We show how to create a techno beat with a sampled and chopped drum break to add rhythmic interest and texture.
Beat Dissected is a regular series in which we deconstruct drum patterns, showing you how to program them in any DAW. Just copy our grid in your own software to recreate the loop.
Pull the project from Blend below to download the samples.
Here’s the beat we’re building today:
SoundsDrum Machines, 909 samples and Funk Break
A big part of creating the sound in our beat comes from resampling a break, so that’s where we’ll start. There’s no shortage of useable breaks out there, from classic funk and soul tracks to sample packs. We’ve chosen a break from Prime Loops’ Glitch Hop Drum Loops pack and chopped out two bars. We then slice the break to a new MIDI track in order to chop up and rearrange.
In Ableton, slicing to a new MIDI track creates a Drum Rack for the break, creating chopped hits and individual Simpler devices for all the transients. We can now rearrange our break. Ableton won’t always slice each transient at the correct point, so if you need to change the start or end of a particular slice to create smoother transients, double-click on its cell in the Drum Rack to reveal the Simpler instance.
We take some of the snares out of the loop, replacing them with hits containing a hi-hat. We also turn down the velocity for a couple of the slices, as we’ll be placing a separate kick where these hit, so we need to make room for those hits.
We also turn up the volume for the snare hit in order to make our snare more prominent.
Next we place a reverb on the snare to add some room so it doesn’t chop off so suddenly. We load Fabfilter’s Pro-R, loading the ‘Snare Plate’ preset from the Medium section. We tweak some of the settings to get the desired sound, balancing the mix, decay rate, space and stereo width controls.
We also EQ the whole break, sweeping away any low frequencies.
Now we create a separate drum rack for some beefy 909 hits to punctuate the beat. We add the ‘BD_909_24’ sample taken from Samples From Mars’ 909 From Mars pack, programming a kick drum on the first beat of each bar and also the final offbeat in each bar.
We also add an instance of Ableton’s built-in overdrive effect to drive the kick quite heavily, targeting the EQ to the lower mids. We set the drive to 52% and tone to 36%.
Next we add an open hat, again from the 909 From Mars pack. We place the hats so there’s a hit landing on each snare, plus a couple of extras.
For the hi-hats that hit the same time as the snare, we bring down the velocity. The open hats add a nice high-frequency burst of energy to the snare – more pleasing than the harsh top end originally present from the sampled break.
We group both drum racks together for some bus processing, first adding an instance of Glue Compressor set to the ‘Drum – full parallel’ preset. We tweak the threshold to compress by around 5 dB. We also take down the dry/wet balance to 29%.
Next we add the Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machine, driving the input to extreme levels for a warm and driven sound. We change the machine type setting to 2” 16-track and change the tape type to FG456 for a more vibey sound.
Finally we add the Eiosis AirEQ to dial back in some of the top end taken off by the heavy processing, pushing up the Air Gain control to 1 dB.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.