Building Drum Kits Fast and Efficiently


In this little tutorial, I’m going to show you how I use the slicing presets to create my drum kits. Along the way, we’ll learn a few aspects of how the user library is laid out, we’ll also learn a little bit about slicing and creating your own slicing presets, and some cool little tricks to speed up your workflow.

The first thing to being efficient is knowing your environment, and also what tools are available for you. It’s crucial that you also know how to get those tools quickly and without having to constantly shift from one input device to another, so learn your key commands and familiarize yourself with the layout of your menus as well as the layout of your library.

Before we get started, keep in mind that what I’m about to tell you is actually in the Live user manual (17.6.2 Slicing). The slicing functionality can be found by accessing the audio clip contextual menu. This is achieved by right-clicking on an audio clip and selecting “slice to a new MIDI track.” You’ll be prompted with a couple of selections, one being the element you want to use as a split point (time measure, markers, transients) and also the slicing preset.

By default, Live comes with several slicing presets, all of which are really useful. However, you are not confined to these. The “Defaults” folder in your Live library contains a series of sub-folders that are used for creating your own default behavior when doing things like slicing or dropping new audio files, etc. Section 16.1.1 “Live Default Presets” covers some of this. In fact, here is what the manual has to say about creating your own:

Default Presets

Presets saved to the Defaults folders in Live’s Library will load in place of Live’s generic device settings. There are also Defaults folders that allow you to customize how Live responds to various user actions, such as sample dropping and slicing.

To save the current settings of a device as a default preset, open the (PC) / Ctrl (Mac) context menu on the device’s header and select Save as Default Preset. This works for all of Live’s instruments, MIDI effects, and audio effects (including the various types of Racks). If you have already saved a default preset for a particular device, Live will ask you before overwriting it.

To specify how Live behaves when dragging a sample to a Drum Rack or the Track View of a MIDI track:

  • Create an empty Simpler or Sampler
  • Adjust the parameters as you like
  • Drag the edited device to the On Drum Rack or On Track View folder, which can be found at Library/Defaults/Dropping Samples

To adjust how Live behaves when slicing an audio file:

  • Create an empty Drum Rack
  • Add an empty Simpler or Sampler to the Drum Rack to create a single chain
  • Add any additional MIDI or Audio Effects to this chain
  • Adjust parameters in any of the devices
  • Assign Macro Controls to any of the controls in the chain’s devices
  • Drag the entire Drum Rack to the Library/Defaults/Slicing folder

You can create multiple slicing presets and choose between them in the Slicing Preset chooser in the slicing dialog.

In the following video, I will describe how you can exponentially speed up your Drum Rack building process by using these tools. I’ve also added some of my own little tricks for speeding. I will be moving fairly fast in this video, so try and keep up 😉