One of the most time consuming processes when making drum loops can be coming up with fills that sound good.
Thankfully with all the great software we have at our disposal these days creating original sounding fills has never been easier. In the Next few steps we show you how to create your very own using native tools in Ableton Live.
Firstly if you don’t have Live head over to http://www.ableton.com/ and download the 30 day trial. Assuming you’ve run through a few of the basic tutorials that come with Ableton you should know the basic’s of creating channels and adding samples and plug-ins. If not, be sure to follow some of the built in lessons first.
Create a MIDI channel and open Ableton’s Impulse instrument, import the drum samples you wish to use into the separate Impulse pads (by dragging and dropping from the library onto the squares). Make sure you rename them to something recognisable as you go by selecting the square and clicking Cmd/Ctrl+R (or right click and choose Rename).
Once all your samples are load create a MIDI clip by double clicking an empty cell in Session view and start to build your drum pattern. We’ve gone for a house-ish sound. Try not to over complicate the loop and make it too busy or any attempt at a fill will struggle to have and impact on the loop itself.
On your drum channel insert Ableton Live’s Random plug-in from the MIDI Effects section before the Impulse instance.
Adjust the settings for the random plug-in or simply use one of the presets available, we used the FORCED JAZZ preset for our first fill.
Now of course we could just simply bounce down the audio and disable the Random device but this would mean that every time we wanted to use this MIDI we would have to go through the same process of setting up the rack again. So instead what we need to do is create a new MIDI channel and set the NEW channel to record the MIDI being played via the Random Effect and we will then be able to use The new recorded midi in any project and with any software.
One of MIDI’s strengths is its portability, and Ableton kindly lets you record the output from certain MIDI devices, which is basically what we are doing here. Create the second channel as mentioned and set the In’s of the new channel To receive from our Drum (Impulse) channel and arm the new track to record.
Start the loop playing and trigger the loop record function for the new midi channel, record a few bars of MIDI which should look something like this.
Drag the newly created MIDI into the Impulse channel. Now if you have followed our early advice the file should look something like this with all the PADS named.
With all the appropriate sounds named we should be able to easily edit out the MIDI hits that are not in use, Leaving a the MIDI clip looking more Reasonable.
Use the loop pointers to find a good loop, crop the clip and export the MIDI.
Once you’ve created one, you can repeat the process using different settings on the Random plug-in to get different results – bonus! Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be firing out your own much better fills in no time at all. We’ve also included a short Video to show you how easy effective and most importantly quick this method can be.
Words/Pics/Video/Audio: Jon Fisher