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.
SoundsVintage drum machines and found sounds
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.