Creating Music from a Drum Loop with Audio Effects
Tutorial | Mar 16, 2021
In this video, I showed some of the tricks I used to create a song out of just a drum loop. I used a resonator bank with a step sequencer and an audio side chain to extract the gate signal from the drum loop. I also used a pitch shifter, distortion, peak limiter, reverb, delay and a halftime plugin to shape the sound. I also used a quantizer, a comp filter and the harmonic series to add some extra elements. Finally, I used a limiter for quick mastering. I hope this video gives you some ideas or inspiration to try out in your own environment.
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Questions & Answers #
Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:
What kind of audio effect chain did you use to create the melody and bass lines? #
For the melody and bass lines, I used a resonator bank with some lower frequencies, which I triggered with an audio sidechain from the drum loop. I used a step sequencer with the minor scale setting to modulate the frequency offset of the resonator bank. I also used distortion, peak limiter, the tool, reverb, delay, pitch shifter, rotary device, texture plug-in, amp modulation, and a limiter for quick mastering.
How did you generate the base pattern? #
To generate the base pattern, I used the same trick with the step sequencer and the minor scale setting. I removed all the keys except for the root note, the dominant note, and the root note one octave higher. I modulated the global frequency offset and triggered the lowest band with a sidechain from the kick drum. I used a delay to offset the base pattern two beats after the kick drum.
How did you use the quantizer to limit the LFO to a certain scale? #
To limit the LFO to a certain scale, I
This is what im talking about in this video. The text is transcribed by AI, so it might not be perfect. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.
You can also click on the timestamps to jump to the right part of the video, which should be helpful.
[00:00.000] Welcome to another video. Yesterday I gave myself some kind of challenge. I tried to create a song or some melody lines and bass lines out of just a drum loop.
[00:12.000] So there's a benefit of using highly reactive audio effect chains on audio material because every time you change the audio material or the input or the source to your effect chain.
[00:28.000] And then the whole thing changes, right? It all depends on your initial sound.
[00:34.000] And yeah, yesterday I posted a video on Instagram or Twitter where I use a drum loop. So this is a drum loop here.
[00:45.000] And then I added basically my effect chain here.
[00:48.000] To create basically the rest of the song or the rest of the draft or, you know, the loop.
[01:02.000] And this is super interesting, like I said, because when you change the drum loop, the whole thing changes also with it.
[01:10.000] And there are different tricks I use here and I wanted to show you some of the tricks I'm using to maybe can replicate this in your, you know, at home, in your own environment and get some ideas or some inspiration out of it.
[01:26.000] So maybe we will just listen to the second drum loop. I didn't show this yesterday.
[01:36.000] So first I started the drum loop so you can hear how the input material sounds.
[01:47.000] And then I bring in my effect chain.
[01:49.000] Okay. So can you add us even the bass sound is generated from the input sound. So now when we change the drum loop.
[02:15.000] To this drum loop here, we also change the speed of course because it's a different PM here for this drum loop.
[02:33.000] It changes dramatically in how it sounds and yeah, how the patterns are working and so on.
[02:40.000] So how did I do this? Yeah, for the bass sound here, maybe just focus on this.
[02:52.000] You maybe guess that there's just a resonator bank here with some lower frequencies.
[02:58.000] And I trigger basically or extract the gate signal from the drum loop here with the audio side chain.
[03:12.000] And every time basically the kick drum plays, I trigger this resonator bank.
[03:17.000] And I used the frequency of I think it's C3.
[03:26.000] Yes. So I'm using the root note of my melodies or the harmony or the scale I'm chosen.
[03:38.000] Yeah, I used C3 basically here and the special thing about this is that I'm using a step sequencer or steps modulator when these steps are completely tuned to the minor scale.
[03:56.000] And I did this yesterday and every time I load the resonator bank, I have initially already two steps modulators attached. One is for the minor scale and one is for the major scale.
[04:09.000] And every time I modulate here something frequency wise with it, I can basically modulate exactly in one octave only in the minor scale or only in the major scale.
[04:23.000] So here I have basically the root note of C, C3.
[04:30.000] So I'm in the scale of C and I'm using the minor. So I have C minor and I need to modulate exactly 12, 12 steps or 12 units and type it in.
[04:44.000] Because all these percentages of these steps you work exactly in the just only in one octave. The first one here is the root note.
[04:53.000] You can see there's no modulation applied. So we have chosen here C3 and then we have the first note is basically we have your 17%.
[05:05.000] Then there is 25, 51, 58, 67, 82 and 100%, which is the same note as we started on just one octave higher.
[05:20.000] And now you can also match and mix if you don't want maybe here some of these notes removed, you know, remove them.
[05:30.000] I think 60% is the dominant. So if you want to leave this in, we have now here the root note everywhere and we have the root note one octave higher and we have the dominant note in here.
[05:41.000] So now you can modulate here, as I said, modulate some frequencies and be sure you always be in a scale, which is nice to have on different devices.
[05:54.000] The only downside to this is that you can't save presets for the modulator. So you have to either paint in these steps every time you use the step sequencer or like I did here, I used it on the resonator bank.
[06:15.000] Every time I need these, I just recall the resonator bank and just drag them over to a different device, right? So I'm using the resonator bank with this init setting here to get access to these modulators.
[06:27.000] And I probably always use them on the resonator banks where, yeah, attach them basically to this device here and save it as a default preset with the right clicker, save as default preset.
[06:39.000] And I have it every time ready on the resonator bank. So, yeah, this is what I used. And there's also interesting trick with the steps mod here that you can right click on transform and go for random swap.
[06:55.000] This means basically you have the same steps as before just in a different random order. This gives you then different random melodies, which can be interesting to, you know, use multiple multiple devices in a row with different orders of the minor scale.
[07:15.000] And then you apply it, yeah, to different frequencies and it gives nice results. So this is what I did here with this steps, I just deleted all the keys because I wanted to have my base pattern to be pretty simple.
[07:29.000] So I use only three notes here. I think it's the root node and some at 60% it's probably the dominant. So it's the root and then seven semitones above and 12 semitones above.
[07:46.000] And I modulated here the only one band, I think, no, I modulated here the global frequency offset. And then I just dealt in here the low, the lowest band with sidechain as you can see here.
[08:01.000] The kick drum triggers the gate and the steps mod decides which frequency is to play. So this is how I generate the base pattern basically.
[08:12.000] The other thing is I don't want to have the base exactly playing at the same time the kick drum is playing. So I'm using here a delay one to offset basically the base pattern just two beats after the kick drum.
[08:26.000] So the kick drum hits and then comes the baseline.
[08:30.000] When I remove this here, the base is exactly at the same position as the kick drum. So when I offset this, it's a bit more interesting because the base is between the kick drums.
[08:47.000] And then I'm using here of course distortion and peak limiter and the tool and so on. So this is the baseline. But the resonator bank line here this is generating more or less the melody and it's the same trick I'm using here input the drum loop itself.
[09:06.000] And I'm also using the steps mod with the minor setting, modulating here the club or pitch offset frequency offset of the resonator bank.
[09:17.000] What I'm triggering some of the bands differently with different LFO settings as you can see here.
[09:23.000] So it's not dependent on the drum loop as a gate triggering source. I'm using the LFOs basically. And with the classic classic LFO, you can shape here basically your gate setting pretty nicely.
[09:44.000] So you can decide how long the sustain is of the pleaps and plops.
[09:54.000] And also choose your different speed settings which can be interesting. You can see I'm using dotted here and maybe use this here.
[10:12.000] Also use here the face offset as you can see 66 it's basically yeah when you divide a whole beat or whole bar into three equal steps. Then you have of course,
[10:24.000] 43, 66 and 99% face offset here and you get the nice in between rhythm triplet feel. Yeah, just to spice up the rhythm basically of these pleaps.
[10:44.000] So this is that and then I have a chain here in the chain I have a pitch shifter and I'm using the same trick here for the pitch shifter.
[11:05.000] So you can see I'm modulating here the pitch shift itself by exactly also 12 semi tones and I removed some notes here from the minor scale and the random modulator modulates the grain setting here which gives nice glitchy effects.
[11:26.000] And also because I'm using the steps with the minor scale I am making sure that I'm staying in in the minor scale of my root of my root note of C.
[11:46.000] Yeah, I just blended this in here just a little bit also using your blow device to get some nice effects also reverb and the delay of course.
[11:57.000] So this is that then a peak limiter to just level something outdoor get rid of some of the peaks reverb delay and I'm using your halftime to slow down the sound.
[12:09.000] So I'm using this is a preset here that's available in my mod by tools kit or preset pack.
[12:16.000] It's basically the same audio signal just slowed down exactly by half which is an octave lower and the speed is also divided in half.
[12:41.000] I used it your multiple times we have also slow down version slow down again a bit so you have multiple layers of tapes or tape effect then you have a peak limiter again tool delivering everything out and that's it for this line here.
[12:58.000] Then I have here what's this also resonator line. I think I went way overboard with this but it was just so fun to try try everything out.
[13:11.000] So I have again you did the same trick on this tool just different rhythms different notes different LFO settings different bands.
[13:21.000] Also your pitch shifter again with the same same settings rotary rotary device and get some stereo effects also amp modulation peak limiter reverb delay my textures plug in where I added some noise textures on top maybe we can listen to this how this sounds.
[13:46.000] Yeah it's just some vinyl crackle on top.
[13:53.000] It's mixed in with amplitude modulation so it sounds more like it depends on the input signal also.
[14:08.000] It's a free modulation to discuss some nice crackle effects peak limiter tool device and that's also it for this track here.
