Technique - Beat Dissected

sponsored by: Wave DNA

21st-Century Chicago House

Our latest drum programming and sound design tutorial is inspired by classic Chicago house but brings the sound right up to date with 21st-century production values.

Beat Dissected is a regular series in which we deconstruct drum patterns, showing you how to recreate them in any DAW. Just copy our grid in your own software to recreate the loop.

Here’s the beat we’re building today:

To download the samples for this beat, click here. The samples are provided on a completely royalty-free basis. They may not be sold or given away, either in whole or in part.

You must register for a free Attack account and sign up to receive our newsletter in order to download the samples. New members can register here. Existing members can log in here.

  • SPEC

  • tempo

    120—125bpm
  • swing

    55—60%
  • sounds

    Combination of 707 and 909 Samples

Step 1

For this beat we’ve selected a TR-707 kick, which gives us a more plasticky sound than the ubiquitous 909 hit. To beef up the sound of the kick we’ve tuned it down around a step and hit it with a little light EQ and compression to bring out the weight of the sound.

We start with a simple four-to-the-floor kick. You can also add a kick to the final offbeat of a section as a turnaround variation. Note the slightly lower velocity for this hit – it’s not quite a ghost hit but it’s noticeably quieter than the others.

Modern Chicago House Step 1

Step 2

For this beat we’ve chosen to use samples of the classic 909 hats. In this case we’ve used a standard closed hat sample and an open hat sample from a sample pack, then adjusted the envelope of the open hat to tighten it up so it suits the beat. You can adjust the decay of your sample to suit the tempo of your chosen track perfectly (the sample in our downloadable file is adjusted to suit 123bpm, the tempo of our examples). You may also want to assign the two hi-hat sounds to the same mute group (‘choke group’ in some software) so that the tail of the open hat is cut off by the next closed hat hit. Sometimes the overlapping effect can also work well for a sloppier, less precise sound – you can adjust to taste.

The hat pattern is a very simple 16th-note beat, but the open hat doesn’t just play on the offbeat like you often find in house patterns. Note how the velocity of the closed hats also varies slightly throughout the beat to add a little groove to the pattern.

Modern Chicago House Step 2

Step 3

The clap pattern itself is simple, but the sound is heavily processed. We’ve chosen to layer a 909 sample and a 707 sample in order to create a slightly less familiar sound. Quite a lot of work has also gone into the processing of our hybrid clap sound, but nothing too complicated. First, we used Sound Toys’ Decapitator for some analogue-style saturation, cutting some of the low end and shaping the tone for a crisper, brighter sound. Then we added some delay from Little PrimalTap in order to add a phasey flanging effect.

Modern Chicago House Step 3

LIttle Primal

Decapitator

Step 4

We already have the basis of the beat, but to emphasise the groove we need to add some percussion. In this step we add a 707 tambourine, which plays on every offbeat. To add a little interest to the mix we’ve created two copies of the sample and detuned one. The two channels are then panned hard left and hard right in order to create stereo width. You can achieve a similar effect using various stereo width plugins – you should find one built into most DAWs.

Modern Chicago House Step 4

step 5

The final step – and the one which really pulls the beat together – is the 707 rimshot. The rimshot plays around the tambourine and open hat hits, emphasising the syncopation of the beat. Adjusting the amount of swing at this stage can dramatically affect the groove.

A very subtle application of EQ and compression across the whole beat may be required in order to tie everything together, but we want to retain a little of the raw 80s character here rather than creating a more aggressive, highly polished sound. Most of the processing in this beat takes place with individual samples rather than across the entire drum sub-mix.

Modern Chicago House Step 5

To download the samples for this beat, click here. The samples are provided on a completely royalty-free basis. They may not be sold or given away, either in whole or in part.

Wave DNABeat Dissected is brought to you by WaveDNA, makers of Liquid Rhythm, a wild beat generator, sequencer and software MIDI controller that provides instant access to quadrillions of rhythmic patterns.  http://www.wavedna.com/product-information/

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  • Date: 20th May 2014
  • Jay Wrote:

    Great tute. Thanks! Any chance of a bassline tutorial too? TAL Bassline101 perhaps? <3

  • Bootronic Wrote:

    These would be awesome done with various assortments of gear.

  • 3030303 Wrote:

    last one? Why are you stopping doing BEAT DISSECTED?

  • Attack Wrote:

    We’re not! Beat Dissected is here to stay.

  • Joe Wrote:

    Very nice, kind of basic though?

  • Colman Wrote:

    Basic because that’s the style with 90% of Chicago House drums, simplicity is the key. All the expression came from the synths and vocals.

  • david Wrote:

    what a dumb article.

  • Gebus Wrote:

    @David It’s so dumb you had to comment? These beat dissected articles are actually extremely helpful to some.

    Keep the bullshit to yourself m8.