Creating better sample-based percussion loops for your tracks
Creating good percussion loops from scratch can be tricky so often producers rely on sample libraries for their loops.
Today I’ll be outlining a few tips and tricks that make the process of creating your own unique sample-based percussion loops from scratch much less intimidating. One of the key aspects that I think puts a lot of producers off from using a variety of different samples are worrying about fine-tuning the mix of each sample. This is where using a sub-mix or group becomes very effective, this is why I use Steinberg Groove Agent; however a similar approach can be applied in Ableton’s Drum Rack.
The idea is to create four groups for all the percussion samples, apply different effects, panning and EQ to each group and then route all the samples through any of the four groups. Not only does this make life a lot easier, it also saves your CPU because the chances are you will be applying EQ to each channel when you get to the mixing stage. You can also quickly drag-and-drop the samples to rearrange them, this works in both Ableton and Cubase.
Let’s look at the arrangement of the notes…
Once I have the samples loaded up and sub-mixed, I generally solo my snare and hat channels and place random MIDI notes in the gaps between the main percussion elements in the track. I usually end up filling up all the gaps, and then using a large amount of them as “ghost notes”. For those, I adjust the attack so that they aren’t as audible but still have rhythmic value.
I like to render out a few variations of the loop, removing an element or two each time, this gives me plenty of different percussion loops that all fit together sensibly to create an overall groove. I generally add some filter and other effects to bring the loops in or out in the different sections of the track.
For a more detailed walkthrough of the process, check out the video here: