Making original beats from scratch is an art form which is easily picked up. Having an idea for how you want your beats to sound is a good start. Try laying out your pattern with a kick, snare and hi hat. Once you are happy with your pattern begin to eq and taper your individual drum parts. Low cut your kick at around 40 hz to allow for any sub bass to sit underneath it. Try low cutting your snare while adding a couple of db to the 2,500Khz and 5,500Khz frequency areas to give it some snap and presence. Low cut your hats at around 400 – 800 hz as you only need the top end. Experiment with various frequency ranges for each part, take out what you don’t need.
Once your happy with the eq try layering other drum parts over the top. For example adding a snappy snare and low cutting it around 400hz should drastically alter the tone of your original snare. Try the same principal with your kick. Experiment until you are happy with the sounds of your kik, snare and hat. Eq is one of the most important processes in getting your break to sound how you imagine it. Distortion and shaping plug ins can also be very useful here. Make a few copies of your kik and snare. trying altering the pitch, shape or fx on each version to give you some variety.
Now that you have your main drum parts you should layer a breakbeat over the top to give it a distinctive feel. This will also fill out the drum track and cover up the edits to your original kik, snare and hat. Remember to remove the frequencies you don’t need. Your original kik and snare should already have enough bass so low cut your breakbeat somewhere between 120 and 400 hz.
When you are happy with the sound of your percussion you may need to alter it’s feel, this is particularly important if you want to add snare rolls and grooves to your beats. Firstly you should experiment with reverb. Finding the right reverb is crucial. Something that makes the beats feel brighter is ideal. Try a short plate reverb setting with a very short decay time. Once you have added reverb you should try tapering the individual beats. Kontakt and Battery are the ideal tools. Experiment with the decay and sustain settings, this is particularly relevant when making rolls within your beat pattern. Even a fade out on your parts can be effective particularly when making shuffles and rolls. Finally you need to adjust volume settings for each part. Now apply some quantise settings to your beats. Logic’s settings of 16A,B and C are the most effective although making your own template from a live drum track would be ideal. These settings will alter the feel of your break by repositioning parts of your loop that land on the off beat. Vital for giving percussion that human feel.
Good eq, reverb, shaping and volume settings followed by groove settings and some compression are the vital ingredients in making a distinctive breakbeat. Reapplying these principles to bongos, shakers and tambourine parts will further add to the energy of your break.