Pro Audio Files

Adding Life to Percussion in a Drum Loop [Quick Tip]

Transcript
Hey guys, Matthew Weiss — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and for my new workshop series, theproaudiofiles.com/workshops.

So I talked about how to take a static drum groove and make it more exciting and interesting in one of my workshops, and I want to address how we can do that as we are building our drum loops. I talked about this in a previous tutorial.

Now I’m going to talk about it a little bit more, and what I want to do is focus on this percussion sound here. I’m going to play the loop, and I’m going to pull out the percussion sound real quick.

[loop]

[percussion]

Now, what I want to point out here that’s really important is that the quality of each hit is not exactly the same. There are a couple of key differences. The first is that the shorter hits are a little bit lower in pitch, and the second thing is that the one that’s in the middle…

[percussion]

That makes you go, “bump bah, buh.”

It has a longer sustain. The reverb tail lasts longer and cuts off right before the next hit comes in.

[percussion]

Well, that is not an accident, because I am in here in Battery…

[percussion]

And I have selected — first of all, I’ve taken this from a break, and I’ve selected slightly different percussion hits on each one of these controllers, so that when I’m playing my pattern, if I’m playing it on two notes, I’m actually hitting two slightly different — like, the natural sound of the drum itself by the way it was played is already a little bit different, and that variation keeps things sounding realistic, and keeps things interesting.

But I’ve also done a few other little modifications.

The second hit, which is the one that I have here, is tuned up just one little tiny semi-tone. So it’s higher, it’s not so noticeably higher that it makes you go, “Woah, that’s a totally different note.”

Also, this isn’t the most tonal percussion sound, so it’s not like we’re picking out an individual note from it.

The other thing is that the pitch, or the volume envelope is different.

[percussion hit]

So in this first one…

[percussion with reverb]

Right? That’s the whole hit.

[percussion]

No matter how long I hold the note.

[percussion]

And the second one…

[percussion with reverb]

That’s how long the note is, no matter how long I hold the note.

[percussion with reverb]

So you hear that reverb tail last.

So it’s…

[percussion, tight]

Tight…

[percussion, with reverb]

Loose.

[percussion, tight]

Tight…

[percussion, with reverb]

Right, you get the idea.

Now, the other thing that’s important is that I’ve very carefully timed it so that when that loose hit hits, it cuts off right before the tight hit hits again.

[percussion loop]

You hear that?

[percussion loop]

So it’s going, “Buh bah, bum. Buh bah, bum.”

And that creates more groove than, “Buh bum bum. Buh bum bum.” Right? That is boring.

“Buh bah, bum” is more interesting.

Okay, one more time.

[loop]

And it helps connect. The idea is, when somebody is dancing to it, you want them to connect to the next groove. [mimicking percussion]

And so, as corny as that all just was, I really want to impress upon you the idea of thinking how the rhythm connects, and this is all styles of production, this isn’t just Reggae, this is whether you’re doing EDM, Pop, Hip Hop, or even just the way you’re thinking about laying out drum patterns in a Rock context, where you’re actually playing on a kick.

All of those things count, and you have to listen to the space in between the notes in order to feel the rhythm correctly.

So that’s my lesson, I hope you learned something, check out my workshop series, and take care.

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Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is a Grammy nominated and Spellemann Award winning audio engineer from Philadelphia. Matthew has mixed songs for Snoop, Sonny Digital, Gorilla Zoe, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development, 9th Wonder, !llmind & more. Get in touch: Weiss-Sound.com.
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