With all the best will in the world when I record drums for clients I always consider the sound of the drums. Sometimes they might want a nice thuddy snare drum or it might be more of a 70s fat sounding snare drum vibe. The point is that the sound of the drums always needs to reflect the genre of the songs I’m recording.
Otherwise the drums stick out a bit like a sore thumb. But sometimes even after recording, it can be nice to add a little bit more sparkle in terms of percussion or similar to give some variety between chorus and verse or other parts of a song.
Enter drum layering!
This enables the DAW user to add layers to the drums and give an extra dimension to the song. In some of the free drum loops that I give away on my website I have already added hand claps as stems into the projects. These layer over the snare drum.
But as well as adding hand claps to the snare drums you can also add tambourines and some form of noise. The possibilities are pretty much endless; it’s how the creativity is used to process the sounds.
Adding it on your DAW
I use Logic X as my main DAW and I’ve included steps here as to how to do this below but this can be down with pretty much any DAW. The facility provided in Logic basically creates a MIDI note (once the snare goes over a nominated threshold) and then you can use/change that MIDI note to trigger a sample to layer with the drums.
You can even take this further and replace drums! Think about the combination you can add in if you start adding the layering into the Toms and Kick too!
Select the audio track you want to enhance we’ll assume you want to add handclaps so therefore for this example let’s use the 'snare top' stem
With the audio track selected go to Track/Replace or Double Drum Track (^D)
Logic will then take time 'Analysing the transients' - wait until this is completed. On completion you’ll get a dialogue box like this:
Leave the Instrument as ‘Kick’ for now - all you want to do is get the tool to generate the MIDI notes.
Leave the Mode in ‘Doubling’ which will mean that it will generate a separate track which is what you want if you’re looking to layer the snare drum.
Set the relative threshold to what you’re looking to do - if you’re looking for handclaps on the backbeat (2 and 4) you need to play around with this to get it right. If set wrong and the drummer is playing ghost notes this won’t work so it’s pretty important to get this right. Play around with this value using the preview button.
Once I’ve made the changes to the threshold I’ll press ‘OK’ to print the MIDI output. Once I’ve done this I’ll look to set the relevant layers which I’ll go into in my next post.
If you want to try this idea out and don’t have drum stems then sign up to get into downloading all of my drum stems here : —->> I’m adding more every month so it’s a growing library and you can use it for all songwriting and production work you want to do.
Mark is an online session drummer based in Reading UK providing remotely recorded drums to clients all over the world.
His main focus on the drums is to always serve the song and listen to what is being played by the other instruments in the band. Be aware of the song and how it develops.
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