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Drum Breaks

In this tutorial, you will slice a drum loop into individual hits, and then use Flow to create endless variations of drum breaks that are always fresh and exciting. This technique is especially useful for EDM genres that rely on complex and fast drum rhythms, such as breakbeat, drum and bass, jungle, breakcore and others.

You will also learn how to map the modulation values produced by Flow to audio effects. This will add more movement and character to your drum breaks, making them sound more dynamic and expressive.

Pattern Overview

You will create a generative drum break similar to the one demonstrated in the Music Modeling chapter, but with some extra features. You will use pitch bend and mod wheel to add more variation and expression to your drum sounds. The pattern has three parallel parts that work together:

  • Sample slices that will mostly play in order, but sometimes will jump to a different slice, or repeat instead of moving on;
  • Pitch bend changes that will affect the pitch of sample slices, creating more contrast and interest in the drum break;
  • Modulation wheel changes that will make the sound more distorted or clean, adding more dynamics and texture to the drum break.

Each part will have its own state machine that will generate notes and modulation values according to the rules you set.

The following state machine diagram illustrates this pattern:

Parallel state machine with three parts representing sample slices, pitch bend and mod wheel changes playing simultaneously

First, let's configure the MIDI track that will host Flow and a drum loop sample.