Choose a sample
Step 1: First, you need a suitable starting point. Most jungle and early drum ’n’ bass loops were based on samples from funk records. A couple of popular examples were used extensively, manifesting in an almost infinite variety of distorted forms.
Slicing to MIDI
Step 2: To chop your breakbeat up rave-style, you need to slice the drum loop into its component parts. The easiest way to do this is to use your DAW’s Slice to MIDI/ Sampler option. Set it to slice every 16th-note - this will create a MIDI note for every 16th-note in the drum loop.
The original loop
Step 3: Mute the original and open up the piano roll for your new MIDI instrument. If your DAW doesn’t create a clip automatically, draw in 16th-note MIDI notes working up the scale, as shown. Playing this back should sound exactly the same as the original loop.
Step 4: The fun begins here! Dragging the MIDI notes directly up and down (not left or right) changes the hits that they trigger. Experiment with this to make your own variations on the loop.
Step 5: Once you have something that sounds different to the original in terms of groove, it’s time to move onto the serious business of making it freaky. Add pitchbend to individual hits, particularly snares. A considered approach is needed here to get something that sounds good.
Step 6: Removing certain notes can give the loop a sense of shuffle. Here, the ‘less is more’ approach is key, so experiment with that in mind. As a final flourish, make a copy of your MIDI part and double the length of all the notes. This will provide a downtempo alternative that you can use alongside the original version.