Found Sound 2-Step

In the latest Beat Dissected we create a swinging 2-step beat which uses a blend of vintage drum machine hits and found sounds.

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.

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  • SPEC

  • tempo

    125—135
  • swing

    55—65%
  • sounds

    Vintage drum machines and found sounds

Step 1

For this beat, we’re doing something a bit different: we’re mixing a few stock drum machine hits with found sounds to show how beats can take on a completely different feel using custom-made percussion samples.

We start with a simple kick rhythm, the hits taken from a sample library.

In sparse productions, where the kick drum and bass synth dominate the track, it’s utterly essential for the two parts to sit comfortably together. Although conventional wisdom says that the kick and bass should both be tuned to the same key, this doesn’t always need to be so – but be aware of tuning clashes, and always try a little retuning of both to see the effect on the combined bottom end. In this example, the kick is tuned to G. (Click the images to enlarge.)

1


Step 2

Now it’s time to get creative with some found sound design. The snare, shown here as a single hit, is layered, processed and mixed from recordings of running water, swinging chains and a wooden block being hit. The pitch of this ‘snare’ is a little harder to determine, centering around F, which forms a minor 7th with the kick. Although this may not seem like a big issue at the moment, it becomes useful when adding pitched elements later in the beat.

It’s worth noting at this point that we’re programming the beat with swing set to 62%. The swing plays a fundamental role in the groove of the beat, defining the interaction of the kick and snare even at this early stage. We’ll be covering swing in more detail soon in our Passing Notes series.

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Step 3

A basic hi-hat pattern is added, with open hats falling on the off-beats and a closed hat triggered on the 16th note before most (but not all) the open hats. Again, we’re back to stock samples here: a nice, loose, slushy sound to give the beat a fluid feel. For a tighter feel to the beat, simply shorten the open hat’s decay time.

Note that the final open hat is triggered at a very slightly lower velocity. This gives the loop a subtle breathing feel.

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Step 4

Although the beat is already pretty solid, some subtle percussion will add movement and sonic interest. These percussion sounds can really define the overall feel of an otherwise quite simple beat. We’re using more found sounds for our percussion parts; the raw samples for this final stage are some finger clicks and a metal impact sound treated with a light phaser effect.

The click is triggered once at the end of the first bar, then the click and metal impact both contribute to the slightly busier turnaround at the end of the second bar. You can experiment with delays, reverbs and similar effects on these percussion hits to create a wide variety of very different sounding beats.

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It’s worth listening to the difference between the final beat and the non-swung beat example to hear the impact of the swing. Without any swing the beat sounds very different:

Experiment with different swing levels until you find the setting that works best for the track.

 

To download the samples for this beat, click here.

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  • Words: Oliver Curry
  • Date: 11th June 2013
  • “mrsoundamigo” youtube Wrote:

    Thank you

  • Yak Polo Wrote:

    Another great tip!

  • Dave Wrote:

    This is what I love about this site. The really top notch beat tutorials, I haven’t come across anything else quite like them, and being able to download the samples to have a go yourself just really sets this above and beyond. Thank you!

  • Jack Wrote:

    would be great to cover how to do swing in ableton. I always end up swinging my kick off beat or picking a groove template thats to overpowering. very confusing!

  • praktik Wrote:

    Thanx guys – simple, clean, helpful.

  • TMess Wrote:

    Again possibly the only source of tutorials that I’ve come across with concise and clear information, much appreicated

  • Milan Wrote:

    I didn’t know Ableton had a drum edit screen like that, looks good, I’ll have to give it a go. Haven’t seen that in Logic.

  • jacob Wrote:

    @Jack: find grooves and double click to add to the pool, then move the quantize amount within the groove pool, that will adjust how heavily the swing is when applied to clips in the left section on CLIP VIEW with the little L button.

    Picking MPC folder, and then something like 16th swing 60-65 is usually good. mayeb 55-60 is you want even less. i usually put the swing 100%, and sometimes because i have live 9 set the global swing to 130 to make it REALLY swung

  • Vic Wrote:

    Hi folks, awesome loop.

    Is anyone able to recommend something to record found sounds, on the go?