When it comes to music production, creating the perfect drum sounds is an absolute essential. They are the foundation of your track, without the right beats everything else will fall apart. I'm going to take you through three, simple tips to help you get the very most from your drums.
Give Your Kick More Body
Layering drums is something that crops up a lot in the world of music production. Producers the world over wax lyrical about the benefits of stitching together multiple, lifeless, drum samples to create one, punchy, beat. I use this technique a lot and I also love twisting it on its head: To give more low end to my kicks, I’ll trigger a Sub simultaneously.
Step 1: Create your Kick pattern and on its Channel create a send to any empty Bus. On the bus ensure that the output is disabled.
Step 2: Underneath your Kick create a new instrument and open a great sub bass sound (I’m using an empty EXS24 which plays just a Sub). Record a single note that lasts for the length of your kick pattern.
Step 3: On your Sub Channel open a Noise Gate. In the top, right hand, corner you will see a drop down menu marked as ‘Sidechain’. From here choose the Bus that you sent the Kick to.
Step 4: At first your sub will still be playing a single, held note. Adjust the threshold, as you move it the bass will begin to play in line with the kick.
Step 5: You can adjust the ‘Snap’ of your sub layer by adjusting the Noise Gate’s envelope. A fast attack and release means that the sub will match the dynamic of your kick exactly, making for punchier drums that sit well with House. A slow release will give your sub more of a tail, leading to the booming, 808 Bass Drum sound synonymous with Trap music.
Give Your Hats More Movement
Hi Hats can make or break a drum beat. Too few, and the pattern can sound slow and cumbersome. On the other hand, too many will be overwhelming. A great way to set up your Hi-Hat patterns is to use the brush tool. This easy to use utensil speeds up the process of drawing MIDI patterns.
Step 1: With your chosen Hi Hat instrument set up on a channel, right-click and choose ‘Create Empty MIDI Region’ in the tracks window.
Step 2: Double-Click your new region, opening it in the Editor at the bottom of your screen. Ensure your cursor is with in the editor and Press ’T’ then select the Brush from the Tool Menu.
Step 3: As you drag the tool along the window it will draw a long line of notes, clicking once will create a single MIDI note. (Pro Tip: When you start dragging, press the shift key once to stop the brush nipping off in different directions). The length of these notes is defined by the ‘Time Quantize’ Menu to the left of the editor (Cheat Tip: The lower the number, the longer the note).
Step 4: Create a two beat Hi-Hat pattern. Next, hit Cmd-A on your keyboard to select all of the notes. Right-click one of the notes and from the very top of the menu choose ‘Define Brush Pattern’. Now when you drag your brush, it will draw the pattern you just created.
Step 5: Something to keep in mind is that when you’re using the ‘Define Brush Pattern’ function, the brush will start drawing the pattern from scratch each time you let go of the mouse. This means that you can stop and start the pattern from a different position, allowing you to add some variation to your hats.
Give Your Drum Samples a Retro Feel
Creating music in a digital format is amazing as it makes the whole production process so much more streamlined and cleaner. The problem with this is that the music can end up sounding a little bit two-dimensional. No one’ll want that at their party. Luckily, using a simple Bitcrusher plug in, we can give our sounds a bit more character.
Step 1: On your chosen sound, in this instance I’m using a snare, open your Bitcrusher plug in.
Step 2: Set your drive to about 6.0 dB, Resolution to 16 Bit and Downsampling to 2x. This will give your sound more presence and body without going too over the top.
Step 3: Adjust your Mix parameter. This adjusts the balance between the original sound and the sound with the Bitcrusher applied. This means that you can make the effect even more subtle.
Step 4: Experiment with really pushing the parameters on the Bitcrusher. Reducing the Resolution to 8 bit, Downsampling to 5x and mix to 20% will give the saturated impression of a retro, drum machine.
Step 5: Use the Bitcrusher as a ‘warped’ effect by pushing the Mix parameter to 100%, completely changing the sound through digital distortion.