In the latest Beat Dissected, we put together an industrial-inspired techno beat with a heavy, grinding groove.
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.
Here’s the beat we’re building today:
Soundsmainly analogue hits
To build this beat we’re going to use a mixture of analogue drum machines and 12-bit hits from a vintage sampler, plus straightforward processing such as distortion and bitcrushing to achieve the gritty, aggressive character we’re looking for.
First, we’ll start with a 909 kick drum sample to fill a basic four-to-the-floor pattern that will work as a solid base for our groove. After adding some character with an analogue overdrive plugin, we’ve subtracted some of the low mids (around 250-300 Hz) with an EQ in order to remove some of the body of the bass drum, making the sub emerge. This also helps to reserve some space for the tom element we’ll add later.
As a final touch, we’ll make things a bit more interesting using our bitcrusher of choice, D16 Decimort, which will give some interesting noise in the high end and also add some extra attack and crispy distortion.
We proceed by adding a classic hi-hat on the offbeats, using a 909 closed hat resampled via an E-mu SP-1200, a vintage 12-bit sampler, to add extra digital crunch. The hi-hat is then processed through a short plate reverb and an analogue overdrive to add some depth to the sound.
With the basics in place, it’s time to make our beat more groovy and add character with a bouncy distorted tom sound, filling the low mid frequencies we reserved in the first step.
Like the hi-hat, our starting point is a 909 low tom sample recorded through an SP-1200. Once again, our bitcrusher plays a fundamental role, adding distortion and grittiness to the sample.
The velocity is reduced whenever the tom is triggered over the kick drum or the hi-hat, allowing the groove to breathe more. You could achieve the same effect with sidechain compression, but the manual approach is easy enough in this case.
A crushed percussive sound is added next as a layer on top of the tom pattern. We’ve used different velocity on some beats to create subtle variations of the same pattern.
The sound is a live woodblock sample processed with a bitcrusher, using an extreme 6-bit, 22 kHz reduction.
To create an accent on the hi-hat pattern, we add a shaker on every second offbeat (we’ve called this Hat 2 in the screengrabs). The sound is a basic live shaker sample with the addition of plate reverb to add a short tail, sharpened through a 24dB/octave high-pass filter with medium resonance.
The final step is to add a noise-based snare, which plays a very simple pattern on the second and fourth beats of each bar. The snare sound itself is a basic analogue hit created from scratch using a synth’s noise generator with a medium long decay, then adding analogue overdrive. The sound is shaped with EQ to reduce presence and soften the attack transient.
Overall, the pattern of this beat is fairly simple, but the cumulative effect of all our processing is an aggressive, crunchy sound. Drum bus processing can range from subtle glue-style compression through to extreme smashing. Anything goes.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.