Walkthrough To An EDM Drum Loop

Walkthrough To An EDM Drum LoopThis is a walkthrough tutorial to the drum loop you heard in my “How To Make Glitch Sounds Using FL Studio’s Edison” -tutorial. In that video, some of the samples in the drum loop were slightly out of tune so I will also show two different tuning methods to fix those.

Here’s the drum loop in it’s final form:

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Alright. Here’s a walkthrough how I re-create the drum loop.

Preparation And Picking The Samples

To kick things off, I first extend the Pattern 1 (which is going to be the drum pattern) to 8 beats per bar. Using longer patterns makes it possible to add more variation to the sequence without the need to create a new pattern for each variation.

Extending The Pattern

Next, the drum sounds.

I’m using following drum samples in a following order (all the samples I’m using in this drum loop is included in the zipped FL Studio project file which you can download at the bottom of this article):

  • Kick drum by Markus Hakala (download all the Markus Hakala’s kicks here)
  • Three clap samples. First clap sample is from the Loopmasters AS100 sample pack (free version which you can download here – check the full version here). Second and third clap is from the Prime Loops Drum Sample Tasters 2012 pack (free, download here).
  • Percussion sound. From the Loopmasters AS100 pack.
  • Open hihat. From the Prime Loops pack.
  • Cowbell style synth percussion sound. From the Prime Loops pack.
  • Percussion style synth ‘blop’ sound. From the Loopmasters pack.

My next step is to create the drum sequence in the Step Sequencer, assign the samples each to their own Mixer tracks and set their volume levels in balance in relation to each other.

The Drum Sequence And Mixing

Check the images below to see the drum sequence and the Mixer volume level settings:

Drum Sequence In Step Sequencer

Volume Level Settings

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The open hihat sample has some low and low-mid frequencies in it which I don’t need so I use it’s Mixer track EQ to roll off those frequencies.

Track EQ Settings For The Open Hihat

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The amplitude of the percussion style synth ‘blop’ sound is a bit low so I use Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to boost it’s volume level. I also use Fruity Reeverb 2 to add a sense of large space to it and fine tune the overall volume level with the Mixer track volume level fader.

Blop Amplitude And Reverb

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Ok. Next, I’m going to shift the third clap a little bit so that it starts slightly before the kick and other two claps’s. This’ll make the whole clap section sound ‘sloppy’ (in a good way) and fatter.

First, I send the notes to the Piano Roll.

Send Clap Notes To Piano Roll

In the Piano Roll I select all the notes (CTRL+A), zoom in and while holding down the left ALT (to bypass snapping) I move the selection slightly to left.

Shifting The Notes

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Done.

Next, more mixing related stuff.

Routing, Drum Bus And Compression

I route all the drum sounds (except the kick) to one empty Mixer track thus creating a drum bus track. The reason I do this is I wan’t to use compression (NY compression) to process the drum sounds to ‘glue’ them together and to fatten them. I’m not routing the kick drum to the drum bus because I don’t wan’t the compression to smash it’s transients.

Routing

For the NY compression I will use Maximus. I’ll use the ‘NY Compression’ preset and modify it a little.

Maximus For NY Compression

Things are too loud so first I drop the Post gain (the Post gain controls the overall volume level after the compression has been applied). Using the LMH mix I set the mix balance between the dry and compressed signal and the Release time I set to something short to make things sound purposely a bit bumpy.

Maximus Settings For NY Compression

I also use Fruity Parametric EQ 2 to add a bit of brightness to the drum bus so it goes next to the drum bus effect slot.

Brightness To The Drum Bus

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Done.

Next, I need a bass line.

Making A Bass Sound And Tuning

I’m going to use a short snippet from a percussion drum sample (from the Loopmasters AS100 pack) for the bass sound. This is a cool trick to create a bass sound basically out of any sound. I learned this from a tutorial video made by a fellow FL Studio user. Unfortunately I can’t remember who it was, but credits to this person anyway!

So first, I open the percussion sample to Edison, zoom in, select a short snippet somewhere in the sample and define loop points by pressing ALT+L.

Edison And Bass Sound Source

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I drop the selection to Step Sequencer and new Sampler channel will be created automatically for it.

Dragging The Selection To Step Sequencer

Next, I will tune the bass sound with the aid of 3xOsc.

First, I add an empty pattern to the Playlist, open the Piano Roll view of the bass sound and draw a note of C (C5).

C5 In The Bass Sound Piano Roll

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Now the thing is, unless you have a good ear for pitch, you can’t really tell if this really is a C as the original pitch of this sample can be anything. I don’t have a good ear for pitch so that is why I need a tone that is definitely a C so I can compare them side-by-side and tune the sample according to it. This is where I need the 3xOsc: I’m going to use it as my tuning source.

So, I open the 3xOsc and disable oscillators 2 and 3 as I only need one oscillator. I pick saw as the oscillator shape. Sine would’ve worked as well, but because my bass sound somewhat resembles a saw wave I find it easier to compare the tones when both share the same ‘character’.

Then I lay down a note of C to the 3xOsc Piano Roll – going down to C3 to be exact as it sounds to be roughly on the same octave as the C5 of my bass sound. But what really matters here is that it’s a same note I used in the bass sound’s Piano Roll.

Preparing 3xOsc For Tuning

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Listen to the audio example below. You can hear that my bass sound is definitely out of tune. The 3xOsc is playing the actual C and my bass sound doesn’t ‘match’ with it.

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To fix this, I open the Channel Settings window of my bass sound and go to the MISC tab.

To tune the bass sound, I let the two sounds play simultaneously and change the Root note of the bass sound (by right clicking on the keys in the keyboard view) until the sounds match (play in unison). This way I can detect and tell to FL Studio what the actual pitch (root note) of the bass sound is and on what key it should play. FL Studio needs to know this as all other notes are generated by changing sample’s speed (and so pitch). After the sample root note is set right, the keys I hit in my MIDI keyboard or the notes I draw into the Piano Roll makes the sample play in a pitch that corresponds the key/note. So C is really C, D is D, E is E and so on.

Setting The Bass Sound Root Key

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Ok. The actual pitch of this bass sound is G# and it’s now set as it’s root note. Now I finalize the tuning by fine-tuning the sound using the Channel pitch knob. Letting my ears judge, I try to make it sound as unison with the 3xOsc as possible.

Fine Tuning The Bass Sound

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Now I delete the 3xOsc and proceed on making the actual bass line with the bass sound.

Bass Line

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Next, I apply a filter envelope to the bass sound and for filtering, I use the Sampler Channel’s built-in filter envelope features.

I go to INS tab and set the CUT (filter cutoff) as envelope target.

Filter Envelope

Before I proceed, few words about the filter cutoff envelope: note that the envelope acts as an offset of the values that are already set in the Filter section (see image below) and the Amount knob (see image below) controls HOW the envelope is applied to the filter cutoff.

Filter Section

The further the Amount knob is turned left, the more the envelope SUBTRACTS from the values set in the Filter section and the further it’s turned right, the more the envelope ADDS to the values set in the Filter section.

So now, I first enable the envelope and turn the Amount knob to almost full left as I want the envelope to subtract from the default filter values. Then, I shorten the Attack time a bit and as the modulation Amount knob is set to subtraction, this’ll ‘close’ the filter quickly after the sample playback starts thus making the bass sound short and a kind of pulsating, set the Sustain, Release and Hold values to minimum and with the Decay time I control how quickly the filter ‘opens’ up again. I shorten it a bit so I get that ‘bouncing’ feel which is more noticeable only with longer notes.

Filter Envelope Settings

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Next, I process the bass sound a bit with couple of effects.

First, distortion with Fruity Fast Dist.

Fruity Fast Dist Settings For The Bass

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Next, PEQ2 for boosting heavily the lows and highs.

PEQ2 Settings For The Bass

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Next, a small delay with Fruity Delay 2.

Fruity Delay 2 Settings For The Bass

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And finally, sidechain compression style pumping with Gross Beat.

Sidechaining with Gross Beat is simple: I make a dip (or dips) to the volume with the volume envelope editor.

Gross Beat For Sidechaining

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And here’s the bass line with the beat:

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Done.

My last task is to tune two more samples.

Tuning The Rest Of The Samples

I used two percussion sounds in this drum loop that have somewhat apparent pitch and they are out of tune so I need to tune them to make them match with the bass line.

The cowbell style synth percussion is one of the samples that are out of tune. Listen it against the bassline:

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Well, the pitch and it’s lack of tune isn’t probably the easiest to recognize in this sample, but it’s there and I’m going to show you how I fix it.

To tune the samples, my first task is to detect what their original pitch is and I’m going to use Edison for that. So first, I load the cowbell sample to Edison.

The following is a trick I learned from one of the Warbeats.com tutorial videos by Nelson Fernandez Jr: the idea is to use the Edison’s pitch region detection feature to… detect the pitch. The usage is very simple: I just click on the ‘Regions’ -button, choose ‘Detect pitch regions’ and voilà – there’s the original pitch of the sample. It’s C.

Detect Pitch Regions

Pitch

So. Now I know the original pitch of the sample and I can go on and set it as a root key in the Sampler Channel settings window. However, I don’t need to do that as the C5 is the default root key of each Sampler channel so it’s already set, so all I have to do now is to transpose the cowbell sequence to E as that’s where the root pitch of the bass line is (actually, in this example beat, the bass is nothing but E). Transposing notes in the Step Sequencer is simple: I open the Keyboard editor, hold down the left CTRL and click on the key I want to transpose the sequence into.

Transposing Step Sequencer Notes

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Next, the ‘blop’ sound. As you can hear, it’s out of tune:

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To tune it, I use same method as with the cowbell sound. The actual pitch of the ‘blop’ is F# so I just set it as it’s root key and transpose it to E in the Step Sequencer.

Tuning And Transposing The Blop

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I don’t know whether I’m imagining or what, but the ‘blop’ sounds still a bit out of tune… However, my hearing for pitch isn’t that good so I’m just going to trust to Edison and leave it as is…

Some samples are a bit tricky to tune and while the Edison’s pitch detection feature is great, it’s even better if you have a good ear for pitch so you can let your hearing to be the final judge.

But what about tuning the kick drum? With kicks that are labeled after the key (like Markus Hakala’s kicks), its simple. For example, the kick I’m using in this example is in A. So all I need to do is to set A as the kick’s root key and transpose the kick to E in the Step Sequencer. However, after trying this I decided to leave it to A because in E, the kick sounded way too uptight. I also tried E at one octave lower, but that sounded way too sloppy. So the kick sounded best at it’s original pitch and it didn’t seem to clash with the bass line either.

So. Here’s the end result:

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And this is the end of this tutorial. 8-)

Watch the video version below and download the FL Studio project file.

Download EDM Drum Loop FL Studio Project

About Petri Suhonen

Petri Suhonen is an electronic music hobbyist. He has been producing music with computers over a decade on such styles as trance, downtempo, ambient & experimental electronic using FL Studio.

Comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Another excellent video. In addition to the FL Guru yours are the best tutorials for FL Studio! Bass as a percussion instrument – very interesting. EDM loops are even made ??a theme that very much can be treated according to times (claps layern, hat on an off note, etc.). best thanks

  2. I loved it! Thanks so much for posting this it was a great help. Also, I was very happy it was in 128 and not 140/100 or something where I would typically think of glitchop or dub being.

    Cheers

  3. Hi, for tuning that bass sound you could use “Newtone” and in less than sec you could tune it.
    You made it too much difficult.
    But really thank you for your nice and practical tutorials.

    Cheers.

  4. Marijan says:

    Awesome tutorial, could you make a Minimal tutorial?

  5. Mike says:

    Nice. Think it was my tutorial that you got the bass from samples idea from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIQ-y7PB7tE :) Nice loop btw, i’ll be using some of these techniques right now lol.

  6. malektha says:

    Great tutorial, but you should either put some latency compensation on the maximus, or disable the lookahead feature.

    The lookahead knob introduces latencty and makes the sound it compresses out of sync with the track.. we are talking 3- 70ms here so it might not be audible, but will make a difference since this is meant to be a tight edm beat.

    • Malektha,

      That was a good point even though majority of people (me included) can’t hear the difference, it IS there (the delay and it’s artifacts that is). In all honesty I didn’t knew that so thanks for pointing it out.

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