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How to turn drum machine toms into minimal percussion

(Image credit: Future)

Drum machine toms can make brilliant minimal perc sounds. Here’s how… 

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: We start with a very straightforward 808 low tom sound sampled from a TR-8. This is a very recognisable sound, but by tweaking its amplitude envelope and pitch, we can turn it into something else. Turn the sampler’s Sustain down to -infdB.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Try playing the sound on the upper reaches of the keyboard - this gives us punchy, tonal percussion sound. Turn the Decay time down to between 20 and 50ms – this just lets the transient through before the volume diminishes completely.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: Sequence a pattern to accompany our existing beat. Here we’re playing a simple rhythm on C#5 that gives us a bit of interplay between the kick, the bass, and our new percussion sound. The percussion sounds unnaturally dry, so let’s add some reverb.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 4: Here we’re using Live’s Reverb with a Decay Time of 360ms, and a Dry/Wet level of 20%. However, the reverb is too wide, so we need to rein it in with an instance of Utility. A Width setting of 22% helps the percussion sit with the other elements in the mix. 

(Image credit: Future)

Step 5: For more of a ‘rolling’ percussive feel, try applying a tempo sync’d delay before the reverb with short feedback and wet/dry level of around 20-30%.