Back With Another One of Them Block Rockin’ Beats!

By Mitchell Sigman


If you’ve clicked on the “Library” tab in Mixcraft, I’m sure you’ve noticed that even the entry-level Mixcraft Home Studio edition includes over 2000 loops and effects. Used “as-is,” you can easily create anything from basic rhythm sections to entire songs. But many users may not realize that with some crafty cutting, slicing, and tuning tricks, the loop library possesses infinite potential for unique, creative, and sometimes really out there manipulation.

In this blog, I’ll take a relatively straightforward drum loop clip, hack up each instrument hit into its own clip, then rearrange the individual hits to create a brand new drum loop. Then we’ll do even more crazy stuff!

First I’ll select a loop (to better see exactly what I’m doing, blow up these vids up to full-size HD by clicking the the little “four corners” icon at the bottom right of the video window):

I chose the enticingly named “Kick Snare Hat”, in the dubstep style, so the kick and snare drums are suitably aggressive. Now I’m going to cut up the loop into individual drum hits using Mixcraft’s Split function, accessible either by right-clicking and selecting it, or with the key shortcut Control-T.

By the way, when you drag the loop into the playback window, you’ll likely get a pop-up window that looks like this…
… that’s because all sample loops have an inherent original tempo. If you click “yes,” Mixcraft automatically resets the project’s tempo to the loop’s original tempo. If you click “no,” Mixcraft automatically time-stretches or time-compresses the loop’s playback to match the current project tempo. This can potentially compromise the sound quality of the loop, dependent on how far the loop’s original tempo is from the current project tempo. That said, you can often get away with pretty radical disparities. In our example, we’re gonna keep the tempo at 130 BPM.

Now we’ll cut up our beat into its individual hits:

Now that we’ve got our beat sliced up, we can start moving its parts around:

Here’s another nifty trick. Since Mixcraft lets you adjust the pitch of each audio clip, this means we can easily change pitches of individual drum hits in our pattern:

Of course, changing the pitches of sliced up clips can be applied to music loops as well. Here I used a synth bass loop, and changed the keys of the cut up clips for more musical variation.

BTW, if you want to find it, here’s the bass loop I used along with the “you may not have this in your version of Mixcraft” disclaimer:

You might ask, “why would you create beats and patterns this way instead of simply using a MIDI instrument and recording and editing MIDI notes?” Here’s why: for “macro– level” intensive editing, this approach offers endless possibilities. Remember in the video where I moved the high hats down to their own audio track? That’s just the tip of the iceberg: individual hits can be split over many audio tracks, each with their own dynamic, EQ, or time-domain effects. In other words, once it’s cut up, a relatively simple beat can be transformed into a unique and complex fire-breathing monster. Here’s the same beat, with a whole mess of stuff going on:

Specifically, I added a sixteenth-note ping-pong delay (with a lot of feedback) to one of the kicks and a ton of distortion, and midrange-bumped EQ to another (as well as using changing the pitch of each hit as shown earlier). I also made a new sixteenth note high-hat part where I placed every other high-hat on a separate audio track, then panned the two tracks hard left and right; I also added a big flanger plugin on both tracks for swoopy goodness. Finally, I pulled one of the snare drums down to its own track and added a lot of distortion, midrange-bump EQ, and reverb for a sort of faux-handclap smash. These are kind of random examples, but I sort of threw the proverbial kitchen sink at it just to give you some ideas – make it your own, that’s the fun part!

(More of the standard Zeros & Ones blog disclaimer – I used Mixcraft Pro Studio 6, so there’s a chance your version may not include all the plugins and loops I used).