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7 Quick Tips on Drum Loops

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This post is part of a series called Producing Rhythm: How to Add Amazing Feel to Your Tracks.
5 Simple Ways to Add Punch to Your Drum Parts
Bring Your MIDI Drums to Life

Benjamin Coutts shares seven quick tips about how to get more from your drum loops. He is an Ableton Live user, but the techniques can be used with any DAW. And his tips don't just apply to drum loops - they can be done on any kind of loop. Enjoy!


Tip 1

Everyone loves to use loops, and I am no exception to that group. So why not try to chop up the loop and rearrange the position of each hit. This can be very useful for creating your own loops with a library drums, and can lead to very exciting things.


Tip 2

After rearranging your drum loop, start thinking about taking your chopped slices and place them into individual audio channels. This will allow you to add effects to your different drum parts without affecting the other drum hits.

The problem with drum loops is that if you want to add an effect to, say the snare, you will also be affecting the kick, hi‐hats and what ever else is in the loop, and this can cause problems with your sound overall.


Tip 3

Instead of loading your audio channels with a host of different effects, try to put all your effects into the return channels. The really handy thing about this is that you will be saving a lot of CPU, which allows you to add more effects to certain instruments you are using.

I’m an Ableton Live user and I find that using the returns for effects for your drums can help master the audio of the drums. With Ableton Live I send all my drum hits to different returns, which have effects for each drum, hit. So, in one return I will have all my effects for the snare in one channel as opposed to having loads of effects on each layered snare hit.


Tip 4

Don’t just rest with the one kick, or snare hit. Double or triple up the drum hits. The more layering you have the bigger the sound your going to get, which is what most people look for in genres like drum and bass and dubstep.

You might be able to get away with having one layer in minimalism, but most of the time is best to layer up everything.


Tip 5

Don’t be afraid of adding a different drum pattern to your songs. The band/DJ the Prodigy have underlining drum patterns, which give a little more complexity to their drums.

For example, “Fire Starter” has its main drum beat, but it also has a break beat drum loop in the background. This is very common in Break Beat and Glitch.


Tip 6

With your chopped up drum hits you can now add a simple glitch effect with transposition. With Ableton Live you can transpose each drum hit, but remember that each transposition needs to be a multiple of the one before to make it sound in sync.

Say you transpose a drum hit down three semitones, the next one would be ‐6, or ‐9, or +6, or +9. Now this isn’t a set in stone rule, it’s just a good guideline to start off with.


Tip 7

One thing that is unique to Ableton Live is the ability to take your audio sample and slice it to a new MIDI track. By doing so you can change the arrangement of the drum loop and come up with your own loop.

When slicing the audio loop your not just confined to changing the arrangement but you can also change the way the drum hits sound. You can alter the envelope and add sustain, attack, decay and the release.


Conclusion

Well, that concludes my tips on the many different ways you can look at drum loops. Now some of the tips I have explained with the idea of people using Ableton Live, but of course you can use any DAW with these tips. I hope you have enjoyed reading through and get inspired to do some awesome things with your loops.

Bye everyone, until next time.

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