Sample and Hold: Making a Techno Beat With AI
Welcome to Sample and Hold, the series on the LANDR Blog where we highlight one unique crate-digging session and the digger’s gold we came back with using Selector—the world’s first AI sample recommendation tool
Techno might be my favorite genre of electronic music.
The repeating, hypnotic rhythms and aggressive synths are so interesting to work with.
It’s so cool throwing that classic four on the floor kick pattern underneath a pulsing baseline or synth part.
With tons of great techno samples to work with on LANDR samples, I’ll see what Selector recommends I use to make my own techno track in this edition of Sample and Hold.
I’m going to focus my search on melodic lines, instead of drum parts since I want to do all the drum programming myself.
I think the drums are the most important part of any techno beat.
There’s a lot of subtlety involved with making techno drums sound right, so I’ll just find some good drum samples I can use in my drum machine, and have Selector recommend me the melodic parts for my track.
Starter sample: ES TEMDS Synth Loops
I thought this sample made for a good place to start with my techno track because it has four distinct synth stabs that I can chop up in my sampler and use in different ways.
I also like that it has a minimalist quality that lines up with the kind of minimal techno I love.
There’s a good amount of delay in the track too, so I think this will result in some interesting melodic rhythms when I add even more delay in my sampler.
Now that I have a starting point lets see what Selector recommends to me based on this sample.
Selection one: DARKM2 Dark Sequences
When I pulled the Selector results for my starter sample this one immediately stood out to me.
I liked a couple things about it in particular–the airy noise in the background, dark melody, and the rhythmic sidechain effect you can hear throughout the sample.
Sidechaining is a very useful effect that you can hear in almost all forms of electronic music.
Pay attention to how the volume ducks to the beat in this sample.
On every downbeat the volume is reduced, to create a subtle rhythm in the background.
This is done by putting sidechain compression on the track.
We’ve written about sidechaining before, but in short sidechain compression works by using one track to control and reduce the volume of another track using a noise threshold, attack and release.
Usually, the element that used to lower the other track’s volume is a kick. This makes the kicks more audible, but it also adds a distinct rhythmic feeling to the rest of the track.
In this sample, you can’t hear whatever instrument is controlling the volume of the sidechain which is why the volume very clearly ducks on each downbeat.
Selection two: SS9 1 Bass Clarinet
When I hit the Selector button, the Dark Sequences sample returned some pretty surprising results.
Specifically, it returned this Bass Clarinet sample that immediately caught my ear.
Orchestral excerpts aren’t something you’d normally associate with a techno track.
But in reality, a lot of electronic music was inspired by modern orchestral works like Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich which prominently featured the bass clarinet.
In this case, I think the bass clarinet could be used as a punchy melodic line that sounds more unique and interesting than any synth part could, especially if I play with pitch and effects on it.
Selection three: 003 Atmosphere
Atmospheric samples are always a great way to add depth and character to any track, especially in a techno setting.
I was drawn to this sample in particular because it had such a gritty nature that I think compliments the Dark Sequences sample I picked earlier.
It has a dark and creepy quality that I really like and since I’m planning on creating a minimal dark techno track it’s perfect.
Here’s a great video about making ambient pads of your own!
Selection four: WISR5 5 Conga
I already have a bunch of good melody and texture samples so I’ll start thinking about the drums for the loop I choose.
I’ve always loved how congas sound when used in electronic music, so I immediately gravitated towards this pulsing conga loop.
I think it will sound great once layered overtop of the kicks, snares, and hi-hats that I’ll use in my track.
The final product
Alright, I have a bunch of great samples to inspire my new techno track.
Here’s what I made once I compiled them into my Digitakt sampler.
Of course, I mastered the track with LANDR once it was finished.
Alex Lavoie works as a staff writer at LANDR by day and moonlights as a drummer for folk-rock outfit The Painters.
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