The original drum and base break is based of 6 second loop from a song in the 60s. It has become the most famous most overused break in all of history. It really is incredible that this small loop really did spawn several genres of music such as jungle and drum and base. The video below explains the history of the Amen break in great detail.
In this tutorial I will cover building your own drum and base beat from start to finish. So let’s begin. We start with a kick and snare.
Kick and Snare
Any DnB beat should have a solid Kick and snare as its bass. This carries the entire beat in a familiar pattern. For the kick try layering a strong low end kick and a snappy high end kick. Together these kicks will pack a punch. Place your kicks on the 1st and 11th beat of the bar. Also make sure your BPM is set to 170BPM.
For the snare you will need to layer quite a few snares to achieve a snap that you want. There really aren’t any hard set rules here so feel free to experiment until you can find a kick and snare that work well together. Use EQ to ensure the snares fit together cutting frequencies that overlap. Place your snare on the 5th and 13th beats of the bar.
Now you will need to place a break beat underneath your kick and snare to fill the gaps. The break beat is essentially a sample of the Amen break mentioned at the beginning of this article. They are quite easy to find and any sample site will have hundreds. They will vary considerably so be sure to try a few until you find one you like.
Typically an unedited break beat will have quite a bit of low end to it. This low end will coincide with your kick so we will need to cut it out completely. In my example I’m using a break beat present in the default Reason installation and using EQ to remove the low end.
Try varying the last bar of a 4 bar and 8 bar beat. Add more kicks, double up on your snare and slightly alter your break beat to keep the beat interesting.
Once you have the above done as a solid base it’s time to ass some FX’s, blips, more hats and anything else you can think of to make the beat interesting. Try to ensure every 4 bars are different in some subtle way. This will ensure beat doesn’t get boring and the listener is kept entertained.