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Building beats with Abe

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 4:18 pm
by Kenfen
I'd love to hear about what others are doing to build beats from the ground up with just Abe and great single hit drum samples. I'm from the roll your own school, not that using loops is a bad thing, but I'm going back to basics and I'd like to share methods for coming up with original slamming beats.

What's your method for starting with drum samples and creating a head-bobbing loop??

Kind Regards, Ken

Posted: Mon May 05, 2008 4:52 pm
by chevthewizard
well it's pretty much as simple as

(a) take samples
(b) arrange them
(c) tweak eq/decay/compression

if you know how you wanna arrange them

but of course there's tips like

*reversed snare feeding into the snare
*reversed hihats feeding into the snare
*extra syncopated snares with swing
*sidechaining the percussion
*adding fills

i'm quite lazy so usually just end up doing kick snare kick snare..... with a hihat offbeat....

Posted: Fri May 09, 2008 4:00 am
by kraze
If you're keeping your beat simple it can be really effectfull to have the fills go a bit crazy. Use livecut and supatrigga, automate and render and then smash together a few suiting clips for cool fills.

And in addition to the above there's also:
*Creating a nice bounce by reversing bassdrum into kick and snare into bassdrum.
*Of course layering, which Live is perfectly suitable for.
*Adding pitch changes and heavy swing to hi-hats for overall looseness even though you're not touching k+s.
*Smacking a reverb on the drumsend and automating it for use as a fill of sorts.
*If you've got a part with lower and thinner drums or whatever, alsolayer them in with the main beat at 33% of the volume, you might not hear it but it really adds to the whole song.
*Zooming in kick or snare and split the end and make a fast bend at the end by starting with minus or plus 2 and adding or subtracting 2 per split, can also be done to shorten sample for effect.
*Rhytmic delay automation on everything 8khz+

Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 8:43 pm
by three
I think Kenfen might have actually been asking for some tips on how to go from not having a midi sequence to throw into a drum machine to having one. (Though I'll certainly take a couple of the idea you guys mentioned for the track I'm working on now myself as well!)

Assuming that was the question, you should be aware that most music has pretty standard beats. If you make elektrohouse, and you deviate too far from the standard beat, it will become unmixable with other tracks (or proof you're a beatmatching god, in which case send on the mp3s!)

I would recommend you find a kit you like the sound of, and listen to your 5 favorite tracks and try to just recreate their beats. It's excellent ear training, and it'll teach you a lot about beats as well.

(One further tip: when you're designing beats, remember to think like a drummer: drummers only have 2 hands, and 2 feet, so they can do whatever they want with the kick and open/close hat, but everything else is limited to 2 note-on's at a time. So remember not to get them too busy when you're designing beats, it'll keep your beats sounding better and fresher.)



Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:11 pm
by Angstrom
That tip about only using 'two hands' is often repeated, but it doesn't bear up to scrutiny.

Many old school records had a drum overdub or two specifically to get around this two hand limitation.

Do whatever works to get the beat funky.

Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:45 pm
by three
I'll agree with you 100% - but for someone who's just getting started beatsmithing they should learn the medium before learning to break it.

that funky sound was new at the time, and fresh, but a lot of beginners are in much more danger of overloading their tracks than not having enough drums.

i'm not saying that i name my midi tracks hand 1, hand 2, foot 1 and foot 2 or anything, but a lot of people sit down at a drum machine for the first time start adding in random hits all over for the ultimate funkiness until they end up with drum soup.

besides, rules are made to be broken, right?

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 2:07 am
by Dan Dare
kraze wrote: *Adding pitch changes and heavy swing to hi-hats for overall looseness even though you're not touching k+s.
How are you applying swing to just the Hi Hats, by ear or with quantization?

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 2:38 am
by three
Dan Dare wrote:
kraze wrote: *Adding pitch changes and heavy swing to hi-hats for overall looseness even though you're not touching k+s.
How are you applying swing to just the Hi Hats, by ear or with quantization?
the only answer to that is: how creative are you?

once you've figured out where how far back in the pocket you want the hats, what immediately comes to mind:

- you can drag the midi notes by hand (least pleasurable)
- add a delay to the track (liable to forget that, could mess with you later)
- change the envelope on the drum sample (less attack, fuller sustain on the on-beat)
- use a midi effect (unfortunately no midi delay in live)
- edit the clip properties to set "Swing 8" or "Swing 16" or even "Swing 32" (i've never used that groove setting, so i have no idea how drastic the effects are or aren't)

i'm not a drummer, so i can't tell you the exact timings, i'd just go by ear until it sounds right.

musically though, and incredible amount goes over the hats. as kraze said, you really don't want to touch kick and snare a whole lot. some special on the snare every 4, 8 16 bars to roll over? absolutely. double up the occaisonal kick? absolutely. but you don't want to do anything to drastic to k & s - at least assuming you're making music to which people might one day try to dance.

another thing that can be really effective is dropping beats on the hats. if you drop more than one kick people will wander off the floor, snare is the same deal, but you can do a lot with the hihat.

i've been getting more and more aggressive with the hats lately, myself. they're also the most major part of the kit (kick and snare should be dead center) that you can play with spatially. i would avoid anything that alternates between left and right, people feel like they're marching. i tend to put one hat sound a bit to the side, usually one of the two closed hat sounds, and then play with on the other one, it's got a nice bounce when instead of going left and right the hats attack and retreat. the open hat then stays put as a contrast to the binaural pan.

hope this fuels your creativity!


Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:06 am
by Dan Dare
Cheers for the reply Three, I was really just curious because when Kraze said he applied swing to the hi hats only I thought there was a way to apply "Lives Swing function" to just one track like I would in my MPC etc.

But yes creative hats are the way to go :D

The way I apply swing to hats or any other drums for that matter is just to turn quantize off and play them with natural human swing. Then tweak them by moving until they're right. By ear really, like you say.

I have never even messed with the clip groove settings I thought that was only to be used in conjunction with the global groove so I'll give it a crack.

Thanks for the tips.

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:26 am
by three
Yeah, it all depends on the track.

I've been moving towards trying to automate as much of that as possible. With effect racks it's become so easy to split frequency bands ( 3 chains, 1x LP, 1x BP, 1x HP, LowCut/HighCut as macros) into separate audio routes that particularly with hats I've found you can do really funky stuff without using a lot of cpu or having to get too cunning.

My favorite at the moment is to cut the hats essentially into three parts, just twiddle the filters until all three bands are metering roughly the same, which give you two giant hp/lp bands and a tiny mid band. Reverb goes on the mids, and a (very) light saturator/gain/feedback on the outside bands. Sort of like an exciter but the large bands make for a different depth.

Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 3:42 pm
by logic_user99
For some simple d'n'b samples, go to Simon V's website. He's got a pack of freebies on there.