[14:26.000] Then we have at the top also resonator bank different settings and here I'm using again audio side chain on different frequencies here on the kick drum here on the snare drum and I think here on the high heads.
[14:49.000] And also again here the frequencies are changed by the step smart and the triggering is decided or changed by these audio side chains here.
[15:01.000] So every time you change the drum loop you change the rhythm you also change the triggering of these bands here so everything changes a bit.
[15:10.000] I have delay here what's this also pitch shifter in there I really love this also half time again peak limiter reverb delay peak tool and yeah that's also it for this track here.
[15:26.000] At the end of the FX layer if you use a cool for here just for quick mastering and the limiter and that's it basically and then I'm using also audio side chain to kick and the snare just to yeah fade all the generated sounds out here just to make room for the drums.
[15:56.000] So pretty interesting then also a trick I started to use before I created this with a step sequencer I tried to basically do something with the quantizer more to later.
[16:20.000] So when you have here let's use an LFO we have an LFO on your modulators right.
[16:29.000] You have all kinds of pitches in between notes right so I thought maybe there should there should be a way to limit this to some kind of scale.
[16:38.000] So my first is my yeah the first idea was to use one ties in here and instead of modulating this we modulate of course the quantizer by just one unit and then we say we want to modulate this here exactly one octave which is 12 semi tones.
[17:05.000] Maybe limit is here also to unipolar.
[17:09.000] So we modulate you exactly in one octave and one octave has exactly 12 notes in it we need to set this to 12 so now we basically scale or modulate exactly one every note in a scale which is chromatic.
[17:28.000] But that's that's not what I want I want to have a scale so I need to remove some of the notes in the chromatic scale here to get a minor scale or a major scale.
[17:41.000] And there's no way to actually do this with the quantizer at least I haven't found a way maybe you can combine multiple quantizers to get exactly a minor or major scale.
[17:51.000] But I found it pretty much easier to use use the steps mod and to dial in all the steps needed for a minor or major scale.
[18:05.000] And like I said it's it's not possible to save these steps mods here as a preset itself you have to draw it in every time or like I did here you have to attach to a device save it as a default preset and every time you need this you just recall the resonator bank and then you drag it over to here and use it then on your device.
[18:31.000] So exactly 12 semitones maybe choose a sptm.
[18:37.000] So it's also nice but yeah you make sure you basically stay in key with some of your devices.
[19:04.000] This not only works on the pitch shifter and the resonator bank you can also use this on maybe the frequency shifter here.
[19:14.000] This one is a bit trickier because you need to know which initial note you are using.
[19:21.000] So for instance if you use C as an input note and you want to pitch shift exactly one octave higher you need to know the frequency of your initial note so if you are on C3 you type in here C3 and you pitch shift exactly up by 262 hertz which is one octave higher.
[19:45.000] So when you have C3 as an input note it's 262 or 262 hertz if you want to pitch up one octave you need double the frequency which is exactly also 262 hertz higher.
[20:00.000] So you need to type in here the root note you want to pitch shift up one octave if you know what I mean.
[20:09.000] So this is a bit trickier but you can also use this on here. Then what else I think also the comp filter.
[20:18.000] There's no e-track on here so you're completely lost in terms of notes but if you stick here to C3 use minus scale mods here.
[20:35.000] Scale steps mod. I think you have to modulate by exactly 0.3 so this is one octave I think should be.
[20:47.000] So you can also use this on the comp filter and some all kinds of other devices you can try it out for yourself.
[21:08.000] I put here the resonator bank with the mine on the major scale attached to it in my GitHub repository or also post a link in the description below so you can download it if you want.
[21:20.000] The inner sitting of this here is C3 as a root note and then the harmonic series on top.
[21:28.000] So just so you know what's happening on here with the rest of the sliders so I dial down all the bands here so only the first slider or the first bands active more or less.
[21:41.000] And you can dial all these overtones in if you need them or change it to your liking but this is basically C3 and all the harmonic series on top as overtones.
[21:54.000] And of course my major steps mod attached.
[21:59.000] So I put the link in the description you can try it out for yourself and create nice rhythmic delays here like I did.
[22:06.000] It's pretty funny actually.
[22:12.000] Maybe it's a nice community challenge to yeah so everybody tries to yeah tries to make the best possible song just with these kind of resonator tricks on effect change tricks to
[22:40.000] create a whole song out of only audio effects in a drum loop as an input.
[22:46.000] It's pretty funny actually so yeah that's it.
[22:50.000] I think for this video it's a pretty short one and improvised one but nonetheless it's I think it's informative and can get some nice inspiration from it.
[23:02.000] So yeah give me give me a thumbs up and some questions if you want and I can explain some of the techniques.
[23:12.000] Yeah even more if you want. So yeah thanks for watching and I'll see you in the next video. Bye.