HI-HATS, SHAKERS, AND TAMBOURINES ARE ALL ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS FOR A “TOP LOOP.” THAT IS,
the treble percussion in a drum groove. While these are time-tested elements for adding shimmy and shake,
you’ll set your tracks apart by creating unique top parts that augment or even replace these classic elements.
Here’s a simple trick that lets you turn virtually any audio into a top loop, using the filtered delay plug-ins
that come with almost every DAW. Sometimes these are vintage tape delay emulations—Logic’s Tape Delay
is a good example, with high- and low-cut sliders for tailoring the frequency response of the echoes. We’ll use
Ableton Live’s Filter Delay to demonstrate the technique.
Grab a loop for your source audio. It
can literally be anything: rock drums,
Foley effects, guitars, even your cat,
because the magic happens through the
delay. Pitched instruments will impart
From there, add
the Filter Delay,
select your delay
times, then set the
delay EQs to emphasize the high frequencies and turn the
feedback up to between 90 and 100%.
Create an audio track to record
the result, using Ableton’s
Resampling feature. To capture
the audio, just solo the delayed
track and set the Resampling
track to record. Play the loop
for a while to build up the high frequencies, then
stop the loop and record the feedback tail to the
new audio track.
Now, using Live’s Auto Pan device (set to
mono, by turning the phase to 0), you can add
a sidechain-like bounce to your delay loop.
Note that when using the sine wave LFO, you
can adjust the groove by tinkering with the
Offset parameter. For a standard quarter-note
bounce, set it around 90º, give or take 10º.
Alternately, you can create a chopped
eighth-note effect by changing the LFO
waveform to a sawtooth, then adjusting the
Offset and Shape parameters.