Creating Drum Kits from Household Items in Ableton Live 9

Struggling to find inspiring sounds? Get out of your studio and explore your home. You may be surprised just how fun sampling household objects can be for creating your own drum kits in Live.  


This article first appeared in AskAudio Magazine. Find out more here:


Account balance got you down? Tired of selling platelets to get that next soft synth? Most of us look to soft synths these days to fill the creative void. However, it wasn't too long ago that many of us, especially in situations of low income, would use the hardware and software that we had to supply us with nice sample banks. And, I'll say for myself, even when it wasn't simply a matter of money, I've always enjoyed recording everyday items, and then manipulating the recordings later to get entirely new usages out of the processed audio. 

Recently, I ran into an old friend, and he reminded me of our days sampling thunder, toilets, various book covers and so on when we were teenagers. There was no fear of using the wrong mic back then, or the right sample rate. Heck, 44.1 wasn't even achievable! Really, it was all about working with what you had and being a little punk rock about it. 

With the current technology, especially with applications like Ableton Live, you can truly achieve some craziness and beauty that you might not have imagined with some simple tweaks. 

And, just for a moment, let's pretend that we don't have to worry about the recording quality, or mic, or the sample rate, and so on. I'm just going to do some simple recording with my iPhone and FiRe (the wonderful field recording app) and see what I can get around my apartment. And, with each recording I get, we will go through some of the things that you can do with the sound.

Let's get started!

Sample 1- Tea Kettle

House 1

First, I'll start off with one of the oldest tricks in the book, a tea kettle. Because tea kettles essentially produce a square/sine type waveform, they are easy to manipulate into basses, pads, and even arpeggiated loops that can be highly melodic. You'd be really surprised how easy it is, and in fact, how beautiful/terrifying they can be... All, from a simple whistle. But, don't think the kettle is all about whistles! Because the metal expands and the water boils within a strange, metal capsule, you can hear some strangle metal shiftings going on even before the whistle begins. This allows you to have some fun with pitching later. In fact, pitched down metallic noise can sound terrifying with the right effects.

After importing my sample recordings into my MacBook Pro, and into a directory that I've labeled specifically for my recorded samples, I'll drag this '

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


Now THAT is a great article! I love it!

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