Real drum kits can sound very unrefined. Sample-based instruments such as Toontrack’s Superior and FXpansion’s BFD are highly intricate but visually familiar. and are able to accurately recreate all the nuances of a real drum kit – or enough of them to produce convincing tracks. and how the drums and cymbals are struck varies a great deal between drummers and musical styles. Here we’ll show you how it’s done. and are often more dynamic than the main groove. endings and section changes. too. . at least. Then it’s on to fills: these are used to punctuate intros. but the obvious four-limb physical limitation has to be taken into consideration. in our final section we’ll provide a series of tips specific to mixing real drum kit sounds. tailoring them to your needs can be challenging. and often what you really want is punch combined with the subtleties of a real player. then The arrival of the drum kit ROMpler (a sample playback instrument designed to recreate the real thing) forever changed the music-making landscape. bringing anyone with a few hundred quid to spare the ability to produce totally realistic drums entirely ‘in the box’.

The drum kit: a guided tour Tutorial Files 1 3 Let’s take a look at a typical drum kit.programming realistic acoustic drums  < Anatomy of a drummer (and their drum kit) One of the most fascinating aspects of drumming is the almost open-ended nature of the kit itself. looking at the sounds available and how they’re played. one hand plays the snare and the other the hats or ride. 2 4 The sound of the snare drum is one of the most important aspects of any track. one limitation you should always bear in mind is the physicality of the drummer him/herself – we’re referring here to the ‘fourlimb limit’. the kick or bass drum provides solidity and an anchor for the whole groove. tambourine or woodblock. both hands play the toms and crashes. Further common snare drum variants include the sidestick. brighter tone and attack. In a groove. The sound of the kick drum is affected by the type of beater used to strike it. Your ROMpler will probably offer clean snare hits as well as rimshots. It might play on beats 1 and 3 for rock and pop. the obvious fact that a drummer can only play a maximum of four kit elements simultaneously. Your ROMpler will include many different articulations. hi-hats. beat 3 only for reggae. while in a fill. but also stick technique and even stick type. both of which provide a less punchy sound. which strike the head and rim together for added punch. a ride cymbal and one or more crashes. Not only that. from a small threepiece setup to a massive tom tom-laden monster with electronic elements thrown in for good measure. the most common options being wood or felt – wood produces a harder. the kick drum and hi-hat foot pedals take up two of the drummer’s available limbs. The former comprise a bass drum. it soon becomes apparent that their four limbs are assigned to specific roles. toms. Your drum ROMpler will be packed with sounds in all of these categories. a drum kit can be whatever you want it to be. In this first walkthrough we’re going to take a quick tour of the drum kit. One foot plays the kick (bass) drum and the other foot controls the openness of the hi-hats. If you’re looking to program truly realistic drum parts. > Step by step 1. to give three very general examples. or in other words. snares are typically more deeply sampled than other drums. providing a level of sound-selection flexibility that you’d struggle to “One limitation you should always bear in mind is the physicality of the drummer” match even in the most well-equipped realworld recording studio. These will have an obvious effect on the main snare backbeat. You might also get different snare articulations. most drum grooves and patterns can be recreated on a basic kit with a core set of standardised drum and cymbal sounds. Quite simply. There are also stick variants such as brushes and rods. That leaves the hands to play the snare. and once you’ve got your basic pattern programmed. but will also influence the other drums and the cymbals. or all four beats for dance music. ride cymbal and crash cymbals. while the cymbals will typically consist of a set of hi-hats. a snare drum and two or three toms. it’s these articulations that can really help to make your drum parts sound more convincing and realistic. where the tip of the stick rests on the drum head and the shaft strikes the rim. (Audio: Step 2) For the most part. Each kit piece can be played in many ways in terms of not only volume. To allow you to program natural-sounding parts. further limiting your flexibility. Computer Music special  /  33 . Essentially. These are sometimes enhanced with percussion in the form of a cowbell. Thankfully for us. but if you watch a drummer play a drum kit. leaving you two arms with which to play everything else. Your ROMpler may well feature both.

You can also use the body of the stick on the edge of the cymbal for big. you’ll hear one crash with a kick and another on its own. Hi-hats can also be played just by closing them with the foot pedal. Playing articulations include the tip on the main body and the ‘shoulder’ (just below the tip) on the bell for accents. Controlling this pressure while hitting the top cymbal can produce a variety of sounds.> Step by step 1. The pedal controls how tight the two cymbals are. and you’ll most often find them at the beginning of a bar and/or phrase. Crashes can also be choked at the end of a passage for a tight finish. highlighting the difference in impact. but more typically. Crash cymbals are used for accenting specific points within a pattern. (Audio: Step 8) . 34  /  Computer Music special 6 8 The ride cymbal is used as an alternative to the hi-hats. from clamped shut to fully open. typically playing the same pattern (straight eighth-notes much of the time) but with a much more sustained sound. although you can have many more if you wish. you’ll be rolling around them from one to the next for fills. They’re hardly ever struck on their own – in the audio example. You can use a (usually floor) tom to beat out a rhythmic pattern along with the kick and snare (replacing the hi-hats). Most drum kits include at least one rack tom and one floor tom. for a less up-front sound that serves a different rhythmic purpose. gong-like tones. The drum kit: a guided tour (continued) 5 7 The hi-hats are a pair of small cymbals held together on a stand by a pedal-operated pull-rod.

Programming the basic drum part video 1 3 Getting a basic kit pattern started is very easy. In the following two pages. what we can do is present you with the fundamentals and encourage you to listen closely to the sort of music you want to create and learn the ropes by copying the patterns you hear. If we copy that out through a four-bar section.or 16th-notes (hi-hats only for the latter unless the tempo is low) in the bar. When programming “Remember to mute concurrent notes that would be impossible to play in real life” beats. we’ll look at how you get from that basic pattern to something that sounds like it’s being performed by a real drummer. 2 4 The hi-hats ‘ride’ over the top of the kick and snare.or 16th-notes. It still sounds very basic. and snares on quarternotes 2 and 4. it’s worth remembering that if anyone else is going to be overdubbing other instruments later. remember to mute concurrent notes that would be impossible to play in real life: if you program a crash and snare hit on the same beat. We also add extra hits to the snare pattern at the end of every fourth bar. but if you’re at least reasonably good at holding down a rhythm. The latter are played twohanded. on eighthnotes 6 and 8. and usually comprise straight eighth. Also. ‘in-between’ notes on the kick drum and grace notes on the snare. In general terms. for a straight rock or pop beat. Either way. the drums need to be pretty tight without being robotic. we want this to happen every eight bars. With no velocity variation. playing behind or ahead of the musical pulse. Finally. This foundation pattern is augmented with crash cymbals on the downbeat at the top of a section. Replicating these nuances in all their detail can be time-consuming. a good drummer will be able to push and pull the timing of a groove. particularly with regard to feel and ‘humanity’. you should remove the hi-hat hit. As you’ll see. we’ll look at how to modify the basic groove to create variations for each section of the track (verse. chorus. which we put on the downbeat of bar 1. but we’ll finesse it in the next walkthrough. (Audio: Step 1) Returning to the kick. and the hi-hats or ride cymbal play all eighth. you can always have a go at playing at least some of your drum part in on a MIDI keyboard – more on this on p36. it’s impossible to overstate how important articulations can be. So we now have the syncopated snare adding internal repetition every four bars and the crash marking every eight bars. > Step by step 2. the kick falls on beats 1 and 3. However. for example. so we need to repeat our four-bar section as well.programming realistic acoustic drums  < Programming basic beats The canon of standard drum pattern ‘templates’ is so large and varied that we can’t hope to cover them all here. This second change creates a sense of repetition every fourth bar. This is achieved via a combination of velocity. However. etc). the snare falls on beats 2 and 4 (the ‘backbeat’). Our final basic element is a crash cymbal. with the snare hit replacing the hi-hat on the backbeat rather than being concurrent with it. but we’ll return to that in the next section. that’s the basic rhythmic ‘skeleton’ of the vast majority of contemporary music. the hi-hats sound robotic. Computer Music special  /  35 . Thinking in terms of the quarter-notes in a bar of 4/4 time. we now add some variation in the form of an eighth-note hit before the second kick of each bar. believe it or not. we’re drawing kick drum hits on quarter-notes 1 and 3. most of the time the various kit elements are used in quite predictable ways. Here. timing and the use of articulations.

once again. Notice that we’re not only shifting articulations but are also gradually increasing the velocity. Humanising and creating section variations video 1 3 5 The most important element for tweaking to add feel to drum parts is the hi-hats. Here. bringing both hands together to play a snare flam – see how the two notes are played closely together. playing a looser articulation. Note also how our ROMpler is programmed to automatically choke the hi-hat on the next hit. choosing an even more open sound to go with the kick hits so that they’re accented slightly more. . then converted the result into a quantisation template – a feature you’ll find in many DAWs. Drummers instinctively accent the hits that coincide with the kick and snare. Here we’ve recorded our ‘human feel’ hi-hats on one note. We then apply the template timing and velocity to the multi-note programmed part. then modify it to match the available articulations – this may well involve tweaking velocities. you’ll often want to switch from the hi-hats to the ride cymbal for the chorus. (Audio: Step 2) A great way to add feel is to play the hi-hat or ride on your MIDI keyboard. 36  /  Computer Music special 2 4 6 You can extend this concept with the ‘pea-soup’ hi-hat. Moving on to song section variations. increase the quantise percentage on the accent beats to tighten up the groove. We can also repeat the snare variation every two bars. Finally. for tighter timing in the chorus. A less common variation is to shift the hi-hat part to the floor tom.>  programming realistic acoustic drums > Step by step 3. (Audio: Step 1) Our next hi-hat variation is the gradual introduction of open hats over the last bar or two of a section. This is a good technique for signalling the change to a new section or building into a short fill. too. Finally. An easy way to do this is to simply copy the hi-hat part. Here we’ve gone for the latter. we’ve adjusted it to match the articulation and velocity. on every fourth bar we stop the toms on quarter-note 3. thus retaining our carefully selected articulations. This is an open or semi-open hi-hat hit that’s immediately choked by the next (closed) hit. and we can do this using velocity and/ or articulations. Here we’re adding a pea-soup hat every other bar on the last eighth-note.

Next. we’ve kept the downbeat kick and the snare on beat 4. Also. the rack tom on 6 and the floor tom on 9. a good starting point is to think about which beats will continue through the fill from the main groove. the snare falls on 3. Working onwards from the downbeat kick. Thinking in 16th-notes. much like the toms. that’s the way to go. which is the third-quarter note. 10 and 12. we can nudge the snare and toms slightly later to make the fill sound more laid-back. That’s the basics of the fill done. as they’re ghost notes. They typically mark the end of eight. but ultimately they need to work well with the other instrumentation in the track. the kick falls on the 1. For our one-bar fill. The next step is to adjust the final kick. Finally. We can shift their timing a little later. Again. Programming fills 1 3 5 Fills can be long or short. which helps to emphasise the final snare as it pulls everything back in time. we keep the velocities lower and choose a softer articulation. we want to try a ‘pushed’ fill moving from the snare to the rack tom. 8. Here we’re manually nudging it later. Everything else is muted. and we now have a start and end point to work within. (Audio: Step 2) Let’s fill the gaps between the snare and toms with extra kicks. we can increase the velocities of some of the main hits to emphasise the overall feel. (Audio: Step 6) Computer Music special  /  37 . 2 4 6 If you’re happy recording your fills in with your MIDI keyboard. but be prepared to use subtle onebeat fills to mark the end of four.or 16-bar sections.programming realistic acoustic drums  < > Step by step 4. these have a syncopated feel – they fall on 16th-notes 5. then back to the snare on beat 4.or even two-bar sections. but we can instantly improve it by adjusting the timing. Now we add some snare ghost notes. These essentially fill in the available 16th-notes between the snare and toms in the fill. Here we’re looking to use a one-bar fill to mark the end of eight bars. If not. Try keeping the starting kick and end snare hard-quantised and modifying events ‘inside’ the fill. then the floor tom. which acts as a sort of grace note before the final snare.

and any of them can be combined to form so-called ‘hybrid’ rudiments as well. so we also shift quarter-notes 2 and 4 onto the snare drum to accent those beats. and essentially forming a library of playing techniques and ‘phrases’ that make up the ‘vocabulary’ of drumming. this is written as a grace note and a primary note. pataflafla. but for our fill. rudiments can be an excellent source of rhythmic ideas. With the first two. while a press roll involves controlled ‘pressing’ of the stick tips into the drum head to generate a very fast series of bounced hits that combine from hand to hand to create the classic circus-style drum roll. A drag starts with two grace notes.>  programming realistic acoustic drums Rudiments: the building blocks of realistic drum parts It is completely possible to play the drums without ever studying drum rudiments at all. which combines a double grace note with a primary note. double-stroke and press (or ‘buzz’). or shift them apart a bit for a more obvious effect. but the chances are that you’d be using at least some of them without realising it – and just like players of melodic instruments with their scales and arpeggios. Rudiments are fundamental rhythmic patterns comprising specific sequences of left/ right stick/pedal hits. In the last walkthrough of this tutorial. leading with the floor tom. Each of these four categories contains numerous variations and expansions on the headline rudiment (ratamacue. we stop on beat 4. The third category is the drag. combining evenly spaced configurations of alternating single and double hits. Then there are three types of roll: single-stroke. . (Step 1) This sounds a bit too basic in its current form. The great thing about rudiments is that they can be played around the kit to great effect. the second louder than the first – for timing purposes. as this helps retain the overall pulse of the track. We simply shift each of our notes to the corresponding rack tom and floor tom notes. Drum rudiments in action 1 3 The basic paradiddle pattern consists of evenly spaced 16th-notes with the sticking pattern R L R R L R L L. etc). Probably the simplest of all rudiments is the flam. but they’re actually used within songs to augment patterns or as the basis for complex fills and solos. We’ll use just the floor tom and rack tom. > Step by step 5. flamacue. we’re going to take two simple rudiments – the single paradiddle and the drag – and use them to create a tom fill over one bar. To accent beats 1 and 3. but it’s still important to accent certain beats within the rudiment rather than just playing them completely straight. which consists simply of two notes played very close together. For nondrummers looking to create realistic drum parts. and we can set these very close together like a buzz. 4 Finally. each hand plays one or two evenly spaced notes at a time. We could repeat the pattern twice to fill the bar. We already have a snare falling on beat 4. On their own they may look like a series of dry technical exercises. good drummers will ensure that they work diligently on rudiments as part of their regular practice regime. 38  /  Computer Music special 2 Next we need to spread the paradiddle out across the toms. Further accents are also added for the toms that play with the kick. we can add in the kick drum. so our final addition is to augment this with a drag. We’ve programmed this on two MIDI notes so that you can see the sticking clearly. And finally there’s the paradiddle. particularly bearing in mind that you don’t have to learn to actually play them – you simply need to apply the rhythms to the various kit elements. we stop on beat 4 to create a break before the next bar starts.

keeping the snare and kick roughly central. One useful mixing trick is to shift the timing of the room mic channels. including sympathetic snare buzz. Rather than waste time trying to tidy up these sounds using traditional techniques. particularly with spaced mics. kit drums are played as one instrument. Doing this on a ROMpler may require you to bounce the room mic channels as an audio track. So. Computer Music special  /  39 . and for kick thump get busy between 80 and 120Hz. Think of the kit as one instrument A high-quality drum kit ROMpler will use numerous spot mic channels. then bolster them with the close mics. will add drive to the overall kit. potentially causing elements that you want roughly in the middle (kicks and snares) to drift off centre. For snare body. Reverb combining EQing individual close-mic channels can make all the difference to the punch and clarity of your virtual kit Nudge your room mic channels earlier in time a touch to tighten up the perceived ‘proximity’ of your ambience While any drum kit ROMpler worth its salt will feature room mic channels. For toms. Let it bleed One of the most powerful aspects of the better ROMplers (such as BFD3. then reimport it and shift it manually. phase and mono compatibility Overhead and room mics can be notoriously phasey. even in small quantities. 5. and when mixing them it’s best to think of them as such. remember to re check the phase coherence of the kick and snare. too. EQ the lows from the return. 4. To address this. Ambience timing shift Often you’ll find that room mics sound great but a little too ‘distant’. so it’s easy to view them as a collection of unrelated specific sounds. and any form of processing applied to the recording. try boosting and sweeping with a sharp peak EQ to track down the key frequencies. If you find that you’re getting too much build-up in the low and low-mid frequencies. snare drums in particular can benefit from their own dedicated reverb – or even two reverbs. as described in tip 4. 7. nudging them earlier. For maximum flexibility. look between 200 and 400Hz. a bit like a drum machine. pictured on this page) is the inclusion of mic bleed and cross-resonance between drums. Compress room mics The smoothest-sounding kit balance will usually come from the room mics. With a medium attack. Surgical EQ Don’t be afraid to EQ the close-mic channels aggressively to get the punch that you want. and always check the overall balance in mono. only goes to make the problem more obvious. reach for a fast FET compressor. For the classic compressed room sound. and add small quantities of each to obtain a suitably smeared effect. Phase-invert the kick and snare close-mic channels to find the punchiest result.programming realistic acoustic drums  < 1. How much to do this by depends on the room in question. 6. such as compression or EQ. fast release and 10dB or more of gain reduction you can bring up the ambience. 3. Being able to control the amount of this is a truly amazing thing. start with the overheads or nearer room mics as your basic stereo canvas. adjust the L/R balance of your overheads and room mics to get the correct balance. use a high-pass filter to remove any rumble Most high-quality drum kit ROMplers feature some sort of system for controlling mic bleed between channels and clear out unnecessary low frequencies on all channels. set up one small and one medium-to-large reverb as auxiliary effects. with the harshness of the cymbals and hats reduced and diffused by the room reflections. Stereo image. but once shifted. However. Finally. creating an energetic sound that. Scooping out the low mids on the kick works well. head straight to the settings of your ROMpler and control them accurately at the source. 2. and far easier than dealing with a real kit. then enhance them with the spot mics as necessary. rather than focusing on the close mics when building your kit balance. This makes the room mics ideal for some aggressive compression.

