Quick Tip: How to Make a Snare Roll Generator


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Today I will show you my new gadget, and teach you how to make it. A snare roll is an important part of a song. It can be used in many situations: as a creative element of a song or introducing something important like a breakdown. My new toy will reduce the time it takes to create one.

The gadget lets you change the snare type, the roll type and the pitch of the snare drum with just a single click. It can be really useful in some situations and the most important thing is you can save lots of time if you can able to construct this really handful machine in Ableton Live. So let the fun begin!

Step 1: Devices

We need some tools in order to make this happen. First create a MIDI track and drag and drop a Simpler from the Ableton’s Instrument menu.

Next, right click on the Simpler and press the Group button. Then open up the chain list and drag and drop another Simpler underneath the last one.

After that, grab some snare samples into the Simpler. Now you have several snares at your disposal.

Unfortunately if you are creating MIDI notes all snares will be played together. But we don’t want to do that. So open up the Chain menu and select the first 8 value and click on Distribute Range Equally.

Now map the chain selector to the Macro 1 knob.  Set the range between 1-8. Now you can easily change the snare sample on the fly. And don’t forget to load some snare sample as well.

Step 2: The Arpeggiator

The arpeggiator is a really important device because this will force the samples to act like as a drum roll. There are two main parameters which we will use it, the rate knob and the gate knob. The rate knob will determine the repeats of the notes and the gate will act like a decay parameter so every time we change it the snare AD envelope will change instantly.

Step 3: Mapping

Now that we finished the first steps we have to map some controls in order to tweak our snares. So map the chain selector if you haven’t already. Then map the pitch control of the Simpler.

Now you can manipulate the pitch during the progression.  Remember the arpeggiator's most important knobs? Now it is the time to map them. Remember you have to map all arpeggiator and Simpler pitch controls. Here are my mapping values. You can change them at any time - this is just an example.

Step 4: How Do I Use It?

It is really easy! Drag and drop a MIDI clip in the session view, drag a long note (for example a four bar note), and automate it!

You can automate as many parameters as you want but I automated the rate control. You can see how I made it. You can save the channel and load it at any time.

That’s all. Now you have a snare roll generator with many snare samples. Happy music making! See you in next time!

You can listen the final roll here: