Drum Layering With Ableton Live | Aaron Carstensen | Skillshare

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Drum Layering With Ableton Live

teacher avatar Aaron Carstensen, Keep making music

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

5 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Kick

    • 3. Snare

    • 4. Clap

    • 5. FX and Tips

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About This Class

In this class we will be using Ableton Live's drum rack to layer different sounds on top of each other to create powerful and personalized drum kits. We will be looking at kick drum, snare and clap layering as well as some grooves to put our work in action.

Meet Your Teacher

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Aaron Carstensen

Keep making music


Hi! my name is Aaron and I am an electronic music producer with 8 years of experience. I have completed my degree in electronic production from the Berklee School of Music and am currently working on my trap metal project Xstitch.

The most recent release here is my Quick Mix: Low End video tutorial. I am starting the Quick Mix series as a way to quickly showcase practical techniques so if you like the first one I'd be happy to make more.

If you've gotten any use from my lessons it would be super helpful to get a follow on Instagram, I'm most active there.

As always let me know if there is something you are stuck on or want me to cover I would be happy to make a tutorial on the topic.

Keep making music!

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1. Intro: What's up, guys? Aaron here today we're gonna be doing a drum layering tutorial is gonna be super super helpful in defining your style and getting strong drums. Um, so quick overview before we jump in, um, we're gonna be using able to his drum rack, um, samples. You can use any samples drum samples that you have or able to has built in. I recommend finding some some, uh, strong samples online. Some of the drum samples built into able to an art super punchy. And it's hard to get that punch. Um, just by stacking attended drums on top of each other, that's not really what we're going for here. What we're going for is, um, getting a full sound and ah, sound that is kind of defined to you because when you're stacking different sounds on top of each other, they're gonna have their own Ah, their own style at the end. Once you cume and just make him your own. So it's more about style, then just trying to get the loudest drums ever. So, um, yeah, take a look around, see what you can find. If you can't find anything, just use able turns. It's totally fine. So we're gonna jump in and do kick drum. First, I'll do kick, drum snare, probably a clap. And then I'll just do some other stylistic like hi hat stuff just to give some groove advice and some tips and tricks that I've learned along the way. So let's jump in. All right, peace guys. 2. Kick: What's up, guys? We're going to do the kick drum. So before we get started, I'm just gonna go and show you how to do this in case you don't know how, um, going to drums enable turns categories tab and then click dragon and dream rack. I'm gonna get rid of these other tracks. Um, so, uh, depending on your set up, you can go in samples and search for the the drum sounds you won't like. If you type in sin air, it'll show all your snares. If you type in kick, it'll show up your kicks. Um, so if you're just using able tunes you condone go there. Ah, if you have plug ins are extra samples. I'm just gonna use these samples. Vengeance. Um, so it has it all organized for me. So basically, find the samples you want to work with, so yeah, let's jump in with the kick. I'm gonna turn this down real quick because it gets a little loud. All right, So I'm gonna find some cool kick sounds real quick, and then I'll break him down and explain what to dio and how to get him all sounded nice and mesh together. All right, All right. So another thing. So, once you were finding samples that you like, if you go into click on this sample that you have going and a Bolton will have ah, little sampler with the sample in it. If you click on this sampler and you press control G, it will create a group. So now this little tab pops up, you're gonna hit this button, the show hide chain list. Now you can see that this sample is in a group of samples. So if I play this kick, uh, sick. Um, so there's that kick. But what I can also do is going here, and you find another one you like. I like that. Change that to one shot, causes their drums. So just one shot place both at the same time. We're not gonna leave it like that. Obviously, that sounds awful. Um, but that's really handy. So you can stack up as many as you want with the kicks. Um, I keep it pretty sparse. I'm just gonna do to kicks for this because they both have something I like about him. Let's see. Yeah. So, um, once you have your layered kicks. You can drag audio effects right onto here, so I'm gonna dragon e que a onto both of them. I'm gonna sell of this one. The reason I picked this drummer, this kick is cause it's really sub e. It's got, It's low. It's got a lot of like bass thump to it. Also, this right in here got a lot of 100 um, hurts. Just like it's some p. It's it's ah, really thick. So what I'm gonna do, it's find the spot that I like somewhere around, like here. It gets a little is where I'm like down to cut it Maybe a little. So I'm getting that section of the kick that I like. That's kind of what layering is is. You pick out spots that you like in the kick or any drum and ah, carve out the cool, cool bits. Um, so yet that nice and low, nice and sub e and then this pick it's really cliquey. It's got a lot of it. Sounds like it's layered with, like, uh, the high hat or something. So what I'm gonna do, because you don't want to mix up the low ends, I'm gonna get rid of a lot. I think about where it crosses over at around, like, 400. 500. Um, so then Okay, so now that they're very cute, a little bit, I can start playing them together and kind of messing them to see where. See? I like you right there. All right, so now that we have this layered kick, I'm gonna continue on to the rest of the effects. Uh, so let's see. So a little confusing if you see these thes sticking out tabs. The reason this is that looks like that is because it's like a sampler within a sampler within a like a sampler. So it it gets a little confusing on what is what If you drop in effect out here, it's gonna be on the whole drum rack in here is going to be on just the kick. But both the samples, um, and then it within this tab is gonna be whatever sample your activated, so I'm actually gonna close this down. Um, but if you want to look at your samples, you have going Just click the show had devices or the show hide chain list. So there's our kick and now that so this accuse on the whole kick. And we can look kind of that Where, um where things air, maybe building up. I'm gonna cut a little bit at around 400 because at that spot, it just gets it can get. Really, Um, just a lot of instruments build up there, and it gets really like muddy. And it sounds pretty bad. Um, when everything's playing there, it sounds just kind of low quality. You'll get kind of like a cleaner sound. You don't wanna go too much, though, because because then it'll start sounding spars. Um, so that sounds pretty cool. I these samples are pretty similar. So if you're samples air like from different spots or different files, you can come in and change the volume of each so on. This is basically a fader. Um, I actually didn't have to do that, but I thought I'd mention that because let's say you want it. You want, like, less come down here, you see, it goes away. So that's another really cool thing about the layering. Is that, um if if parts air sticking out, you can kind of control Ah, big chunks of the whole sound. So, you know, I might actually get just a little bit of that sub. I think that sounds pretty cool. All right, Um, let's see here, So e que not ah, Super ton to put on the, uh, he, uh the kick. I wanna put a little bit of compression on it, So basically, I'm putting just It's pretty soft. It's pretty light compression. Um, I don't like to crush the crap out of my kicks, cause Ah, I'll probably do more that later on the whole drum rack. I like to give it some space. That's just gonna, like, give a little bit a little bit on the top. Just bring it down a little bit, Actually, just, like, bring the whole thing up a little. Just sounds a little thicker now. Pretty, pretty minimal, though. It's minimal. All right, so that's gonna be the kick drum. Next. We're gonna do snare. I'm also gonna do clap because there's some some cool stuff that you can do with collapse. I mean, you could technically do it with scenarios to, but stylistically, they're a little different. So next video is gonna be snares. So So you guys then peace out 3. Snare: What's up, guys? This is the snares layering tutorial. Um, so I have the same dream rack as the kick we did in the last video. I'm gonna go search for some samples real quick. Like I showed you with the kicks just to recap. Um, one sec. Okay. Like that. Uh, dragon a snare. Are any sample click up on the sampler control G groups the sample click on the show Hide chain list. And now you can drag in mawr sounds right here in this empty spot. So I'm gonna cut the video real quick, find some more samples that I like, and then we'll, uh, continue on from there. Alright, guys. So I got 123455 different sounds. So we're gonna It's a little aggressive right now, but we're gonna cut stuff up and probably delete a couple of these. We don't really need to go that hard with it, but they all have different aspects that I like actually also grabbed a high hat right here , because that gives it, like, sparkle top end. So I'll play the snare sound to get, like, really heavy. I actually turned all these down because there's a lot going on. Um, so I'm gonna listen through. All right, So these air kind of similar, they've got some high end that this one's got a lot of high end on that. That sizzle. This one's was kind of simple. Simple snare. So what I'm gonna do, I'm actually gonna get rid of that little peek right there. I'm gonna do bigger cuts than than usual, because there's a lot of sounds here, and, um, they're going to start building up pretty quick. Another thing to do is gonna be working with stereos bread. So I'm gonna pan some of these two sides. Some, like big, um, dubstep tracks or electronic stripes have tracks have, uh, like a really stereo sounding snare or even drums, even like the upper part of the chemicals on really stereo. And so this will help to get that bigger sound without just taking, like, one sample and trying to spread the stereo on it. So I'm looking the high end on this guy. So what I'm thinking right now actually is gonna be this one. This so this snare and the high hat I like, they're they're both really Sicily. Really top end. So what I'm gonna do is gonna pan these out. We left 10 right? Do it. Do what you want. Maybe Brandon. A little bit. Maybe that's a little too much. Um, so you get some stereo feel This snare is just like a I could write at the bottom. Just kind of stumpy quick. So that I was just gonna be, like, mono stereo. Arab center. This'll guy is just snappy, man. Yeah, well, so I might turn this guy down. The other thing is this samples really long, so I'm actually gonna get rid of a lot of that. I did. This one panned out a little bit. This one paid out a little bit. I see, uh, and then I'm gonna do some volume adjustment cause these air really loud. So yes. So it's kind of like making a puzzle. It's actually kind of It's kind of fun. I might actually ripped the top off this one completely. Yeah, it sounds better because there's a lot of top end on these other guys. I might pull this guy back a little bit too. So, like I said, this kind of puzzles together the pieces, Um you want and even a new even frequency overall. So when you hear these drums in the mix sometimes like in a dub step, track you here like what? It's a bright snare like that's really like shiny. And it sounds like, like, like is layered with a high at usually. That's not just a, um, a super bright snare. That's a really heavy snare, that is, um, it's some of the lower frequency sound lost because it's because of the all the other drums going on like kicks and stuff, so they have a lot of high end to them to stick out in the mix. If you had just the high end, it would sound thin. There would be no punch behind the drum. So when you hear that like punchy snare, it's not what immediately you might think. So that's important to have these low snares in here to get, um, that sound. So this sounds pretty cool. I'm going Teoh e que The whole thing now. So Heidi's also let it sit for a little bit. I know this is just a general tip is that if you're playing the same sound over and over in your ear. Uh, he could sound like garbage, but you get used to it. Um so give it a rest. Even right there, coming back to it that that break while I was talking It sounds different to me. All right, So what we're gonna dio is put a gate on here. So what is gonna dio is tighten things up. You can depends. Depends on how much you want to do it, but that's a little short. But as you see, it's what it's doing is cutting off sample. So I'm actually not gonna do it, Ton. It just sounds a little taking off those those tales that kind of splay out at the end. It makes it sound tighter. Um, And then let's do compressor tak up a little bit. Let that come through. Released down. So Yep. Gating for the adjusting that release compression for the transient and the top end. Um, if you can't hear the difference, that's okay. Um, who study these ratios? Attack release. I'll probably do compression tutorial on it all on its own because it's hard to learn. What I'm gonna show you real quick is what you can do. I'd put a little bit of reverb on this, cause snares. You're gonna have some river. See, There you go. I put on the whole kit. That's not what you want to do. So we've got snare. Sounded pretty good. What I'm gonna do is play through just with both and kind of adjust things and try to tweak the sound a little more to be something that you're gonna wanna be using. Someone put it just a little Lupin here and tweet things. Okay, So interesting thing right here. I brought down this narrow here, and everything kind of got snappier. That's because there is gonna be too much of a certain frequency of the way this one waas where it was kind of sticking out and drowning out the other sounds. So you got to be really careful. It kind of came to life a little more because you here big has, um, room, but also has tick like that. So that's good. That good balance. That's why I picked those two. So snare snappy. It's got that to it. It's quick, but the reverb kind of brings it out a little bit. Sounds nice. Give some cereal. It hits hard, and it's hitting hard in multiple spots That's hitting hard at the low end in the high end together. So, um, that's kind of getting that balance. So this why we're doing, uh, jum layering is to get that strong, strong sounds Also, because it's this is like four or five sample stacked on top of each other. There's gonna be no other producer with this sound. Basically. So you created your own sound in a way with the, uh, clap one. I'm also you collapse. But I'm also gonna show you just some fun things you could dio with layering because this is very bare bones. Very simple. Um, but there's, like, limitless possibility. So next tutorial will talk about, uh, tips, tricks collapse. Cool stuff like that. All right, peace guys. 4. Clap: What's up, guys? That we're gonna do the, um, clap tutorial real quick. So I'm gonna run through and find some clap samples like we did with all the other ones. Let's go to the drum rack. Overall. Dry Mac gonna go to my collapse. Same thing. Go through each one. Find parts of like and parts you don't like with collapse. It's kind of fun to give them kind of those delays, like with this is trying with this narrows, trying to make a more uniform and make just a kind of list of thick, one hit clap, um, the's air kind of fun to just kind of spread out. Make him make him all over the place. You'll hear compression more on that class so it does gives it some volume, but it also