In the latest Beat Dissected we head back to the mid-90s for a ghetto house beat inspired by the likes of Dance Mania Records, Parris Mitchell and early DJ Funk.
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.
Soundsmixture of drum machine hits and live loops
We’ll start with a 909 kick. Getting the tone, timbre and character of this kick right is probably the most important part in creating an authentic mid-90s ghetto house vibe. The kick here has been carefully EQd and then run through a tape plugin to bestow added warmth and tame the mids and highs, creating a more rounded tone. A transient designer can also be used to shave a little attack from the front of the sound to deliver that classic ‘bouncing ball’ flavour.
The kick pattern is a standard four-to-the-floor with an added ghost kick on the off-beat at the end of each bar to generate the bounce. This ghost kick is triggered at lower velocity. You could also use a second kick sample – the same sound pitched down slightly or with a low-pass filter can work well. (Click the images to enlarge.)
Add a clap on the second and fourth beat of each bar. We’ve used a TR-505 clap with a slight halo of reverb (early reflections only), run through an MPC60. There’s a lot of freedom to experiment with the clap. Virtually anything can work, from obvious analogue classics to obscure digital drum machine sounds or even live clap samples.
The beat pulls together with the addition of a 606 hi-hat line playing a very simple part which focusses on the off beats. Note the open hat that triggers once in the second bar. To add a little more bite and a crunchy retro feel to the hat we’ve run it through the MPC60 again. You could achieve a similar result without an MPC using a bit-crusher effect like D16 Decimort.
One of the classic tricks in early ghetto house is to layer a live drum beat over the programmed pattern. You can sample this from vinyl or use a royalty-free loop (the loop in our zip file is royalty-free, so don’t worry about lawyers knocking at your door!). When importing loops into programmed beats like this, the critical thing is to get both the loop and programmed sounds to sit and work together, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to work smoothly together. A lot of ghetto house uses very raw production techniques to create a deliberately rough, aggressive sound.
In this example we’ve employed a high-pass filter to shave away much of the low-end energy so that the 909 kick can do its job unhindered, and we’ve also taken a scoop out of the higher mids so that the clap can sit in its own space. The highs are also tapered away to clear space for the hats. Layer the sample on top of your programmed beat to create the finished loop. Bus compression isn’t really appropriate here as we’re looking for that rough, raw sound. Instead, try mixing the loop at a volume where it’s only just audible, reinforcing the main programmed beat. The loop can also be muted at certain points of the track to provide a variation on the standard beat.
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.