Ableton Live: Program Realistic Drums | Tips & Tricks | Berklee Online | Music Production

– We’re gonna talk about
some ways to create more realistic drum patterns. Sometimes when you’re programming drums in electronic music, they
can sound very robotic. They’re exactly on the grid and human beings don’t play that way. There’s natural changes in tempo and how hard they’re striking the drums. So we’re gonna try to
mimic that to make our electronically programmed drums sound a little more realistic. So let’s start by building our beat. I’ve got a 808 kit here, and I’m just gonna throw
down some kick drums. And I’ve got a snare. And then we’ll put in
our high hat pattern. And let’s take a look at the midi clip. It’s a nice sounding beat,
but it is very static and perfect to the grid
if you were to look, everything is falling exactly
where it’s supposed to be. In a way that’s kind of unnatural. So what I’m gonna do first, is I’m gonna look at velocity. And velocity is how hard the
particular drums are hit. And right now we can see
our velocity down here for our high hats, which
is all exactly the same. So in thinking about how
a real drummer might play, they sort of accent the downbeats, so what I’m gonna do, is
select all the upbeats, by clicking one and holding shift, and just going around and selecting them. And now I can grab their
velocity and lower those. And you can hear as I go really
low, those upbeat high hats are almost barely audible. And we can even accent them
more by raising the velocity. I’m gonna bring them down a bit. Maybe somethin’ like that so we’d have just a little bit of change in the way they are struck. The next thing we can look at, is nudge, or moving our notes around. I’m gonna add in some claps here. Right on the snare drums. And right now, the snares
and the claps are hitting at exactly the same time. So I’m gonna go into
the claps, select those, just gonna slide em’
over, just a little bit to make em’ just a little bit late. So now, there’s a little
bit of timing difference going on between the claps. And that’ll help make those
sound a little more realistic. The next thing we can look at, is I’m gonna add a filter to this track. I’m gonna pause the tape here. So I’m gonna drop our
filter onto our track here. And I’m gonna put it
right on the high hats. So I’m gonna select the high
hats, go inside my drum rack and put it right at the end there. And I’m gonna select the frequency. If we think about the way a
cymbal is hit with a drumstick, the harder you hit it, the
brighter it’s sound is. When a drummer’s hitting a
cymbal slightly less hard, it’s gonna be a little more dull and we’re gonna mimic
that with our filter. So I’m gonna just select
the frequency knob here, for our auto filter and
go inside our midi clip. And select Envelopes. And because my frequency was
the last thing I touched, it’s also the thing that will be selected inside our midi clip. And I’m gonna go into our Pencil tool, and just go to those
alternating upbeat high hats, and just change the filtering on each one of these high hats. And if you notice, when we
listen to the high hats soloed, we have the sound as if
one is being hit hard and the next one is being hit softer. And in the context of the beat, we get that nice velocity
change and that nice, different sound in the
different cymbal hits. Finally, the last thing we could do, to make our drums sound more realistic, is to change our pattern over time. A real drummer’s not going
to play the same exact thing over and over and over again. That will give away your
sound as being a loop, so what we’re gonna do,
is create some variations. I’m gonna click this double loop button, which doubles the length of our loop, inside of Live, so now
instead of a two bar loop, we’re working with a four bar loop. And I’m just gonna do a
couple, subtle things here. I’m gonna go inside our third bar and maybe just put an extra
high hat in right there. I’m also gonna put another kick here and maybe we’ll do another
kick right about here. Then as we play this, there’s our first two bars, you get that little high hat change, and some extra kick drums. Subtle things like that will really help make your beats sound realistic, like a real drummer’s playing them. And you could take this even further, and duplicate the loop again, and add in some more sounds later on, as you wish. And now, on the last four bars, we’re gonna get somethin’ different than the first four bars. So those are some ways
you can make your drums sounds and your beats sound
a little more realistic and less robotic and
computer- loop sounding.

6 thoughts on “Ableton Live: Program Realistic Drums | Tips & Tricks | Berklee Online | Music Production

  1. Something is missing in this video to make drum loops more realistic. It's adding random velocities (within a narrow range) to the hits. This is perhaps much more important than other things. This feature has been available in Cubase since version 5. I assume Ableton should have something similar.

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