Next. snare and hats’ drum beat is the backbone of the rhythm. With all that said. then processing sampled loops in order to create larger-than-life ‘top lines’ to sit on top of a four-to-the-floor drum groove. Even the addition of just a simple conga or shaker part can transform a dull rhythm track into a more complete-sounding. a basic ‘kick. elevating it both rhythmically and texturally. we’ll tackle percussion from a number of angles. Before we get into the walkthroughs. but that on its own is often not enough to make your track groove. particularly if the main drums are overtly electronicsounding. which serves as the standard percussive palette in contemporary Western music. we’ll move on to spot percussion effects. playing percussion involves a specific range of techniques and styles that require untold hours of training and practice to master. Shake it. In this tutorial. but if you’re looking to program authentic tracks. Just like any other acoustic instrument. To really get things shuffling along nicely. We’ll also give you an educational head start with some video recommendations that showcase some of the greatest percussionists in the world doing their astounding thing. as a MIDI programmer. Our walkthroughs begin with a guide to programming a layered percussion ensemble alongside a bass/drums/ keyboard groove using MIDI and samples. ‘human’ groove. demonstrating some standard rhythmic approaches to the instruments involved. you’ll need to layer up some percussion parts to add excitement. percussion is one of those areas of production that many computer musicians think they’re approaching ‘correctly’ but probably aren’t. it helps to know what these things sound like. flavour and groove to your beat. you don’t actually need to be au fait with the physical specifics of heel-tip conga technique or the tambourine thumb 40  /  Computer Music special roll. before finishing up with a treatise on carving up REX files to make custom percussion loops. let’s hang about no longer – those bongos aren’t going to play themselves… . our guide will help you to infuse your beats with percussive groove. Phew! Good percussion parts can have a hugely beneficial effect on almost any track. Obviously. we’ll take you on a whistlestop tour of the various instruments that make up the Afro-Cuban percussion family.Programming Percussion Whether you’re crafting laid-back jazzy numbers or banging out hard-hitting dancefloor smashers. as well as a few purely African instruments. Much like programming realistic drum kit parts. and a collection of programming tips. syncopated. baby! In many styles of music.

ly/3rvuLo. then. although much higher pitched and less ‘weighty’ in their delivery. and is loud.A quick guide to percussion Roughly speaking. The djembe can also fulfil a similar role to the congas. xylophone. which really covers everything else. Woodblocks The butt of many a percussion-based gag. Like the shekere. less weighty sound than the heavier cowbell. Fulfilling a similar background role to the cowbell and agogo bells. timbales are played with a pair of thin sticks and are used for backing riffs (including ‘cascara’. for accents (doubling up the snare on the backbeat. Mother Nature. agogos have a brighter. the talking drum is played with a curved stick (held in the free-arm hand) and the fingers of the holding-arm hand. short rosewood (usually) sticks. See p44 for more on this. snare drum. It’s impossible to detail the full range of percussion instruments available in just one page. Timbales A pair of single-headed metal drums on a stand. castanets. The modern cabasa is a wide. etc – and the other is ‘ethnic’ percussion. the triangle is actually one of the most useful ‘supplementary’ sounds available to the music producer. although it’s a lot louder and not as mellow-sounding as its Cuban counterpart. It boasts a variety of uses: it can be used to play a constant rhythm (similar to the hi-hats). slit-shaped opening that can be used either as a solitary instrument or in a set of two or more. a skilled player can do pretty amazing things with this seemingly one-dimensional instrument. it’s easy to program and is just the thing to bring a funky sheen to any track. and are a mainstay of the go-go subgenre of funk (which may or may not have been named after them). the tambourine can be skinned or unskinned. square-horn-shaped metal bell struck with sticks. the cowbell plays the clave (see p44) or a pattern based around it. Claves A pair of thick. mark tree. These days a woodblock is as likely to be made of plastic as it is wood. In dance music. cutting attack. Triangle contents with the intention of providing a hi-hatlike percussion line qualifies as a shaker. but brighter and higher in pitch. based on the various styles of Latin dance music and serving as a great foundation for your own parts. with strings of metal beads wrapped around it. the bongos are a pair of small wooden drums serving a similar role to the congas. which involves striking the sides of the shells) and bright. An established repertoire of standard conga rhythms exists. this time open at one end with a series of horizontal notches cut into one side. cutting sound when struck with sticks. Maracas. Congas The cornerstone of the Cuban percussion family and a fixture in many forms of dance music – particularly house – congas generally come in sets of two or three (tumba. the loosely defined shaker family includes any sealed enclosure filled with beads. Timbales and cowbells/agogo bells go together particularly well. and most players will have one or two of the latter mounted on the timbale stand. singing bowls and a huge array of weird and wonderful drums from all corners of the globe. bassy thump. hitting it with the fingertips gives a high-pitched slap. The result is a loud. There is quite a bit of crossover between these two worlds in terms of instrumentation. While the shekere and cabasa have their soundgenerating beads on the outside. shaken and ‘flicked’ (quickly pushing the beads around the gourd) to produce a wide range of tones. combining the lot to create intricate. but in this feature we’re dealing exclusively with Latin. egg shakers. caxixi. but can also be played held in the hand. is squeezed. Cabasa Talking drum Shakers Other When a shekere would be overkill. clattering rhythms. Whether used for one-shot accents or effects. check out this page from the website of top session percussionist Pete Lockett: http://bit. the woodblock has quite a loud. perhaps) or as an effect (shaken. one of which is held with the fingertips of one hand over the ‘chamber’ made by the palm and fingers (which acts as a resonant space) and struck with the other. making it a sort of self-contained ‘one-drum percussion section’. Agogos A pair of connected metal bells held in one hand (unless mounted on a stand) and struck with a stick held in the other. the cowbell (and/or a pair of agogo bells) is often found mounted above the timbales. but either way. Cowbell A clapperless. Although generally used in rock and pop to rigidly nail the four main beats of the bar. it’s simply a hollowed-out block with a narrow. not to mention one of the most visually exciting – see a virtuoso in action at http://bit. there are two broad families of percussion that you’re likely to deal with. African and Afro-Caribbean percussion in the context of beat-driven music. energetic soloing. conga and quinto) and are played with the bare hands. Originally used to send messages from village to village in West Africa. Here. When you’re ready to get into them. and rapidly pushing the beads backwards and forwards generates a slithery ‘shhk’ sound. Djembe You’ll see this West African drum in the hands of buskers the world over. the shekere is a gourd with an open flared tube at one end. The first is orchestral percussion – timpani. so soft beaters are sometimes used instead. thus changing the tension of the heads and the pitch of the sound. short metal cylinder mounted on a wooden handle. they tend to be called on as a high-impact spot effect. Striking the gourd with the heel of the hand gives a rounded.   Computer Music special  /  41 . rainsticks – anything that you shake to mobilise its rattly An hourglass-shaped drum with heads at both ends connected by a series of cords that tighten when the centre of the drum. wrapped in a cord net with a large number of beads threaded into it. It’s one of the more technically involved percussion instruments. jawbone. Bongos Another Afro-Cuban essential. loud. It can be shaken to make a rattling sound. vibraslap. capable of blasting out precision melodies and bends over a wide pitch range. the latter option giving the conguero an expansive range of pitches and tones to work with. and claves are so named because they’re traditionally used to tap out the ‘guide pattern’ – or ‘clave’ – in Latin dance music. the cabasa steps in to provide a more compact form of friction-based rhythm. It can be struck. attacking and incredibly expressive. cuica. A stick is scraped rhythmically over these notches to create the characteristic and instantly recognisable sequences of short and long sounds essential to several Latin styles. Shekere Guiro Another Latin staple of West African origin. held under the arm. as descended from the seed-filled gourd made by that most venerable of percussion manufacturers. thrown. are some of the most ubiquitous instruments in our chosen category. or to fill out the high end with the kind of rhythm that only a triangle can Tambourine A wooden or plastic ring with pairs of tiny cymbals (zils) mounted within it. in the Latin context. for that characteristic shivery sound). so we’d urge you to get online and investigate for yourself the likes of the berimbau. Another gourd. the reason being that it can produce both bass and treble notes. or twisted with one hand while the beads are held in place with the other for a similar ‘shhk’ sound to that of the shekere. Bongos are generally played on their own or alongside a set of congas. hand-held or mounted on a drum kit or percussion rack. cajon.

We also send a bit of the signal to a reverb for a touch of ambience. from 1984. Beautiful. as we mentioned earlier. Feel the push and pull of the clave and pay attention to how perfectly the trio weave their separate lines together without getting in each other’s way. great Ray Barretto. Fills are also recorded at the end of each eight-bar section. With congas) 42  /  Computer Music special 2 4 We record our conga part using a pad controller. Here are some utterly unmissable YouTube videos bit. was the first of many Latin percussionists to work with Dizzy. but don’t let that spoil the Afro Cuban freight train that is Dizzy Gillespie’s Manteca. one bend and one palm strike. Johnny Rodriguez and Orestes Vilato – pay tribute to the late. bit. who was largely responsible for Latin jazz taking off in the US. > Step by step 1. Our sampler patch features fairly heavy panning between the two One of the greatest congueros of all time. much quieter than the others). bit. Programming realistic live percussion Tutorial Files 1 3 Let’s start our percussive adventure with a bit of funky ‘live’ action. with the ‘left hand’ playing alternating quarter-notes on the two drums and the right beating out a cascara rhythm (which. There’s not much of him on YouTube. bass and electric piano. and a conga player will fill the gaps between hits with ghost notes (very soft notes. Mongo takes his solo in the intro. one slap. (Audio: 2. from here on in are in the Tutorial Files folder. Mongo Santamaria. is played on the shell of the drum). Ray Barretto’s style of conga playing was uniquely characterful. featuring Chano Pozo on congas. think triplets. as are the unquantised MIDI files. leads his own band in a supercool rendition of his own jazz standard. bit. but be sure to also check out Sal Santamaria’s sublime shekere solo at 4. (Audio: 3. solo and with the ‘band’. We use a total of seven different samples: four open tones. (Audio: 1. Drums. Afro Blue. keys) We overdub a fill at the end of each eight-bar section. Three percussion legends – Giovanni Hidalgo. an EXS24 timbales patch. so we do the same. who died a year after this recording was made. in both quantised (to 16th-notes) and unquantised versions. The slap is used to provide the accent off the beat. syncopation and playing slightly behind the beat before bursting into the next section. which we rather like. bass. With timbales) .40. Next. We throw together a quick 16-bar backing using the Apple Loops that come with Logic Pro: drums. Audio files of each percussion line.>  programming percussion Perc’ing up The best way to get yourself fired up for some serious percussion programming is to feast your senses on some serious percussionists. lending itself perfectly to the addition of multilayered percussion. It’s groovy but rhythmically sparse. We load up a conga patch in the EXS24 sampler. For conga fills. Whether leading his own band or contributing to other people’ No video. but this number from 1975 ably demonstrates his incredible chops.

dropping the bells out entirely for the fills at the end of each eight-bar section. With tambourine)   Computer Music special  /  43 . since there’s already quite a lot of bottom end to our percussion and the cabasa is the higher pitched of the two. A simple shaker part pushes the groove along nicely and has the added benefit of providing a splashy accent on every other snare hit. With agogos) In nine tracks out of ten. the tambourine part will be a simple 16th-note shake pattern with accents on specific regular beats – usually 2 and 4. We program a part in which the first two notes in each repeat are muted (the fingers are wrapped around the triangle to achieve this) and the third one is open (fingers removed to allow the triangle to ring freely) – simple but perfectly effective. (Audio: 4.programming percussion  < bit. bit. (Audio: 6. the triangle is easy to program and adds extra top-end Sheila E might be best known as Prince’s drummer from back in the day. but she’s also a superb percussionist away from the kit. (Audio: 5. Our tambourine adds a layer of ‘crunch’. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. With triangle) 6 8 Our percussion mix is getting rather dense now. though. finishing our groove off nicely. so finding space for the actual notes of our agogo pattern proves a bit tricky! Eventually we settle on a loping off-beat riff moving from one bell to the other. both brothers and various other Escovedo family members are all extremely big hitters on the US Latin music scene. With cabasa) For a bit of 70s cop show vibe. (Audio: 7. and throws some incredible shapes with a whole armoury of Brazilian percussion. 5 7 We choose the cabasa rather than the shekere for our shaker part. Use different samples for each ‘side’ of the shake to avoid the machine-gun effect – any decent tambourine sampler patch should cater for this. The fabulously eccentric Airto Moreira does weird things with his voice. given that her dad.

formalised way. rumba. or just for adding colour. halfway through and at the end. you don’t have to adhere to the laws of clave at all – in fact. where it was often used to imply spooky goings-on. including son clave. A set of thin tubular bells of progressively decreasing length hanging from a horizontal crossbar. but percussion is also extremely useful for spot effects. When turned over it makes a sound not dissimilar to that of rain falling. guaracha. the mark tree is played by swiping a hand through it to make that scintillating.>  programming percussion > Step by step 2. we’ve disregarded it almost completely in our walkthroughs here. there are plenty of excellent books available on the topic. In our track. however. it makes a great accompaniment to the Doors-style electric piano section. through the action of the beads rattling over the spikes. mambo. but one important aspect is the way the rhythm falls slightly out of the regular duple feel (that is. each of which comprises a number of variations used in different Latin styles (son. etc). It’s difficult to understand this fully without a deep knowledge of the music. There are numerous clave rhythms. and for those who are prepared to put in the time learning the basics. rumba clave and 6/8 clave. Spot percussion 1 3 So far we’ve had our percussion parts playing full-on grooves. Unless you’re looking to be 100% authentic in your Latin percussion MIDI programming. It can be employed for sustained vibrato effects or used as a one-shot. creating a pleasing musical ambiguity. as we’ve done in our track at the start of bars 5 and 13. ethereal sound much loved by producers of 80s ballads. The vibraslap has an instantly recognisable sound – we throw one in at the start of our track. just a Google search away. . to smooth over transitions between song sections. Utterly intrinsic to Latin music. straight 44  /  Computer Music special ‘twos and fours’ rhythms) and veers towards a triplet or 6/8 feel. playing ‘in clave’ refers to the phrasing of rhythms in a very specific. traditionally) and filled with beads. 2 4 Even odder than the vibraslap. If you’re in a learning mood. ours is deployed right at the end of the track. (Audio: Spot percussion) The power of clave The word ‘clave’ (which translates as ‘key’ in English) has two definitions in Afro-Cuban music: one is a percussion instrument (see p41). The rainstick is a wooden tube lined with inward-pointing protrusions (cactus needles. Afro-Cuban music is a truly fascinating subject. you might recognise the sound of the flexatone from Scooby Doo and other such vintage cartoons. a whole new world of endlessly inspiring rhythmic possibilities awaits. in terms of both history and technique. the other is a type of rhythm played by that instrument and others that’s essential to the whole genre. Used in a similar way to the mark tree.

(Audio: Conga filter) 3 4 Automation situation When automating effects plugins on percussion tracks. this shifts low frequencies more than high ones. unless you’re after deliberately off-kilter timings. setting LFOs and delay times to sync with your DAW’s project tempo is usually the way to go. but adding an Auto Filter set to a 2-beat LFO cycle gives it even more rhythmic motion. we treat the timbales with Soft downsampling (good for introducing extra treble frequencies). monastic-sounding pattern. We then go modulation mental. We’re not sure what we’d use our processed triangle part for. Live’s timestretch algorithm introduces a weird ‘sucking’ effect to the dry signal.programming percussion  < > Step by step 3. A compressor is called for next in the chain. Creative percussion processing 2 Slowing our agogo bells down to 70bpm and treating them to some ping-pong delay creates an ethereal. the difference can be dramatic – try it!). However. but it’s always worth trying others. Take our conga part. modulated frequency shifting (unlike pitchshifting. Much more interesting. (Audio: Agogos delay) POWER TIP 1 Percussion is a prime candidate for the extreme application of effects. as the movement of the filter introduces some serious volume variation. none of the above necessarily applies to single-hit spot percussion. and it’s worth trying on all manner of material (non-Live users could substitute Smartelectronix Supatrigga or Livecut). and its more-or-less ‘symmetrical’ attack/decay envelope means it still sounds quite cabasa-ish when played backwards (but with percussion that has a ‘tail’. Equally. such as congas. it’s essential that any movements are kept in line with the rhythm being played. of course. for example. (Audio: Cabasa modulated) 5 To finish. so it’s also great for retuning percussion) and a Filter Delay. Live’s Beat Repeat is a glitch plug-in to be reckoned with. inserting chorus and tempo-synced flanger plug-ins. though. which transforms our rather thin solo timbale part into an enthusiastic trio. It’s pretty groovy as it is. while the delays fill the stereo field. ‘Transient’-style algorithms are best for percussion. (Audio: Timbales bonkers)   Computer Music special  /  45 . (Audio: Triangle Beat Repeat) We reverse our cabasa part. but we’d imagine the adventurous electronica producer could get some mileage out of it.

where it was clashing with the kick drum something rotten. given that Propellerhead created both the format and the instrument – but most DAWs can do similar things. We also reverse a couple of slices in Dr Octo Rex. but chopping up a fuller loop can yield even better results. (Audio: 1. It already sounds good. In Reason. With djembe edited) The first thing we do is quantise the lot. so we hit the Copy Loop to Track button to sling the MIDI part onto the instrument’s sequencer track. We load another Loopmasters loop (from their Afro Latin library) into a new Dr Octo Rex Loop Player and hit the Copy Loop to Track button. With djembe) POWER TIP 1 4. We also insert an RV7000 reverb. We want easy editing access to the triggering notes. Then we lose the big bass drum sound entirely. REX no perc) Healthy options Reason’s Dr Octo Rex is an amazing REX file player – as you’d hope. particularly at the start of the bar. giving the same functionality as REX files. (Audio: With Afro Latin edited) . too. REX files give you all the slicemanipulating power you need. but we can make it even better… (Audio: With Afro Latin) 46  /  Computer Music special Create a Dr Octo Rex Loop Player and load the Djembe 90 bpm REX file from the Factory Sound Bank. it’s simply a case of playing around with the notes until we get the percussive interplay we’re after. (Audio: 3. In fact.>  programming percussion > Step by step If you want to take pre-made percussion loops and rearrange them to really make them your own. designing a new djembe pattern all our own. The result goes with the track much better than the original. we’ve made a sparse. to position our djembe better in the mix. dubby track to which we’re going to add some REX percussion loops. so that our edits snap to the beat. REX: The king of percussion 5 Now we move the MIDI notes around in the sequencer. since it’s clashing with our kick. laying the slices of a REX file out across the keyboard and creating a MIDI file to trigger them correctly. (Audio: 2. After that. 2 3 4 A solo djembe’s one thing (geddit?). many of them can auto-slice regular WAVs and AIFs into their samplers. again.

make whatever timing adjustments need to be made manually. it sounds rhythmically ‘perfect’. Quantised. and you can’t strike and scrape a guiro simultaneously. you’re probably aware of mute/choke The snare in your drum kit should have the backbeat ably nailed. of course. so don’t step on its toes with your percussion parts Many ROMplers feature separate left. go with it. programmable on separate MIDI notes. Exercise restraint Keep your individual percussion layers simple. generally you want your perc working around the main beat rather than sitting on top of it.and right-hand strokes. our parts cover a fairly narrow panorama – just enough to give a sense of width without distracting attention from the drums. the result is usually a surprisingly dense wall of sound. punching in on any unacceptable mistakes afterwards if necessary. Even with rhythmically straightforward parts – a shaker. Panning for gold When it comes to panning the percussion section. they should lock together and move around each other – as if your virtual players have been rehearsing for weeks – rather than clashing. Be careful when quantising slow-attack sounds like shakers or guiro that they don’t actually sound late when snapped to the beat. in ‘live’ tracks. Our Live percussion walkthrough track in the Tutorial Files folder sounds pretty loose au naturel (we were going for a live band feel) – maybe too loose for some tastes. but does that mean it’s necessarily ‘better’? We’ll leave you to decide… Know the limits When programming drum kit parts. Always consider the interplay between your different drums. a conguero can’t hit more than two congas at the same time.   Computer Music special  /  47 . If they do. for example – approaching your percussion tracking like a proper recording session will make a real difference to the feel of the track. As a rule. The difference between them might be barely perceptible. Keep it real While percussion parts in dance and electronic music will tend to be looped (whether audio clips or MIDI parts). Mute/choke groups are also used for percussion: muted triangle interrupting open triangle. short cabasa rub defeating long cabasa rub. bass and keys. however. for example. For percussion spot effects. make sure your sampler patches feature both left. If it doesn’t. send all your grooving percussion parts to the same plug-in – using different reverbs on each instrument will mess up the sense of cohesion (although that can at times be an effective technique). Gunned down For maximum realism. but a lot of that comes from dynamics and articulation.programming percussion  < Percussion programming tips Quantise theory Should you quantise your percussion? The answer to that question depends on the sort of feel you’re trying to achieve and the groove of the rest of your track. go for a noticeable spread. So. for example) make a good accompaniment to the snare. once just a few members of it are brought together. you hopefully already know not to ever trigger more things at once than a drummer could physically play with their four limbs. whereby certain sounds are set up to immediately kill other sounds when triggered – closed hi-hats curtailing open ones. and use them. put in the effort to play the whole thing live from start to finish. In the place All members of your percussion ensemble should exist in the same virtual space. and it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the same rule applies with percussion. with everything hitting at the same time. if it’s not physically possible for two specific sounds to happen simultaneously.and righthand strokes (where appropriate). they should be properly performed all the way through. With such a broad range of sonic flavours and colours in the percussion family. so when applying reverb. rather than recording eight bars of MIDI-triggered bongos and looping it. tailor the reverb to each individual sound according to its own specific needs. All of the parts in our ‘live’ project are sending to the same reverb at varying levels. shakers and whatnot – rhythmically. move them back a bit. one always needs to mute/choke the other. Adhering to such limitations will make your parts more realistic and stop them becoming too dense. Choking up If you’ve ever programmed a sampled drum kit. but you’ll certainly hear it if you compare a run of alternating notes with a run of the same one repeated. etc. While certain percussion instruments (tambourine or cabasa. Good percussion parts will usually have a high level of human feel. Obviously. Try it and if it sounds cool. Beats working Avoid the temptation to place emphasis on the backbeat with your percussion – that’s the job of the snare drum. With the exception of the timbales. but nothing too extreme. so don’t feel that quantising them will necessarily rob them of their soul. as shown groups.

