Tips for writing fast break patterns

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Tips for writing fast break patterns

Post by oskr » August 10th, 2021, 12:18 pm

Hi guys, here’s a tutorial I wrote, hope you like it, could be useful for noobs getting into
jungle and breakcore, I wish someone had pulled me aside and shown me something like this back in the day.

Tips for writing fast break patterns!!!

Have a close look at the second bar of the amen break. The second and fourth beats are snares. In between these beats there are six hits. It kinda sounds like “chka chka bm bm”. You may want to quantize the break (push the hits around so that they all strike right on the 16ths).

K - K - S - s s s s k k S - s s

The part I’m talking about is “s s s s k k”.

The sounds created in this section are made by the cymbal, the snare and the kick. But because all the sounds overlap it’s impossible to pull it apart and get a clean kick, snare or cymbal. If you take the hit that occurs at beat 2.4 and play only that piece of audio, you hear both the tail of the hat and the strike of the snare.

The drum kit is also being played by a human being, with varying sounds on the same drums, both purposefully and accidentally. The snare hits you get at 2.4 and 3.2 are very different to the huge pops you get at beats 2 and 4.

What you have in this middle section of the break is something that cannot be easily imitated by sequencing individual sounds for each drum and cymbal. Sometimes these hits are called ghost hits, I tend to call them shuffles or shuffly bits (not sure why).

Jungle tracks always use the “shuffles” as core parts of the drum loop. Breakcore usually will too. Drum and Bass however often does replicate these patterns with individual hits. You will sometimes hear a row of hats or shakers (usually with differing velocity) layered over huge kicks and snares. This creates a rhythm just like the “shuffles” of a jungle loop.

A common approach to writing breaks is to imagine the shuffles (I’m sticking with the name for now) as a single piece of audio. Typically you are going to want a sequence that is four sixteenths long. So if you are working with the amen break then you may want to use either the first four or the last four, but the entire six isn’t that useful. I often highpass the kickdrums from the last two hits so there’s a bigger contrast between them and the actual kicks. Remember that the shuffles are actually four fast separate hits so you need to set the daw properly to automatically sync them to the tempo.

You can next start thinking of your patterns as a sequence of kicks, snares and shuffles. Make sure the shufflesIt doesn't matter whether you write the patterns using a midi grid (ie each sample has a midi note) or whether you cut and rearrange (ie looking at a waveform). Once you begin to learn what sequences sound good you can write patterns without listening to them and have a good idea of how they will sound.

A typical Drum and Bass pattern:

K - S ssssK S - K K S ssssK S -

A common Breakcore/Jungle pattern:

K - S K - S ssssS ssssS ssssS -

The parts marked with “-“ are gaps, but there may be rides, hats etc here. Also note that these are two bar loops, while the amen I cut up earlier is just one bar. Drum and Bass, Jungle etc are always much faster than the original raw loops. Play these loops at 160bpm or above to sound correct.

If you find a raw drum break which has a section with ghost hits/shuffles you can probably rearrange it into a decent jungle pattern. There’s also no reason you can’t mix and match these sections from other loops. You might sometimes want to layer a tougher kick into the pattern while still retaining the snares and ghost sequence. Occasionally the ghost hits may be clearly foreign to the kick and snare but none-the-less still sound “right”.

Hope you found this useful. Listen to my tracks here:

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