In this instalment of Beat Dissected we’ll be creating a deep and melodic progressive techno beat.
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. You can use the same one shots we used by downloading the samples.
Here’s the beat we’re building today:
SwingSwing Maschine 10%
SoundsDrum Machines - Roland TR-808
We begin with the kick drum. We load ‘BD_Tuned_1_808_E’ onto a cell in our drum rack and programme a 4×4 pattern. We make sure the notes aren’t too long as making the sample short and snappy leaves plenty of room for a huge sub bass – which will work well with a track in this style.
The sample is also key labelled (which is handy!), and being an E note it is suitably deep for the style we’re creating. You can of course tune the sample to your project key signature.
We add an instance of Fabfilter’s Pro Q, cutting all frequencies below 30Hz. We also dip some mids and sweep off some tops.
The next step is to add a clap so we import ‘Clap_808_A_01’ to a slot. Instead of going for the obvious and placing a clap on every upbeat, we place a single syncopated hit at the end of 2 bars and programme a double hit at the end of 4 bars.
With the large space between the clap hits, we can use lots of reverb to give the loop an airy and spacious feel. We add an instance of Fabfilter’s Pro_R to the clap, loading the ‘Big Hall for Ballad Snare’ and applying some small tweaks. We also use the filter on Simpler to sweep away any low frequency from the sample.
Next we add some hi-hats. We load ‘CH_D_808_03’ and programme hits during the offbeats. Just like the clap in step 2, with some simple EQ we sweep away the low frequencies.
Then we add ‘CH_RP_B_03’ and programme double hits as a layer for the hi-htas. The crucial difference here is that we reduce the velocity of the hits that land on the offbeats which adds both more dynamics to the groove as well as a more orgnaic feel. For the second hi-hat, we back the attack off using Simpler, shorten the Decay and bring down the Sustain. We also add a high pass filter and sweep until 1.30 kHz. We then place a Flanger effect on the hat, which adds nice movement and modulation tweaking the LFO amount and Dry/Wet to taste.
Next up some percussion to add depth and drive the lower midrange frequencies of our loop. We add ‘Conga_Clean_Low_A_808_F#’, and programme a couple of syncopated hits every 2 bars. We tune the sample down -2 semitones to an E note. Percussion doesn’t necessarily need to be tuned to your root note but in this case it works well and helps in its relationship with the kick drum.
We then add ‘Tom_Mid_B_808_C’ and programme 2 notes every 2 bars, one syncopated and one in the offbeat. For the tom sound we tune it down -1 semitone, going from a C to a B#, playing 7 semitones up for our root of E works well. We add some reverb to the tom to add space, and apply both low and high cuts to both percussion sounds cutting away the unnecessary frequencies.
Now for a couple more hits to add some more energy to the top end. We add ‘Maracas_A_808_01’ and programme 16th notes, with some variation between the velocities for a more dynamic groove. We add an EQ to the maracas, sweeping everything below 2k and add an Auto Pan effect to create some stereo movement.
Import ‘OH-D_808_01’, and programme notes in the offbeat. We reduce the attack as it helps it not to clash with the other hi-hat in the offbe. Lastly, we add an EQ, sweeping up to 1.3k. This extra bit of detail in the high frequency really helps the overall beat.
Next we add ‘Rim_RP_808_01’ and programme hits on every upbeat. We nudge them forward, left on the grid, ever so slightly which both separates them in the mix and means the transient won’t clash with the kick.
We apply add an instance of Valhalla’s Plate Verb. Adding a percussion hit on the upbeat instead of a clap or snare is a popular technique in this style.
For the final step, we add some group processing to gel things together. We begin with the Glue Compressor, setting a Slow Attack and Fast Release, which pulls down the sustain on the hits compressing them by 2-3dB.
We then add an instance of Slate Digitals Virtual Tape Machine for a warmer, analogue feel. We set the Speed to 15 ips and the Tape Type to FG456. This finishes off the beat nicely with a warm and open texture and with plenty of space to add both a huge sub and a big melodic hook.
If you enjoyed this Beat Dissected you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials: