Taking your techno percussion to the next level is all about experimentation. Here, Alex Holmes continues his adventure into the more playful elements of percussion. If you missed it check out his guide to house percussion.
Techno Percussion: Step-by step
1. Syncopated patterns work well with the hypnotic nature of techno. Take a loop and chop out an uneven number of beats such as 3, 5, 6 or more, then loop this section so the repeat lands in different places.
2. Next add an Enveloper to the percussion loop (or percussion buss), but this time take down the decay to create a tighter groove. You can then automate it back in over time to build intensity alongside your other elements.
3. We can add further movement and character with an AutoFilter. For a more synth-like sound, experiment with the Envelope Follower, but we like to use a slow sweeping band-pass with some dry signal blended back in.
4. You can build up more complex grooves using delays. Add a Tape Delay, switch the sync off and then automate the Amount and Time to create movement. Filter and modulate the Wet signal for added character.
5. Alternatively, try automating the Filter dial on the Ringshifter, but be careful, as a little goes a long way. If your groove gets a bit complex, a bit of kick-drum side-chain pump at the end of the chain helps pull things together.
6. Finally, we’re going to add an aggressive compressor to help get a more industrial sound. You can be quite heavy handed to help control all the movement and automation changes. A fast attack can control rogue transients
Techno know-how As far as techno is concerned, anything goes. Be playful with your effects with delays and filters to evolve your loop over time, using automation. Try big reverb swells and slightly off-kilter delay times, as these can create tension that can then be resolved.
7. Let’s have some fun! Take a whole percussion loop, then switch on Flex for the track and set it to the Speed algorithm. Now try quantising the loop using different settings, which will change the pitch of certain hits.
8. Next, add a Space Designer and select a short reverb, then Bounce in Place to create a new region. Do this a total of four times using different reverb IRs with different lengths, so you have four bounced regions.
9. Now we’re going to chop into these and select different parts for each section of the loop. You could reverse or double up on some hits to add more variation, and maybe try opening out the loop over 8 or more bars.
10. Make sure you don’t have any clicks or overly aggressive transients by adding Region fades in the Region editor. We decided to pick a couple of hits to do a Speed fade, to add more pitched movement.
11. You can send these tracks to a buss, or bounce down to a single new region. Either way, let’s compress them to hell using the VCA Smashed compressor preset, which brings up all the percussion and reverb tails.
12. Finally, we’ll add an AutoFilter with an LFO to add some constant movement, and also add another send to a new reverb buss with a long atmospheric setting, to help make it feel like a single part