Drum Racks and Programming Drums in Ableton Live

drum racks
Stop by our offices this Friday for our free workshop on Drum Racks and Programming Drums on Ableton Live with local musician and producer Mitchell Owens!

The Drum Rack in Ableton Live is a unique device that allows the producer to expand the ways in which they program MIDI drum parts in their tracks. With a similar look to pad based drum machines, sick the Drum Rack is a vital tool in any Ableton Live users arsenal. For drum pad playing enthusiasts, healing the Drum Rack is a great way to be creative and play not only Drums but full song arrangements as well. In this workshop we will go over the various components and features of the Drum Rack including the built in mixer, macros, and internal effect sends. We will also talk about creative ways to expand the capability of the Drum Rack by using other tools in Ableton Live like the Instrument Rack, and how to use the Drum Rack for more than just programming drum patterns.

About the instructor:

mitchMitchell Owens is a guitar player , sound designer, and electronic composer/producer from Durham, NC. He attended Berklee College of Music right here in Boston and has over 5 years of experience with Ableton Live producing and performing music under the moniker Subalias, as well as doing sound design and soundtrack composition for independent films and animations. Mitchell’s music blends the organic and synthetic for a balanced fusion inspired by sample based Hip­Hop, Downtempo, House, Funk and R&B. He believes in freedom of creation and expression and likes to cater to students’ specific needs in order to teach them the proper skills and techniques needed to achieve their musical goals.

Little Drummer Toy: Ableton’s Holiday-Themed Sequencer

Little Drummer Toy Ableton

Did you miss out on the holiday spirit? Well, Ableton sure has! Some “rogue elves” at Ableton created a free stocking-stuffer sized gift for anyone to use. Little Drummer Toy pairs you with someone else in the world, and the two of you edit using the 6 sequencers available to you. There is a sequencer for horns, drums, bells, etc.

The possible combinations are endless. The best part is, it is all done in your web browser.

**You may need to update to the latest version of your browser to use it.

To play with Little Drummer Toy, click here.

Ableton Little Drummer Toy

Don’t forget to like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Techniques for Sculpting Strong Drums Part Two: Parallel Compression and Saturation


Welcome to part two of building strong “fat” drums. In part one, doctor we discussed layering and scratched the surface of saturation. In part two, prostate we will dive deeper into saturation and talk about parallel compression.

The distortion that comes from saturation amplifies the fundamental frequency of any sound that is fed into it while adding harmonics to the upper structure. In the simplest of terms this means that it makes the initial sound louder (the fundamental) and the harmonics it adds to the upper structure make it brighter and more noticeable in the mix. For more in depth reading on distortion check out this sound on sound article.

I saved the most important technique for last. Parallel compression (or New York compression) is key and is used on almost every drum sound. Parallel compression is quite simple. Simply duplicate the track so you have two of the same sound. After that, symptoms heavily compress one track with a high ratio and low threshold. Leave the other track completely uncompressed. The heavily compressed track provides the punch while the uncompressed track provides the transients. A transient is the high amplitude response that happens at the beginning of a drum hit or any other sound.

Examples include the sizzle of a hi hat or the snare on the bottom of a snare drum. Parallel compression can be used with anything else in your mix but it is used quite frequently for drums with very positive results.

Parallel compression

This is a very rudimental definition of parallel compression and its effects on audio. For more detailed explanations of compression in general as well as parallel compression, I again defer to sound on sound.

Use these techniques and make sure to experiment with them. Learning comes from trying new things and sometimes failing.

Dive deeper into the world of music production with our music production classes

Zach Danziger – Fusing Live Drumming with Contemporary Electronic Music

The modern drum set is a relatively young creation in the grand scheme of instrument history. The drum set as we know it today didn’t take form until the 1920s and the jazz era. Not much has changed since then. Naturally, someone had to get creative and apply the use of electronics to acoustic drums. Zach Danziger is that someone.

Zach Danziger

Zach Danziger, an innovative and virtuosic drummer, is pushing the limits of contemporary drumming and electronic music. By triggering samples from pickups on his drums and cymbals, he is able to perform and even improvise intricate electronic music while holding down a groove. Although drum triggers have been used before in a jazz fusion context (and death metal, of course), most notably by Akira Jimbo, Danziger uses the technology to compose and perform mind-blowing jungle and drum ‘n’ bass grooves.  A few of his compositions sound like some of the crazier Aphex Twin or Squarepusher songs have come to life. He’s almost more of an insane scientist than a musician.

One of his projects, Mister Barrington, encompasses live manipulation of sound AND video. They take playing instruments, electronic music production, and VJing and smash it all together into a completely unique performance. By using software from Ableton, iZoptope, and Native Instruments, they even control parameters of the other instruments in the band. They explain their rigs in this article.

Mister Barrington

I had the immense pleasure of seeing Zach and Owen Biddle, the bass player, perform last month. Owen tweaked sound and video parameters using his bass and a Keith McMillen SoftStep foot switch while Zach controlled sounds and the video by hitting different parts of his drums and operating a separate sampler pad and interface. Their set was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Check out this TEDx presentation they did at UMass Amherst to get an idea of what goes into one of their shows.

Zach Danziger is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to combining live instrumentation with electronic music performance. He will only continue to push the boundaries as more advanced technology makes itself available.

Interested in learning how to DJ or produce electronic music? Learn from the pros here at Mmmmaven! Contact us for more information, a tour of the studios, and a free DJ lesson!