How to Layer Drum Samples: Claps and Snares

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Mixing together claps and snares allows you to create a customized snare that can give you exactly the sound you want. It can add an entirely new dimension to the sound of a song and can take your work far beyond what an unaltered sample might offer.

Choose Your Samples

Your snare sample should be rich and full, to start with. This gives you more raw materials to work with and allows you to customize the sound heavily.

The clap sound you select should be placed directly over the snare. The idea is to get the clap sound set up so that it adds to the snare, instead of adding an entirely new sound to the mix. The attack phases for the two sounds will be different and the shape will be different, as well. You’ll want to tweak the sounds until they complement one another.

Broadening the Sound

Delay can be used to add some width to the sound of the snare. One technique that works very well is using different delay times—both of them should be short—in the right and left channels. You may want to make the snare sound more interesting by adding some distortion to it, as well.

Use low and high cut on your delay feed to enhance the effect.

Widening the Clap

The clap sound will need to be widened, as well. This is most easily done by duplicating the sound, spreading the duplicates over two tracks and panning them left and right. When you apply your EQ to the track, use an EQ that is complimentary, so that the EQ on one channel mirrors that on the other.

Spacing the Sounds

Once you have the sounds set up the way you want them, you can get different effects by moving them backwards or forwards relative to one another on the track. Very minor shifting in this regard can produce dramatically different results.

Finishing the Sound

Reverb can be used to give the end result more of an ambient feel. You can select the reverb based on how big you want the end result to sound. You can also add reverb selectively, so that certain beats have more ambience to them than others.

Noise gates and other effects can be used to finish off the sound and to get exactly the result you want. This simple layering and tweaking can breathe new life into a snare sample.