Using reverse drum hits is a great way to enhance a drum pattern or mix things up in an arrangement because it reuses the existing sounds, creates tension, and easily adds interest.
Step 1: Starting Pattern
First, here is the pattern we'll be starting with. It uses four sounds from the free Mafz Vol 2 drum pack Mafz Volume 2 Drum Pack: Kick 30, Perc 3 (which is a tambourine), Clap 14, Hat 13. These four sounds are also available in the playpack for this tutorial.
Step 2: Make Space
I should also mention that I pitched the tambourine sample down two semitones. For our first adjustment, we're going to use a reversed tambourine sound that leads into the second clap. To make room for it, we're going to need to remove one of the hats. Let's also clone the pattern so that we can use the original pattern later.
Step 3: Place the Sound
Now that we've made space, let's drag the tambourine sound file into the playlist and reverse it, placing it roughly just before the second clap. Be sure to turn off your host program's snap setting so that you can adjust it freely.
Step 4: Volume Envelope
Sounds cool, but we can make it fit better into the pattern by using a volume envelope. In most circumstances, it's best to not use the attack of the reversed sound, because this can lead to a double hit which sounds unnatural with short sounds, and with longer sounds it can "spoil the surprise" for the listener. There are a few ways to do this in FL Studio, but the easiest way is to use the clip's menu and navigate to Automate > Volume.
This gives us an envelope to adjust the volume.
Reversing tambourines works quite well, because it results in a believable sound, fairly close to what a tambourine performer could achieve.
Step 5: Reverse Kick
Another common way to use this technique is to place a reversed kick at the end of a pattern. We can do this following the same steps listed above.
Step 6: Reverse Hat
We can also add interest to the pattern by including a reversed hat. A volume envelope is not necessary for this sound, but you can add interest by panning it.
Step 7: Arrangement
Lastly, let's create a more interesting arrangement by switching between our starting pattern and our "spiced-up" pattern.
Step 8: Reversed Cymbal
For the sake of completeness, I want to show the infamously overused reversed cymbal sound. The sound file we'll be using is labeled as Hat 4 and is from the Smashing Music Drum Kit available on the Audiotuts free page (the file is also available in the playpack). I want to note that this technique can also be used with FX sounds such as risers and fallers, and that when an FX sound is reversed, a riser can become a faller and vice-versa.
- FL Studio Project