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In this post, I asked you all about isolating individual hits from a drum loop. This was important to me because I wanted to actually edit the drum loops to create my own version of the original.

Well, this video showed me exactly how to do that!

I'm starting to incorporate the beats into some demos of mine. The only issue is that i'm finding it very difficult to know if what i'm doing is technically correct. The "slice to MIDI" feature in Ableton doesn't chop up the different percussive elements perfectly--they usually come with audio clicks, either in the beginning of the transient or at the end of the tail. By dragging the warp markers until the clicks go away, I can usually solve the problem. The issue here is that i'm not noticing a pattern of any sort, and each percussive hit ends up being "cropped" a different way. I'm used to everything being very precise, on the grid, and captured in full (as far as one-shots go), so it's pretty unnerving to play around arbitrarily with these wave forms . . . not to mention that i've only ever made drums using MIDI!

Do you have any considerations on this? My question: Is there a technically correct way to splice drum beats, or do I just need to follow my ear? Thank you!

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  • It's best not to include discussion related to another question here. Just stick to the question you are asking. Maybe edit the question to focus only on the editing question and eliminate the licensing discussion.
    – Theodore
    Apr 8, 2022 at 15:29
  • Also, if there's a key part in that (16-minute) video, give a timestamp.
    – Theodore
    Apr 8, 2022 at 15:41

2 Answers 2

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The "technically correct" way to slice would be to have each slice point at the latest possible moment before each drum hit. You want the section before the slice to end before the click from the next hit starts, and you want the section after the slice to have the drum hit right at the very beginning of the audio. The software usually does some "best guesses" for the slices, but you may need to manually adjust them to get them right.

You also need to worry about "declicking"- I don't use ableton, but any slicer should have some declicking options to take care of this for you almost automatically.

There is also the problem that each section of audio will end quite abruptly. This means you need to get to the next note before the audio from the last note ends. (And in general, you want each note to cut the last note. No overlapping notes) For this reason, drum loops at slower tempos are a bit more flexible for slicing. You can shorten a slice easily- just trigger the next slice. But lengthening a slice requires time stretching.

Other than that, there is also the "problem" of sustain tails getting cut or added sporadically- For example, if you had the groove

Sliced groove image

Slice 3 is a ride hit, but it isn't just a ride hit. It will have some residue from the crash on beat 1 and the snare hit on beat 2. So, if you use slice 5, then 3, then 5, you will hear an unnatural "pump" of high end accompanying the ride hit. Or, if you used slice 1 followed by slice 4, you will hear the crash suddenly drop in volume on slice 4.

This isn't "bad", it's a staple sound of genres that use sliced drum loops often. And you will probably have several possible slices to use for each drum hit, giving you some creative control over this effect. But it does sound quite different than a recording of a drummer playing your new sliced groove.

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I'm not an Ableton user, but I have edited drum loops in Audition, Sonar, and Pro Tools.

Clicks at edit points usually mean the edit was not made at a point where the waveform is crossing zero. If there is an option to constrain edit points to zero-crossings, use it. If not, a small crossfade can help.

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