Ableton Live represents one of the quickest beat creation tools available. It's ability to manipulate both loops and single hits is extremely impressive. If you prefer working with individual drum samples or sections of loops, you may want to take a look at the Drum Racks device.
Read on to find out more...
The Drum Racks Concept
The Drum Rack is not actually an instrument, I say this because it doesn't produce any sound of it's own. It's really a cleaver container for instruments. If you are a Reason user, or at least familiar with the application, think about the Combinator and you'll certainly be on the right track.
The Drum Rack can be loaded with a number of instruments and the sounds these produce can then be triggered and manipulated using the Drum Racks main interface. Essentially this is a great way to house all your drum sounds and keep things organized and in one place.
Step 1 - Loading the Drum Racks with Devices
Let's look at how to load the Drum Rack up with devices. I'm going to put together a trance style beat here and so I'll need plenty of drum / FX samples and I'll also use some percussion from the 'Collision' physical modeling instrument.
With the Drum Rack loaded onto a MIDI channel you can start to load up your sounds. There are a few ways to do this, firstly you can simply drop samples onto the pads of the Drum Rack, this will auto-magically create a 'Simpler' instrument in that slot containing your sampler.
Alternatively you can actually drag devices into the Drum Rack and they will be assigned to the next free slot. You can see in my example I have dropped several samples and effects into the Drum Rack. There is also an instance of Collision in there, all these instruments have been assigned to their own individual pads.
Step 2 - Programming with the Drum Rack
You can play the Drum Rack like any other MIDI instrument but I prefer to use step programming here. I have constructed a trance / house style beat using step programming.
The quickest way to get into step programming in Live is to simply click a blank clip area on the MIDI channel you are using and create a blank clip. You should then be presented with a new area showing all the elements loaded into your Drum Rack.
On playing the clip you can now place events on each particular sound. When you load more sounds, new lanes will be added to your clip. As you can see, the loop I have constructed is extremely simple but shows you how easy it is to get started.
Step 3 - Adding Effects to the Drum Rack
I even added effects to some of the sounds to add extra dimension and space to the loop. To add your own effects you can simply select the sound you want to process in your Drum Rack and drag the effects into the space next to the appropriate device.
Take a listen to this Trance Beat created in Drum Rack:
Take your beats to the next level with this tutorial below: