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Polytrix

Ableton: Drum Kit sample sequencing approaches

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Hi!

i love chopping samples from a whole range of sources; especially drums to make unique kits in ableton which I tend to do with drum racks. 

I'm looking for a more fun way of sequencing the samples though rather than playing them in via midi controller mpc style or/programming them. I think i just get a bit annoyed by having to use the Ableton piano roll etc even though I can get good results.

i don't have any external sequencers or drum machines to load my samples into so im trying to do this in the daw.

Sort of just wanting to be able to create weird little rhythms with built in unpredictability so I can sort of leave it going whilst I jam over the top. I really like the beat repeat effect which kind of builds in that randomness. Almost like I've given a real drummer using an electronic kit the samples I've edited and then the drummer kind of riffs around some basic loops I've fed it..perhaps loopers is what I'm after here. 

 

Nothing too complex I'm far from an expert...

 

cheers 

 

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Try out the Random and Arpeggiator and Velocity MIDI effects. At least half of my favorite riffs come from happy accidents with the arpeggiator on Hold and playing a chord with Random arp mode.

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Have you ever tried using delays on your drum sounds? Tracking each drum sample that's in your drum part onto separate channels and then adding quantized delays at with different delay times on each one, or only on some of them, or grouping together a few things and putting a delay on them. Delay on drums can really take drum programming skills in fun and new directions. 

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Very good advice thanks yeah. Always best in my experience to track each drum sound to a seperarte channel and then get that audio recorded in a more traditional multitrack way. I think I need to build a custom drum rack so I can just dump samples onto pads with all these extras being already there ready for me to go. 

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With regards to this. Just had some really good success with the random velocity midi pugin just literally triggering 1/4 note kick samples. Makes such a difference.

So yeah velocity into random held arpegiator seems to be working for me. I put the Simple Delay at the end of the chain making that full wet and linked l/r channels. Seemed to help too but perhaps that's not the best option with kicks. Either way a lot better so I'll try and map this across the other samples now. 

Couldn't seem to get along with the random pitch midi device though as the shifts in pitch were either too exagerated or not enough..not smooth changes. I think maybe works best on something with more harmonic content than just a static kick sample. In my mind, a drummer hitting a kick drum wouldn't always be consistently achieving the same pitch tho so it would be nice to still achieve that somehow. More subtle LFO modulation on the actual sample detune?

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I also find that running for example a bassline or hihat through a velocity randomizer gives more life and dynamics to the thing - especially when you feed it through a high feedback delay, you will start hearing melodies or rhythms emerge and that really becomes a very inspiring source of happy accidents (please do not steal my workflow).

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haha, no worries. I've done the exact same thing before I have to say!

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Stolen someone else's workflow you mean?

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Haha! No mate. Generating ideas with the old fx 🙂

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20 hours ago, Polytrix said:

Couldn't seem to get along with the random pitch midi device though as the shifts in pitch were either too exagerated or not enough..not smooth changes. I think maybe works best on something with more harmonic content than just a static kick sample. In my mind, a drummer hitting a kick drum wouldn't always be consistently achieving the same pitch tho so it would be nice to still achieve that somehow. More subtle LFO modulation on the actual sample detune?

Yeah, subtle random trig or hold lfo to sample tune usually does the trick for me. If you're using delays maybe a pitched delay that does cents could work as well maybe. 

And although it takes some setting up a lot of fun can be had using the clip follow actions, what's especially good for drums is that you can set where in the clip the follow action should be triggered and you can set probability. 

 

Edited by user

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Brilliant. Thank you. I forgot about the follow actions. I suppose I just don't like the nature of that set-up. Just a bit of a tricky one to get right I feel. 

Will try the LFO to pitch thing now.

Question tho, if I've got random velocity and random arp stuff going on, on a sample by sample basis, where's the value in actually having midi clip triggers programmed at all? I.e. if I put a 4/4 kick pattern into the midi clip for the kick in a drum rack, that's just being used to trigger the arp right so it doesn't really matter where I input the actual midi note? I suppose if the arp is in hold mode that overrides the need/point of drawing in midi notes at all?

Maybe I should put an LFO on the hold ON/OFF itself too so that that's all randomised as well? Best of both worlds?

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Good point, it depends on how much randomness you desire and your general workflow. If you're recording all the audio and/or midi straight away (which is probably the way to go when working in this way anyway) it doesn't matter I guess.  

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Thank you! 🙂 Watmm brilliantly helpful as ever thanks a lot. 

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On the MPC, I like to put an entire break in a single sample slot and then use velocity to modulate the starting point, so that I can play the phrasing in live, but the actual part of the sample that plays for any given hit isn't totally under my control.  Works better with LONG multi-bar breaks - the longer the break, the more unpredictable the results.

 

Arpeggiators are great, too, as mentioned.  Another good thing to try is to record some MIDI data with a pitched sound (maybe just literally play some existing piece of music if you're a piano player, or try messing with a pitch-to-MIDI converter even) and then send that straight to your drum module/VST and see what you end up with.

 

I've never actually tried it before, but now I want to mess with extracting stems from existing songs with that Spleeter thing that was posted recently, cutting out a few bars, running all of the individual instruments through some kind of pitch to MIDI converter, and then using the results as a drum sequence (or at least the starting point for one). Seems like it would be a good way to generate weird drum patterns that were musically coherent but also mostly unpredictable.

 

I don't know if it's true, but I always heard that the synth percussion on She Blinded Me With Science was achieved by recording the rest of the instruments, patching a rough mix into the line in of a sound-activated disco chase light controller, and then patching the analog trigger outputs that were meant to control individual lights into the trigger inputs of a drum module and printing the results onto a new track in the mix. There are all kinds of things like this you could do in a DAW easily enough.

Edited by TubularCorporation

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Thank you! I like the break modulated by velocity idea. Will try that one day. I really look forward to having this rack put together. I feel as though having your own templates/presets is really essential for ITB working: such a time saver. Thanks again all.

By the way, the additional LFO to arp hold on/off achieved what I want well. Nice little deviations off a pre-programmed otherwise static midi sequence which is just boring to have looping if you're trying to get inspired jamming over the top of. I suppose you could then add/swing groove on top of that too and it's gonna get pretty mad. Thanks for help people. Genuinely amazing to learn from all of you. 

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Map a slow sine lfo to the start position of a drum sample. That way it scrolls over different parts of the transient, and past it, which gives a very organic feel, like a drummer not hitting perfectly every time.

i also always use subtle random velocity and a s/h lfo at .01hz (set to retrig each note) mapped to pitch. You can also do random velocity with the s/h trick. Retrig and .01hz because this basically gives you a different static value each hit than won’t change during the release stage and sound weird  

add the vocoder to a drum track, set the carrier to the modulator, and map lfos to the depth, formant, noise level, decay, etc.

add an auto filter set to slow subtle sine lfo, use a 12db low pass filter, and turn up the envelope sensitivity

drag 4 of the same kick/snare/anything to a drum rack row, then make subtle changes to each one to set them apart. Use separate filter, tuning, start positions, decays, drive settings, etc.

 

 

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Seconding the random velocity trick. I just wish that it would be possible to set the random seed so that it's possible to have the same randoms when you open the project again. Sometimes there's a really genius bit that I want to keep, but because it's random it may never happen again.

Not sure if this is actually possible in any way though.

On 11/8/2019 at 11:45 PM, sheatheman said:

add the vocoder to a drum track, set the carrier to the modulator, and map lfos to the depth, formant, noise level, decay, etc.

Do you mean the M4L lfo effect?

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So you want random but always the same random? Lol

yeah the m4l lfo. I use those a lot. All those devices are amazing. 

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7 minutes ago, sheatheman said:

So you want random but always the same random? Lol

yeah the m4l lfo. I use those a lot. All those devices are amazing. 

I do realize the thing I want is impossible. 🙂 I should just always record the "raw" MIDI output so that the happy accidents get stored.

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Recording raw midi is a great thing to do. 

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I just discovered this the other day. Would this help?

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There are a ton of Reaktor patches that are basically randomizer sequencers. There's also Max4Live if you're into Max/MSP.

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What I found before was that my raw midi (when using a combo of these approahes) was coming out quantized? I think that's down to my arp settings? Or could that more be global record quantize settings overall? Got that enabled without realising?

thanks everyone

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1 hour ago, Polytrix said:

What I found before was that my raw midi (when using a combo of these approahes) was coming out quantized? I think that's down to my arp settings? Or could that more be global record quantize settings overall? Got that enabled without realising?

thanks everyone

Yeah, happens to me all the time. Drove me nuts first time it happened and I had record quantisation turned on. 

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