Giving a Louis Cole Groove the Sensory Percussion Treatment
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Although Louis Cole is a multi-talented musician who plays lots of instruments, he's probably best known for his frenetic, yet highly precise drum grooves that land somewhere between funk and drum n' bass. We came across one such groove that he posted on Instagram a while back, and thought we'd give it the Sensory Percussion treatment, adding our own melodic and harmonic sequences to his killer drum pattern!

How We Did It

1. Learn the Groove

For this particular groove, this step is a little easier said than done, since there are a lot of subtle things going on. But if you take away the ghost notes and the hi-hat patterm, the skeleton of the groove is just a 2-bar halftime groove with the snare hitting on beat 3 and the kick playing on every 3rd eighth note, starting on 1. That looks something like this:

A simplified notation of the groove for the snare and kick

Pretty simple, right? Well, now we can add the hi-hat pattern on the right hand, which will later be playing our melody. That looks like this:

The notation adding in hi-hat to the snare and kick

And finally, the hardest step: the ghost notes. You're basically filling in every sixteenth note that isn't already being played by the kick, hat, or accented snare. That looks like this:

The full notation of the groove for all drums

2. Chords/Melody

This step is going to be a little bit different for everyone depending on how you go about coming up with harmony/melody. We started out at the keyboard and came up with the chords first. Since there are 4 kicks played every 2 measures of Louis' pattern, we knew that assigning the chords to the kick would result in a nice, even progression. There are 8 chords total, so it takes two cycles of the pattern to play.

The first four chords are: F#m7, Bm7, C#m11, C#m7. The next 4 are: F#m7, Am7, Bm7, G#m7.

Now that we had our chords for the kick, we needed a melodic sequence that would follow the pattern of the hi-hat (we moved the right hand from the hi-hat to the snare rim). We're no Jacob Collier music theory geniuses here at Sunhouse, so we essentially just picked one note from each chord and tried different different combinations until we found a sequence that we liked.

The sequence we ended up with is: C#, D, E, B, C#, C, D, F#

3. Sensory Percussion Stuff (The Real Magic)

Once we had our chord and pluck samples, we simply dragged and dropped them into Sensory Percussion: chords on the center of the kick and plucks on the rim of the snare. At this point, the chords and melody were in their own separate samplers, meaning they were not in sync with each other (unless you played the snare rim exactly once per each hit on the center of the kick). We wanted to connect them so that each hit on the center of the kick cycle to the next sample on the rim of the snare, regardless of how many times the snare rim is hit. Here's how that's done:

  1. Set the rim tip sequencer to "cntrl" mode. This means that a controller can govern the order of playback of the samples in that sampler.

  2. Create a velocity controller on the center of the kick, and assign it to the "next" button the snare rim tip sampler.

  3. Create a velocity controller on the kick rim and assign it to the reset button on both the kick center and snare rim tip samplers.

Now, we can play snare rim as many times as we like and it won't progress to the next note until we hit the center of the kick. And if we want to go back to the beginning of the progression, we simply hit the rim of the kick to reset both the chords and the melodic plucks.

Here is a quick video showing that process:

And that's it! We now have a melodic sequence on the snare and chords on the kick that will never get out of sync with each other.

If you want to play the melodic Louis Cole kit shown in this post, you can download it here. Or you can come up with your own chords/melody and follow the process outlined above to make your own!

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