Use delay to make a rolling kick drum.

Often I use delay on the main kick drum to create a rolling or pumping under current to a song. This technique is sort of the old school equivalent to sidechaining a bassline. However, the old school method sounds different enough that it should be a color on anyone’s sound making palette. It’s a simple trick and in Ableton its just a matter of a few clicks to the desired effect.

First create an Impluse and put a place in a 4/4 kick drum. Next, add an Ableton Simple Delay to a Send Return channel. The Simple Delay loads up with the preset we want so you don’t have to tweak anything. Lastly, turn up the Send Return’s volume on the Impulse Channel to hear the kick drum start pumping and rolling along.

Imagine you have a song and during the verse you have the Delay off (by turning the Send Return to zero) and then when the Chorus begins the Delay is on. This builds some tension and energy into the Chorus. Maybe you have a song and you can’t get any bass sound to fit? Just forget the bass and use a delaying kick drum instead. Many dance records in the 90s used this technique. Partly because it was a sure way to get a dance groove and possibly even because there wasn’t enough sample memory available for a bass sound in an Akai S900!

Adding a delay to a bassline which has notes strategically placed off the 4/4 grid can get you an old school EBM sound. Early Front Line Assembly tracks all had basslines treated with delay in this manner. Here’s an example:

But let’s not stay stuck in the 90s. Switch the kick to something tight, increase the shuffle to about 50% and replace the bass sound with a high end noise sound and add a low pad and your now in this decade:

I know this is an incredible simple technique but it’s hundreds of small details like these that add up to a song that’s infinity interesting.

Related post: 6 steps to Sidechain the Auto Filter in Ableton Live 7