In this instalment of Beat Dissected we’re going to create a classic UK Garage beat.

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 and to use the same one shots you can download the samples that we used.

All samples come courtesy of our sample pack partner Samples From Mars. To get an idea of UK Garage you can check our My Studio feature with one of the pioneers of the genre: MJ Cole. 

Here’s the beat we’re building today:

Spec

Tempo

124-132 BPM

Swing

MPC16 - Swing 68/69

Sounds

Drum Machines - MPC, Drumtrax, Linndrum

Step 1

We’ll begin with the kick drum. We load the kick drum sample into the Drum Rack, placing a hit on the first downbeat of each bar and the offbeat of beat 3 in each bar. We do a double hit at the start of bar 2 for some variation and raise the velocities slightly of the first hit in each bar.

We pitch the kick up +3 semitones (higher pitched drum sounds will work well for this type of beat, providing a more upbeat feel). We shorten the sample slightly using the Decay and Sustain on the Simpler amplitude envelope. Then add an EQ, rolling off any mud below 30Hz, and tone down the transient slightly by dipping some frequencies around 2.5k and 5k.

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 1
UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 1
UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 1

Step 2

Next up the snare, but rather than use a snare or clap sample we opt for a combination of rim shot samples, for a lighter feel. We use the first rim shot for the upbeats, and both rim shot’s for the syncopated hits (take not of the looseness of these). We also pitch the 2nd Rm Shot up +2 semitones.

We tweak the velocities of each hit to create a different sound, so the listener will hear two different rim shot samples, creating a talk and response effect with each other. We add identical EQ’s to each rim shot, sweeping away the low frequency up to 170Hz and rolling off the high’s down to 6k. We also add reverb to the first rim shot, adding a just a very small amount. We want to keep the sounds dry and relatively unprocessed for this beat, but adding a tiny amount of reverb helps bed the sound in the mix.

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 2

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 2

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 2

Step 3

Next up we add a closed hat sample. We want to avoid a sharp offbeat here, as that will create more of a classic house music feel. The hat sample is soft in any case, but we enhance this by backing off the attack. We also add an EQ and sweep away everything below 750Hz.

We add reverb to the closed hat, once again using very subtle settings. You know it’s the right amount of reverb when you hardly notice it’s there until you mute the effect. We also add an Instance of Oeksound’s Sooth, this will automatically notch out harsh resonant frequencies in the high’s, which will lead to a smoother and more pleasant top end in the mix.

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 3

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 3

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 3

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 3

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 3

Step 4

Now we add another hi-hat sound, to add a little more energy to the drums. But rather than use an open hat sample, we use a cabasa, these tend to be very bright but not as harsh or sharp sounding as open hats can be at times. We place hits in the offbeat, add another reverb with similar settings to the previous reverb effects we’ve added, and then we add another instance of Soothe to notch out some of the more resonant frequencies in the sample.

We then add a crash sample at the start of the first bar, a very simple but effective technique, that will indicate the beginning of different sections within the arrangement. We copy over all the plugins we added to the cabasa (EQ, Reverb, Soothe) and also add an EQ sweeping up to 700Hz.

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 4

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 4

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 4

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 4

Step 5

Finally a bit of group processing to bring the sounds together. We load Ableton’s Drum Buss plugin, which is excellent for adding character to your drum tracks by providing some simple controls for boosting or reducing certain elements. We turn the Drive up to 25%, which increases the amount of drive added to the input signal.
We then turn up the Crunch to 27%, which adds a touch of distortion to the higher mid frequencies.

The third column in the device controls the Low Frequency Enhancer. By boosting the Boom, we increase the low frequency, we can control this further by adjusting the Freq (frequency) and Decay of the low frequency enhancement.

We dial back the Dry/Wet to 80% to reduce the amount of processing applied, and also level compensate by dropping the Out to -4.41dB.

UK Garage Beat Dissected Step 5

If you enjoyed this Beat Dissected you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials:

29th January, 2019

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