This week’s beat is a straight-up dance-punk groove inspired by the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture and !!!. With a live feel and a sparse arrangement, this one’s ideal if you’re working with a busy bassline.
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.
Soundsmainly Roland TR-707 samples
Start with a kick on the 1st and 3rd beat of every bar. One of the defining features of a rock-influenced dance beat is the kick drum’s break from the conventional four-to-the-floor programming that permeates other dance styles. Additional “ghost” kicks with lower velocity help to fill out the groove and add a turnaround variation. (You can click the below image to expand it).
Next in is the snare. Choose one with body, chunk and snap. Here we’ve chosen a Roland TR-707 sample run through an Akai MPC60 sampler to give it a fuller, crunchier sound. The beat starts to take shape now that the kick and snare are working together. Add a short 16th note snare fill at the end of the second bar for a ‘live jam’ motif. This is not imperative of course; and you won’t need it every bar. Vary the velocity on the last two snare hits. Note how the drum sounds are left virtually dry. You can try running them both, or just the snare, through a very light characterful room reverb – but if you do so, do it subtly! Going too far will rob the beat of its in-your-face immediacy and driving clarity.
Now for the hi-hats. The hats play a key role in many dance-punk grooves, bestowing a live character as well as movement to what is an otherwise fairly rigidly quantised beat. To add movement we’re using two different closed hi-hat sounds, the second an edited version of the first that has been slightly pitch shifted, with a tweaked attack, release and start time. In this beat the closed hats generally hit on the off-beat, with the open hat falling on the beat, reinforcing the kick and giving a lazy slurp to the groove.
Last but not least comes a short rasping shaker for extra groove. We’ve slightly nudged the shakers to the right of the grid to avoid the soulless, robotic feeling which can come from perfectly rigid timing. And that’s the beat done! If you want even more character try compressing the drum group with a compressor with attitude – something like an 1176 clone would work well. Additional ghost kicks, snare fills and hi-hat variations can be used to keep the beat interesting over the course of your track.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.