TV idents and advertising that they’re almost part of the contemporary media wallpaper. With our sound set sorted. ‘cinematic’ beats have become such a mainstay of soundtracks. Finally. we’ll guide you through some programming basics in order to help you get the patterns you’re used to hearing. Listen a little closer and you’ll hear that these sounds. it’s worth saying that if you’d rather just go for some high-quality ready-made sounds. To that end. We can also find plenty of percussive greatness in everyday sounds and objects. let’s make some noise! 48  /  Computer Music special . too. Vir2 World Impact and Native Instruments’ West Africa Kontakt library. as we include the kitchen sink (almost) in our quest to push the boundaries of percussion. To get straight to the point of this tutorial. although rooted in real instruments. there are some truly excellent sample libraries out there – Quantum Leap Stormdrum 3 and Heavyocity Damage are two particularly good examples – that work well-recorded source material into mix-ready epic sounds. reverb. is to put together a set of core sounds that we know will deliver. which only adds to their mystery and overall epic feel. For raw core sounds that you can process yourself. Take a quick surf through Saturday night TV or any number of the latest movie blockbusters and you’ll be bombarded with huge. We’ll cherry-pick from ‘world’ and orchestral percussion to get a good sonic spread. Our first step. it’s also worth checking out Project Sam’s True Strike series. among many others. epic percussion sounds. Right. exciters and stereo enhancement. covering the thunderous lows and sparkling highs that we need to create the required impact.Cinematic beats Enormous drum and percussion sounds are the order of the day as we turn our attention to producing blockbuster beats suitable for a Hollywood epic Larger-than-life. can also sound ‘otherworldly’. then. achieving these cinematic sounds is primarily a case of careful sound selection and appropriate effects processing. We’ll then move on to look at processing the sounds in context using EQ. we’ll be looking at more unusual sources and ‘found’ sounds.

you need to hunt down goodquality raw sounds. We can also use BFD’s controls to adjust their pitches and envelopes. We map these out across our sampler.cinematic beats  < Building a sound set Without wanting to lead you down a certain path. the array of possible options can seem even more vast than that of drums. too – think of the difference between a crash cymbal struck with the shank of a stick and a crescendo roll played with beaters on the same cymbal. soundtrackstyle beats is to search for interesting ethnic sounds. we’ll divide this core set into ‘drums’ and ‘metals’. for example. Your goal. This versatility can be further enhanced by using different types of sticks or beaters. we’re picking some sounds from a drum kit instrument (BFD2). This gives us the programming flexibility we want but with consistency. but we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. Here. Drums includes everything from the humble drum kit rack tom. but focus on tone and try to find variations of playing style in the same sample set. we’ll look at both shortly). Similarly. although there is general consistency in terms of instrument types. orchestral snare and timpani to oversized orchestral bass drums. but they often sound much better when sampled ‘as played’. > Step by step 1. Middle Eastern darbuka. so that we can pick and choose from them when programming. and certain sounds fit well with – and are expected to be heard in – cinematic scores and music influenced by them. ultimately. there’s a certain core sample set that you need to get together. These may be dry and ‘nonepic’. but are often recorded with ambience. 2 4 Big taiko drums are perfect for thunderous sounds. Once again. our sample set comprises 16 sounds. making each sample set sound very particular. Of course. We collect together samples of hits made on the centre and rim of the drum. including a couple of sets of matching toms. To make the most of them. choked thumps and deeper. Computer Music special  /  49 . (Audio: Step 1a and 1b) For musical energy and a sense of urgency. as our hits all come from the same sample set. but they’re capable of so many tones that it can be hard to know where to start. Here. Indian tablas and Japanese taiko (typically. the humble tom tom is a brilliant option. That’s not to say that you can’t introduce your own sounds or more unusual ones (indeed. damping and choking metals can influence their sound and range of usage. the complete list is way longer “Focus on tone and try to find variations of playing style in the same sample set” than we can cover in its entirety. What’s more. For the sake of simplicity. divided into short slaps. cinematic beats. To get started. Getting the core sounds together Tutorial Files 1 3 Although the temptation when building cinematic. When we talk about metals. playing style has a huge influence. a Chinese cymbal and a Turkish (Western) cymbal. You could program these yourself. and their clicky sound is great for accents or ‘regimented’ musical sections. such as flams and rolls. tablas are ideal. is to build a suitable and appropriate (but not unadventurous!) sound set for the music you’re working on. but the main thing to appreciate is that drum sounds vary from deep and thunderous (taiko and bass drum) to high-pitched and ringy (tabla and djembe). sound very different. when you’re trying to create massive. seek out a sample set with a range of articulations. African djembe. and to reinforce the different roles these sounds play. plus a proper rimshot and a flam. Marching band snare drums cut through pretty much anything. the large wadaiko drum). sustained sounds. and some (tabla again) are capable of generating a broad range of sounds on their own.

The sample sets include various lengths of crescendo rolls. the other a China-type cymbal played with hard beaters. Here we have three basic sounds: a deep one produced with a soft beater. Here we have two sets: one played with soft beaters. it’s good to have a selection of regular suspended cymbal swells. as well as both choked and sustained endings – these will all prove useful at the programming stage. Getting the core sounds together (continued) 5 Gongs produce a very deep and powerful sound. Lots of textures to play with! . For this we head back to the percussion section in BFD2. and when rolled they can also give a glorious shimmering effect. thumb roll and single shake. a harder one with a stick. and one with pitchbend in it. Our final sound is an orchestral tambourine. including muted hit. (Audio: Step 5) 6 7 Traditional cymbals from East Asia offer a particularly interesting bending sound that instantly evokes an exotic atmosphere. which contains a great wooden tambourine with multiple articulations. 8 50  /  Computer Music special For crescendos. which has far more character than the plastic ‘rock’ version. We collect together a selection including tuned and bowed gongs – the latter are particularly good for haunting ambiences.> Step by step 1. rim.

particularly for the stamps. we’ve become so accustomed to the larger-than-life foley sounds we hear in movies that the sounds of real life often seem somewhat dull and mundane in comparison. to create something truly original you’ll probably want to throw the sound selection net a little wider. With some judicious editing. and in fact. which can also impart an urban or desolate feel. for example. it’s typically done with some kind of cymbal or white noise effect.cinematic beats  < Selecting alternative sounds While classical orchestral and ethnic sounds are great. A bit of careful balancing and we have a slightly flammed attack with a solid thump. Here we have three samples. However. we keep the front slicing effect. in our case) can sound great. the whole world is your oyster. possibly by editing them to make them shorter or repitching them – but there’s no need to stop there. We use a varispeed-type pitchshift. and – for industrial metals – the evereffective scrape of a grill pan being moved in and out of the cooker. When it comes to capturing percussion sounds. a good found sound alternative is breaking glass. switches on kettles. which we can pitch down to create a darker effect. so be prepared for quite a bit of trial and error. Home-made and found sounds 1 3 Our first sound combines foot stamps and a large book whacked on a cupboard. although recording it may not be as easy a task as you’d expect. For a percussive sound we need a tight one-shot effect. and offset the timing slightly. Striking a fire extinguisher gets us a ringing tone. fridge. metal hardware and hard surfaces that can be used to produce edgy sounds. sound effects are created in a controlled studio environment – a process that’s known as ‘foley’. In movie production. washing machine). Try stamping flamenco-style on a wooden floor or board (hard shoe heels will be particularly effective). Metal objects usually produce a ringing sound with a quick decay. layering and repitching. However. you can render these totally unrecognisable from their sources. The stamping is hard and percussive. as can whacking the bottom of a plastic tub – a laundry bin. so we’re editing the tail of our recording. slamming doors or using unusual items as beaters. any object that you can hit or shake is fair game. any object that you can hit or shake is fair game” For percussion samples. turning them into unusual percussive tones. A telephone directory slammed down on a table (or the closed lid of a piano!) can produce a pretty usable thump. which will be full of appliances. “For percussion samples. The equipment used for this usually bears little relationship to the sounds that it generates. while ambient miking can easily become too ambient. so that the sound becomes longer as we pitch it down. This could involve simply searching for other regular sounds and using them percussively. > Step by step 2. toasters and so on. We pick a few of the stamps and a couple of the thumps. which sounds a bit like a reverse snare. layered for energy and power. This ‘found sounds’ approach can be particularly fruitful in your kitchen. Computer Music special  /  51 . while the book whack is fat and heavy. (Audio: Step 1) If you want a musical accent that really cuts through. Close miking often sounds lifeless. We’ll need to bear this in mind for timing purposes later. 2 4 Recording a knife slicing through something on a chopping board (a carrot. Possibilities include appliance doors (microwave.

. we get a true dynamic feel. Percussionists and drummers often play ghost notes to fill the gaps between the main beats. You can always bounce the parts back out to audio for final processing later should you feel the need. respectively. Elsewhere. 52  /  Computer Music special 2 4 6 Velocity is a vital consideration in the production of dynamic beats. as well as grace notes just before beats. Two options are to not quantise fully or use swing quantise. We only add drags to certain snares – these are the accented notes that help mark out the time of the overall part. thus leaving space in the midrange. By playing the part on a keyboard. leaving the midrange clear for other instruments and dialogue. our approach is to perfectly quantise the main downbeats and then retain some natural timing within other parts of the pattern. group them together by type and load them into your sampler. We program flams on our toms and drags on some of our snares. accenting significant beats (such as downbeats). However. This is far more flexible than using raw audio on a track. It’s worth bearing this in mind at the sound selection stage. The most well-known implementations of grace notes are the flam and the drag – single and double grace notes. Programming cinematic beats 1 3 5 Once you have your core sounds sorted. we can use the same ‘doubling up’ idea to accent other notes. before the main hit.>  cinematic beats > Step by step 3. and set our sampler to be velocity-sensitive. particularly for pitch or velocity variations or amplitude envelope tweaking. While we might like the loose feel of our played-in part. We program our basic tom and taiko pattern. (Audio: Step 4) Cinematic beats tend to range into both the low and high extremes of the frequency spectrum. Then we simply tweak the velocities to taste. Here we’re also adding a gong to the downbeat of every eight bars. the beats need to lock in with other instrumentation in the track. We complete our track with some carefully chosen high-frequency sounds.

or sound too bright. 2 4 6 To add space and scale to a sound without using a regular reverb. Reverb can also add too much mid. and we filter the low frequencies from the wet signal to avoid low-end clutter. We set up a stereo delay on an auxiliary.7kHz. the final stage is to make them sound as epic as possible without losing focus and swamping them in effects. with the two delay channels hard panned.and low-frequency build-up. We use both low. Used sparingly. Our plugin simply uses a filter to make the frequencies below a certain point mono. these add a processed sheen that’s ideal for cinematic beats. (Audio: Step 1) Having said that. and allows us to rebalance the mid and sides aspects of the stereo signal. We use a gentle shelving EQ at 4. This is the time to try a harmonic exciter. we can apply short delays. Processing for bigger sounds video 1 3 5 With our parts programmed. Computer Music special  /  53 . but EQ alone won’t cut it. We also set up a general purpose convolution reverb (around 3s long) on an auxiliary. We start with a little EQ sweetening to help bring out the crack on our toms.5kHz to soften the highs. reverb is the best tool for adding scale to any sound. Sometimes a sound will need a little help in the top or bottom end. sub-groups or the main output. On our auxiliary reverb we use a bell-shaped EQ cut to scoop out some of the low mid-range at around 450Hz. and we can apply it to specific sounds for specific effects.cinematic beats  < > Step by step 4. Our final process is to use a stereo tool to keep the low frequencies mono and spread the higher frequencies. and a very gentle shelving EQ cut at around 7. boosting heavily by 10dB. We insert a gated convolution reverb across the taiko. adjusting the volume envelope tail to taste. Delay settings of 30ms and 60ms with no feedback are ideal. again tailoring the volume envelope to keep things tidy.and high-frequency harmonic exciters as auxiliaries rather than inserts. so it usually needs tailoring with EQ. We can use this on individual sounds.

This can be done by manipulating frequency (with the help of equalisers or filters). so once you’ve followed these guides you’ll be on course to make your best beats ever! . clear-sounding drum mixes isn’t as complicated as you might imagine. reverb and auto-panner 54  /  Computer Music special effects. To whet your appetite with a couple of examples. amongst other things) or volume (via sidechain compression. but no matter how impressive your sequencing skills. all of the plugins involved are from each DAW’s stock effects library. a more chilled-out dubstep beat and a stripped-back minimal house groove. poorly mixed beats will always fail to satisfy. and how modulation effects can be used to ‘stereoise’ mono signals. so we’ll cover three different flavours of mixdown: a full-on drum ’n’ bass banger. Getting your drums sounding right is of the utmost importance when making dance music.Mixing beats Put these essential mixing techniques to work and get your beats sounding their best Choosing/making suitable sounds and programming the right rhythms for the genre you’re working in are fundamental to creating great drum tracks. We’ll use a number of DAWs for these walkthroughs. This can be frustrating for the less technically inclined musician or producer. but getting big. there’s no one-size-fits-all-genres approach to mixing. we’ll show you how a common-or-garden compressor can be used to enhance a drum track’s transients. gating and specialised dynamics processors such as Logic’s Enveloper or Cubase’s Envelope Shaper). stereo panorama (using mid/side utilities. club-ready beats. The golden rule is to give each element its own space in the mix. Getting to grips with good beat mixing technique can help inform your drum programming too. Of course. but the techniques we’ll be describing are universal and equally applicable no matter what software you use – in fact. and in the following walkthroughs we’ll show you how these techniques can be used to transform some very raw drum tracks into professional-sounding.

wav onto separate audio tracks. Set the first band to 12dB low-cut mode.wav. Unmute the closed hi-hat track and add another EQ Eight. Do the same on the snare track. Mixing a full-on DnB beat in Ableton Live Tutorial Files 1 3 5 Begin by setting the project tempo to 174bpm and dragging Kick. but this time set the low-cut filter to 130Hz. Use a 12dB low-cut band at 1. Crash. so use a bell shape to take off 2dB at 10kHz. and a 12dB high cut to take out everything above 18kHz.6kHz to take out the messy lows.wav. so drag Live’s Utility effect onto the kick track and set its Width parameter to 0%. we can hear that the snare is way too loud for the kick. Next. We want the kick and snare to sit at the dead centre of the mix. add an EQ Eight to the kick track. and bring up the Freq knob until you’ve removed the excess weight from the low end. Snare. and turn all of them down to -6dB so that they don’t clip the master. We can see from the ‘uneven’ level meters on the kick and snare tracks that both are in stereo. Do the same on the snare track. A setting of about 80Hz gives us a lighter.wav. Set up a cycle loop around the bar containing the parts. but using a high-shelf EQ to boost 2dB at 4kHz works too. less stompy sound that won’t interfere with a bassline as much.wav and Angry break. (Audio: EQed kick and snare) 2 4 6 In their raw form. Closed hat. When we do this. these elements sound like a big mess! The easiest way to get a handle on what we’re working with is to mute everything apart from the kick and snare. The snare could also do with some more high-end crack – we could layer it up with another sound.mixing beats  < > Step by step 1. The top end of the hi-hat is a little harsh. Computer Music special  /  55 . Drop the level of the snare track down to -13dB. Ride. wav.

the most practical way to control the level of the reverb now is to use a Utility effect. There’s one among our tracks. This lets the ride’s mid character through. This stops the Flanger effect from being so obvious. Mixing a full-on DnB beat in Ableton Live (continued) 7 9 11 The hi-hat is a bit too loud. but the tail is too long. Add an EQ Eight. . adjusting the send level will change how it responds. Add Live’s Flanger effect to the ride channel. but still provides the stereo feel we’re after. so turn it down to -10dB. Less solid sounds like rides can be moved to the side signal to give the sounds in the middle more room to breathe. Let’s add some snare to the reverb – turn the Send A level on the snare track up to -10dB. Live’s default reverb send settings aren’t perfect for this sound. Turn the Feedback down to 0. 10 12 The beat is starting to take shape. A good way to give a DnB beat a more organic sound is to add a breakbeat.55. unmute the ride channel. This is clearly way. Therefore. 56  /  Computer Music special 8 We can see from the ride channel’s level meter that the part is in mono. Add a Gate after the Reverb and set its Threshold to -45dB. This spreads the ride across the stereo panorama.9kHz to tame its lows. so bring up the Reverb effect on the Send A channel and set the Decay Time to 2. we put our fundamental sounds – the kick and snare – firmly in the middle of the mix. way too loud. (Audio: Stereo ride) The addition of reverb makes the snare – and indeed the whole beat – start to sound a lot more natural and polished. Earlier. but it still lacks character. but let’s see how far we can take our one-shot sounds before we resort to using it.25s. so turn it down to -24dB. and use a 12dB low-cut filter set to 2. but stops it from clogging up the mix so much. but the default settings are far too extreme for our purposes. Next. This gets the reverb closer to the sound we’re after. then set the Amount to 45% and Dry/Wet to 60%.>  mixing beats > Step by step 1. Because this parameter is volume-dependent.

