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It takes some time, effort and layers to create a great beat in any genre, but it all starts with a kick. Try layering two kicks, one focusing on the sub area and another on the higher frequencies. EQ them differently and add some low-end boom with Drum Buss.
Next, adding a top line, do the layering trick again. Duplicate the sample, tune them both differently and pan them left and right to achieve a nice stereo effect.
Don’t be afraid to play around with snares and claps – it might take a while to find the right ones, even for a professional musician!
After that, use the MIDI controller of your choice (e.g. Nord Drum or Ableton Push) to add some groovy self-made percussions. If you don't have a controller, simply draw the percussions in using Ableton's MIDI Note Editor.
Finalise the beat with some impact sounds, crashes and lifts, which provide their maximum effect in transitions.
If you wish to improve your beat making skills, have a look at LNA's drum writing course below and download a cheat sheet with 30 MIDI grid patterns for 16 different genres.
Sounds may sound great individually, but the core idea is to make them sound good together. This is where the groove steps in.
In her track, LNA has created some groove by adding ghost notes on her kick and gating the bass, but also by utilising Groove Pool in Ableton Live.
Groove Pool can be used in two ways: by finding a groove preset in the Grooves section of the browser, or by letting it analyse the groove of a clip dragged into it. In both cases, the chosen groove can be applied to the samples and clips of the project, synchronising them and making them work rhythmically together.
To learn more about the magic of Groove Pool, watch this tutorial:
Organic instruments, such as LNA’s favourite violin, add a nice touch to any song. No need to worry though if you don’t play any instrument – there’s plenty to work with in Ableton Live alone.
Use your own vocal sample or find one in Ableton, drop it into Simpler and use it as an instrument by playing Push, any other MIDI instrument or even your computer keyboard. To refresh your memory on Simpler, see here:
Manipulating a melodic line in any way, e.g. reversing, often makes it more engaging. This is the case with LNA’s reversed violin, an essential part of her track.
Finally, try using Arpeggiator with your synth sounds. It sounds amazing and it’s also a wonderful way of adding attention whenever you need it in your arrangement, e.g. before a drop. To dig deeper into the effects created with Arpeggiator, watch this video:
A good arrangement, especially in an EDM song, is a conversation between tension and release.
In the A-part of Middle, LNA builds up tension without any kick or low-end energy whatsoever. This tension is released after the first drop in the B-part, when the kick finally comes in.
After another drop comes the grand finale, where LNA combines all frequencies – low, mid and high – for a massive sound, intertwining all elements of the track.
As you see from her example, silence is a powerful tool to make something else sound bigger.
A song tells a story. For that, we need arrangement as above – and some movement created with automation.
In addition to automating volumes, frequencies and other basic parameters, pay attention to the development and interaction of sounds.
Use automation to add tails, subtle movement, overall atmosphere and some well-needed human touch.
You may also want to try LNA’s favourite technique by grouping all tracks, adding Utility and automating Gain for a simple yet effective gated effect. All of these tips are shown in detail on the video.
In case you need a recap on automation, look at this tutorial first: