In this tutorial, we are going to talk about “claps”. Everything from the famous claps that everyone should know about, to creating and effecting your very own smashing clap in Ableton Live.
“Claps” are very common and you can hear them in almost every Pop, Hip-Hop or Dance productions. In 2017 every producer needs to know how to create a good sounding clap and the old fashion claps referred to as the 808 or 909… Let’s start with some boring history that I find super interesting (for once)!
What’s an 808 or 909?
If you already know what a “909 clap” or an “808 kick” is, then good for you! But for those of you who have no idea it is time to learn! You will hear this a lot especially if you are collaborating with artists or other producers… You might get requests like “Hey man, I would like the clap to sound more like an 808. You know what I mean?” or “Dude can you make that 808 more subby?”… If you ask those people what an 808 or 909 is then you might just loose some clients!
It is a very sensitive subject… You have the hardcore 808 and 909 fans, like Mac and PC fans.
808 and 909 are Drum machines created in the 80’s by Roland. The Roland TR-808 and TR-909.
The Roland TR-808 Drum Machine Launched in 1980
The Roland TR-909 Drum Machine Launched in 1984
Here is a sample of both drum machines so you can hear the distinctive difference between the two:
Ahhh now you know what I’m talking about! That famous 808 sub kick that you hear in every Trap song today, and that famous 909 snare very popular in Dance music. Here are some famous artist and songs that used these drum machines:
TR-808: Outkast – The way you move (TR808 drum):
Also used by Beastie Boys, Run DMC, LL Cool J, Kanye West…
The TR-808 is more commonly used in Hip-Hop and it is a “go-to” drum machine for all Hip-Hop producers.
TR-909: Technotronik – Pump up the jam (famous 909):
Also used by Benny Benassi, Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Chemical Brothers…
The 909 became famous during the Techno and Acid era.
So now that you know your basics, let’s get started!
How to enhance your claps
I am going to show you some quick tips in getting the best out of any clap. In this example, we are going to use the 808 clap you heard above. Here is how this small track sounds with a simple kick and the 808 clap:
A basic Hip Hop beat with a sub bass and a small lead. I just dragged and drop the 808 clap sample into a new cell of the drum rack. The 808 clap sample I have has a long tail, so I quickly shortened the sample and faded out the tail so it wouldn’t be too present. Besides that, it is the raw clap sample!
Sounds good as it is but a little flat and lifeless. This first tip is very easy and always works on any clap!
Tip 1: Layering and panning
I love layering sounds together. So, let’s do this on our clap. Right click on the clap sample and select “group”. This will create an Instrument Rack in which we can layer several sounds to play at the same time.
Now, click on the chain icon and duplicate your first clap to create a new chain.
Now pan your first clap hard right and the second hard left.
Here is how it sounds:
No big difference so far, it just sounds a little louder. But here is where the magic happens. On your right clap transpose it down about 2 steps (-2). Make sure the “Warp” icon is ON in your Simpler.
Here is how it sounds now:
Way better! You can hear a really nice stereo width in your clap! You can do this on any clap, snare, snap to give it more presence and width. The good thing about this trick is that you are using the same sample!
Tip 2: Out of sync
This second tip works great as well and it’s super easy. This time we are going to use two claps and one will be triggered slightly before the other. This will create a more realistic “group clap”.
We will start off the same, with a single 808 clap in our Drum Rack.
Duplicate the Clap cell to a new cell on your drum rack! (Drag and Drop the “Clap” cell while holding ctrl or command).
Now we have two cells with the exact same clap. Go to the midi clip with your drum pattern and copy your first clap pattern to this second clap.
I renamed the second clap “clap 2″ so you can see better
Slightly drag all the midi notes back to have them all hit a little before your original clap.
You might have to zoom in quite a bit to be more precise. Listen to it several times to find the perfect point.
This will make your clap bigger and more realistic. You can play around again with the pitch, the velocity, and add some reverb on “Clap 2″ to create some cooler stuff.
I transposed the clap down 2 steps, cut out the lows using a Hi-Pass filter and added some small reverb:
Tip 3: Create your own clap
You have a microphone and two hands! So just record your own clap to layer to any other clap you have! We are going to use the 808 clap and layer two other “Hand Made” claps. One layer will be my own clap and the other layer will be my girlfriends clap (a girl’s clap is a little higher than a man’s clap).
Here are the two recorded claps:
We recorded three claps to have some options to choose from.
Here is how it sounds alone, first my girlfriend then me:
As you can hear it sucks! Nothing to do with the amazing sounding 808, 909 or any other clap from sample packs… But no worries! That’s what we are here for, make any sound sound amazing!
So, first let’s drag our original 808 clap into a drum rack:
As usual, to layer sounds together let’s create an Instrument rack by grouping our 808 clap.
Right click on the 808 clap and select “Group” (or ctrl + G)
Drag and drop your two homemade samples into the instrument rack:
I set the simpler to “1-shot” mode and raised the gain of each sample.
For each sample select the start and end point of the claps you like the most and tweak it how you want. It should look something like this:
I solo each individual chain and listen to the drum beat while tweaking the settings till I find something I like.
It sounds something like this (first you will hear the beat with only the 808 and then with the added layers):
This added a lot of punch and dynamics to the original clap. Now time to mix it up a bit. Pan your two handmade claps 30 right and about 30 left to create a nice wideness. Add some reverb and compression to the whole instrument rack to glue things together.
You can pitch the samples up or down, speed or slow them down, add more crazy effects…whatever makes you happy!
And there you go! Have fun creating your own sounds to layer in! I recorded the sound of a skateboard wheel spinning to create some cool layers on a clap! So, let your imagination and creativity guide you!