Ableton Tutorial: How to Make Drum n’ Bass: In-Depth [Part 1]

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This is the a 3 part in-depth tutorial showing you how to make a full Drum & Bass track from scratch. Along the way you will how to arrange drums, bass, effects and much more. This tutorial was made using the first official and best-selling Viper Recordings sample pack from Prime Loops so be sure to check that out too!

Here is are step by step notes to accompany the tutorial. Enjoy!

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Pt. 1 Drum Tricks:

1. I’ve laid out a basic loop with the drums that has good movement and should allow plenty of space for cool bass stuff to happen. Mostly I’ve left the sound as is, but there was a couple of drum loops I felt needed more clarity and power. I’ve used the Broken Razor Drum Ghosts loop and used a combination of EQ, Saturation and the Schaack Audio Transient shaper to boost the volume and tighten up the hits.
a. First thing to do is to select the audio clip and switch it in to beats mode on the “Off’ mode (a single arrow pointing right). Then reduce the Transient Envelope length until you get a nice precise sound.
b. Next the EQ alters the frequency balance if required before any extra processing happens. In this case I’ve cut the low frequencies at 120 and boosted the mid range to give more warmth. *
c. The saturator adds a touch of extra distortion. With the Ableton saturator I’ve found that the ‘Soft Sine’ setting works well, though other plugins work well for this too. *** Screenshot 3 ***
d. The Schack Audio Transient Shaper is then set with the attack at maximum to exaggerate the attack transient, the release reduced slightly to tighten the hits and the drive up to give us some extra headroom to play with.
e. The result of this is tighter, fatter and louder drums that use up less headroom!
2. Next up is Hi-Hats – you can get some really dynamic patterns simply by messing around with the playback speed. This is especially easy in Ableton but should be straight forward in most other DAWs too. Once you’ve dropped in a hi-hat loop, slice it up and at key moments in the phrase play it back at double speed by selecting the clip and clicking the “:2” button to halve the warp bpm. I’ve used this here because the track drops in to more of a broken feel and it was losing too much energy! You can chop back and forth between the two speeds and maybe even create a few weird stretches and cuts to complement what’s going on with the rest of your arrangement.
3. Layering your drums just right can make a big difference! At certain key moments I wanted a breakbeat style fill to end the phrase. The percussion on its own wasn’t quite punchy enough, but by layering a kick and snare in just the right places I can really bring out the fill without changing its character too much!
4. To really get that chunky sound you have to make sure your Bass & Drums sync up well! Use the transients of your drums to really highlight what you’re going for with the bass, and the rich phatness of the bass to reinforce your drum patterns and fill in the texture. For this end of phrase fill I’ve created a rhythmical but repetitive bass pattern and then highlighted the start of each hit with the kick drum to really hammer it home.
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EDM composition in Ableton Live

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