Generative Drum Machine Tutorial

In this tutorial we will be building a generative drum machine

Download the completed project from here

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Getting started

First add 3 tracks (use the + button) and name these: Cymbals, kick, snare & toms. Set the sound for each track to be be standard drums (Bank 120).

Part 1: Cymbals

Select track 1 (the cymbals track) and add a new part either by using the + button or by double clicking on the timeline. Open this newly created part for editing

In the note editor add 4 F# sharp notes (note number 42) as 1/16 notes.

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We want to repeat this pattern and fill the bar, to do this quickly:

  1. Select the first 4 notes (shift click to select more than 1).
  2. Then copy using the shortcut cmd + c, or ctrl if on windows.
  3. Select the last note only
  4. Then paste (cmd + p). do this twice to fill the bar

Your full sequence should look like the image below, and should sound like a closed hi-hat played quickly.

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We can now augment this to have a open hat on the first beat. Select the first note and press shift + A to insert a floor-tom (midi note number 45). Select this newly inserted note and press the up key to make it note number 46 (a open hi-hat, or A#)

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Select the open hi-hat (46) note and open the note properties panel. Give this note a chance of 50% so that there is only a 50% chance of an open hat.

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Add two more open hihat notes and again set their chance to be 50%

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Part 2: Kick Drum and Snare

Return to the arrange view and add a part to track 2 (kick). Open this part for editing

Input the following sequence

To add a rest simply use the right arrow on the last note to add a rest after the current note. To insert a rest between notes simply hold cmd while pressing either the left or right arrow keys.

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Audition before returning to the arrange view

Return to the edit view and add a new part on the snare track. Open the part for editing

Input the following sequence:

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Audition before returning to the arrange view

Once back in the arrange view audition the piece, you should have a simple 1-bar drum beat

Part 3: Repeats

We want to make our drum part repeat. To repeat the kick and snare part simply grab the end of the part on the timeline and drag the marker to fill 4 bars.

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However, for the hihat part we want to do something different. A repeat part simply repeats the content the same each time. However as the hihat part is generative each repeat should be different. To set this up and another part after the hihat part and select iterator part.

Right click on the itrerator and click “set part to iterate”. Then click on the previous part.

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Hit the show dependencies button and ensure that the arrow depicts the same as in the figure below.

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To repeat this process we need to add two more iterator parts and set them to iterate part 1.

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Change the drop down menu next to render to say “Full iteration”. Hit render and audition the piece, each of the hihat parts should be different.

Repeat the same process for the kick drum, so that instead of using repeats the use iterator parts.

Part 4: Kick drum variations

Open the kick drum part and add the following notes (shown below). Set the probability for each green note to be 60%. The notes on beats 1 & 3 should have no effects applied to them.

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Return to the arrange view and hit render to verify that each kick drum part is different

Part 5: Drum fill

To finish lets shorten the snare part to down to just 3 bars, so we can make a generative drum fill at the end. Add another part on the snare and toms track at the end.

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Open the part for editing and input the following sequene.

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Select each of the notes after the first snare hit and apply the following parameters in the note properties window.

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To ensure we only get notes that map to tom drums (MIDI map for drums) then we need to add the following plugin (pitch quantiser):

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Lets compute a few iterations of this to ensure we are getting the desired effect, you should only hear snare and tom drums.

Lets return to the arrange window and finish our session.

Delete the last iterator part from the arrange view on the cymbals track. Copy the first part from the hihat track and paste this as the 4th part.

Open the part delete all but the first 4 notes, hit clear generative effects and then add a cymbal hit on beat 2 (MIDI Note 57 - A).

Audition and then return to the arrange view

Download the completed project from here

Congratulations on finishing this tutorial

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