let’s simulate an overhead mic to get a more cohesive. Angry Break is very loud. then use an EQ Eight to low-cut the signal at 2. (Audio: DnB beat) Making the most of mid/side technique In this walkthrough. add MSED as an insert effect. and set its sidechain input to the kick channel. and having the ride sit out on the edges of the stereo panorama by running it through a flanger.5dB and set the Release time to 12ms. leaving just the sides. you can get clues as to how to use the mid/side technique in your own tracks which should help you to produce bigger and bettersounding drum tracks and mixdowns. and try muting the sides signal. The advantage of dividing drum sounds between the mid and sides signals is that it gives us more headroom to work with. Computer Music special  /  57 . The break has lots of rumbling lows.mixing beats  < 13 15 Add a Utility after the Gate and set its Gain to -5dB. We call this kind of trickery mid/side processing. Now. and use the EQ Eight to low-cut at 1. but it helps the drums sound more authentic. we think about a stereo signal in terms of left and right channels.voxengo. Solo the Send B return channel to take a listen to what this adds – it’s just a smeared. The sound will go into mono. the Reverb Decay Time to 410ms and the Dry/Wet to 100%. put a piece of music that you think has a good mixdown on it. it reduces its presence in the mid signal. How does mid/side work? Usually. we can express this as Mid=Left+Right. Now we’ve got a decent sound out of our oneshots.5kHz. but a more practical way to get your head round it is to download Voxengo’s excellent freeware mid/side encoder MSED (www. and add Overdrive. Duplicate the effect and set the new instance’s Source to the snare track. Delete the default Simple Delay effect on the Send B track. and thus what you hear at the centre of the mix) and a sides signal (the difference between the left and right channels. com). Then unmute the sides signal and mute the mid signal – you’ll hear that the mono signal disappears. Turn the drum group’s Send B level up to -18dB. Reverb and EQ Eight effects. so use EQ Eight to low-cut it at 220Hz. Create an audio track in your DAW. When we use flanging to make the ride stereo. Turn the Threshold down to -19. and what you hear at the very edges of the stereo panorama). and understanding it is pretty much essential for getting contemporary-sounding drum mixes. Unsolo the send. Add all of the tracks apart from Angry Break to a group. so turn it down to -20dB before unmuting it. In mathematical terms. Set the Threshold to -1dB and the Ratio to inf:1. and Side=Left-Right.5kHz. we’ve used the technique of placing the kick and snare dead centre in the mix by reducing their stereo width. let’s try adding the break to the mix. We can get a cleaner sound if we sidechain the break with the kick and snare. dirty reverb with no lows. organic sound for the whole kit. making our kick and snare both sound clearer and thus allowing us to turn them up. 14 16 Set the Overdrive Drive to 87%. Voxengo MSED is a fantastic freeware plugin for exploring the mid/side technique By studying the mid/side profiles of greatsounding mixes with MSED (or other width control effects such as Live’s Utility). (Audio: Overhead simulation) Add a Compressor to the Angry Break channel. We can ‘encode’ both channels into a mid signal (the information that’s present in both the left and right channels.

turning each one down to -6dB to prevent clipping. which are very loud and bright. These sounds are pretty upfront. so activate the high-cut filter and set it to 11. Set up a loop around them. add an Enveloper effect from the Dynamics section. This smooths the high end out a little. This tightens up the beat and will make it easier to add other elements when you’ve finished working on the drums.>  mixing beats > Step by step 2. Rim shot. so turn the Left and Right Output Mix faders down to 10%.wav on audio tracks. the effect is a little too intense. 6 58  /  Computer Music special Let’s start with the hi-hats. The default setting’s synced delays give the hats a funkier feel. This chorus-style effect gives the hats a more natural sound and some stereo width.5dB at 9. but again. 2 3 Set one of the bell bands’ Q parameters to 0.wav. After the Channel EQ. (Audio: Hat delay) . Snare. 4 5 Next. There’s too much energy in the highs.wav. set its tempo to 140bpm and put Kick.6kHz. but the effect is quite strong at the default setting. so turn the Mix fader down to 10% to ease it off a little. add the Ensemble effect from the Modulation folder. Add the Stereo Delay effect from the Delay folder. but with some processing we can make them sound more chilled while still retaining their solidity.2kHz to get rid of them. Mixing a chilled dubstep beat in Logic 1 Create a new project.wav and Hats.10. Activate the Channel EQ on the hats channel and click the Analyzer button to see what we’re working with. Activate the low-cut filter and bring it up to 500Hz to ensure that nothing slips through below the hi-hat’s fundamental frequency. and use it to take out 1. Another useful effect for giving hi-hats a natural feel is delay. Bring the Gain fader on the right-hand side of the plugin all the way down to -100% to tidy up the hi-hat’s tail.

but the reverb has the undesirable side effect of clogging up the mix. To make it less booming. This silences the channel. and the reverb’s Dry level is set to 0% by default. (Audio: Sidechained reverb) Computer Music special  /  59 . First. Now add a Compressor effect from the Dynamics folder on Aux 1. reverbed snare. but it’s unlikely we’ll need all that beef in our final mix. and lower the Compressor Threshold fader down to -32dB. you’ll see the Gain Reduction meter bounce along with the kick and snare. Add the Space Designer effect from the Reverb folder as an insert on Aux 1. Turn Auto Gain mode Off. When the beat plays. Set the kick channel’s Send routing to Bus»Bus 2. This automatically creates a bus channel called Aux 1 for us. (Audio: Send reverb) Set the send amount to 0dB. placing it after the Space Designer. 10 This sounds decent enough. and do the same on the snare channel. Set Aux 2’s Output to No Out. The kick is good and weighty. the default reverb is appropriate for the kind of sound we’re after. set the Sends slot on the rimshot track to Bus»Bus 1. This means we can begin to dial in the effect on the rimshot channel without touching Space Designer’s interface at all.mixing beats  < 7 9 11 Now turn your attention to the kick channel. use a Channel EQ on the kick track to apply a low cut at 65Hz. In Logic’s mixer. set up a buss to serve as a dedicated sidechain input channel. We can solve this problem with a little sidechain compression. but we can still use it as a sidechain input source. (Audio: EQed kick) Conveniently. Turn the kick track down to -8dB. This helps makes the beat feel skippier and more flowing. 12 Set the Compressor’s Side Chain input to Bus 2. 8 A big part of the dubstep sound is the big. Set the Bus 1 level on the rimshot track to -10dB.

for that matter! This is especially true of low-cut/high-pass filtering: when used on kicks and snares it can help a beat flow smoothly and sound more open. Overused. or any other combination – it can often help to solo the offending elements in order to get a clearer idea of what’s happening. Let’s make the snare more obvious in the mix with some transient tweaking. clipper or saturator. . It’s a matter of personal taste as to whether the increase in peak level is worth the trade-off in headroom to get a punchier-sounding attack. Mixing a chilled dubstep beat in Logic (continued) 13 15 The rimshot is dominating the mix a little. but this doesn’t matter too much as the snare’s now-louder attack only peaks at this higher level for a short amount of time. The peak level is very slightly higher. making the transients sound relatively louder. so turn it down to -9dB. so the frequency at which you low-cut your kick will likely depend to some extent on the frequency content and rhythm of the track’s bassline. It’s important to bear in mind that beats have to work alongside the other elements of a track. try to exercise restraint and only cut when a sound really benefits from it. the bassline might sound too bassy if you take too much weight out of the kick! On the other hand. If you’re having trouble balancing elements of a track – be they kick and bass. For instance. Set the Auto Gain mode to Off. Turn the Compressor Gain up to 1dB to get a level that’s roughly on par with the perceived volume of the sound before we compressed it. and applied to hi-hats and rides. You can see that the level peaks slightly lower now. if you have a bassline that plays a lot of higher notes. A spectral analyser such as Voxengo’s freeware SPAN can come in handy as well. In our examples. this kind of processing can take too much weight out of your drums and leave your beats sounding brittle and tinny. Add a Compressor on the snare channel. Solo the snare track and toggle the Compressor’s power button on and off to compare the original and processed sounds. ride and pad. However. you’ll likely find that it strays into the kick’s frequency range.wav) Cutting loose As you’ll have noticed from these walkthroughs. we’ve used low-cut frequencies that sound right when the beats are played by themselves. if your track has an offbeat bassline that never plays at the same 60  /  Computer Music special “Equalisation is a vital tool when is comes to mixing drums – and anything else” time as the kick. and turn the Compressor Threshold down to -28dB. giving you a better idea of which frequencies are overlapping. it makes everything sound cleaner and tighter. and won’t be affected too negatively by a master limiter. too.>  mixing beats > Step by step 2. 14 16 This is a long Attack time. equalisation is a vital tool when is comes to mixing drums – and anything else. (Audio: Snare attack. and that a combination of low-cut EQ and sidechain compression are necessary. which means that the transients at the very start of the snare will be unaffected by the compression. We’re going to use this effect to make the snare’s dynamics more pronounced. Turn the Attack up to 170ms. try bypassing the EQs. If you find that you’re having a problem mixing your drums. the later part of the sound will be reduced in volume. When using low-cut filters. you can probably get away with leaving more bass in the kick – indeed. filters and dynamics processors you’ve applied to ensure that you haven’t over-cooked any of them.

so turn the Output knob down to -4dB while you’re at it. it’s clear that the 808 tom needs tightening up as well! Add an EnvelopeShaper to its channel and turn its Release down to -20. The 808 open hi-hat needs tightening up. Select the Catacombe preset. get rid of this by turning the Pre-delay down to 10. we can now add our own. 808 clave. (Audio: Reverb) Computer Music special  /  61 . 2 4 6 Add an EnvelopeShaper from the Dynamics folder as an insert effect. This reverb can help us make the rest of the beat sound less dry. and doesn’t fit with the minimal vibe we want. The reverb also has a heavy pre-delay on it. Mixing a minimal house beat in Cubase video 1 3 5 Drag 909 kick. Turn REVerance’s Size parameter down to 30. Create an FX Channel track and put REVerance. so let’s use it on some of the other tracks. The hi-hat is too loud. so add an EnvelopeShaper to its track as well – set its Release to -13. The handclap sample we’ve used has a little bit of a reverb tail on it. so add a Studio EQ from the EQ folder and use a low shelf to take off 7dB at 100Hz. and turn the Release knob down to -20. onto it. Now that we’ve tidied up the hats.wav. This completely cuts out the reverb tail while leaving the body of the sound intact. The most obvious problem with this material is that the 606 open hi-hat is very long and lazy-sounding.wav.mixing beats  < > Step by step 3. and set up a loop around the bar they’re in.wav onto separate audio tracks in Cubase. then activate a send routing to the reverb on the 626 clap channel. 606 open hat. Add Cubase’s Gate effect from the Dynamics folder and set the Threshold at -35dB. The tom’s low end is interfering with the kick a little.wav. 808 open hat. but it’s a bit big for our needs. Apply it to the tom and both hi-hat channels also. The character of the sound is right. from the Reverb folder.wav and 808 tom. (Audio: Shaped envelopes) With the original reverb dealt with.0 and Output to -4dB. 626 clap. wav. which we can get rid of using a gate.

Let’s try lowering the pitch of the kick to get a bigger sound. but the kick was very dynamic. 10 Set the SoftClipper’s input to 4. though. Thankfully. Add a Group Channel track. Add it to the 909 kick track and turn the Release up to 4.0 semitones.7dB. This sacrifices some of the kick’s dynamic range for loudness. route all the audio tracks to it. Mixing a minimal house beat in Cubase (continued) 7 9 11 Our beat now has a more minimal feel. (Audio: Tuned kick) 62  /  Computer Music special 8 Turn the Input knob up to 8 and the Release time down so that it’s at about 8 o’clock. but as we’re using bounced tracks. This gives the beat a more upfront feel. then add RoomWorks from the Reverb folder as an insert on the 808 clave track.0. synth or drum machine instrument that it’s played from. so this is a worthwhile tradeoff. Set the Reverb Time to 3. If we were working on this track from scratch we could simply adjust the pitch of the sample. Let’s boost its volume and enhance its character with some buss processing. we’ll have to fix it in the mix. but without driving it too hard and pushing it into techno territory.>  mixing beats > Step by step 3. 12 Duplicate the bar-long beat seven times to create an eight-bar section. and turn the Transpose parameter in the Correction section down to -2. Add Pitch Correct from the Pitch Shift folder at the very start of the kick’s insert chain. it becomes clear that the kick drum is a little lacking – it’s very short and the low end is suffering as a result. Put a SoftClipper from the Distortion folder after the EnvelopeShaper. This puts the kick at the right pitch without messing up its transients or low end too much. but it’s pretty quiet. (Audio: Reverb automation) . At this stage. we can remedy this using the EnvelopeShaper. Turn Formant Preservation off to avoid any extra unnecessary processing. We can also make the transient a little bit more punchy by turning the Attack parameter up to 2. and put a VintageCompressor from the Dynamics folder on it as an insert effect.12s and automate the Mix parameter to morph the clave from a wet background sound to a dry foreground one.2.

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but Maschine can also emulate some of the greatest grooveboxes in history. we’re going to be assuming that you already know how to actually use Maschine at a basic level – if you find yourself unclear on how to perform a particular action. Oh. as well as loop slicing. but as this is a special entirely dedicated to beats. Of course. Now. at version 2. hip-hop. all-dancing behemoth with a huge range of onboard effects and sound generators. breaks. with all that power and its ever-expanding feature set. encouraging a speedy. Native Instruments can be credited with dragging it kicking and screaming into the virtual studio. hands-on workflow like the synthesising and sampling drum machines of old.Make beats with It’s a self-contained production powerhouse. we’re going to look at using Maschine to create vintage-style drums loops – that is. pop or indie R&B. In this tutorial. mixing and arranging capabilities and a vast sound library catering to every kind of electronic 64  /  Computer Music special music under the sun. but with the extreme convenience of modern virtual production. . Recapture the retro sound of 80s and 90s digital hardware with our guide If the MPC invented the whole 16-pad sampling drum machine concept. and in all of the walkthroughs. Years before Akai finally got into the hybrid groovebox game. it’s quite simply one of the most versatile digital instruments of the modern age. Maschine can offer a significant retro-injection to your productions. of course. deep house. So. This isn’t to say that it can’t (or shouldn’t) be used as the latter. rather than as the centre of a more extensive production setup. NI spotted a huge gap in the market and exploited it skilfully with a combination of excellent production software and a powerful dedicated hardware controller. Maschine is an all-singing. whether you’re making future 2-step. you can always head on up to the application’s Help menu. Whether running as a plugin in the studio or a standalone instrument onstage. they’re going to be our clear focus. it can be easy to forget that Maschine is also one of the best beat-making tools known to man. using it as a drum machine (or machines) and sampler.

Maschine enables us to rediscover the greatness of the early digital hardware age but with all the modern advantages that software provides. We tune it down five semitones for effect. Sampled vocal stabs can almost have the same impact as drums when building a classic-style electronic drum groove.make beats with maschine  < Make it personal Maschine takes its inspiration from vintage classics such as the Akai MPC60 and – to a lesser extent – E-mu SP-1200. so we plug in a microphone (phone/laptop mics aren’t great for capturing bass. so most samples were recorded rather than pre-produced. Creating your own percussion sounds Tutorial Files 1 3 We’re using our Macbook Pro’s built-in mic. Indeed. open a new group. (Audio: Keys. lifted from MP3 or CDs. These can be recorded off vinyl or tape. hit Record. large ear-cup headphones plugged into a microphone jack socket. choose Detect mode and set the Threshold to -14dB so that sampling will happen automatically when we make a loud enough noise (this level will vary depending on your mic sensitivity). driven not just by their sounds but by their workflow. early drum machines including Roland’s TR-909 and TR-808. just as the early samplists used to. So how can you avoid sounding like everybody else? Put yourself in a vintage mindset! Combine key classic drum machine samples with your own recorded percussion sounds. but these were minuscule compared to the enormous libraries we have “Maschine enables us to rediscover the greatness of the early digital hardware age” access to now. and even Roger Linn’s classic drum machines. We engage the metronome. or. vox) Computer Music special  /  65 . fingers. Mobile phones. finger-clicks. select internal inputs and outputs. making your own samples not only avoids any risk of copyright infringement but also guarantees a distinctive and unique sound. enabling us to control how much of the natural room ambience is present. as the samples don’t have to be beautifully recorded for our beat production purposes. We assign these to a couple of drum pads and set the Trigger modes to ADR rather than One-Shot. and this vocal stab needs solid low end for maximum effect). and in many cases it’s easy to tell exactly which sample library has been used on a given track (or tracks). 2 4 We start by recording a few finger clicks. By taking features and functional concepts from these classic machines. Today. select a tempo of 122bpm. There were sample CDs available. your laptop’s built-in mic – any of these will do the job. of course. don our headphones. saucepans. so first we plug in some headphones. bottle tops – anything you like. hit Sample. Such sounds could be vocals. record the word “bounce” and place it on the first beat of each bar. One of the things that lent such distinctive character to early sample-driven productions is that sampling drum machines required their samples to be recorded manually. > Step by step 1. We then record in two finger clicks on each second and fourth beat. It’s important to capture at least two. as they always sound better when you layer more than one. These machines brought about a revolution in music production. Listen to much of the electronic music out there: the repetition of samples is readily apparent. then tap in a funky and syncopated beat over four bars. You don’t even need a great microphone. We auto-slice our recorded loop with Detect set to full sensitivity and Quantise set to 1/16. entirely generated from scratch. people tend to gravitate towards the same core sounds – the best ones in any given library.

66  /  Computer Music special So how do we go about tuning drums and percussion? Some drum synths (several of Maschine’s included) actually tell you the note name of the pitch being generated. and some snares on the fourth 16th-note of alternate bars. often manifesting themselves only at the mixdown stage. say. it’ll certainly work when processed. And although tuning is easy to miss (even for seasoned professionals). it can have a profound effect on the overall mix – for example. even if your kick and bass aren’t clashing noticeably on their own. which means getting the 909 kick. This is best done before any major processing and EQ. Using two 909 groups emulates the effect of sub-grouping different outputs on a hardware unit. a cowbell sound from our 808 preset pattern that doesn’t fit. But we find that drums – particularly with reverb and other additive processing applied – can throw out some tricky harmonics. if you get the tuning right at the start and keep tweaking it as your go along. if we hear it too many times at the wrong tuning. we could get so used to it that we don’t realise it needs tuning – the right tuning will actually sound less effective to us. . Drum and percussion tuning One of the most neglected aspects of music production is the tuning of percussion. and one of the main reasons it’s so easy to overlook is that the effects of it can be very subtle. some claps. a clave or conga to match our kick drum. it’ll pay dividends as the track progresses. It’s a good idea to mute different parts here to hear how individual groups work together. This is preferable also because it’s human nature that once we hear something enough times. but don’t worry – we promise that after an hour you won’t remember what it sounded like before! It’s also worth noting that while one or two of the greatest house tracks of all time didn’t feature rigidly tuned drums. and there’s always the option of using a tuning plugin. you’ll not find many classics with obviously out-of-tune percussion – the best practitioners of the art naturally tend to tune their drums. so often the strict tuning of a drum sample isn’t actually the thing to focus on. you’ll need to grit your teeth and go with the properly tuned version. And of course.>  make beats with maschine > Step by step 2. even if it sounds better to everybody else. We remove a few small hits here and there – in particular. 2 4 We load up an 808 kit and leave the initial preset pattern in place. This layering of recorded samples and preset patterns features on countless early dance classics. this means that while we might need to tune. making tuning easy to check. though. We then load another 909 and play some offbeat closed hi-hats and skippy rimshots. sometimes the effect of one drum sound can be ruined by over-tweaking. In drum tuning terms. Bring on the drums 1 3 It’s time to introduce a classic drum machine vibe. Next. as it fits nicely over our existing groove. then we simply tune up the remaining clashing 808 conga until it fits. We’ve known producers who have struggled with a mixdown for hours – or even days – only for a skilled mix engineer to take a listen and immediately point out the obvious: that the kick drum is clashing with the bassline. so we pick the most important parts – the kick and vocal. it can sound ‘wrong’ to our ears when it’s changed. Generally speaking. This was sort of the late 80s equivalent of trying out sampled loops from a sample collection over your basic groove. “bounce” sample and 808 congas playing nicely together. as if it works raw. We start with Maschine’s 909 kit and play in a straight four-to-the-floor kick pattern. we need to thin out our pattern and check for clashing hits. If you do find that this has happened. It’s important not to ruin the vibe. or that the hi-hats and claps are interfering with the synths or vocals. the cumulative effect of all those slight tuning mismatches can be significant. Now to tune our percussion. We shift the kick half a semitone up to fit the vocal pitch better.

Velocity variations are key. though. While Maschine doesn’t allow live auditioning of Swing values when playing note repeats. This can be modulated over the course of the track. With swing a key part of so much electronic music. jump between quarter-. Solo’d. so let’s take a closer look… > Step by step 3. pressing a pad will generate a string of note events on every ‘grid line’ of the current quantise setting (every 32nd-note. it can be very effective for live groove-building or even total live play – if you’re confident and dextrous enough. It was designed as a way to add dynamic rolls to beats (as opposed to playing them at fixed velocity) with far greater timing accuracy than most live players could hope to achieve. or your might simply pick a value you like and stick with it. so we select the 16th-note setting and add four fast kicks at the end. There’s much more to note repeat than just drum rolls. and we use the 32nd-note quantise value to add a fast roll at the end of every fourth bar.and 32nd-note values to enhance your rolls. note repeat remains a glorious feature. so you can. usually with claps or snares. 16th. The key – as is often the case with note repeat – is to vary the amount of pressure on the pad to alter the velocity. as this makes the roll more effective. eighth-. and leaving the first 16th-note of each beat free really adds funk. The only solution right now is to record rolls in and then add swing afterwards. rather inexplicably. this is a baffling oversight that we hope to see rectified at some point. every eighth-note and so on) – and. but that’s far from ideal. Maschine facilitates up to four manually assigned quantise value buttons. however: one downside to its note repeat function is that. (Audio: Full beat (pre-processing) 41% swing) Computer Music special  /  67 . we play our main groove and jam away over the top. 2 4 Next. Still. these events will be at a velocity level determined by how much pressure is applied to “Maschine facilitates up to four manaully assigned quantise value buttons” the pad at the time. With note repeat. the effect is quite pronounced. The kick drum needs a little more excitement on each fourth bar. for example. or vary the quantise according to the part being played. As we’ve previously mentioned. Maschine isn’t perfect. dynamic and evolving rolls can be played so easily that they can even be performed live on stage with total confidence. Though primarily associated with the MPC range of sampling drum machines. The idea is simple: with note repeat engaged.make beats with maschine  < On a roll Few functions in music production are as revered as ‘note repeat’. critically. We manually draw in the maximum velocity value for the first 32nd-note (on beat 4 of bar 4). starting from beat 4 of bar 4. firing off little bursts of snare roll. the feature was originally implemented by Roger Linn for his Linn 9000 drum machine (the successor to the classic LinnDrum) and was included on every machine he built subsequently. You can even set triplet values. We find that an extreme value of 41% works a treat on our groove. every 16th-note. Using 16th-note quantise. the vocal. but also with hats and even kick drums. Classic house tracks used these fills extensively. Using note repeat 1 3 We start by calling up Maschine 2’s fantastic new Snare Drumsynth and tweaking the sound for a vintage drum machine vibe. so now we can try applying swing to our project. This imparts a nice groove to the otherwise rigid kick. its swing function is not applied to repeated notes. but with our other loops in the mix it provides a subtle feed into the next four-bar loop. it does allow it once they’re recorded as note events.

Ideally. and when sitting between your monitors. 808 and rattle. you can consider using sidechaining. hi-hats. Some low roll-off on all channels also helps to make space – we even roll off the kick a little at around 20Hz. and we want to add high. neither side should feel louder than the other over the course of a loop. Processing beats 1 3 Drum sounds almost always benefit from some compression. with the kick absolutely central. so it’s important to stick with this theme as we get into the processing stage. reverb and saturation effects on individual groups. note that we’ve panned a number of our sounds. muddiness. as the combination of subtle resonance around the cutoff points and sharper topping and tailing will really help them pop out of the mix – even more than we could achieve with EQ. claps and snares). and one of our favourite Maschine tools here is Chorus on any unnaturally dry sounds. Our 808 part in particular benefits from this. Finally. We use EQ to add a touch of brightness to our claps. Another effective ‘mix separator’ is the use of subtle chorus. and in some cases we add a little gating to leave space for the next sound. again so that just like a set of “It’s always worth trying different sampler modes for each sound” hardware instruments. MPC60 engine mode is excellent for adding character and leaving space in the mix. but we also roll off the highs from 20kHz so as to avoid harshness and keep some space. just as a set of separate instruments would when routed individually into a mixer. so be sure to open up the full project in the Tutorial Files folder and have a look at what we’ve added and where. they each have their own distinct sound. and Maschine 2 comes with an excellent emulation of the classic SSL buss compressor. with groups. A boost at around 11-12kHz does the trick. > Step by step 4.>  make beats with maschine All part of the process Our overall approach so far has been to recreate the effect of using multiple drum machines and a sampler. We turn to filtering last. In each case we lower the Threshold until just before the punchiness becomes clicking or. Most classic drum machines and samplers had panning facilities for individual drum sounds (indeed. lo-fi and saturator effects add character and soften the brightening effect of additive plugs. 68  /  Computer Music special 2 4 Additive effects next. Or you can try applying compression to each group. finger clicks and vocal stabs. Finally.and low-pass filtering to many of the samples. particularly with a Maximizer applied last in the master effects chain. but we haven’t bothered here as we find that the effect of the various parts triggering the group and master compressors generates its own ducking effect.wav) . In the next walkthrough we’re going to look at some key selected processes. but don’t use it for all your sounds or groups. Our selection of sound sets should sound different. One of the easiest ways to keep things sounding distinct is to use Maschine’s built-in vintage sampler emulation algorithms – it’s always worth trying different sampler modes for each sound. many drum machines and sampled libraries of classic drum machines have some sounds panned by default). We use slow Attack and fast Release times on the majority of our samples and groups to really get them punching through. And that’s our beat! (Audio: Full beat. but in fact we’ve applied a fair amount of subtle processing both to individual sounds and – more importantly – to groups. The usual panning rules apply: you generally want bass-heavy sounds reasonably central. Also. Reverb follows on a few sounds (finger clicks. you should use a different mode for each of the main groups. such as our hi-hats.

we play the main loop and add stuttering hits over the top of it. 2 4 We audition the slices to ascertain which ones have good. but also had very limited sampling time. The more technical one relies on the fact that early samplers not only operated at lower sample rates and bit depths. creating more fills and energy and – thanks to the looser slices (those containing more than one hit. at those lower sample rates and bit depths. rather than just playing back prefab sounds. With Note Repeat engaged.wav) Computer Music special  /  69 . playing it back the same number of semitones down. we open the sample editor and select the Zone tab – from here. We apply a very subtle amount of panning to the repeated vocal stab and manually shorten the playback length until it’s a little clearer without a noticeable gap. as these will give an interesting effect to the pattern when played on top of the main loop. which. layered hits and reverb harmonics) – a fuller. Bear in mind. (Audio: Re-sliced loop. It could then be slowed back down in the sampler. bouncing it to audio. We’re also on the lookout for those that feature parts of other beats from the original loops. Sometimes. And that brings us to our second technique… > Step by step 5. a loop. just like the original. We then apply this slicing and set a loop length of 4 bars so that our part is sliced but playing back exactly the same as our original. With these parts recorded. Resampling. You can recreate this by making and processing a drum loop. The higher speed meant that more of the music could be sampled into less sample memory. generated a characteristic colouration. One-shot trigger mode should also be switched to ADR (or ADSR) for more ‘gated’. more attractive producer. recording that at a lower sample rate and bit depth. We also set the sampler mode to MPC60. snare reverb tails overlapping hi-hats and so on. Finally.wav. richer overall quality. There are a couple of contributing factors to this vintage sound. So it’s not just about the virtual recreation of the original hardware sound – those chopped loops are a big part of the overall effect. were unfailingly loyal and would never leave you for a younger. playing it back in a sampler at high speed (play it seven semitones higher than the root note to replicate the speeding up of 33rpm to 45rpm). then mapping the resulting loop to C4. that vintage loops are lifted from completed and processed tracks. we can tweak individual slices. had unmatched grooves. it’s easy to overlook one of the most obvious advantages of vintage samplers: they were used to sample sounds from the outside world. slicing and rearranging loops 1 3 First we start a new project and load the audio file from the previous walkthrough: Full beat. But beyond all this hero-worship. we dial in some shuffle (about 40%) and tweak the envelope for a more gated and subtly stuttering feel. remembering to set the tempo to 122bpm. clear attacks. We then use the auto-slicing function set to eighth-notes.make beats with maschine  < Resampling Veteran electronic producers love to talk about why vintage samplers sounded so great. Now we have a much more dynamic and energetic backbeat. punchier playback. One of the tricks hip-hop producers would use to increase the available “It’s not just about the virtual recreation of the original hardware sound” sampling time would be to record their samples – which were almost invariably lifted from 33rpm vinyl records – at 45rpm. and thus a couple of techniques you can use to replicate it. There’s an almost mythical quality to them – they boasted better timing. it’s just about treating your loop like – well. though. though. and when you slice and resequence them you hear the sounds of ambience being cut short.

The design makes it very hard not to be funky. NI’s Maschine. note repeat and swing quantise features as their forebears. And it really works – at least half of all classic hip-hop records owe their chopped. because in these days of all-singing. . they’re all based on the same core setup of 16 assignable pads. all-dancing DAWs. automatic quantisation. it can be tricky to work out how best to incorporate and combine these methods with our modern DAW environment. now replicated in so many DAWs. why bother putting together a tutorial on it? Quite simply. but its interface and design were to transform beat-making forever. would simply not have come into existence without it. Welcome to the new old school Way back in 1988. In these walkthroughs. Designed by music tech legend Roger Linn after the folding of his own company. with a new generation of 70  /  Computer Music special MPCs. in which we’re assuming a certain level of familiarity with the operation of the MPC. while at the same time encouraging spontaneous creation. for example. and now its Software version promises to do the same for years to come. Modest by today’s audio standards. it offered 12-bit sampling at 40KHz. It’s well worth getting to the heart of what makes the MPC so great and why the latest versions of it offer so much more than just that classic swing algorithm. we’ll be looking at a variety of creative approaches that will hopefully inspire you to use yours in new and different ways. the resurgence of garage and other such modern twists on the dance styles of yesteryear. syncopated grooves to this most elegant and simple of interfaces.Make beats with MPC Software Akai’s MPC hardware has been shaping beats for a quarter of a century. then. the MPC60 not only ushered in an entirely new era in hip-hop but also created the template for many of today’s self-contained production platforms. If it’s so easy to use. Akai released the MPC60. humanised interaction and – crucially – groove. Fast forward 26 years and Akai are still very much in the game. And with the rise of deep house. introducing the world to the concept of a 4x4 grid of drum pads and sample-based grooveboxes. Now a range of software/hardware hybrids. it can sometimes be hard to take a creative step back to a simpler time without ending up sounding too retro.

use a combination of swing values. you have to run multiple instances of it as plugins in your DAW. however. Just be open to different methods – try them and figure out which best suit you. guitar parts. Another good reason for using your MPC as a plugin. there’s no right or wrong way to do anything in music production. is that you separate two important processes: idea creation and track completion. 2 4 With an MPC it can be more interesting to start with a strong snare or percussion pattern rather than a kick. So the obvious question is: why would you ever want to do anything different? One of the main advantages to producing loops and ideas in your MPC. arrange and process your entire project within the MPC software. Fortunately. on another channel and using a different kit (using just one kit for an entire groove often causes it to sound like a ‘preset’ pattern). then mixing and finalising them in a DAW. (Audio: Crash_perks) MPCs are justly famed for their awesome groove quantise. but any will do). Add a four-to-the-floor kick next. Select Kick 9 from Elements of House/All Kicks and play the kicks in live with the default autoquantise and Full Level engaged (to ensure that the velocities are all at 127). So creating your beats and grooves in MPC Software and then mixing and arranging “Be open to different methods – try them and figure out which best suit you” them in your DAW as bounced loops helps you focus on the pure grooves and treat the MPC as what it is – a musical instrument and an inspirational creative tool. the urge will be there to do so – and in our experience. as the software only supports one channel. let’s get started! > Step by step 1. but there are more or less productive and creative ways to work. leave the quantise set to the default 16th-note 50% Swing. hit Play in Live and tap out the part shown above on Snare 6 and FX 30. Load the Bloody House Kit (found in the Elements of House sound bank). for example) generally need to be bang on the beat. as well as VST plugins across multiple groups and on the main output. create nine or ten channels and add an instance of MPC Elements to each. no swing or even no autoquantisation at all. this will make for a cool but noticeably unnatural vibe. Right. Remember.make beats with mpc software  < MPC Software as a creative tool If you’re using MPC Studio or MPC Renaissance. engage Record on the MPC hardware. at faster tempos and with busier patterns. Just remember that some parts (4/4 kicks. etc) is far easier when you’re using the more advanced audio editing facilities of a DAW. so in order to use multiple pad banks. is that dealing with longer live recordings (vocals. but there’s more to making a funky groove than applying identical swing to all elements. Playing rather than drawing keeps the vibe. Building a groove Tutorial Files 1 3 The first step is to launch your DAW (we’re using Ableton Live. which is an immense help when it comes to keeping track of things. We’ve called ours Crash Perks. As long as you have the option of endlessly tweaking an idea. MPC Elements users have no such decisions to make. and these will vary depending on your style and process. For a more natural feel. you have the option of running multiple tracks and processing up to 128 channels (far more than you’re likely to need for the kind of genres you’ll be making with an MPC!) and so can effectively create. Computer Music special  /  71 . endless tweaking is invariably to the detriment of the core idea. you’re almost certainly overdoing it. Layering percussion tracks is addictive with any MPC. rather than making your entire track with it. you can mute and solo multiple instances within a project using buttons on the hardware. but if you find yourself using more than nine or ten individual percussive parts in a single loop.

if you’re keen to emulate not just the style but also the sonic character of those original MPC grooves (which subtly affects the overall feel). The other thing you need to consider is that old analogue circuits of any type tend to be slightly less ‘shiny’ than their modern counterparts. here comes the funk! Load All Kicks into a new plugin. (Audio: Add_bass) Engage Note Repeat. Use one hit as the main focus (playing on about half of the 16th-notes) and alternate sporadically with the other chosen pads. Start by finding a quality bank of percussion sounds (ideally two to four good ones). Our weapon of choice is 2stepRiddim from Elements of UK Dance. so there’s no downsampling required for those. so for accurate emulation you’ll need to use a plugin to reduce the bit depth and sample rate. These days we tend to differentiate between the sound of ‘digital’ and the sound of ‘analogue’. but in fact. The later ‘classic’ MPC models (the MPC3000 and MPC2000) both operated at 16-bit 44. as we’re looking for elements that hang together and sound like a cohesive loop. Call up AnalogueDigitalBass1. The first thing to do is note the sample rate of the hardware you want to emulate. You could use the built-in MPC Re-Sampler effect. vintage digital equipment should also be included in the latter category. which can squash the life out of the groove.1kHz (CD quality). the E-MU SP1200). creating skip and groove. so each time you run through it and aren’t happy with the result.>  make beats with mpc software The sound of the MPC In this tutorial we’re dealing with the patterns and general vibe that the MPC encourages. enabling pitched play of the sample. Try leaving these kicks on straight 16ths too.wav from Elements of UK Dance and engage 16 Level. (Audio: Kicks_n_crash) Time for a bit of natural rhythm and pace – the MPC’s famed Note Repeat is just the ticket here. but certain third-party plugins will be more authentic (D16’s Decimort is one of the best out there and comes complete with convincing emulations of the MPC60 and that other iconic hip-hop sampler. The original MPC60. lighter kick (Kick 4). which offers true modeling of the original hardware sound. add a little swing (1-2% away from the bass part’s swing) and record in some live play using your chosen pads/ drums. this quality is a function of the type of sampling chip and its sample rate. but one of the defining characteristics of old gear is the sound imparted by the hardware itself. bright and brash. In the case of vintage samplers. simply hit Undo. much of the vintage grit will be lost. So. Add some swing (around 59-61 is ideal) and play in a simple riff. which can have a noticeable impact on the resulting groove. If all your sounds are big. the digital-to-analogue converters and the physical outputs being used. you need to appreciate what the original hardware did to the sound. Building a groove (continued) 5 7 OK. Do this until you have a groove you like. engage Record and fill in the gaps between the 4/4 kicks using another. featured 16-bit converters but only 12-bit sample storage and playback at 40kHz. for example. It might take a few goes. > Step by step 1. as will a tiny amount of analogue saturation. It’s a bit like over-limiting a drum loop: harsher and louder sounds tend to overload the ear (or mixer channel!). 72  /  Computer Music special 6 8 Working in a rough bassline can help to shape a drum groove – and if you decide to keep it you can switch it over to a synth plugin or export the pattern as a MIDI file. a high-cut roll-off around 12-14kHz will help to recreate this effect. It’s worth noting that none of these techniques will absolutely nail the sound of the original hardware – to achieve that you’ll need to upgrade to the full MPC Renaissance. (Audio: Garage_grooves) .

Go through and remove notes as needed (our fast Rattle Perks. load another Bloody House Kit and use Hi Hat 9 to create a fast 16th-note pattern. 12 Time to review the sequence in order to find parts that need manual tweaking. tapping them manually keeps the vibe and allows more natural variation in velocity (don’t engage Full Level). (Audio: Last perks) Computer Music special  /  73 . A part might sound great on its own. so when playing just one pad/drum be sure to get a similar groove by tapping and holding the pad rhythmically. then delete it from your current project. but is it helping the groove as a whole? Be ruthless: if something sounds good on its own but isn’t enhancing the overall groove. This can be done using your hardware’s Delete function. 10 Try muting elements as you go along – the old adage. (Audio: Hatz) All that’s missing now are some simple offbeat hi-hats and a backbeat snare (we use Elements of UK Dance/All Hats/Hat 7 and Elements of UK Dance/All Snares/Snare 21). for example) to simplify the pattern and let the groove breathe. so on a new channel. tap and re-trigger. You could draw these in. but it’s the one thing we usually find easier using the onscreen editor. When using multiple pads you naturally lift. but. “it’s not what you put in but what you leave out” always applies. as with the 4/4 kicks. save it as a new sequence for future reference. generating gaps and different velocities.make beats with mpc software  < 9 11 Note Repeat works particularly well on hi-hats too.

Some samples will phase with this technique and others won’t. You can also try recording your own samples: vocal snippets pitched down are great for adding sonic and musical interest. but it’s always interesting to try. bounce the individual loops. there’s a surprising amount of mileage to be had just using some simple layering of sounds. Much of the time this is a good thing. Another way create the space and separation so crucial to good grooves is to apply small amounts of processing to individual pads and channels. so concentrate first on getting the groove down and only then worry about tweaking and processing sounds. With all the parts ready to go. One way to mitigate the homogenisation effect is to vary the sources of your samples (as we have by using different banks). This should be done to a few elements that need to stand apart from the overall groove. the temptation to use supplied presets or pre-made samples can be all too strong. (Audio: Layered_processed_bass. but when working with an MPC we always do this after recording our basic pattern. Likewise. simply go ahead and sequence them within the MPC software. they’re normalised and they’ve been processed “Vocal snippets pitched down are great for adding sonic and musical interest” to make them sound upfront and appealing to the browsing producer. giving it more character and therefore more separation within the overall loop.>  make beats with mpc software Processing and editing The original MPCs offered multiple audio outputs. making them available as audio parts in your DAW. Still. but sometimes it means that loops made with them lack the character you get by recording your own samples. individual processing would often have taken away from the desired effect. which makes for a very different effect than simply turning the volume up. bounce the individual channels and import them into your DAW – or. MPC Studio and Renaissance owners have the luxury of doing this with external plugins across multiple channels within the standalone software. when working with the standalone version. Where those early MPC producers worked with recognisable sampled loops from classic records. in these days of endless sample libraries. It’s tempting to edit samples as you go along. Final touches 1 3 We want to make our bass really stand out. while MPC Elements users can only apply this to one channel per plugin instance. MPC Software often generates interesting results this way. save the entire project and make any further edits that might be required. We then make two identical copies of this layer. How does this translate to the modern hardware/software situation? One thing we’ve noticed is that whereas the original MPCs were largely playing back manually recorded samples. of course. 74  /  Computer Music special 2 4 Create one more bass layer and add Akai’s Small Reverb plugin set to 100% Wet. The MPC is all about fast and spontaneous creation – that’s when it really shines and is what sets it apart. as are manually recorded handclaps and the sounds of real-world objects like keys or cans being shaken or tapped. or each pad in standalone mode. parallel processing and Akai’s own built-in effects. (Audio: Full_groove_with_crash. and these sounds often have a degree of homogenisation – they’re bright. Tweak the new layer to taste to generate a parallel processed layer that can be brought in and out of the arrangement. so such sounds would all be sent to a mixer through a single output and processed as one. Full_groove_w_out_crash) . Every time you stop to mess with a sound. you put a barrier between yourself and the creative momentum. > Step by step 2. so many original MPC tracks involved processing of individual pads/sounds – although by no means all of them. Do the same for the snare. cut the low frequencies and add some chorus. Layered_processed_snare) The groove complete. so we create an identical copy.

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While there are numerous powerful software drum samplers on the market. you need a sampler. We’ll kick off with a look at how Phalanx works and its two top-level operating modes: Multitrack and DrumKit. Vengeance’s VPS (Vengeance Producer Suite) Phalanx is without doubt one of the very best for club. tailoring your tones by editing. Then we’ll show you how to navigate its sample pads and various visual ‘devices’. so we’ll then check out the various adjustable parameters and effects that Phalanx has to offer. there is a demo version of Phalanx. . Sampling enables you to really take things to the next level. offering not only an amazing set of sample manipulation tools but also a superb library of core sounds ready for use ‘as is’ but amenable to serious reshaping. Having said that. layering. electronic 76  /  Computer Music special and urban beats. a lot of what we do in this tutorial will be very specific to Phalanx itself. which we’d urge you to download. Obviously. but for maximum manipulation and cutting-edge sonics.Build a sample kit with We show you how to build and edit a monster kit with Vengeance’s awesome drum sampler plugin Real drums and drum synthesis are both great for providing a core palette of sounds with which to power your beats. Two key aspects of building any sampled drum kit are editing and processing. but even if you’re not an owner of said instrument. some of the core concepts presented here will be transferable to any well-equipped sampler – simply substitute the Phalanx library sounds for regular drum machine samples. we’ll inject some movement using Phalanx’s many controllable effects and its modulation matrix. including the envelopes and their integrated waveform display. pitching and processing them in ways that other techniques simply can’t. Finally.

Switch all the output assignment tabs to Output 1. Each of Phalanx’s 16 sample pads can be assigned its own MIDI channel. Computer Music special  /  77 . There are also looping controls for each sample. including resizing the whole window. there are plenty of samplers available that can run rings around Phalanx – but that doesn’t concern us here. They’re very powerful indeed. Phalanx is of particular interest for us in this Special because its architecture and workflow are designed specifically for working with and processing beats. 2 4 To start from scratch. Load a DrumKit preset and each pad gets its own note but all on the same MIDI channel. with straight line and curved options between breakpoints. including highand low-pass filters. load up a couple of presets. Phalanx is built around 16 sample pads with hardwired channel parameters and effects. Finally. on the left-hand side. You can mix and match modes within an overall preset. we’re going to be using the latter. You can assign all sounds to one MIDI channel or each sound to its own. though. or a 16-part multitimbral patch. Click the MIDI tab and. and Retrigger. Pitch and additional Mod Envelope. The most important one. or share a MIDI channel with any number of other pads. Load a Bank preset and you’ll see that it places each sample pad on its own MIDI channel. and a simple drag-and-drop system for loading them into the instrument. You can expand the Pad Slots to reveal the parameter customisation panel at the bottom. or a combination of both. on the other hand. and a real-time playback tracer. is the Full/Slim option. which are blended using a crossfader. In the green Factory Banks folder you’ll find a range of Phalanxbank patches categorised Bank or DrumKit. > Step by step 1 3 “Phalanx is built around 16 sample pads with hardwired channel parameters” Phalanx can be operated in two modes. for the most part. Phalanx includes a few GUI customisation options. which lets you scrub forwards and backwards through the sample like a hip-hop DJ using an old-school turntable. The Phalanx sound library includes banks of single sounds and pre-mapped patches. a waveform display that updates to reflect the effect that the envelope is having on the sound. Now start building by dragging samples onto the pads. all 16 pads fit in the plugin window and are unfolded individually for editing. with every one of its 16 sounds on a separate MIDI channel. assigns individual samples to individual notes in your more typical drum machine fashion. There are also pad presets which bundle sample and processing data together under one a sample kit with phalanx  < Architecture and workflow When it comes to raw sampling power. Each pad can host two samples. A and B. select the Kit button at the top of the list to switch all pads to DrumKit mode. Filter. in theory you could create a 16-layer instrument with full keyspan. DrumKit mode. Whatever its shortcomings in other areas. Multitrack and DrumKit. 1. you can use both modes at the same time – but watch out for overlapping MIDI channels. and the unusual Scratch feature. and colourcode Pad Slots for added clarity. Lo-fi and Spike effects. So. choose the Initialise Plugin option from the Memory button. Every sample pad has its own Amp. In Slim mode. Multitrack is a typical multitimbral setup. Multitrack and DrumKit modes To get started with Phalanx. all playable on one MIDI channel. whereby each pad has a central root note and lets you trigger its samples pitched up and down the keyboard. Each sample gets its own set of channel parameters.

Most useful. Next. we reduce low frequency boxiness with the high-pass filter.>  build a sample kit with phalanx > Step by step 2. We start by copying them over to two empty slots. but set up looping for the B sample. a touch of detune and a little reverb. and finally. we adjust the very handy Spike setting to add punch to the attack stage. For the snare we leave the main snare body sample as it is. First we add a touch of LoFi. which allows you to adjust how the two samples align with each other. For the kick. including both Phase and Sample Reverse. You can audition each raw sample using the A and B buttons. Effects and processing Tutorial Files 1 3 5 The ability to mix pairs of samples on each pad is one of Phalanx’s key features. is the Sample Delay. we apply distortion and multiband distortion. Pan. (Audio: Step 5) 78  /  Computer Music special 2 4 6 Phalanx’s sample pad waveform display incorporates a number of tiny parameter settings. We load a basic pitched blip sound and set it to Multitrack mode on a separate MIDI channel so that we can play it across the full keyspan. We then adjust the A/B balance with the crossfader. though. You can also tweak each sample’s start point. (Audio: Step 3) Phalanx features individual looping for each A and B sample. Let’s use the sample pad parameters to mess with the clap sound. and set the blend with the crossfader. Here we’ve combined a clap with a snare sound and are delaying the snare to fatten up the overall hit. (Audio: Step 2) Now let’s work on the insert effects for the kick drum and clap. enabling us to set the pitch to suit. we’ve got a great chordal house stab. This creates a pitched effect as we adjust the very tight loop points. then we curtail the highs with the lowpass filter. Here we’re dragging in a woodblock sound to add click to a kick drum. Level and Detune controls. Gain and Pitch – we’ve adjusted the latter two on the woodblock to make it work with the kick. With notes offset. (Audio: Step 6) . For the clap. we load the effects chain preset Lofi Destructor and tweak the EQ and Bitcrusher settings. then use the Room Simulator and Impulse effect to add tight space. Chorder is a four-part note multiplier with Note Offset.

the Trancegate. three GUI Modifier knobs and 63 DAW automation slots. Finally. pitchbend is hardwired to control the position of the playhead. we can apply some real-time control. we also connect the mod wheel to the LFO 1 offset. 2 4 6 At the bottom of every sample pad slot is the Retrigger setting. For hands-on control. we first set LFO 1 to the saw shape and to retrigger on all notes. Using our blippy house a sample kit with phalanx  < > Step by step 3. if you’re still holding the note. The ride already has a loop point set. This doesn’t do much for short sounds like our snare. Doing it live video 1 3 4 To take our beats to the next level. Finally. We combine both for some classic kick drum ‘scratching’. let’s have some fun with an LFO. we set a positive amount so that the pitch rises with the control. so any real-time control will continue to sound as long as we hold the note down. basically. the pitch increases. we set both amounts to -100. but it also has its own envelope. In the modulation matrix. Rather excellently. It’s synced to quarter-notes with a small positive offset. We then use it with our kick drum. Phalanx includes a modulation matrix for every sample pad. (Audio: Step 2) Next up. Computer Music special  /  79 . This simply sets a time at which. but if we also connect the Retrigger speed to the mod wheel. To give it a performance angle we connect the Time setting to our keyboard mod wheel. Our target parameter is the Pitch Modifier for sample A. the Gate Time of which we assign to the mod wheel. Scratcher is an interesting effect that lets you scrub backwards and forwards through the sample as if you were using a turntable. Let’s route a GUI Modifier knob to control the ride cymbal. We’ll be making use of several of these options. Modulation sources include various MIDI controllers. we get an excellent tempo-synced effect – as the Retrigger time shortens. we set the source to LFO 1 and the target to Pitch Modifier A. the sample will retrigger – a time-based loop control.

many of those machines – such as the Roland TR-808 and 909 – are now highly prized and fetch hundreds or even thousands of pounds in second-hand markets. Old-timers will remember the sense of astonishment that accompanied the first sample-based drum machines. which were produced by Linn. Today’s sample-based software drum machine is the logical next step on from those old grooveboxes. but which is the best? Our round-up of drum machines and ROMplers is packed with possibilities Since the launch of . A few have elicited yawns. well. layered sounds in order to deliver astonishingly realistic results. . Though every developer has their own ideas about how a drum machine should work. No matter what sort of music you make. they fall into two basic categories: synthesis-based and samplebased. you’ll find something here to fit your particular groove. And like their hardware forebears. sample import and multisampled. we’ve scrutinised dozens of virtual drum machines. 80  /  Computer Music special Modern variants of the drum synthesiser provide a veritable smorgasbord of timbral control. Oberheim and Sequential Circuits. allowing you to craft complex drum sounds from scratch – indeed.gear guide There’s a lot of software out there dedicated to generating beats. The former traces its evolutionary roots back to early analogue drum machines. Over the next seven pages. while others have become standard or coveted tools for desktop producers. reasonably convincing – at least when compared to their analogue counterparts. many software drum machines include built-in sequencers that are intended to make the process of programming beats as easy and intuitive as possible. while they seemed somewhat limited at the time. we’ve devoted a lengthy tutorial to that very subject elsewhere in this magazine. Those machines used (8-bit) samples of real drums and allowed users to create and save patterns that sounded. adding features like velocity sensitivity. we’ll give you the rundown on the finest drum machines the software industry has to offer.

all of which can be rolled into patterns using the aforementioned sequencer. the Snare 8 synth provides Tune. host sync and more. the kick drum offers Tune. Its interface is divided into three primary Need a classic-style virtual analogue beatbox? Audio Damage have just the thing. Drumaxx offers a goodsounding alternative to subtractive or sample-based drum machines. This is a synthesis method by which the behaviour of physical objects is recreated mathematically. It’s called Tattoo and it’s a vintage voltage dream machine with no less than a dozen independent drum synthesisers powered by a grid-style sequencer. sports only Tone and Reverb (we’d really like to see a spread or delay function added). less-explored option: physical modeling. Pitch Mod. most are unique to a specific drum voice. Instead of relying on a single voicing algorithm to produce all or most of its sounds. there are more than enough parameters onboard to create a nearly infinite variety of sounds. When it comes to emulating realistic tubs. and Noise Decay knobs. pan and level control. along with graphical pitch and amplitude envelopes. Noise Color. For example. trigger Drumaxx’s sounds from your MIDI controller or DAW. Yes. No matter. but there is another. Drumaxx offers an intuitive approach to modeled drums. For example. and there’s a mini-modulation matrix with which you can assign incoming velocity to any four of the 28 available target parameters.audiodamage. Computer Music special  /  81 . gear guide  < Audio Damage Tattoo $59 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. Noise Color. along with familiar tweaks like cutoff frequency and phase. Tattoo gives you 12 drum synths. the three different tom synths have the same functions.image-line. This stunning pattern machine provides all manner of randomisation. you read that right. with the top section given over to the pads and patch browser. you’ll find typical modeling functions like an exciter (mallet) and resonator (membrane). but each one is entirely independent and tied to that particular drum. though – as the preset kits suggest. Sure. Noise Level and Noise and Tone amplitude envelopes to play with. the membrane section provides adjustments for size. and one that we’ve covered in detail elsewhere in this issue. Click Level and a choice of two waveforms. of course. which helps with navigating potentially alien functions. On the other hand. Noise Freq. and the modeling in the middle. The aforementioned pattern sequencer provides a swing function that syncs to the host. Your kit can be further finessed with EQ and built-in limiting. evoking the synthetic sounds of classic analogue machines like the Roland CR-78 and TR-909. the bottom section holding the sequencer. and there are 16 drum slots available for building kits. However. Noise Level. sampling is the usual go-to technology. while Snare 9 gives you Most drum synths are designed to create decidedly artificial sounds using familiar subtractive synthesis methods. but you can. There. Some drums offer only a couple of parameters – the clap. tension and material. for example. each described sensibly. These parameters are available per drum. along with velocity. All in all. Image-Line Drumaxx $99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. each with its own set of parameters.

snares. 606… Nine numbers that suggest pulsing patterns of raw energy. hip-hop and other styles as it’s ever been). and thankfully. recreated here almost note for note. Patterns can be triggered over MIDI. Accent. and Drumazon is probably the one to put at the top of your shopping list. toms and congas. The sound is utterly authentic and totally inspiring. ADM offers the ability to mix and match different x0x drums to create hybrids – for example. 25 drum models and four PCM samples. Though this may seem like a small number of parameters with which to play. ADM can be synchronised to the host or internally. host sync and MIDI learn – but if you want a plugin that captures the experience of using the real deal. too. programming patterns is easy and intuitive. the sequencer wouldn’t matter one bit if the sounds themselves weren’t any good. 82  /  Computer Music special . you might have a kick from a TR-606 paired with the snare from a 909. Of course. cymbals and hats. With 11 slots. There are a number of tweakable parameters akin to those on the original machines – Decay on toms. The analogue kick has the special poke-you-in-thesternum oomph that you know and love. it is true to the originals and gives you everything you need to forge some very recognisable sounds. 909. You can write and play patterns using the sequencer. kick. These classic Roland beatboxes formed the backbone of countless musical genres. Audiorealism have given us not one but three recreations of the most sought-after of Roland’s beat machines and wrapped them up in a beautifully designed interface. that’s no bad thing. Snappy on snares. if you want it to. and a Mangle effect adds considerable dirt.>  cm gear guide gear guide Audiorealism ADM €95 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. An outstanding imitation. Don’t get us wrong. It’ll even send MIDI 808. With ADM. Flam and Shuffle are all here. D16 Group Drumazon €99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. Drumazon’s authenticity approaches the uncanny – it could fool even the most stubborn of retro fetishists.audiorealism. too. or trigger each sound via D16’s adherence to the design of the vaunted Roland TR-909 drum machine borders on fanaticism with Drumazon – and with secondhand 909s trading for around two grand. and as with the original. No producer of electronic or dance music should be without a 909 in their instrumental arsenal (the kick drum is still as essential to house. Tuning is provided for bass drums. They’ve added some of their own special touches to give Drumazon a bit more flexibility than its hardware predecessor – things like preset management.d16. while the synthesised snares sizzle and the sample-based metals ring out in all of their faux 6-bit glory. you’d be hard pressed to find better than this. and bass drums and snares get a tone control as well. though – D16 haven’t simply photocopied the legendary original here. enabling you to sequence other sound sources from it within your DAW. they are. including the built-in filter. cowbell and cymbals. and Shuffle and Flam options are provided to help get you into the groove. This is particularly true of the influential 909 pattern sequencer. It’ll play from its own internal clock. There’s a nifty Pattern Controlled FX section for automating various parameters.

flams. but is more of a specialised sample-playback workstation with a focus firmly on acoustic drums. clap. Nepheton is an ideal companion for beats. you may never need to. rim shot and cowbell. FXpansion have been in the plugin game for pretty much as long as there’s been a game to play. Nevertheless. claves. and you can throw in accents. dynamics and EQ. each with a set of basic parameters – Decay for all but the maracas and Here we go again! Developers D16 make the list once more with Nepheton. and damping are only some of the many tweaks on offer. The closed hi-hat. and a wide variety of effects is available to sweeten your sounds. The bass drum and ‘Laser Gun’ get an additional Sweep function. not to mention the omnipresent tin-lid clank of its cowbell.fxpansion. whipping up patterns is easy and fun. some of these have been based on synthesis. Each drum can be finely tuned to perfection: pitch. BFD3 achieves its aim: it can sound utterly real. BFD3 falls into the latter category and is intended as a hyper-realistic ‘acoustic drum studio’ offering a selection of professionally recorded kits sampled in high-end studio spaces. gear guide  < D16 Group Nepheton €99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. Tone for bass. and it takes only a few minutes with the plugin to hear why. Some 17 drum sounds are spread across the board. BFD3 is hard to beat for Computer Music special  /  83 . All these sounds and more have been lovingly preserved in Nepheton. but there’s enough flexibility to create a unique sonic signature.d16. snare. distortion. and this time around they’re bowing their heads to the power and glory of the venerated TR-808 Rhythm Composer. you can trigger the sounds via MIDI or sync the internal sequencer up to the host DAW and program them that way. hats. cymbal and maracas. Be aware. Expansive but not particularly expensive. ambience. BFD3 is not intended as a drum machine. while snares. that’s a go. too – you can create your own stereo multisampled kits with velocity layers for a sound all your own – but it has to be said that with the wealth of quality material here. the developers’ reverence for all things Roland is unflappable. that all of that audio eats up a whopping 50GB of disc space – quite a hefty download. bombastic bass drum and whip-crack snare. delay. As ever. toms and Laser Gun all get the famous Snappy knob. including filtering. shuffle and even an intro and fills. As with the real thing. meanwhile. gets a high-pass filter. Tune for congas. If you want to bring your own samples in. toms. there are many thousands of included MIDI grooves to drag into your DAW. This classic drum machine is renowned among producers in the know for its booming. FXpansion BFD3 £99 or £299 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/ AAX) Web www. too. velocity response. others on sampling. Whether you’re a budding Beastie Boy or a second-gen Sister of Mercy. As with all the other D16 offerings mentioned in this roundup. Over the years they’ve released a number of drum machines. there’s also a hard-format purchase option for those with slow connections or data caps.

