This week we followed up with the producer behind, “Pumping Techno Drums,” a collection of “pounding bass rhythms, warehouse bangers and slamming one-shots all in one easy-to-use pack.” Get immediate insight into how Pumping Techno Drum’s producer approaches sound design, beat production, and workflow.
If you are making techno and don’t know about Euclidean rhythms, you are missing out! It’s a simple formula of making engaging grooves that work great in techno percussion and can help you to branch out of grooves that you use all the time. Although created via a formula they often share characteristics with traditional world rhythms. Moreover, it can be very useful to make percussion loops that are irregular and slip from the 4/4 of the kicks, so perhaps a pattern that’s only 15 steps long, so it gains one 16th note every bar, meaning each bar feels different as the percussion moves. A little experimentation goes a long way with this technique, and you can easily get new grooves with a lot more movement than having the percussion locked with the kick drums.
Subtle bus processing goes a long way in getting your drum mix to sound vast and cohesive. I tend to use several effects and err on the side of caution as the drums are the backbone of the track. Use bus compression to squeeze the drums together by reducing the dynamic range by a couple of decibels. This helps gets your drums louder very quickly. Add mild saturation to employ harmonics to the overall drum mix making the sounds meshed together. Apply some mild EQ to help to polish the drum sound. Bypassing the effects and checking that the processing is pleasing to the ear, and not overdone is vital, though.
Once you’ve got a solid backbone to your beat (kick, claps, hats) and it’s grooving together nicely, it can be fun to mix in background noise and more organic elements to help tie it all together. Whether vinyl noise, organic sounds such as speech or mechanical noises – these can all help to get another level of groove into the drums. If you find a sound that you think will fit, programme it so loops over quarter, half or full bars. (depending on how loopy you want it!) Then adjust the start time and pitch until the internal rhythms of the sound fits the groove of the track. Be careful to keep the levels low, so it’s not too invasive and swamps the track.
Hats are vital to getting your drums pumping along nicely, with relentless 4/4 kicks – you will need to do some work to get the hats feeling good. Some mild swing helps a lot, and programming different velocities will also really help – perhaps having them rise from “quiet over the kicks” to full volume over a quarter of a bar to give a driving feel. It can also be worth duplicating a hat sound and subtly editing the decay or pitch so each hat has a slightly different feel, or record yourself automating the decay on a DAW or drum machine to give the hats movement and a bit of a human touch.
To provide interest and extra groove you can experiment with claps and snares in less regular positions to get some interest going on. Its tempting to put a clap or snare on the 2 and 4 beats and leave it at that, but by experimenting with the hits on different parts of the bar at lower volumes will get you a more interesting and memorable groove to your drums. Swing and changes in volume can help to tie this together, and programming interplay between different sounds, whether a clap and a snare, or different claps and snares can help you to get a solid groove down.