Free Weekly Ableton Rack #47: Unusual Percussion

I’ve been on the hunt for some different drum sounds lately.  I haven’t felt all that inspired by regular sounding kicks and snares.  The usual drum-machine suspects are currently sounding ordinary and all too familiar.  I want something that’s different from the norm and inspiring.  It’s not that I don’t like these sounds, I guess I just need a little break from them…  So, I’ve started exploring things that are a bit different yet still have percussive qualities.  This feeling is part of what motivated me and Richard from Voltage Disciple to create the AfroVolt Pack, using the Moog Slim Phatty as a sound source.  This week’s Ableton Live Pack is an extension of that exploration and is a  collection of some unusual sounds re-imagined in a percussive way.

I have a feeling I will be doing more of this type of thing in the coming weeks, because my urge to explore the depths of what can be used for drum sounds has not been satisfied.  If anything I think it has been magnified.

For this week, I collected sounds from some interesting sources and then put them into an Ableton drum rack.  Then I coupled them with effects that will take them further into the obscure.  In this rack you will hear keyboard keys, long cardboard tubes, plastic objects being hit, vinyl crackles, glitchy noises created with Ableton’s Operator synth, a lighter, and a couple other miscellaneous things that are escaping my memory at this moment.  All in all, it’s 126 different percussive sounds. And they can all be mangled in infinite ways…

Once the samples get inside the drum rack, I put the Ableton rack system to work.  So, we have control over a high pass filter, volume, and transposition.  The transposition knob can be used to really widen the scope of these sounds.  We can get some interesting pitch stretched sounds this way.  I put an arpeggiator in there as well.  I really like using Ableton’s arpeggiator with percussion and drum samples to recreate the note-repeat function on many drum machines.  If you simultaneously play a couple different samples, you will get some cool rhythmic patterns.  This itself can be quite inspiring.  Finally, I’ve added Ableton’s Corpus effect to dramatically change the timbre of your samples.  This is a deep and fascinating effect, but don’t be scared of it.  It’s really a lot of fun and you can wind up with some really cool sounds as a result.  I’ve mapped three useful controls to macro knobs to give you a place to start.

Consider this the beginning in a little study in creating drums sounds from unexpected places.  Do you have any ideas or experiments in making unusual percussion?  Be a part of this study; email or Soundcloud works nicely.


 Click here for a version without the Corpus Plug in (for anyone that doesn’t own Ableton Live Suite).