You can load your own loops and samples. Tune and Decay to the toms. MIDI CC assignment and MIDI learn. you’ll have an idea of what’s in store in the synthesis department.d16. loops can be sliced. samples and kits suitable for a wide variety of musical styles. with shuffle and accent functions included. although Nithonat fully and admirably recreates the sounds of the original. while Nithonat adds Pitch. open and closed hi-hat modules. The sound has everything you’d want from an x0x box. diced and played back using six independent Audio Loop Modules. Synthesis veterans will appreciate the latter as an ideal tool for creating percussive timbres. samplers and percussion synths for ages. sampling and looping in one comprehensive product. a tom tom synth. Sampling comes in the shape of a complex Sampler module facilitating up to 30 layered samples with all the essential parameters: sample start and end. bit reduction. Tune. pitch envelope and more. and the overall vibe is wonderfully vintage. reverse. With RMV. distortion.>  cm gear guide gear guide D16 Group Nithonat €99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. a general purpose drum synth module and a nifty bare-bones FM module. This flexibility allows it to edge closer to TR-808 or 909 territory. volume. although LinPlug have included a treasure trove of prefab loops. the developers have added a wealth of handy new features not found on the 606. resulting in a sound not dissimilar to the TR-808. Multiple outputs. and the Varizer adds a touch of humanising should you want it. Meanwhile. thus providing a bit more bang for your buck. RMV offers 48 polyphonic ‘pads’. host sync and a preset browser push Nithonat’s 606 into the modern era. but with its own distinct character. Pads and loop slices can be subjected to three LFOs. Thankfully. as well as various insert effects. However. Nitonhat builds its drum sounds on analogue subtractive Released in 1981 as a companion for the similarly styled TB-303. these include the ability to adjust the sounds themselves – the TR-606 only provided volume control over the septet of synthesised drum sounds. two snares. RMV is a real percussion powerhouse – be sure to check it out. even if the voice count is rather limited. delay. Like the original. There are two kick modules. LinPlug RMV €139 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web www. EQ and filtering. they’ve mined the best of their previous successes to produce a drum workstation combining the best features of synthesis. Parameter modulation can be assigned in a 12x12 modulation matrix. Nitonhat is the virtual version created by Roland revivalists D16 Group. two cymbal synths. 84  /  Computer Music special . All in all. Tone and Snappy to the snare. If you’ve used our own CM-505. along with a random pertrack pattern generator that’s genuinely useful. Roland’s TR-606 drum machine was a cheap alternative to the big guns of its day. As ever. Tune and Attack to the bass drum. the pattern sequencer is a blast to program and LinPlug have been pumping out fantastic synthesisers. and Decay to the hi-hats.linplug. Tone and Decay to the cymbal. each of which can call upon LinPlug’s specialised drum synth or sampler modules.

or if you prefer to use a multitrack grid. A multimode filter is www. when most plugin drum machines were intended to be triggered from the host DAW rather than internally. while the highs are sharp and can easily cut through a crowded mix. noise source or envelope shaper. The oscillator offers simple frequency modulation using a sine wave. with sounds made using a simple oscillator and a noise generator. it has many of the same elements we see in our other contenders – there’s a built-in pattern sequencer and plenty of included content – but the focus here is on cuttingedge EDM beats and glitches. which are combined with sample playback and surprisingly sophisticated synthesis to create an inspiring rhythm production environment. pitch. Microtonic is a pattern-based drum machine with a firm focus on synthetic drum sounds. The effect can be startling. there’s a handy pop-up display to facilitate that sort of programming as well. Microtonic’s sound quality is superb. You can trigger patterns or play individual notes on a given sound from your MIDI This one breaks (!) from the pack in that it seeks neither to emulate or imitate. The synthesis engine itself is fairly advanced. each of which can play back samples or synthesised sounds in sequence. Yes.izotope. BreakTweaker gives you six tracks. a mixer allows you to tweak the balance between the two. time and speed can be manipulated – and randomisation is an option. Computer Music special  /  85 . playing back at its own beatdivision of the main meter. but rather to thoroughly reinvent how you view and use percussion in your tracks. and envelopes are of the two-stage AD gear guide  < iZotope BreakTweaker £165 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/ AAX) Web www. You can turn each of the 16 steps on and off. with the noise generator offering three different envelope types for handclaps and other noise-heavy sounds. breaking it down into miniscule parts and messing with the way they’re played back. The low end thumps with some conviction. edgier sounds. Various modes are available – division. Microtonic’s pattern sequencer was a welcome feature upon its release. it’s not surprising that Microtonic’s sequencer is quite similar to those of Reason’s devices. add fills and adjust the length of sequence for the currently selected sound. but it’s even better for modern. Given the developer’s pedigree. iZotope have collaborated with producer extraordinaire BT to capture the magic of his lauded ‘micro-edit’ Created by former Propellerhead boffin Magnus Lidström. Once you’ve entered a step into the sequencer. but is invariably interesting and often delightfully unusual – ideal for those with an adventurous attitude. Even a cursory play reveals why: making beats in a simple sequencer is fun. Sonic Charge Microtonic $99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU) Web http://soniccharge. and patterns can be dragged to the host sequencer’s MIDI tracks for further editing. Essentially a mini-multitrack DAW-within-your-actual-DAW. each including a smattering of controls. It’ll do the classics. ranging from delicate percolations to in-your-face aggression. you can micro-edit it. and each part is independent.

As you can imagine. Though a library of excellent samples is included. a tough-as-nails preamp. Tremor can be sharp and punchy or warm and rounded. and so on). crafting highly prized sounds for a variety of hardware synths. as used in their lauded Synth Squad. 86  /  Computer Music special . it excels at emulating retro drum machines. but it’s also capable of generating aggressive. Punch is a one-stop synth drum shop capable of producing sounds that truly live up to its name. and the results speak for themselves. in our assessment. Tremor offers elements of analogue. Tremor’s grid-based pattern sequencer allows each channel to be set to its own pattern length for crazy polyrhythmic action. including the ubiquitous Access Virus. Rob Papen has earned a reputation over the years as a firstclass sound designer. and Punch’s drum synth engine is. additive and even physical modeling technology. making it easy to knock out chestthumping A fully loaded drum synthesis workstation.robpapen. the focus is on synthetic sounds. ear-catching electronic percussive timbres. then route them through a set of excellent synthesis functions including six filter modes. whip-crack snares and sizzling hi-hats. there’s also a built-in pattern (or ‘groove’) sequencer with which to program your beats. two snares with two algorithms. With its focus on classic beatbox sounds combined with modern synthesis techniques and a tricked-out pattern sequencer. Here you can load various synthesis models designed to produce specific drum sounds (two bass drums with four models. its real strength lies in its potential to provide original. sampling and effects in a comprehensive percussion workstation. Tremor is built on FXPansion’s DCAM (Discrete Component Analogue Modeling) technology. Ron Papen Punch £125 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/ AAX) Web www. plus some nifty Drag Edit functions that can be used for things like stutter and roll effects. and Punch sees his gaze fixed squarely on drums and percussion. In recent years he’s turned his attention to developing a series of quality signature plugin synths and effects. With its comprehensive synthesis engine and a host of excellent effects processors. as well as distortion and effects. thoroughly modern sounds. You get all the usual sequencer goodies as well. The idea behind DCAM is that analogue circuits are modeled down to the component level for a more authentic sound. Punch combines synthesis. including swing. combine them with samples.>  cm gear guide gear guide FXpansion Tremor £99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS) Web www. the sound quality is top-notch. As you’d expect. the samplebased BFD3. And though it can indeed mimic some famous vintage instruments. the star of the A genius electronic musician in his own right. triple envelope generators and a quartet of LFOs. along with multimode filters. and FXPansion’s excellent TransMod modulation scheme. As with all of Rob Papen’s instruments. Like others in our round-up. along with a wide range of unusual and original percussion effects. Tremor makes the perfect foil to the developer’s other entry in this round-up. Tremor is everything BFD3 is not.

a ton of hi-hats and cymbals from a range of name manufacturers… there’s even a smattering of hand percussion sounds.timespace. XLN Audio offer a range of separately purchasable add-ons. Most importantly. effects lifted from EZmix 2 and the ability to control kick and snare bleed. There are 13" and 14" snares. Toontrack EZDrummer 2 £99 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/ AAX/standalone) Web www. Like version 1. tambourines and a cowbell. in a word. AD gives you everything you need to craft prosounding drum tracks. 24" and 26" kicks. DW Collector’s Series. covering a wide variety of musical styles. and even add the sympathetic buzz that a real snare drum generates when the nearby kick and toms are bashed. Multiple outputs and flexible mixing are here. it’s become the drum production tool of choice for countless desktop songwriters and producers. 20".com Addictive Drums is designed to do exactly what the session drummers of the past always feared drum machines would eventually do: replace the real thing. And if you need more.toontrack. It offers a huge library of samples and MIDI grooves. and you have everything you need to make realistic drum tracks. In that time. whether you trigger it yourself using a MIDI keyboard or electronic drum kit. EZDrummer 2 sounds nothing short of magnificent – big and bold. The excellent browser makes it easy to find the patterns you’re after – you can even tap in a rhythm and EZDrummer will tell you which are the closest matches. in this newest version. An enormous library of prefab grooves is included. The key to its popularity? It is. with presence to spare. too – a dozen mixer channels are gear guide  < XLN Audio Addictive Drums €179. New version? Yes indeed – Toontrack announced EZDrummer 2 just as we were putting this magazine together. assembling selfcontained songs is easy as well. auditioning sounds and patterns is easy. shakers. maracas. and can give your tracks all of the nuance. In addition to standard soundshaping stuff like EQ. power and musicality of a live drummer. Addictive Drums gives you the ability to adjust the balance of the mics on the kick drum beater and front heads and top and bottom snare heads. too. EZdrummer 2 is entirely www. including claps. With its excellent prefab grooves and superb samples. there’s the ability to adjust the level and distance of the room mics in relation to the close mics used on the kits. easy. Computer Music special  /  87 .xlnaudio. and. offering up a selection of modern and vintage kits built on a meticulously recorded collection of quality drums.95 Format PC/Mac (VST/AU/RTAS/ AAX) Web www. rack and floor toms of varying sizes and depths. 22". Selecting kits and swapping out drums is easy. or have it take care of the performance on your behalf. Tama It hardly seems possible. with a whopping 52 insert effects and a pair of reverbs. Sabian and Paiste cymbals. but Toontrack’s EZDrummer has been around for eight years now. Moreover. Add to that a built-in mixer with EQ. The drum kits themselves are the stuff of legend: Sonor Designer. along with a kick and some snares from Pearl.


On closer analysis. even within a simple 4/4 beat. and has fuelled an unparalleled dance music explosion that’s stretched across every continent on the planet. Indeed. most dance tracks rely on a beat. Yes. Unless a dance track can still stand up when stripped down to just the beat and bassline. moombahton in Milton Keynes. as long as we can all feel that kick drum rattling our kneecaps. the answer will be straightforward: surely. And anyone who saw the great Omar Hakim – a drummer who’s provided rhythms for everyone from David Bowie and Chic to Miles Davis and Weather Report – work his magic during the French duo’s Grammy performance will know that. say. Take the simple 4/4 disco stomp. it’s probably not doing its job properly. but beyond those basic facts. It really doesn’t matter if we don’t speak the same language. you need a beat – a rhythmic backbone” lift a hundred thousand joyous rave hands into a laser-filled summer sky. it could easily be argued that we are currently living through the age of the beat – we’ve got dubstep in California. And so it is with ‘the beat’. With that in mind. you need a beat – a rhythmic backbone. neither the question nor the answer is as simple as it appears. the inspirations (from hip-hop to the resurgence of the Amen Break) and the musical ideologies (far too many to mention) that have created this contemporary rhythmic soundscape. this traditional kick/snare combo might seem rather limiting. All keyboard players need keyboards and all guitarists plays guitars. but that’s all you need to bring a beat to life. but it helped Daft Punk create the quintessential dance tune of 2013. between Jimi Hendrix and Django Reinhardt. How important is the beat? That’s exactly what we’re about to find out… Computer Music special  /  89 .  the beat makers  < The beat makers Seven masters of groove let us in on the processes and techniques that go into their drum and percussion tracks This might seem like a silly question to ask readers of a magazine like . there are endless possibilities. A genius like Hakim may only be pushing or pulling the rhythm by a matter of milliseconds. Compared with the complexities of. Even without the aid of notes or chords. an intricate EDM/DnB/footwork loop. and often using the most basic of equipment. but how important is the beat? For most people. The beat defines genres and causes irreparable fallouts between DJs. it can cause mayhem in a heavy metal mosh pit and “If you’re making electronic dance music. you’ll find infinite and myriad musical possibilities. It can drag you on to the dancefloor at your cousin’s wedding and calm the nerves of a Sunday morning hangover. but it’s what you do with it that really matters. we’ll understand each other perfectly. we thought it would be interesting to talk to a few people who make beats for a living about the instruments (from analogue classics to state-of-the-art plugins). dirty Dutch in Australia. for example. the difference between Rachmaninov and Rudimental. The beat is all over mainstream radio and TV. if you’re making electronic dance music. a beat can convey both the subtlest and the most powerful of emotions – and everything in between. though.

If you’ve got really well-recorded samples. they’ll have all been compressed at some point. are the beats ‘treated’ separately or do you consider them simply another element of the song? Neil is currently working on remixes of tracks by Tim Burgess and CutWires. the beat obviously has a particular importance – it deserves close attention. but that was about it. I came up through the Akai sampler route. With a machine like that. it made immediate sense. I like to look around for something a bit different. then it probably means the song isn’t going to work. which allows you to wind off some of that shiny top end. When I was using the EXS. “The Waves NLS does something very similar. And it doesn’t sound like your standard drum machine sample. You could add a bit of a groove and some accenting.” : What are your main beat production tools in the studio? NC: “Like a lot of people. I have to start adding some of the top end back in!” : In terms of production. When it comes to compression. It seems to be able to pull a beat together without compressing it too much. It was all about trying to get the beat to sound human.” : Did it take you a long time to learn how to program decent beats? NC: “I started years and years ago on a Roland TR-505. I would usually end up with a separate output for each percussive sound. so your programming was the only way to catch people’s attention. so there doesn’t seem much point in adding another level on top. it was Logic and the EXS24 – with my sampler background. like a lot of digital sound. but it usually ends up as the thing that the rest of the song hangs off of. It stretches sound in such a musical way… it was a complete revolution in terms of what you could do with a loop. The main problem seems to be that. I’ve moved on to [Native Instruments] Battery. which is probably still the biggest challenge when you’re working with electronic beats. “I also have to mention [Propellerhead] ReCycle. I prefer to add a bit of sidechain around the drums to create some space.” NC: “If you’re producing dance music. you were working with a fairly limited palette because you couldn’t really edit the sounds.” . The percussion section of any analogue emulating plugin is usually a good place to start – there’s always a little ‘dink’ or a ‘shoosh’ that will come in handy. I always seem to overdo the high-end cut and get drums that have no top end whatsoever – then when I’m ready to mix down. Just lately. it knocks it all down to 12-bit. I honestly don’t think a lot of modern genres would have happened the way they did without the help of ReCycle. For some reason. though. If the beat isn’t working. It’s a neater way of working. That’s why I’m such a big fan of D16’s Decimort. “You can also do a bit of filtering with the Decimort.“I honestly don’t think a lot of modern genres would have happened the way they did without the help of ReCycle” Mint Royale’s Neil Claxton : How important are beats to the music you make? NC: “Not every song I do starts with a beat. and has a fourth album due out later this year your tweaking and editing inside Battery. essentially. but there’s a natural density to the Decimort that I really like. though. because you can do all 90  /  Computer Music special : Do you ever use synths to create percussion sounds? NC: “Definitely! Once I’ve got the nuts and bolts of a beat in place. I don’t think you can underestimate just how important it’s been to the development of dance music – in fact. then come straight out with just a stereo pair. And from there. modern drum samples can be a bit too shiny.

