Tags: posts polarity-music Bitwig

Making Drum Loops More Interesting Using Bitwig

Tutorial | Jul 18, 2022

In this video, I showed some tips and tricks to make editing a drum loop more interesting and less tedious. I used Bitwig and the chain to add effects to the drum loop, such as filters, delays, reverbs, and phasers. I showed how to use automation, step mode, and the FX grid to sequence the effects and how to use the randomize and modulation amount features to control the probability of the effects being triggered. I also showed how to use a tool device to feed audio into a reverb and how to use a chance module to randomize different effects.

You can watch the Video on Youtube - support me on Patreon

Questions & Answers

Maybe you dont watch the video, here are some important takeaways:

How can Bitwig and the Chain be used to make drum loops more interesting?

Bitwig and the Chain can be used to make drum loops more interesting by utilizing automation, step mode sequencing, random modulation, and FX selectors. Automation can be used to bring in and out certain effects on different parts of the arrangement. Step mode sequencing can be used to bring in different effects at specific points in time. Random modulation can be used to add random elements to the drum loop, and FX selectors can be used to switch between different effects.

How can a reverb be used on only the snare drum in a drum loop?

A reverb can be used on only the snare drum in a drum loop by using an FX grid to analyze the signal and a low pass filter to cut out all audio signals below 1kHz. Then an oscilloscope can be used to identify the peak of the snare drum and a follower can be used to smooth out the signal. A tool device can be used to feed the snare drum signal into the reverb, and a chance module can be used to randomize the reverb so it is only applied to the snare drum sometimes.


