Here’s an easy technique that I use often to add tension to a chorus. I create an instance of the Impulse drum module in Ableton Live and load in a kit. In this example I am using a free kit called “Cassette 808″ which is available for download at goldbaby.co.nz. Next, I create a my drum pattern. Inside Impulse I adjust the individual drum volumes, pannings and filters for each of the samples. I then dial back the Time parameter to -38%. The Time parameter affects all the samples inside Impulse at once. Cutting back the overall Time percent makes each drum each shorter and tighter. I like to keep my drums tight like this during the verses of my songs. I then automate the Time parameter to +30% when the chorus hits. This adds a sense of excitement and power to the chorus. You could use this method instead or in addition to adding rides or open hihats to a chorus (which creates a similar feeling). It’s also a good idea to automate the Time parameter further at key points in your arrangement. For example, if you want to focus on the last word of a verse try dialing the Time parameter to -90% for just a few syllables.
“The Time control governs the time-stretching and decay of all samples, allowing you to morph between short and stretched drum sounds.” – Ableton Live User Manual
Don’t stop playing with the Time knob there. Try duplicating your drum channel by hitting COMMAND-D. Now Pan your duplicated channel all the way left or right and turn the Time parameter to +100%. Cut the bass out of your new channel and you have a nice new color poking at your listeners ear. You could keep your new fully Time lengthened channel Panned Center and throw an Autopan plug-in on it. Why not also add a flanger or distortion? It’s great fun duplicating and adding effects to channels.
Here is an audio example:
Are you using time stretching as a songwriting element?