In the latest instalment of Beat Dissected, we create a rolling 2-step garage beat with heavy swing.
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.
SoundsMainly 808, 909 and acoustic percussion
For the kick drums in this beat, we’re doing a couple of quite unusual things. First off, we’re using two totally different kick drum sounds. A lot of beats use multiple kicks, but they’re usually layered with each other or only subtly different to one another.
In this case, there’s a 909-based kick (layered with a 707 sample for snappiness, a shaker and some vinyl dust for character) and a longer, deeper 808-based kick. The contrast between the two is huge. The 909 kick is barely audible under the 808 on the first beat of the bar, giving the impression of two almost completely separate kick sounds.
The second unusual thing is that we don’t have a kick on the first beat of the second bar in this two-bar groove. The groove is implied by the other hits around it, but leaving space on the ‘one’ like this gives the beat a really unusual, distinctive feel.
The snare is a composite of three samples: two from an Alesis DM5 and one from a Roland TR-808. From the DM5 we’ve aimed for a combination of a super snappy sound and a high-pitched snare. The 808 sample is pitched up a couple of steps to add extra snap and presence. The snare pattern is much more simple than the kick, hitting on the second and fourth beats of each bar.
The beat first starts to show its garage groove with the addition of a hi-hat on every offbeat. Any kind of hi-hat can work here, from a live sample to a synthesised hit. The most important thing is to keep the decay relatively short, somewhere between a closed hat sound and an open hat. The key is to find a length that works well with the tempo and how busy the rest of the beat is. We’re going to be adding two more elements so we can’t crowd the mix with long hat tails at this stage.
The addition of the shaker is the point at which the character of this beat is truly defined. It’s a very simple live shaker sound but the use of different velocity levels and shortened hits brings out the groove around the hi-hats.
Adjusting the swing setting now will really have an obvious effect. We’re going for a fairly high swing setting here: somewhere in the region of 60-65% in order to let the beat swing and roll.
Finally, we add a 16th-note tambourine pattern using a sample of a real tambourine. The velocity variations are the most important part of this element, giving the beat a rolling groove. The tambourine can be pushed down quite low in the mix to taste. If it’s too loud it can easily overpower the rest of the elements.
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