Ryan's Corner

Why You Need Mistakes

Mistakes make you a better artist. Seems ridiculous right? We all seek perfection, but if everything in life is about balance, you can’t have your high moments without your lows. Maintaining a career and happy life as a musician is about managing your mistakes as they come, and knowing how to use things that are labeled “wrong” to your advantage. Let’s look at how flaws can become another toolset for you to use for growth as a artist.

No Quantization = Feel and Groove

We have tools nowadays that will lock the timing of your notes to any rigid grid you choose. It’s great for new musicians learning the ropes, but so much of a musician’s individual style comes from how they play in the moment, and that feel gets lost the second you hit quantize. Playing in your own notes via midi controller, or using natural recordings from a kit allows the imperfections to nudge the timing back and forth and create a good groove. Some of hiphop’s elite producers like Pete Rock and Madlib swear by playing in their drums with a loose, intentionally off feel. This style became a trademark of their sound, and would have never surfaced if they weren’t willing to be imperfect when programming.

 


Is this Really a Mistake, or is it Just New?

It’s easy to label something as a mistake when it doesn’t achieve the result you’re used to. But using that logic, you can also look at a mistake merely as a path you haven’t walked down yet. You’ve labeled this path “wrong” because it’s uncomfortable to you, but anything that you haven’t done a lot will feel that way. If you’ve never driven an exotic $200,000 race car, odds are you’ll be uncomfortable if someone gave you the keys to one and you had to drive it to work immediately. With that said, I’m pretty sure you’d be willing to work through the uncomfortable moments to see where they take you! The same should apply here.

Mistakes Should be Saved and Revisited

It seems like torture to collect all of your flaws, but an infinite amount of classic records never get finished because people don’t develop their mistakes far enough. Sometimes you work on a theme, or try to design a sound and it doesn’t work out so you scrap it and start fresh, or cry and binge on youtube videos. Rather than abandoning the idea altogether, create a folder of “scraps” that contains patches, midi sequences, and audio samples that you would’ve abandoned. You might not have been ready to flesh the idea out fully just yet, but time and fresh ears can do wonders. Plus the next time writer’s block hits, you can scan through your folder of scraps and see if something can be tweaked and used as a starting point, or thrown into a song you're working on. Scrap folders also serve as great collaboration starting points. When working with someone new, you can give them a huge collection of rough ideas to start from

 

You’re Doing That Wrong. Keep Going

Whenever possible, it’s good to pick up an instrument and learn it with proper form and technique as a precedent. That said, some of the most iconic musicians have achieved their tone by playing their instrument contrary to the standard. Take Ringo Starr as a prime example. He recently discussed his process in an interview and claimed that a lot of the unique drum riffs he developed were the result of him essentially playing his kit “wrong”. He was born left-handed, but his grandmother disliked it and tried to train him to use his right hand instead. As a result, he's lefty despite learning and playing on a right handed kit. To compensate, he wrote patterns that he could play that were contrary the established norms. It’s safe to say, it worked.
 

If it worked for Ringo....

 

Yesterday's Mistakes Mark Today's Progress

Whenever you feel like you’re in a bit of a rut in terms of progress,  take a listen to old sessions full of mistakes and problems, and remind yourself of how far you’ve come. It’s easy to cringe at a flat note or stale song from your past, but if you can identify new mistakes it means you’ve improved as a musician. The second you can’t look back at your old work and find anything wrong, you may want to consider challenging yourself more.

Omar Hakim Drums vol 2 + iZotope FX = instant breaks!

 

Don't you love discovering new FX chains? One loop from Omar Hakim Drums vol 2 ran through Stutter Edit & Trash from iZotope took us straight to Dub Breaks territory.

The setup takes seconds. Using an Audio Effect Rack allowed us to make a wet and dry chain. On the wet chain we used an EQ to roll off the low end, then stutter edit was triggered via Midi Controller to provide the live glitching. The saturation comes from the "Dutty Breaks" preset in trash

Click Here To Download Omar Hakim Drums vol 2 
Click Here for info on iZotope Trash and Stutter Edit 

Loop Loft Artist Spotlight: Omar Hakim

 

Omar Hakim is one of those guys who oozes cool. His dynamic attitude and awesome career as one of the most successful drummers and session men of the past 40 years can’t fail to inspire you in even the briefest meeting. He’s built up an eclectic treasure trove of skills and styles, moving seamlessly between acoustic drum prowess and electronic sound innovation. He could name drop with the best of them, working with top artists including Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, and Madonna. But Hakim prefers to roll as one of the band, bringing his experience and sensitivity to any session to create the best music possible. “At the end of the day”, as he puts it, “it's not always the toys, it's definitely the noise”.

Born Into Music

That Hakim should dedicate his life to music was almost pre-destined, given his musical inheritance: his father Hasan Hakim was a virtuoso trombonist playing with the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Louis’ Armstrong’s big band. At the tender age of five a relative gave Hakim a toy drum, and a true passion was born. “I fell in love with it right away and somehow knew what to do with it pretty much right away; they put it around my neck and I started playing some marching drum songs that I probably heard on TV and everybody was like "where did you learn to do that?" so I think there was a little natural affinity for drumming. Then soon after that my father purchased a Ludwig snare drum, which I actually still have today, my very first pro-snare drum. He then got a bass drum, a one ridge symbol and a pair of high hats, so I had this little kit that I was working on.  By the time I was 10, I started playing shows with my dad.”

 

Eclectic Tastes from the Word Go

His early musical experience was an immersion in jazz at home, mixed with the mainstream musical tastes of his school-friends: “My earliest memories are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, with Elton Jones on drums of course, the Buddy Rich Big Band, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. These were the sounds that I was hearing as a young boy but, at the same time, kids my age were listening to all the Motown artists, The Beatles, bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, so I was getting into a steady balanced diet of a very eclectic listening habit as a kid, which really shaped my professional approach to drumming. I've never really been satisfied to just immerse myself in one genre as a specialist; I understood that it would be a lot more fun to just open myself up to any and every music experience that I can have, be it rock, jazz, funk, R&B, pop, whatever; and, as a result, it's made for a very interesting career.”

This eclectic diet has stood Hakim in good stead, not least in his involvement in fusion band Weather Report in the 80s, which brought all sorts of influences together. “I often tell people Weather Report was the first band I worked with that required I use everything I knew and everything I understood about the drums at that moment. There's not many jobs one can say that about, that you actually are playing at the very edge of your ability in order to make it happen. The explosive energy of the band was an inspiration to the young drummer: “The improvisational side of it was very jazz but the performance and the power of the performance was like playing with a rock band. It was a phenomenal experience for me.  I was quite young when I joined the band - even though I had been professional already for 13 years I was only 23 years old.  It was dream come true in many ways because I was such a fan. It was unbelievable.  When that call came in, I was like "really?".

 

 

Adding Drum Machines to the Arsenal

But what does a young emerging drummer do when met with the arrival of electronics in the industry, producing machines to do his very job? “Well it was an interesting moment because when drum machines happened, I was around 20 years old. I was a very young professional drummer starting to make a name for myself on the New York session scene and then all of a sudden, Roger Lynn creates this device that changes every drummer’s life. But I guess when you're 20 years old, you're open-minded and my feeling was "Well, I don't have time to take an elitist stance about drumming and the technology.  What I need to do immediately is to go out, purchase one of these machines and add programmer to my business card promptly.”

His dynamic, upbeat attitude shines through: “I was too young to take a defeatist mindset; a lot of records that I was listening to were being made with drum machines.  I was still a pop music fan at that point, and I'm going "What is this sound?".  The only thing I could think of to do was to add these things to my arsenal and figure out how to use them creatively in what I'm doing.  As a result, I think it opened up a lot of things for me.  It also kept me busy because when I wasn't drumming on a drum-set, I was programming.” 

The development of drum machines and a whole generation of new recording technology revolutionized ways of working, and again Hakim’s youth, training and open-mindedness played into his hands. “People would create a lot of their music in the studio now, and if they had decided on an arrangement they would have the drummer come in and simply over-dub on the existing tracks that they created. So, I guess that's where practicing with a metronome as a kid all of sudden became a useful tool as a professional. I had drum teachers who would use the metronome as a tool, speed it up, play the rudiments faster, speed it up, play them even faster, slow it down - so that you would get a sense of internalizing tempo and rhythm. It didn't take me long to adapt that concept. It was an interesting moment to become a young drummer, trying to make it in New York.”

Beating the Drum for Creativity

Far from being a death threat to drumming, as people feared at the time, Hakim believes drum machines have enriched the creativity and versatility of the instrument, and widened the scope of who could make drum music. “The best drum programmers aren’t necessarily drummers but rather people who have studied the components of rhythm, and understand the building blocks and how to put them together. Some of the most interesting drum programming happens by non-drummers who aren't necessarily bound by the rules of drumming and in this way, they come up with more creative things because in their mind, the bass drum doesn't have to be the bass drum, the snare drum doesn't have to be the snare drum or the high hat.  You suddenly start hearing bass drum patterns that would probably take three legs to actually pull off in reality, but at the end of day though, it's still pretty creative and you have to go "ok then, that's kind of cool". 

Hakim was ultimately won over to the power and beauty of the drum machine when he encountered the Dynacord ADD-one: “That's when I really got happy, when I could actually manipulate an electronic device with drumsticks rather than enter them with my fingers or on a keyboard or on the rubber pads of the drum machine.  That really changed my life when that happened. To this day, I regret selling my Dynacord ADD-one, because the sounds were really amazing fat analogue sounds. It had a really incredible sound, that system.  But fast-forward a few years to when Roland introduced the V Drums and I would say that was really the first time I was super comfortable enough to leave an acoustic drum at home and use a 100% electronics drum system for an entire gig.”

 

A Career Based on Change

Once gigging with the electronic drums he found the world was his oyster: “With V Drums and electronic drums in general, you've kind of stepped into keyboard-player-land and you're not bound by having to use the same sound for everything. It certainly opens up the palette as to what can happen sonically, and that's what I really love about it. I recently did gigs where I've programmed a different kit for every song - the appropriate kit for each song - and it's a lot of fun, it's really great.

He clearly has great fun playing creatively with different elements such as cymbals: “Inside of the V Drum system what was cool was the cymbals didn't have to be a straight crash. I could change the pitch, I could put effects on it, create fun electronic environments that not only that the drum kit sits in but the cymbals sit in as well.  I could even assign a pitch pedal to those cymbals and do really whacky things. The position of the cymbals in the kit means that the sound doesn’t even necessarily have to be a cymbal. It could be a tambourine, it could be a shaker, it could be whatever I wanted to play with my right hand or play with my left hand so I could move away from thinking like a drummer.”

He admits it can be a bit of a mind-bender, not having the regular drum kit elements where you’d expect them to be, but he thrives on this: “It totally pulls you out of our comfort zone but it also forces you to grow too, which is why it's important for contemporary musicians to keep an eye on change. I've based my whole career on that concept.”

This openness to change truly has shaped his life and work, for after taking drum machines in his stride Hakim quickly adopted other elements on the new electronic scene, realizing exactly what they could do for his music and reputation. Working with The Loop Loft he recorded samples which have been used by top artists including Michael Jackson, Anita Baker and Sting, and by musicians all over the world. He’s embraced the new technology – but is confident there are crucial things it can never replace.

“What I realised is that even though I can provide my new friends and fans with some fun loops that they can use as a composition tool and maybe even use as the basis for some of their professional recordings, it still doesn't replace what I would do if I was actually in the room with them. In other words, a loop, even a great loop, is still a static kind of idea which can be brought alive.  Hopefully if we're creating a good loop, we give them something that's very alive and animated as a rhythmic concept that's hopefully inspiring. But what I will do in response to another musician in a room, a loop can't replace.”

  

Opportunities and Inspiration 

“I didn't feel that I would be replaced by the loop business as much as I felt like the loop business offered me an opportunity to sort of be introduced to a whole new generation of music-making people and so now, they go "ok, what is this?", "who is this guy?".  They look up your history and maybe it forces an exploration beyond the use of the loops, maybe it inspires them, so it's more good than bad in my estimation. I've gotten more work as a result of it.  A lot of people, like larger companies that do movie soundtracks, want to have all kinds of loops from their favourite drummers, but I think the other real musicians understand what I'm saying about getting in the room. They understand the concept of collaboration; the recording of a live drum set is not only the collaboration of the players but it's also an engineering collaboration. Yes, I can record drums by myself but is it better when I have an engineer?  Absolutely yes.” 

Hakim uses loops as inspiration as a producer himself. “The funny thing is that we're actually using my Loop Loft loop package to work on the new Oz record” [‘The Trio of Oz project with keyboardist wife Rachel] “It's been a lot of fun because when she's working on ideas and I'm not around, she can bring the stuff up.  She's been dealing with electronics and these things for a long time, so I’ll hear her take a loop and cut it up in an odd way that I never thought of, and use it to create ideas, so it's fun to actually watch somebody that I live with actually do creative things with my loops.

“If I'm not using loops, the V Drums also plays that role for me. I can capture midi data out of the V Drums and work on rhythmic ideas and concepts pretty quickly, sequencing the midi data into song forms that I can write over. So we're using both ideas to create. The fun thing about the V Drums is that I can go back and use the original performance in the final production, but I have the opportunity to kind of tweak and refine the sound before I commit to the final version.  I really like the flexibility of what I have at my fingertips right now.  I think that's where the technology has helped, it's kind of streamlined the idea of the writing drummer.” 

 

Desert Island Drums 

When it comes to all-time favourite drums, what acoustic kit would Hakim take if marooned on a desert island? He turns without missing a beat to the Reference Series kit from Pearl. “They really got it right with this kit.  It's a composite shell drum set where they figured out the right blend of woods based on the size of the drum to accentuate the best properties of the drum for the purpose and the size. I've been using this kit for the last 5 years or so in all of my work. It's an incredible drum set.” Add to that the brass Steve Ferrone signature snare drum: “If I'm doing rock records, that is the snare drum that I’ll how up at the studio with. It sort of has the classic sound, I guess the closest thing would be the Ludwig Black Beauty, the ring and the open-ness of a brass drum, but then when you mute it down, it has a really nice focused sound.  When you tune it lower, it sounds really huge.  Other than that, the other drum is a steel, what they call custom alloy sensitone drum.  Both drums are 6.5 x 14.  I always use two snares with my kit. Cramming a lot onto his deserted island beach, he’d also take a 5 x 13 African mahogany snare drum, “a drum that I designed for Pearl that bears my name, I’d kind of call it an alto snare drum. It resides tuning-wise somewhere between a piccolo and 5 x 14 drum so it's very versatile.”

The Fun and Joy of Making Music 

Returning to reality Hakim reflects on an incredible career both drumming and producing, and comes back to his familiar refrain of adapting to change.

“The thing that got me through this whole thing is my willingness to keep growing, learning, and expanding, and to stay open-minded.  I think that was the key to the whole thing. I really didn't want to be typecast as a musician, Omar Hakim the jazz drummer, Omar Hakim the rock drummer, Omar Hakim whatever.  I wanted when people saw my work or thought of me as a musician, for them to go "that's a guy I want to work with", "that's a guy I want to collaborate with, no matter what music I'm doing".

So the best advice he’d give young musicians today? “Listen, listen, listen.  Become a sponge, listen to everything you can.  If you're a drummer, don't just keep your study focused on the rhythmic but learn a melodic, harmonic instrument as well and expand your musical reference beyond the drums so that you can collaborate in a sensitive way with other people, whatever instrument they're playing.”

In typically cool and modest fashion he sums up: “In my mind, my job is to frame the musical moment with a proper rhythmic idea.  It's not about me as much as it's about what the music wants, and I’ve discovered that there's a lot of joy in that approach because it takes the pressure off me being the drummer.  I become a conduit of an idea.  I'm given the opportunity to adopt your idea and help you refine it in the best way possible, to capture hopefully what it was you were looking for musically. That is the fun and joy of making music.”

To fuse some of Omar's sound into your production, or to jam along with one of the greats and improve your skills as a drummer, check out Omar Hakim Drums Vol. 2

 

 

 

5 Questions to ask Before you Start Mixing

Getting comfortable with mixing can be a lifelong journey. New engineers may be eager to dive into the toolbox of plugins or hardware in front of them, but taking a second to give yourself a bit of a roadmap before you dive in can be really beneficial. Ask yourself these 5 questions before you move the first fader in your next mixing session.

 

What is the mood of this song and how can I convey that in the mix?

When mixing a record, especially someone else’s material, put a lot of thought into what the lyrics are conveying. Where is the writer/vocalist trying to bring us and how can you set that picture up? For example, when mixing the verse of a personal, emotional ballad, you may want to sit the lead vocal up close and set the vibe of a small intimate setting using a tight room reverb. Using a parametric EQ, you could dull the high frequencies of support instruments in a bus, so the vocals and leads sound brighter and closer in this small room, adding to their intimacy. If a song calls for a specific room to tell a story, use the mix to create that room.

 

 

 

What is the genre of the song and what are the staple tools/techniques in that genre?

Different genres, especially contemporary ones, have sonic qualities or loose mixing rules most people aren't consciously aware of. Modern pop and hip-hop for example feature a lot of 808 and sub bass. As a result, side-chain compression, high pass bus filtering on other instruments, and transient shaping have been used on countless songs in the genres as a way to sit everything in the mix against the heavy bass. As such, the public’s ears are tuned to the sound of these corrective tools, and associate it with a good song. When mixing a Future Bass client recently, I saw their opinion of the mix go from “good” to “perfect” the second I aggressively side chain compressed the kick to the instrumentation. In most genres, the effect would've been too extreme, but for his style of music, this technique is pretty common. It gives the impression that the kick is gigantic, ducking the rest of the instruments out of the way when it fires off. That’s essential for dance floor based music where the groove is key. Had I not known a bit about the genre, I may have ignored that tool, and it was ultimately what sold the mix for him.

 

 

In this example, Audio from the Kick is triggering the compressor. The small attack, and extreme threshold ensures an immediate and sharp duck in volume whenever the kick hits

Sometimes a specific type of gear is the staple in a genre. Take a band that’s recording a dub reggae song as another example. If you’re looking for that sound, you should start with the Roland Space Echo, or an equivalent, because it’s been featured on pretty much every big record in the genre and our ears expect it. This genre also traditionally dictates a completely different style of recording, that involves more send/return effect mixing in real-time. That interplay helps get a tone and sense of movement in the mix that you know when you hear. Even replicating that with automation will give your mix the subtle tonal character that we're used to in a dub record, but you have to know about it to execute it. Be a student of music. Wherever possible, it’s important to educate yourself on what tools are globally accepted in the styles you choose to mix in.

 

What song does this sound like?

We all aim to be original, but unless you’re really mixing something really experimental, odds are you can find another song that sounds somewhat similar. Put some thought into a song with a similar vibe, download it (in high quality if possible) and use it as a reference track. Reference tracks are songs you respect the sound of, that you listen to during breaks in your mixing as a guide to how your final product should sound. Your reference track is likely mastered, while your current material isn’t, so aim more to match the balance between elements, tone etc., more than the loudness . The limiting stage of mastering adds some volume you just shouldn't expect yet. If preferred, you can also cheat a bit and throw a mastering suite on the master channel while referencing between the two songs to hear approximately what a mastered version of your track would sound like. If you do this, be sure to route your reference track to another bus that skips the Master, or listen to your reference outside of the DAW. You don’t want to run your reference through another instance of mastering plugins, it should remain dry since it was already mastered.

  

Route your reference track directly to your external output/soundcard in order to skip any plugins that are on the master channel.

  

Who is going to hear this and where are they?

Prior to mixing, it’s important to consider who is going to be listening to this song and in what environment will they take it in. A huge amount of people take in music for the first time via streaming services being played through laptop speakers and Apple earbuds. These mediums didn’t even exist when a lot of mixing rules were established, and as a result it is important to mix within context of these new mediums and to reference on them whenever possible. As the mix process unfolds, test on earbuds, laptop speakers, Bose setups, cell phone speakers, or any other listening environments you have at your disposal that your listener may have.

Guessing the listening environment can really give you some extra clues when trying to stand out next to other songs in the genre. Take a fan of current dance music. The sub-bass in most modern genres doesn’t show up on laptops or cell phones, but that’s likely where the average listener gets introduced to this kind of song. So knowing that, you may want to EQ and Compress some more mids into the sub-bass so it’s at least somewhat present on the laptop or cell phone speakers they listen on. If you’re mixing a classical piece, where your listener may enjoy the music in a more relaxed home theater environment, you might want to put more attention to making a wide mix, with clear mids and highs that will translate well around the room without being harsh or overwhelming. Think about where your mix is going to end up before you start driving there.

 

How good is the Source Material?

The better the source material the less you have to do in the mix. Sometimes you have no say in the source material or recordings, but if you produce your own music, it’s vital to start with high quality sounds, even if you want to get to a dirty vibe down the line. It’s much easier to give some grit to a clean sound than the other way around. Drums are especially tricky to keep punchy when working in hiphop, so often if a drum isn't cutting the way I need it to in a clients mix, I offer the option of layering the drums with higher quality recording. A well mic'ed snare has more transients and a better signal to noise ratio so layering one in under a weak snare can do wonders.

When working on Omar Hakim Drums vol 2, we tracked the kit through 19 microphones and went through a ton of post processing so the final recordings are punchy and transient enough to cut through a mix with little extra work. You can hear the difference. Give your session an overview and think, "can I get a better sound for this part before I start mixing?"

    

  

5 Tips to Fix Writer's Block

Where there's writing, there's writer’s block. It’s easy to look at your temporary lack of inspiration as some kind of indicator of your talent. But it’s important to realize that every artist, author, and creative curator has undergone a writer’s block. Don’t make a big deal of it when it happens to you, just try to shake up your routine a bit and you’ll be back to creating in no time. Here are 5 tricks that may help you get back to your session

Rework your workspace

Many artists refer to creating music as “capturing the magic in the room”. It becomes easier to hone in on said magic in a space that’s clear and already setup. If you have a home studio, spend some time before your next session cleaning your workspace. Remove clutter and unnecessary equipment. Put away items you don’t use frequently, and patch in pieces of gear that you use in every session, so you don’t have to waste time getting started once inspiration hits. Replenish pens/notebooks and localize everything you’d need for a session so you don’t have to get up a bunch once the next idea hits.

 

 

Reset the Mind, Flex the Body

Sometimes the best thing you can do in order to create is to temporarily stop creating. When you feel the weight of writer’s block creep up, try to get your creative mind to relax for a few minutes, while engaging the rest of your body. Take a walk, hit the gym for a cardio session, or simply stretch for a few minutes around your studio or outside. Do something physical that allows you to reset from the process of putting music together. It’ll give your ears a much needed break too. 

 

 

Repurpose Gear

With so many new gadgets releasing every few minutes, you probably have a piece of gear or two you haven’t used in a while. Use this time you have to go back to that old equipment with the knowledge you’ve (hopefully) acquired since the last time you used it. During a creative rut a few months ago, I pulled out my old Korg KP3 after it’d been sitting on the shelf with a busted mic input. Instead of thinking about it only as a live FX unit, I focused on the sampler that I’d been ignoring due to Ableton Live’s extensive sample toolkit. I plugged a portable turntable and old contact mic into the KP3 and in minutes I was saving tons of twisted glitches and samples that I can recall and bring into new tracks. The next time you’re stuck, ask yourself what gear haven’t you used in your collection in a while, and how can you use it differently?

 

 

 

 

 

Involve Other Musicians

Making music collectively is a great experience. DAWs, iOS apps, and pocket sized synths have made it easier than ever to do it solo, but part of what gels so many classic songs together is the fusion of the energy of collective performers. We all have our own personal timing and nuance, so bringing another person into the equation, lets our process get influenced by something else. Find a live musician and collaborate in person. If time or space doesn’t permit a physical collaboration, try exchanging sessions, or use a loop library that actually captures a live musician. That new external perspective on timing, swing and approach might be all you need to get over the hump.

 Our sample libraries are a great way to add actual human but tweakable recordings to your session

 

 

Engage in Other Creative Mediums

One last thing I often try when I’m stuck is switching to a different creative outlet. Try watching a cerebral film, sketching something terribly in a notebook, taking photos, or anything else that is mentally or creatively stimulating, but not related directly to working on music. This is a chance to still engage the creative sections of your brain, while turning off some of the elements you use in making a song. If you really want to be efficient, think of artistic mediums that still help your career. Maybe shoot photos for promo/web art, or sketch a thank you to your followers on  social media.  If you always create or absorb art in some way, you never have to feel guilty about your progress as an artist. Allow time for inspiration, set time constraints, then get back to work!

 

#LoftLessons: Blending Drum Loops and Programmed Drums in Ableton Live 9.5

We're pleased to introduce ‪#‎LoftLessons‬, a regular tutorial series focusing on production and mixing techniques you can start implementing today. 
 

 

For the first lesson, we'll take a look at blending drum loops and midi programmed drums in Ableton Live 9.5. Layering drum loops and breaks over your programmed drums is a great way to add a humanized feel and texture to your music. Today we're going to use Sidechain Compression, Live's newly designed Auto-Filter, some reverb to add movement and spatial fx to a loop from our Funk Essentials Vol. 4 collection.

For upcoming tutorials and behind the scenes footage, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

 

The Top 3 Blog Posts of 2015

2015 is coming to an end and we're looking back at our Top 3 blog posts of the year.  Find out if you have perfect rhythm, see the most-recorded drum kit in history and learn how to use MIDI & audio loops together.

#1 - Can You Keep Perfect Time?

Wondering how good your time is?  Take the test below and find out if you're a human metronome or a bass player's worst nightmare.  

 

#2 - The Most Recorded Kit In History

Hal Blaine has drummed on more Top 10 hits than any other musician. Check out the drums he used to make studio magic happen:

 

#3 - Using Audio & MIDI Loops Together

Technically, this was posted in 2014, but this video about combining audio loops in 4/4 with MIDI in 3/4 really took off in 2015. 

 

 

 

December 29, 2015 by Ryan Gruss

Video: How To Get a BIG Sound Out of Your Drum Kit

Wondering how to make your drums sound BIGGER?  The answer might surprise you.

In this video, drumming legend, Simon Phillips, takes us inside his home studio in LA and explains his method for getting bigger than life drum sounds.

Want Simon's drum grooves and samples on your own tracks?  Check out The Simon Phillips Session Tracks collection from The Loop Loft.

 

December 28, 2015 by Ryan Gruss

VIDEO: Speaking Through Rhythm

Wondering how to communicate actual language through rhythm?  Drummer extraordinaire, Eric Harland, demonstrates the rhythmic nature of language and previews his "Rhythms of Revolution" Residency at the SFJAZZ Center, January 7-10, 2015.

Want Eric's highly expressive drumming on your own tracks?  Now's the perfect time to pick up his entire loop and sample bundle and save 40% with discount code: HOLIDAY40  Details here.

 

December 20, 2015 by Ryan Gruss

Want to Hear Stevie Wonder’s Live DEMO of the Song He Wrote for MJ, “I Can’t Help It”?

Are you ready for your musical discovery of the day?  Check out this demo of Stevie Wonder recording the classic song, "I Can't Help It", before he handed it over to Michael Jackson.  The finished "official" version of this song can be heard on Michael's 1979 album, "Off the Wall".

Our favorite part?  Stevie making up words (and random sounds) on the spot... many of which, never made it to the final version, but all served the purpose of delivering his incredible melodies to tape.