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] Hello folks. Welcome back to another video. So in this example here I have a drum loop
[00:05.120] and you probably had this problem before that you need to edit it and bring in some details,
[00:11.600] small little chops, small little glitches, repeat repetitions and so on to keep it interesting
[00:16.920] over time, right? So and it's a really tedious talk for me. Some people really enjoy this
[00:22.440] and go in and edit this for hours. I find it very boring. So I try to utilize Bitwig
[00:30.360] and the chain for this to make it more interesting and I want to show you some tips and tricks
[00:34.680] for this, how we can do that. So we have this drum loop here. It's already a bit shopped
[00:51.320] up. So it's already, you know, bringing in some action with break downs and breaks here
[00:58.440] and there. It's kind of a drum loop I got from a sample CD. So that's that. But I want
[01:03.840] to even, you know, make it more interesting. So maybe you can do stuff here with the filter
[01:14.200] and filter goes, of course, down to this, maybe to this frequency. And then we use a
[01:22.280] random mod. The random mod opens up the filter exactly in a 16 beat note grid, maybe a bit
[01:35.320] of smoothing here. The first problem is you don't want to have this all the time on, right?
[01:44.680] So you start maybe to use your automation and bring this in and out. But what I do most
[01:51.120] of the time is using a step mode as a sequencer. So we can say you maybe go to eight notes.
[01:57.320] So this runs pretty slowly, fairly slowly. And then I bring you the frequency up and
[02:04.600] I say at the end here, I want only to have this effect happening here at the end of
[02:09.440] these, you know, not two bars, whatever. So I use the modulation here, bring this down
[02:16.720] to this position. And so you now have, you now have this effect only at the end of these
[02:30.920] two bars happening. And then you can start a sequence, maybe and switch this on or off
[02:37.160] depending on where you are in your arrangement. So maybe you don't want to have this on every
[02:41.840] section or every area of your arrangement happening. So you can use automation for that.
[02:48.000] It's much easier this way. So we have your on off. So off, maybe we only want to have
[02:54.320] this here happening at this section. So you have this only here, right? This is for me
[02:59.240] much easier to handle.
[03:06.640] So this is something you can do. Then another trick would be to use delay plus. And then
[03:12.520] use delay plus there's feature at the left side here, which is called fade. And you can
[03:17.320] increase the update rate. So it updates what's, what's changing on the device pretty drastically
[03:23.720] heavily fast, your one kilohertz, maybe it's too fast, maybe it's maybe can dials down.
[03:29.480] But for me, it's no drawback to just use an high update rate. And then you bring in here
[03:35.000] maybe the first one bit of delay.
[03:40.640] Bring down the feedback here, open up the filter, mix 100% and
[03:52.320] we have here a freeze button. So we can kind of take and repeat over this. We use a random
[03:57.600] mod and we modulate here 16 nodes. We modulate here the beats of delay. We can see that we
[04:09.160] have no pitch in there or no pitch happening when we change delay times.
[04:22.800] Because of this on changes fade and update rate, it's just a bit repeater now.
[04:30.520] So now we can duplicate here the random mod and can modulate here the fire button or it's
[04:41.360] freeze button probably. And now another trick is that the modulation amount is actually
[04:49.200] probability value. And this is, this is with all binary knobs or switches in Bitwig to leave
[04:58.440] the same the same case. You can see now it flashes pretty drastically pretty fast and
[05:04.480] pretty often. When you dial this down, maybe to modulation amount of 0.514 and see it's
[05:14.480] not flashing that often and maybe it's not flashing at all. Let's see. Now it flashes
[05:22.880] a bit, but you can decide with the modulation amount the probability of this getting triggered.
[05:31.720] And the reason for that is that everything in Bitwig over modulation amount of 0.5 is
[05:38.080] counting as one as on switched on. And here you can see the modulation values change from
[05:49.480] let's say zero and one is here at the top. So when we dial in maybe a value here of 0.6,
[06:00.040] the modulation amount has to reach maybe one get to 0.6. So it's rarely happening that
[06:09.320] the modulation signal is going over 0.5 here. It's probably better for me to show you this
[06:16.680] on on on a on a graph, but maybe you get it in together in your head, right? So if I modulate
[06:23.880] here lightly over 0.5, the modulation amount has to rise a lot. So it gets here over 0.5.
[06:33.480] So that's basically what you do with the modulation amount. So we can decide here by how much
[06:39.880] go over 0.5, how likely it is for the modulation to trigger this button actually. So I want
[06:47.800] to have this pretty rarely, maybe as 0.6 was pretty nice. So now we have the freeze button
[06:54.240] sometimes going on and off and let's see how this sounds. We go back here. So now we
[07:14.680] can do stuff like using the step mode here to sequence this and bring the mix in and out
[07:20.840] certain points, maybe only the end from from the bar.
[07:27.640] We can modulate actually the mix.
[07:29.000] Maybe you make this a bit slower. So we have this every two bars.
[07:59.880] Okay, so now that we have this, we have maybe the filter here and this repeater section, you know,
[08:06.760] influencing each other too much. So you have this all the time and this sometimes, right? So it
[08:11.560] gets pretty wild pretty fast. So what we can do now is we instead of having this here in serial,
[08:19.880] so one after the other, we can make it in parallel. So you bring this here into
[08:24.680] with the grouping, with the control and G option into a FX layer, and then you convert this here
[08:32.440] to an FX selector and then bring this here in the second layer. And then you can use randomize
[08:41.880] to switch between the two, right? And maybe you can do this pretty slowly or pretty fast. It depends
[08:49.960] on what kind of sound you're going for. So it's even possible to switch within the end,
[08:55.880] within the sequencing where we want to put in the effect on the end. You can switch between
[09:01.000] the effects on this. And yeah, let's see how this works. So you have influence on each of these
[09:23.160] effects differently with the step mode. You can also use the step mode here on the FX selector and
[09:27.560] bring in all the effects at the same time if you want to. But you can also sequence this here a bit
[09:32.280] differently. Maybe you want to have here some kind of Poly written happening. So instead of 16
[09:38.680] steps, which are basically two bars or one bar, you can go for 14, 14 steps here, maybe, and then
[09:46.600] you have like overlapping things. And sometimes this happens and only, or sometimes only that,
[09:52.280] sometimes they overlap. So you have like a variety in this too. Okay, so next effect could be, for
[09:59.400] instance, something like a phaser, phaser plus here, let's switch to that. So we have this on all the
[10:05.800] time. And then use of course, here, randomized, to randomize the color.
[10:12.360] Use randomized to randomize the algorithm. Okay, so step mode, you can sequence this, of course,
[10:30.440] maybe here, bring in the mix. It's down.
[10:50.920] You can go back here to the first setting. We have to modulate this again. So now we switch
[10:55.560] between the three. Okay, so next effect would be something like you want to have a reverb in there,
[11:10.600] right? But you don't want to have to reverb on all the drums and you want to have maybe on the
[11:15.080] snare drum and only on the snare drum sometimes. So by chance, select by chance, we can do this by
[11:22.120] adding, of course, reverb. And we can use here a step mode to bring in the mix, right, something like
[11:27.320] this. But because you use the mix knob here, the reverb is processing all the time, all the audio
[11:36.600] coming in. So all the kick drums, all the snare drums, all the hi-hats. And then you bring in the
[11:41.560] mix here, exactly when the snare hits, you bring also in the reverb tails of the kicks from before,
[11:47.240] right? We have to cut out all the drums before the snare comes in. So we only want to have or feed
[11:54.440] the snare audio signal into the reverb. We can do this with the grid. So for instance, we can use
[12:02.040] an FX grid here. And we try to analyze the signal inside the grid of the drum loop, right? So let's
[12:11.080] use a spectrum signal here. You can see the snare drum is happening here at 1k. So what we do is we
[12:23.240] use a low pass filter everything away that's below 1k. You use, of course, a very steep filter here.
[12:30.600] Low pass, high pass, everything that's above. I think that's below. And maybe use an xp filter here
[12:45.640] at 1k. And we use a steep filter like a bandpass 4p. This goes away.
[12:53.000] And you can see we have still a bit of the kick drum in there because there are many high
[13:05.800] contents on top of the kick drum, but it's not so much like the snare. The snare is still louder at
[13:11.240] this position here. So we can still try and figure out how to get this.
[13:29.000] Yeah, nice. So we use a follower here. So we can smooth out the signal and we don't need the
[13:37.560] spectrum here anymore. Let's make no sense there. And we use an oscilloscope to get here.
[13:48.440] Basically the peak of the snare.
[13:50.600] So now we can try and get here. Then gate length.
[14:07.480] We have the snare here.
[14:18.360] Nice. Let's see this here.
[14:33.240] It's maybe not perfect, but it works in this case.
[14:46.040] So now that we have this, we can trigger something and we trigger an AD.
[14:52.120] So the AD itself doesn't bring in the mix knob of the reverb here. We use a tool device.
[15:09.240] The tool device goes zero. So nothing goes into the reverb because this is zero.
[15:15.160] We also don't hear anything because the audio didn't pass here through. They have
[15:18.760] expert because we have this at zero. So what we do now is we use this AD to bring in
[15:26.120] the tool device exactly when the snare plays. So only the snare gets feeded into the reverb.
[15:40.520] And because we feed this into the tool and don't use the mix knob here, we don't choke
[15:44.760] the reverb tail because the reverb is always on, always at 100% and the reverb can tail out
[15:51.400] pretty easily. If we basically do this here without the tool device and bring all the sounds in and
[15:59.800] just bring this in. The reverb is only as long as our AD is because when we fade this out here,
[16:11.400] the mix goes down and also the reverb tail goes away. Maybe it's exactly what you want,
[16:18.920] so it's not wrong to do it this way. It's all about how you want it to sound. So it's the
[16:28.360] only way to think about it. So there's no right or wrong. I only show you possibilities, basically.
[16:36.920] So now that we have this, we need to actually pass here the audio through and the easiest way
[16:41.240] of doing this is of course to put this into an X layer here and put the tool device on there. So we
[16:49.080] have here basically the tri-signal and this is the wet snare reverb. So now there's only the snare
[17:08.920] and only reverb on the snare and all the time. So what we can do now is use a chance module here
[17:15.880] and say I only want to have the reverb on the snare sometimes.
[17:45.880] Right, so you get some variety in there with the reverb and you don't need to sequence this
[17:55.000] actually in the automation or whatever. So between the sides here basically with some
[18:02.520] randomization that's something happening at some point in your track. So it makes things more
[18:09.000] complex, more interesting and surprising maybe for yourself too and you don't need to sequence
[18:15.080] this actually. Of course if you want to preserve this and you have this every time at the same place
[18:21.880] that's a bit different and that's a bit difficult to do but what you can do actually is to bounce this
[18:28.040] out to audio right and then you have basically a long randomized drum loop with all the effects on
[18:35.240] it but it's every time the same. Okay, so now that we have this here maybe we can make this a bit maybe
[18:45.560] 5 dB quieter and now that we made this actually we can just duplicate this and say instead of
[19:03.080] using this reverb I use a delay plus and because it's randomized sometimes this happens and sometimes
[19:15.960] this happens and sometimes both at the same time happen so we can dial in here a bit of mix 100% of
[19:23.240] course
[19:53.240] so you get some effects on some of the parts of your track sometimes not all the time and you can
[20:10.040] use the step mod to sequence stuff in and out and randomized some trigger points here and there
[20:17.080] and yeah this all things together make yeah make a huge difference then in the end in the global
[20:25.480] grand theme of things
[20:55.480] that's still the repeat I am
[21:25.800] yeah it's fun to do and bitwig like I said and if you save these presets for later and
[21:55.080] next time you have a drum loop like this you just put on some of these devices and
[22:01.480] kind of have fun and have instantaneously more interesting results without going in and
[22:10.040] editing all the stuff but sometimes you want to have you know at the same position exactly at this
[22:16.440] point in time you want to have this effect then you of course need to need to edit it manually
[22:23.640] by hand or with automation but sometimes you just want to make something a bit more interesting
[22:29.160] and these effects or these type of workflows can help okay so thanks for watching this video
[22:34.920] leave a like if you find this helpful subscribe to the channel and I see you in the next video
[22:39.720] thanks for watching and bye