It’s chillout this fortnight, with three downtempo loops deconstructed. The first is a raw, live workout, loosely influenced by old-school hip-hop.

Beat Dissected is a regular series that deconstructs drum patterns, showing you how to recreate them in any DAW. Just copy the grids in your own software to recreate the loop.

Here’s the full beat we’ll be making this week:

Spec

Tempo

80-90bpm

Swing

50-60%

Sounds

mostly organic / real drum sounds

Step 1

The kick drum is made up of several samples layered up, one for the boom and low end, one for the punch, and one that adds the vinyl-like crunch. When combining them pay special attention to the attack envelope/s – you can alter the groove significantly with it, making a lazier, ‘slurped’ sound by extending the envelope. Note the addition of a couple of softer ghost notes  at 9 and 16 that fill out the groove. (You can click the image for a larger version).

Drum and beat programming in Ableton


Step 2

The snare line is as simple as it comes: a hit on the 2nd and 4th beat, plus a gentle ghost in the penultimate measure. Sound-wise we’ve used a live-style sample with a high quality hall reverb to fill out the space in what is still a sparse groove.

Drum and beat programming in Ableton


Step 3

The hats tie this beat together. Two closed hat samples are used, one on the straight 8ths to reinforce the kicks and snares, adding definition to both. The second takes a busier lead on sporadic 16ths with velocity changes on almost every hit to reinforce the groove. Open hats are positioned to play against the kick. Choice of sounds here is key: choose complementary sounds (including open and closed hats from the same drum kit if possible). The hat on the straight 8ths can be mixed fairly low.

Drum and beat programming in Ableton


Step 4

The loop is completed with a heavily reverbed bass hit that adds accent and low end to the first beat of each bar and glues everything together, filling out further space between the samples. You could try other sounds here: from down-pitched windchimes to street noise or other field-sourced recordings. If you’ve got a strong bassline you may not need this final step at all.

Drum and beat programming in Ableton

If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.

Author Mr Hoodee, The Groove Criminals
26th June, 2012

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