There are some powerful tools available in its arsenal, but how do Drum Racks work in Ableton?
The tools now available in Ableton Live’s virtual ‘rack’ are pretty astonishing. From synths to effects, to, well, you name it- it’s all here and can be automated and controlled.
The Drum Rack is a hugely flexible and powerful tool for creating drum parts, making both sound generation and mixing straightforward.
With so much power at your disposal, you may wonder, how do drum racks work in Ableton?
Here’s a mini tour…
So, what exactly is it?
The Drum Rack, put simply, is a bit like an Ableton session window, within Ableton. Confused? Allow me to explain…
Essentially, each Drum Rack provides 132 cells, which can trigger individual drum sounds. Each of these has its own channel for effects and EQ within the Drum rack.
Its strength is in the fact that each of these cells can be as simple as single audio clip, or an Ableton synth or virtual instrument. These are programmed via standard MIDI tracks, where each note corresponds to a different cell.
At its most simple, the Drum Rack can be used with one of the many presets included. This can be done in a number of ways.
- Create a MIDI track, make sure that it’s selected/ highlighted, then select ‘drums’ from the browser menu on the left. To the right of this, there is a list of preset kits. Double clicking one of these will load a selection of sounds, effects and settings to the Drum Rack.
- Simply double clicking a preset from this list will create a new MIDI track with Drum Rack and the preset loaded.
- Create a Drum Rack on a MIDI track, then drag a preset from the list into the ‘cell’ area of the drum rack window.
Creating your own Drum Rack
Creating your own settings is just as simple.
- Create a Drum Rack on a MIDI track.
- Find a drum sample that you would like to use.
- Drag it to the cell that you would like it to be triggered from.
- Repeat as required…
Alternatively, you can drag virtual instruments or Ableton devices into cells to generate sounds. Very cool…
Adjusting levels and using effects on individual sounds
Each of the active cells automatically creates its own channel within the Drum Rack, with individual level control and individual effects, too.
Access to this is simple…
- Click the small black triangle at the top of the Drum Rack channel in the session window. Boom! The Drum Rack expands to show all of your drum sound channels.
- Each of these has its own fader, and adding effects is a simple matter of dragging them from the browser to the relevant channel.
- Click the black triangle again to collapse it back down to the original channel view.
The Drum Rack is such an elegant way of managing drum sounds within Ableton that it practically becomes invisible- it takes every aspect of drum programming and mixing, and puts every control and setting in one convenient place with an intuitive interface.
Below is a Drum Racks example put together at speed using a single drum rack (with just a single Rhodes clip as accompaniment). The project can be downloaded below.
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Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.