In the latest Beat Dissected, we look to the west coast for inspiration on a rolling R&B 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.
Here’s the beat we’re building today:
SoundsTR-808 and similar sounds
For the kick, we’ve used a fairly simple 808 kick sample layered with a 909 hit. Layering the two kicks, paying close attention to tuning and volume, will give you the heavy character of the 808 and the thump of the 909. Using a low-pass filter will take out all the high end that is not needed for the kick in a style like this.
Next up is a finger snap part. We’ve recorded our own snap sample and tuned it to fit with this style. For processing, quite a lot of saturation was used and the envelope was shaped to give a sharp transient.
We used the ValhallaPlate reverb plugin to add some depth and space to the snaps, followed by Little Radiator to help to add some gritty saturation, and lastly we we added FabFilter Saturn to help shape the snap and give it optimal level desired in this style.
For the hi-hat part, we’ve chosen an 808 hat sample. The flavour of the beat can be altered quite significantly by choosing an alternative hat sample at this point. You could go with a 909 closed hat for a sharper sound or even a live drum hit for a more organic feel.
For processing, we’ve just used a simple high-pass filter to take out any unnecessary low end.
The pattern combines 32nd-note hits with some 16ths. The movement is what starts to give this beat a rolling groove.
For the cymbal and ride, once again we’ve chosen 808 samples with a high-pass filter to carve away any low frequencies and leave plenty of room for the other mix elements.
Note how the cymbal and ride are always triggered at the same time as the kick (although not on every kick). This is a hugely effective technique for adding interest to the pattern without making it sound busy.
Finally, we add an 808 clap, triggering in 32nd notes with the velocity gradually building up in order to create a roll.
For processing, the ValhallaRoom reverb helps to give the claps some depth and space. Although each element of this beat is quite simple in isolation, the combination of these sparse but carefully honed sounds creates a powerful overall effect.
As a final processing stage, we’ve added FabFilter Saturn set to its Magic Mastering BM preset, plus AOM’s Invisible Limiter just to add a touch of loudness.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.