Quick and Dirty Beats: Drum & Bass

Programming different types of beats into Ableton is a great way to get a feel for the ways that rhythms work in different genres of electronic music. A drum ‘n’ bass beat is, at its core, defined by the snare drum, which falls on the second and fourth beats of the measure.

Load a kick, two snares, two open hi-hats, a closed hi-hat and a crash cymbal into Ableton’s Drum Rack, then turn the swing on. Create a four-bar loop and set the piano roll grid to 1/8 notes. Program in the kick and the snare; put the kick on the first and sixth beats and the snare on the third and seventh:

Program in the kick and snare.

Switch the grid to 16th notes. Put the second snare on the 15th beat of the first measure, then create a shuffle using the two open high-hats. Put the first hi-hat on the eighth beat, then alternate them every 1/16th note:Add a hi-hat shuffle.

Switch back to the 1/8 note grid. Put the closed hi-hat on every beat, then put the crash on the first beat of the loop:

Add a crash cymbal and a closed hi-hat.

Vary the kicks’ positions to make the beat flow more:

Move the kicks around to create variation.

Feel more like hip-hop? Just set the BPM control to 90:

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