sounds like it's it sounds like it's It's wider, a little bit, And so when they say like thicker, it does some thicker. It's kind of hard to describe sound, but to me it sounds the sounds air playing at similar volume. So they're more playing together, and and it sounds like the side ones are a little louder, too. Um, so if you think of like a The stereo spectrum is like a like a snare is playing just kind of in the center. It kind of flattens it out. Makes it instead of like a just like a needle pointing up center. It sounds more like a little arch. Thing is, if you go too far, it sounds crashed. It sounds bad, so this gives it some thickness and sounds like it's playing wider. A little lighter, Um, because of the compression on those side ones. And then So that's what kind of my idea thicker is kind of hard to describe. But if you listen with it on and off, yeah, so that's cool. I'm actually not going to put a gate on this one because I like that kind of the releases at the end. It sounds cool, So I also like a lot of reverb whips. So is here that one. The rivers coming off on that one snare really loud. I think it sounds cool, so it sounds, um, thicker. It sounds, um, so here, let's play both of these real quick snares is It's low, Andy. It's kind of it hits quick and it's gone. Um, this class. It's got a lot of character to it. Actually enjoyed. I don't use snares A super ton. Um, I like making collapse more. Um, so yeah, that's some fun stuff to do. Collapse. Um, my mission to split the video do, um, another thing with the snare. So this is gonna be layering with effects, too, cause that consent. Really cool. Eso next video of Be looking back. Snare. All right, peace guys. 5. FX and Tips: What's up, guys? Last last video. I'm gonna do, um, some effects stuff, so I'm gonna take this snare. There we go. So that's a snare. We just made, um, fun things to dio I'm gonna do is go into I have, like, weird samples. So see, where is it? The warehouse. Yeah, these are cool. So these air sweet find like, Yeah, that's kind of cool is going to sound crazy. So, um, this layering technique does not have to end with snared like drums. It can be fricking anything, man. And this is this is where it gets fun, like already. Like how just gives us some character. Oh, wow. That's super crazy. So I wouldn't go super crime Gonna put a little a couple extra on your just cause Oh, my Lord, Yes. Of this stuff is sweet. Like that's kind of brought it to life. Um, so that's something I wanted to show you. Um, final tips and tricks I'm gonna do just since overall dumb stuff. So once you have your your, um, your kick are you kit? So, as you can see, really, uh, have three spots. So what I'm gonna dio is get some symbols. Just some, like clothes, hats. So this right here, this little three sounds kind of weird on its own. It just sounds like out of nowhere kind of hitting. This is where velocity comes in. Super cool. If you highlight thes hold control so you can either do all of them at the same time and adjusted velocities. Or you can hold control and go from the bottom to the top and whatever's highlighted, it'll do that pattern so it makes a little a little ramp. So that ramp makes it gives away more character. What I'm also gonna do is lead into snares is so crucial It sounds so cool. That's longer. Yeah. Is it that check? She, um that it makes you move more than just kind of It's It's really sweet. So I do that on most of my drums. I'd put that lead in generally soft attack because it's, uh if it's too in your face, it takes away from the B that the snares providing. Yeah, So also, if you want Teoh put so I'm actually gonna move to this clap. Oh, man, that's sweet. Okay, so, um, putting this the snares a tiny bit off the grid. He's going to give it kind of this swing feel, especially with the clap that has the delayed other collapse. Like within it. It gives it its The beat sounds thicker. There's sometimes I hear empty snares, it sounds like which is just a snare on B two. And that's boring if you if you have this leading and the snare little bit ahead. Okay, like it, it makes your head move. So that's kind of like Groove. So think about groove like that. Um, one more thing I'm gonna show you with that. That concept in mind is that if you take the's, um, that's too fast. Just take these, um, 16 notes and just repeat him throughout the whole thing so that if you to pull these off the off beat notes, take every offbeat start pulling back, get swing, So instead of that, you get that that, like, roll to it, and that makes you move. So I'm not saying if you don't if you put if you do that on the whole thing, it will be a swing beat. But if you use that idea to pull your beats in the direction. You want them to go, they will make people move. It's like it's That's why those live drummers and those dudes that get into it. They're not perfectly on beat. They have a natural swing in a natural groove that makes them just more expressive. And that's why I really like tight on the beat. Elektronik music can sound boring to a lot of people because it's it's everything's on the perfect beat If you look up John belly on, um, he does all his drumming on a beep had, uh, live and then records it. I'm not sure about quantum ization, but look up that because you'll feel it. It feels like the beats are lagging behind, but in a good way. So play with that drum thing, play with layering and then, um, yeah, keep making music, guys peace out