There are certain basic things you need to do to drums. they chew the sound up and make it “I am a total geek when it comes to drum sounds. do you find it easy to translate what’s in your head into beats in your DAW? JC: “I can tap something out on a table top. From there. but I’ll never stop collecting – I’ve just bought a really great Goldbaby collection. and I use the API 550B for boosting the top end. so they’re inextricably linked. you’re better off trying to get the right sample at the beginning. But you also have to be very careful when it comes to EQ. if your kick drum’s a bit flabby. I always program with a keyboard. I’m more interested in them than I am in plugins and effects” Computer Music special  /  91 . I never had amazing chops or anything. I reckon I must have about 20 years’ worth of samples and sounds. Don’t try to make a drum sample sound like something it’s not. A friend put me on to the DMG EQuality. Unless it’s something really. I played the drums from about 13. I guess I began to appreciate the looseness of a beat. the beat conjures up a particular spirit. I’m more interested in them than I am in plugins and effects. pitching stuff up and down and sending a break somewhere new. really simple – then I put the audio straight onto the screen. I was on Scream Tracker. For tour dates. I can pretty much work with whatever I’ve got.” : In terms of production. that way I’ll always find what I’m looking for. I must do that – then things start to sound samey.” : As a drummer. That’s when I started to swing things a bit more.facebook. I am a total geek when it comes to drum sounds. work out what’s needed. Logic for a bit and then Cubase for the last ten years or so.  the beat makers  < Om Unit aka Jim Coles : Who were your early influences in terms of beats? JC: “The key years for me were the early 90s. you do a low-cut. In the early days. visit www. There are tunes I’ve put out there in the past that make me cringe because all I can hear is that ridiculously EQ’d snare. I started listening to New York hiphop like DJ Premier and Pete Rock. but it came in useful when I started programming. do you treat your beats separately to everything else or just consider them another element of the song? JC: “There’s no road map for this stuff. sampler. If you start getting all academic about production – I must do this. Impulse Tracker. The beat tells you how a track is going to make people feel. UAD’s Cambridge EQ is handy. so it was a lot of the great jungle guys. One thing I don’t like is valve-sounding effects. which led me towards Flying Lotus. Whether it’s a simple. The rhythm is born from a song’s intention. with a recent detour into Battery.” Om Unit’s debut album Threads is out now on the Civil Music label. software…? JC: “Actually. I always liked DJ Hype because he was so creative with his programming. program that in the computer and… it usually sounds absolutely nothing like my original idea! Getting that feeling out of your head and into a song is always tricky. relaxed rhythm or something more syncopated. Hearing them chop up breaks for the first time really got to me. which has a very cool sound.” : How did you first start making beats? Drum machine.” : Any plugins you can’t live without? JC: “Not really. sort of.” : We remember reading an interview in which you said that the beat conveyed the intention of a song… JC: “Well.” : Do you use drum pads? JC: “No. I like the idea that I’ve got way more than I’ll ever need. FastTracker… after that I tried Cubase.

mic’d up drums and weird little recordings that I’ve made over the years. or Gabe Roth’s work with Daptone. I think that’s because I come from a sampling background. I’m running Logic – but then I use a collection of samples. Arthur Baker and Afrika Bambaataa. The sound that I’m after from a beat will very much depend on what the rest of the song is doing. www.mrscruff. you also run the risk of focusing so intently that you start seeing problems that aren’t really there. And if you do isolate the drums. you’re creating an invisible band. Pete Rock. you’ve got Juan Atkins and the Cybotron stuff.Mr Scruff aka Andy Carthy : You’re a well-known lover of classic gear. In the studio. I use a computer – in my case. A song is a conversation between several 92  /  Computer Music special . You can create brilliantly bonkers and unusual sounds just by experimenting with mic placement. you’ll end up with something that you could never have created with a plugin or synth. Friendly Bacteria. Egyptian Lover. investigate the roots of that sound. production-wise.” Mr Scruff’s new album. I’m a bloke who still plays vinyl! – I would be more likely to create something ‘real’. spend a bit of time investigating what came before. it might as well be a cowbell. really. old sampling drum machines like the MPC60. “What I think is really interesting – considering I’m talking to you for a beats Special – is that I very rarely listen to the beats in isolation. I don’t spend ages messing around with the sound. Often. anything by Kurtis Mantronik – always undermentioned compared with other guys from that time. is out on May 19 on Ninja Tune. Obviously. What are your main beat production tools? AC: “A bit of everything. that’s all there is to it. I like the idea that certain things are fixed – you get what you’re given and a sample is a sample. There are far too many to mention here. AC: “If really interested in a particular rhythm. ringing piano note that repeats throughout a track.” : Do you ever use synthesisers to create percussion sounds? AC: “Because of the way I work – remember.” “A song is a conversation between several people. Is that part of the beat? Is it percussion?” : Do you treat the beat separately. The usual hip-hop names: DJ Premier. Kenny Dope.” : Give us your top beat programming tip. there are literally thousands! Amazing drummers like Sly Dunbar. “I think it’s also worth asking the question: what actually constitutes a ‘drum sound’ or a ‘percussion sound’? If you’ve got a single. I’ll start banging and rattling things in the studio. You end up ironing out the quirks that attracted you to a particular loop or sample in the first place. you’re creating an invisible band” : Who were your early influences when it came to making beats? AC: “God. Then there’s the drum ’n’ bass guys like Photek and Hidden Agenda. or do you consider it simply another element of the song? AC: “I tend to jam rhythm ideas and get them into the computer as audio straight away.

and also The Boo. then plug in a drum machine and record everything at the same time. but you can make everything with it. for example. so my only tip for myself is: don’t make the same music that you were making two months ago. If you listen to some old-school Chicago house. He helped me discover house music and lent me his MPC when I was 16. I don’t actually use my computer that much for making beats.  the beat makers  < “I don’t actually use my computer that much for making beats. and especially the Waldorf Q – it has a really shiny sound. For me. Back then I didn’t understand how they were making these sounds. you’ll notice that you can actually make people dance with nothing more than one drum machine. too.” : In production terms. Kepler. With analogue. I work on my productions like I’m doing a live show. who now runs the ClekClekBoom label with me. My father is a producer. I could build a track only using this synth. the best gear to make beats will always be the MPC. then try a synth over it. I would play a beat on the MPC. a hi-hat sound with a synth and push it right to the front of the mix. I use Sonar.” : Who would you say were your early beat production influences? VC: “When I started making beats. cool sounds with the Alpha Juno 1. When I discovered the LinnDrum and the DrumTraks. they all used the MPC2000 XL. “It’s interesting to make. the sound never ends. I like to use old-school drum machines” French Fries aka Valentino Cazani : How important are beats to your music? VC: “I played the drums for years when I was younger. I grew up playing acoustic instruments. I also fell in love with the Tempest from Dave Smith Instruments a few months ago. “Today. I didn’t have any money. I started listening to Prince when I was really young. so when I was born I was already familiar with records like Controversy. so I started making beats using a computer and a MIDI keyboard.” : Give us your top beat-programming tip. I was listening to a lot of hip-hop. do you treat the beat separately or do you consider it simply another element of the song? VC: “I treat and mix everything while I’m sequencing. you can add a discreet synth note and play with the frequency. so I spent all my childhood there. I think that just a few people use it. I like to use old- school drum machines like the DrumTraks and the Roland TRs. you can play with the noise and the cutoff. I have to do it immediately to see if I’m going in the right direction. For example. and he has a studio. and I still really love percussive club tracks.” : What are your main rhythm tools? VC: “I was really young when I made my first beat – maybe eight years old. it has an amazing sound and such a specific groove. I try to be creative and do something a bit more intricate – but still easy to dance to. For my music. I just went crazy!” : Do you ever use synthesisers to create percussion sounds? VC: “I love to use analogue synths for percussion sounds: the Moog Voyager for weird and subby percussion sounds. a bit metallic. Above all. but it’s the first software I worked with so I like it. but a few French rappers used to rent the studio and I was always trying to watch their sessions. is out now on ClekClekBoom Computer Music special  /  93 . Then I had the chance to meet Ministre X. VC: “I get bored very easily. I really liked the productions from rappers like Three 6 Mafia.” French Fries’ new album. so I use that a lot. My father is a big fan. but I also loved the beats from Pharrell and the Neptunes. Using two oscillators. but I was still obsessed by them. too. Purple Rain and Parade.

I’ve got access to sounds that not many other people can get hold of. I mean it can sometimes be quite timeconsuming working out how to get the idea out from inside your head and into the speakers. I think it was by Steinberg. Green Velvet. I get a few percussion loops going. I always make a full sample set of any drums. I find making music on a computer a bit of a drag. I’ve always been a software producer. just a bit of Glue and some limiters. “I find that if you start with the kick. “If I’m being totally honest. bang – the kick takes it to the next level.” : And where do your samples and sounds come from? Obviously this is a big question for a man who calls himself Drums of Death! CB: “Ha ha! The main Snare of Death is taken from a track called Banned from the Roxy by a brilliant punk band. I guess what I’d really love is a plugin with a USB stick that I could slot into my brain. but I found that it was beginning to affect the actual drum sounds a bit too much.” : Who were your early beat influences? CB: “Marshall Jefferson.facebook. Crass – it sounds like a high. When I start writing. “I’ve sampled the crap out of the Korg Electribe. That way. By that. but I’m afraid I’m a total faker. though. I don’t want to keep going on about the 808 and 909. it tends to lock everything down. These days I prefer to keep the drum chain quite simple. it’s almost like the track gets a whole new lease of “I find that if you start with the kick.” For Drums of Death tour dates and the free download of Fierce Feat Azealia Banks.” : Any plugins you couldn’t live without? CB: “[Cytomic’s] The Glue multiband compressor. Without it.Drums of Death aka Colin Bailey : What are the main rhythm tools that you use in the studio? CB: “In the early days. Modeselektor… all the Chicago house stuff. distorted 808 snare. you can be a bit more free and funky with the bassline. just get a basic groove with a few hooks and a bassline. I use samples. then add some claps. I’d love to brag that I’ve got the genuine articles. After that. it was a cracked copy of FruityLoops. CB: “One thing I do a lot is work on a track without any kick drum at all. where you picked up a guitar and you played your song. but they really have been so important to the development of what I do. but Kontakt is the main sampler – man. That way. I suppose my regular starting point for a beat is always the 808 and 909. And when you finally do add the kick.” : Give us your best beat-programming tip. Without it. too. I could download the idea straight into Logic. so that doesn’t really bother me too much. followed by Logic 9 and a recent switch up to Logic X. and then. you can be a bit more free” 94  /  Computer Music special . That’s why so many people keep going back to it. The sound isn’t natural – it’s made by firing electricity into these machines – and yet it feels so perfect and so organic. and whenever I do a remix. Adonis. it tends to lock everything down. visit www. Yes. I start auditioning kicks and I have a much better idea of what’s going to fit into the track EQ-wise. There’s some Ableton in there. rasping. it’s awesome! – with a bit of Battery thrown in for good measure. I come from a rock band background. Slate Digital’s Virtual Tape Machines… anything by D16. Once those basic building blocks are in place. I had some sort of beatmaking software called HammerHead. I was doing a lot of parallel compression for a while. You’ve got used to the track without it.

I’m not saying that I try and make complicated beats just for the sake of making them complicated – there will be times when a pulsing kick is all that’s needed – but I like to add little fills and ghost hits to keep refreshing the listener’s attention. There’s straight compression. there’s something wrong. and I’d like to think that. if that makes sense. I suppose there are more things happening to the drums. What I’ve got today is… well. it sounded much better when every hi-hat was pushed away from the beat. I was always a big fan of Aphex Twin’s drums for that same reason – they always seemed to evolve gently over the course of the track. that’s how a lot of people are listening to their music in 2014. all going via Battery and the Akai MPD32 pad controller.” : In interviews. you often talk about not wanting to make beats that are too ‘obvious’.” : Give us your top beat production tip. “Every day.” : Do you treat your beats as a separate entity to the rest of the song or as simply another element of it? AM: “In the early days. distortion – my current favourite is u-he’s Satin Tape Machine – and EQ. That’s what I thought you needed to do for dance music. Always make sure you’re listening to other tunes during the day. my beats have got better – but there’s still a long way to go. Try different monitors. then you take it round your mate’s house and it sounds rubbish. for some reason. I add to that as I’m working on the song. comparing the track your working on with songs that have a similar frequency range. and every day. parallel compression. Obviously. I wanted to throw as much compression as I could at the drums to try to make them sound as fat as possible. but most of my songs actually start with a melody or chords. I always have a cheap iPod dock sitting next to the computer. There was a beat that I was working on just this morning and.” Ital Tek’s Mega City Industry EP is out now on Civil Music in vinyl (http://cvl. Why not experiment with pushing every fourth snare back or forward? Why not cut the loop early and leave a bit of space? Sometimes. I realise I’ve still got so much to learn. but I use less. You sit there for 12 hours banging out a tune that sounds absolutely fantastic in the formats Computer Music special  /  95 . AM: “Can I have two? Number one would be: don’t get lost in your own beat. Don’t squash everything so tightly that it sounds cold. If you’re going to extremes when it comes to processing a certain drum sample or loop. I’ve been putting records out for about seven or eight years. over time. un-quantised beat. “Number two: don’t always reach for the quantise button. AM: “A straight 4/4 or a single loop running for 32 bars is not enough to keep me interested. I listen to and digital (http://cvl. I use the pads to tap out something sloppy and simple. I know this interview’s supposed to be about beats. After I’ve put together a rough sketch of the tune. it’s the wonky beat that really catches everybody’s attention. but I always like to keep a flavour of that first. too. but I try not to overdo any single process.  the beat makers  < “A straight 4/4 or a single loop running for 32 bars is not enough to keep me interested” Ital Tek aka Alan Myson : What are your main beat production tools in the studio? AM: “I’m mainly sample-based. because regardless of what I think it sounds like.

And I have to mention Photek. you can create the most amazing beats. and then build from there.>  the beat makers “You can’t always rely on the beat to carry the whole song – you still need decent hooks” Reso aka Alex Melia : How important are the beats to the music you make? AM:“Ha ha! I’ve been playing drums for most of my life. you save yourself a whole lot of bother later on. too. Recording decent. so obviously. I can usually get it down in an hour or so and then have total control over the final product. change them or even go for completely unnatural sounds. And the availability of software today means that. I suddenly find that I’ve got 250 channels and I can’t remember what the f*** I’ve put on there! “One of the most important things you have to be aware of is tuning your drums. but I’m gradually switching over to Battery. plus some weird ambient stuff. Drum ’n’ bass. both the Solaris and Modus Operandi albums. but also get used to listening to your drums – listen to how they sit in the track. so have you got a drum kit in the studio? Do you ever record live drums for your tracks? AM: “Everybody asks me that. Try pitching a snare up or down a couple of semitones and you’ll often find a bit of space that really allows it to jump out. so I doubt the neighbours would appreciate me playing live drums at two in the morning! On top of that. If I get an idea. close-mic’d live drums is not a quick process. I’m a fan of beats and loops – I guess that’s why I love jungle and drum ’n’ bass. Search and Destroy.” : Who were some of your early beatmaking influences? AM: “The most important years for me were around 2005–06. If you get things sounding good right from the off. there’s the actual time involved. Get the frequency analyser on there. melodies and chord structure. That’s the real challenge in dance music. because it’s very easy to rest on your laurels and keep churning out the same old beats. which seems to work for me. I think it’s good to change things around every now and then.” 96  /  Computer Music special : What are the main rhythm tools that you use in the studio? AM: “It used to be the EXS24. You can’t always rely on the beat to carry the whole song – you still need decent hooks.” : You’re a drummer. sometimes I even use it for processing basslines. If I try to start messing around with a song after it’s finished. but you can also isolate certain sounds. listening to a lot of dubstep – Elemental. I’ve been sent stuff by 14-year-olds and it’s just incredible! “But there has to be more to a song than hours and hours of Amen programming. You can get a real feel for all the grace notes and the . I love the way it can timestretch a sound. but my studio is my spare room. Achieving that with real drums would be a nightmare!” : Do you treat your beats separately or as simply another element of the song? AM: “I always mix/produce a tune as I’m working. even if you’re a relatively new producer. “I’ve got a set of V-Drums and I use XLN Addictive Drums. I’ve also got into running things through Kontakt. Get your kick drum and bassline working in the right or buy on iTunes (hospi.” Reso’s Pulse Code EP is out on Hospital Records. Order from Hospital (hospi.

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Dubstep. hi-hats. Breaks Antimatter Breaks Critical Breaks Live Breakbeat Drums Rennie Pilgrem – Godfather of Breaks Stickybuds – Funk Breaks & Bass Club & Dance Complextro Evolution Da Fresh – Tech House & Techno Deep & Minimal House Sessions Deep In Garage – Classic Sessions Epic EDM Anthems Essential Bass House Tools Mainroom House & Electro Sessions Pro Dance Kits – Tech Funk 01 The Loops of Fury – Electro Meets Rave Drum ’n’ Bass Consequence – Experimental DNB Future DNB Elements Jungle Guerrilla Jungle Intelligence Live DNB Drums Nuclear DNB Techstep DNB Dub & Reggae Reggae Drums Zion Train Dub Drums Zion Train Dub Selections 98  /  Computer Music special Dubstep Chillstep Elements Dark & Dungeon Dubstep Deep Dubstep Elements Distance Dubstep Dubstep Invasion Dubstep Roots – Ambient Dub & Bass Future Bass Chill Skyline – Future Ambient Works Hip Hop & Vinyl Beatdiggin Boom Bap – Dark Kits Dusty Breaks & Vintage Drums 1 Dusty Breaks & Vintage Drums 2 Hip Hop Millennium Total Chillout Urban Symphony – Orchestral Hip Hop Kits Trap South of Trap Trap Battles Trap Invasion Tutorial videos! Also accompanying this Special is a collection of tutorial videos. PLUS Tutorial Files Drum sequencing essentials Sampled beats Synthesised beats Programming realistic acoustic drums Programming percussion Mixing beats Cinematic beats Make beats with Maschine Make beats with MPC Software Build a sample kit with Phalanx . of course – if you find that dub snare working well in your minimal house tune. Club & Dance. And you don’t have to keep these sounds within their titular genres.computermusic. and Trap – the collection comprises full-on loops as well as one-shot kicks. 575 Future Loops samples A beat-bolstering treasure trove of slamming drum loops and hits For this beats-centric Special we’ve teamed up with sample producers Future Loops to deliver one of the most awesome gatherings of dance drum and percussion samples that we’ve ever had the pleasure of presenting to our all lovingly produced and guaranteed to breathe new life into your productions. See the accompanying Readme file for details.>  cm disc & downloads DOWNLOAD Downloads To get access to the samples. To bring you this collection. log on to vault. Broken down into seven genres – Breaks.futureloops. bringing six of the walkthroughs in the magazine to life onscreen. Watch them directly on your reading device or download them to your Mac or PC. tutorial files and videos accompanying this Special. Hip-hop & Vinyl. cymbals and more. Future Loops are also offering exclusive discounts in their online store for Special readers until 15 July 2014. don’t hesitate to use it and select ‘Computer Music issue 66’. snares. Future Loops have delved deep into their bulging soundware locker and hand-picked the very finest hits and beats from a staggering 42 of their commercially available packs. Dub & Reggae. Drum ’n’ Bass.


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