Let’s talk about velocity modulation. What is it? How can we use it to make our beats groove?
Listen to the examples below. Notice the difference between the two beats. They use the same kit and the same pattern, but one of them is flat and it gets dull fast. The other pushes you to move, has space for your ears to breathe and doesn’t use cheap tricks like turning up the kick volume.
Before velocity mods:
After velocity mods:
What is velocity? – It’s basically how hard you hit the pads or keys on a MIDI controller. In real life, if you clap your hands lightly, the sound will be soft and carry less of a punch. If you us more energy and clap harder, the noise will be brighter, louder, and snappier. Drummers can pull many shades of sound out of a drum kit just by varying how hard they play each drum. Velocity modulation is used to mimic these real world effects.
We’ll use drum rack to program our beat because it’s the most powerful sampler and beat sequencer Ableton offers. These techniques can be applied to any synth, drum machine or sequencer with modulation capabilities.
A side note before we get started – The sounds I’m using in this video were all designed on the DSI Tempest. The kit will be available for download on the splice blog soon so follow our Facebook or Twitter page updates.
If you don’t use a MIDI controller, you can easily pretend you played in sweet grooves by programming velocity changes into your beat.
- Open and arm a blank drum rack.
- Drop in 3 or 4 drum samples.
- Follow the video below.