How to Make Grime Drums using Ableton Live 9

In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to make Grime drums using Ableton Live 9. Grime is a very popular genre in UK and it draws its influences from UK Garage. By using fast paced hats and silence in some parts, drums really have a nice flow. So let’s get started and make some drums.

First of all, you need to pick some kicks, snares and hats. Grime is really characterized by that raw sound so layering won’t be needed. Instead of it, we are going to focus on getting the right arrangement and nice sounds . Also, don’t forget to disable warping in Ableton, since you are using one shots.

When you’ve picked the right one shots,set the BPM on 140 and  focus on the arrangement. This is probably the most important part, as it gives our beat a flow, and getting it right is very important. Good way to start arranging is to start with a regular two step rhythm. Then we are going to move the position of snare and add some kicks.

Next, we are going  to add some hihats. You can often hear in grime couple of fast paced hats and then silence between them. Also, try to use couple of hihat samples. Change the velocity of drums to make it feel more “human”. Also, I’ve applied some swing, but that’s optional.

We’ve done the arrangement, so now we are going to process our drums. First, we are going to remove low frequencies on our snare and hihats, so they won’t clash with the other bass frequencies in our mix later.

Now let’s change the panning of our hats to give our drums more width, but keep the kick and snare in mono. Then, we are going to add really subtle reverb to our hats. Put the Low cut in the input processing window and disable chorus. Set the Pre Delay on minimum and Decay Time on 400 ms. In the Diffusion Network window, enable Low.

Then, we are going to export all the elements of drums individually.  I think the fastest way to do it is to just duplicate your drum rack ( in this case 5 times, since we have 5 one shots), soloing the kick, snare and hihats, freezing all tracks ( right click, freeze) and then flattening them. You will get your drum sounds as audio waveform in audio tracks, therefore, it will make our processing a lot easier and cleaner.

Next up, we are going to group our drums. Then, we are going to apply a subtle compression on the group, as your rhythm will really benefit from it. Put the attack really low, release somewhere between 10-15 ms. Threshold should be around -8 dB and ratio 2.38 : 1. Also, I’ve put the dry/wet on 64%. It really is a matter of taste, and remember to always use your ears.

Now that we’ve done the compression, put the Overdrive plugin on snare and kick and add a really subtle distortion. Doing it will give our drums more punch and rawness. I suggest leaving Drive and Tone on 50%, but change dry/wet to around 10% and Dynamics should be fine on about 60%. Center frequency should be on approximately 850 Hz and  width of the bandpass on 0.50. It’s important that your kick sounds thumping.

When you distort your kick and snare, put the saturator on group track. With a bit of saturation, our drums will be punchier and overall louder.Put the curve type on Soft Sine. Drive should be around 1 dB and turn on the soft clipping. Also, I’ve set the dry/wet ratio on 75%. Your drums should be clipping, but not overdriven.

Last is applying some New York/Parallel compression. We are going to add second audio signal that will be more dynamically squashed but consistent. It will make our drums even more punch and power. I will be using free VST compressor called TDR Kotelnikov. It is a really great sounding compressor and I highly recommend it as it doesn’t cost a penny.

So first, we are going to export our whole drums. When done, put the compressor on freshly exported audio signal. I’ve set the threshold around -25dB, attack and release should be really fast and ratio should be 7:1. Now reintroduce the compressed drum track and fine tune its volume. It should sound more punchy and powerful.

So here it is, this is how you make Grime drums in Ableton Live 9. Keep in mind that your drums should be really simple and raw, don’t over process them and focus on your arrangement. Drums are the base of your track, as they will set the mood of the track.