1. Arpeggiators for hihats and instruments
To create hihat rolls fast you can throw a MIDI effect called Arpeggiator before your hihat sample. That will trigger your sample for as long as you hold it. You can automate the speed of your hihats by automating the "Rate" knob.
The same technique can be used to create crazy fast instruments - just play chords (preferably with a pluck sample/synth) and place an Arpeggiator before your instrument. I used this technique for the sound at the beginning of the first drop in the track.
2. Automating Reverb Volume
This technique isn't commonly used in trap, yet it sounds crazy good. All you have to do is turn on the "send" knob all the way up on a track. On the corresponding return track place a Reverb with Dry/Wet all the way up. If you now automate the volume of the return track so that it increases before every bass hit, you get an awesome effect! Pay attention to how suddenly Reverb increases in my track to hear what this effect sounds like.
3. Layering Textures and EQ
To add some mood and gritiness to your track, you can add some textures which will fill up the space. In „pronto“ I layered two kinds of dirty textures, because I wanted that gritty, dirty feel. I also automated a Lowpass and Hipass filter on one of the textures to create an EQ transition (going from lower frequencies to higher). Experiment with different textures to give your track a more natural feeling.
4. Foley samples
To make your track stand out, you can put some creative Foley samples in it. From pots and pans to wood and bags of chips, the choice is huge! There are lots of such samples you can find on the internet. Recording foley samples yourself is lots of fun too - find sounds no one has used before and put them into your track!
5. Layering snares
I do this in almost all of my tracks. Snares are very important elements in trap drums, so I always aim to create my own, original snares. I simply group simpler devices into Instrument Racks (Cmd+G) and throw additional samples onto new tracks within the Rack. This gives me the ability to control Volumes, have mute switches, and EQ each element individually without cluttering my project with too many tracks.
6. Using bass to find chords
I often write chords using this technique, which allows me to find chords without worrying too much about music theory.
I. Find a minor scale melody on the piano and record it
II. Make a bass instrument (A simple sinewave with distortion will do)
III. Play around with the bass to find a chord progression
IV. Figure out that chord progression on the piano to find the exact chords
Redux is an effect which adds Bit Reduction to anything you put it on. It can add really original grittiness to your sounds - use it when you’re tired of Distortion and want to use something new and crazy sounding.
8. Vocal leads from samples
I use this technique very often to make lead vocal instruments - just like the vocal lead from the second drop of „pronto“:
I. Take a vocal sample into Simpler
II. Turn off „Warp“ if you’re in Ableton 9.5+
III. Find a part of the vocal sample which includes only one note (no pitch shifting)
IV. Loop that part of the sample around (adjust the start/end bars to select it. Make sure to turn on Loop)
V. Increase the Start and decrease the Length. That will shorten the sample for now.
VI. Turn on Fades to the max
Voila! You’ve got a vocal lead which you can use to play the melody of your track. To add even more coolness to it you can turn on Glide - that’s the exact technique Flume uses to create the vocals in Sleepless!
Thank you for reading this article - I hope you found some of these tips useful. Make sure to check out the project file of this track here.
Good luck with your Trap production!
I’m k-pizza, a chill trap music maker who likes to share his experiences with other producers. I’m regularly going to show up with music and content at PML.