Drum Synthesis: Operator Clap

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So far we have looked at synthesising kicks and snares now its time to look at creating a clap using Ableton’s Operator. Any FM synth is a great choice when making claps as it gives you multiple oscillators each with there own amplitude envelope allowing us to have a series of clap hits one after each other, almost as if we had several people clapping at the same time.

Set Up:

Once you have loaded in operator onto a new midi track, set the operators matrix to the last option, where each operator is a carrier (producing sound). This is because we will need 4 layers to our sound to achieve a affecting clap.

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Let's set up the first clap layer in operator A. For a clap we will need to use white noise, so let's set this as the waveform.

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Now the sound is set we need to tighten it up with the amplitude envelope. As will most drum sounds, you will have no sustain, very quick attack and small to medium decay, with a tiny bit of release. Also since we are doing drum sounds, set the envelope to trigger (in the loop section at the bottom right).

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At the moment its sounding more like a hi hat than a clap, to solve that problem lets set up operator B. We will need to offset the envelope so that the the sounds happen one after the other. This one instance where you will not be using the standard drum envelope. Start by setting the attack so it happens after the first operator A, the decay will be the minimum value and sustain to full.Instantly we are getting that double hit we need for a clap

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Now lets set up operator C, instead of doing all that work we can simply right click within the shell ( the black area) and copy oscillator B

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From there all we need to do is adjust the attack so OP C happens after OP B.

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For operator D, we will do the same copying from C this time, set the attack longer but this time we will adjust the release to give use that typical release of noise after the clap hit.

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Now for some filtering, switch to band pass 12 (we will need a smoother slope), also set up the OSR circuit to drive the sound a little. And lets dirty it up some more with the shaper.

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For the filter cutoff and resonance, set the cutoff to around 1kHz and resonance to 30%. This will help keep the sound more mid range.

Operator Round Up:

Last thing to do on operator before we add some effects is to tighten the sound with the time parameter which will make all the envelopes tighter. And from there lets spread the sound to add a nice almost chorus effect.

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The sound is great but it needs some extra juice, but before we add that juice lets clean up the low end with the EQ8, a simply high filter will do the trick.

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Now to add that juice, lets start with the pedal and overdrive. Set the pedal to distort mode and drive the input gain. For the overdrive pull back the drive a little and set the filter to hit the mid range.

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With the clap now a bit rawer, lets add some more snap with the compressor, let through the transient of the sound and clamp down on the release of it.

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Lastly some reverb to add some space to the sound

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So there you have it we have used Ableton's Operator to synthesise a clap. If you would like to learn how to synthesis more drum sounds check out our blog posts bellow.