In this MPC Touch tutorial, I’m going to transform a sweet and innocent clap sample into a thick and gnarly beast of a clap using nothing but the tools available to us in a standard MPC DRUM program – all entirely made within the MPC Touch UI (TUI). This MPC Touch tutorial is adapted from my MPC Touch Tutorial Book – ‘The MPC Touch Bible’.
Loading The Basic Clap
Firstly, download the tutorial files, unzip and transfer the ‘Clap From Hell Tutorial Files’ folder to your ‘MPC’ folder (Documents > MPC).
Now fire up your MPC Touch with a new (blank) project and go to MAIN:
In the PROGRAM row you’ll see the default MPC DRUM program, ‘PROGRAM 001’. Tap the ‘rename’ icon and rename this program to ‘Clap From Hell’.
Go to the BROWSER either by pressing ‘MENU > BROWSER’, or by double tapping the MENU button and navigate to your MPC Documents folder – you can quickly get there by double tapping the top row file path:
This brings up a list of location shortcuts; select the MPC Documents shortcut:
Now double click the ‘Clap From Hell Tutorial Files’ folder to enter it.
Press pad A01 so it becomes green – this tells the MPC that the next sample loaded should be assigned to pad A01. Locate the classic-clap sample and double tap it to simultaneously load it into your project and assign to pad A01 (alternatively, single tap the file and press the LOAD button).
Setting up The Layers
Go to MAIN > PROGRAM EDIT and press the SAMPLES button at the bottom of the TUI screen – with A01 still selected you should see the following:
Hit A01 to have a listen to our clap. It’s a very standard clap sound, nothing special, but we’ll soon change all that.
Single tap LAYER 2 on this same pad and turn the data wheel clockwise to assign our classic-clap sound to this layer. Alternatively you can use the ‘+’ button instead of the data wheel, or double tap LAYER 2 to bring up a list of samples, or you can of course use the Q-links.
Using the Q Links
If you prefer using the Q-Links, make sure Q-Link Bank 1 is selected (you’ll see the first LED is lit under the Q-LINK button on your MPC Touch).
At this point you should see the orange ‘Q’ box around the pad layers in the TUI. To assign the classic-clap sample to the LAYER 2, turn the second Q-Link dial from the top, clockwise.
Applying The Pad Offset
Now we’re really going to thicken things up. Notice how the ‘Samples’ tab has four dots underneath?
These are the ‘sub tabs’ to allow access to additional features – to access the second sub-tab, press SAMPLES once again:
This is the OFFSET sub screen. What we want to do now is to ‘offset’ the two layers against each other, so rather than both layers play exactly in unison (which often leads to phasing when the layers are both playing the same sample), one layer’s play back is very slightly delayed compared to the other.
To do this, tap the OFFSET parameter for LAYER 2 and start dragging the virtual slider to the left so the offset value is becoming increasingly negative:
Alternatively you can just single tap the slider and turn your data wheel anti-clockwise. This will adjust the offset in units of 100 (per wheel click). For even greater accuracy, hold down the SHIFT button while you turn; this will change the offset value in single units. You can also use the second Q-Link from the top of Q-Link bank 4 (i.e. the 4th LED must be lit under the Q-LINK button). You can also enter a numerical value by double tapping the offset parameter to bring up the number pad.
At lower negative values (e.g. -100), the two layers are just phasing, however as you reach -1200 or greater, the phasing is gone and now we are instead getting a different type of sound – the clap is now ‘dragging’, it sounds a lot thicker and has much more presence. If you set the offset too high it becomes less of a ‘drag’ and more of a ‘double’ (or a ‘flam’ in drummer terminology).
Set your OFFSET to somewhere around ‘-1800’.
Sounds good, but let’s not stop there – this clap is just too perky for my liking, so it’s time to adjust the tuning.
Tuning Down The Layers
Press the SAMPLES button three times to return to the main SAMPLES page – this time, turn your attention to the ‘SEMI’ column (Q-LINK bank 2):
I want to give this clap a deeper, darker feel, so I’ll need to tune it down using a negative SEMI value. Set SEMI for LAYER 1 to a value of -4. As before, you can single tap and adjust with the data wheel, touch and drag the ‘’virtual’ dial, use the top Q-LINK (make sure the second Q-LINK LED is lit), or double tap and adjust using an enlarged version of the dial:
Now adjust the SEMI dial for LAYER 2, but this time set it to -5.
By tuning each clap layer slightly differently we further differentiate the two layers from each other, while also creating an interesting mixture of slightly different timbres. Press pad A01 to hear the our layered clap – it’s now darker and feels even more ‘dragged’, all thanks to the simple tuning changes. Don’t forget to experiment with different tuning combinations to achieve very different sounding layers.
Adding Some Effects
I’m pretty happy with the new ‘dragging’ clap, but let’s try adding a bit more grime to it to get things a little more nasty. First, let’s make a copy of our current pad configuration, so hold down the COPY button on your MPC Touch, and with it still held down press pad A01:
This sets pad A01 as a ‘FROM PAD’ – this is the pad that is going to be copied (shown in green). Now release the COPY button and press pad A02:
Pad A02 is now shown in red – this is the ‘TO PAD’, i.e. the pad we are copying to. Press DO IT and hit pad A02. The MPC has now made an exact copy of pad A01 to pad A02. In PROGRAM EDIT press the EFFECTS button at the bottom right of the TUI screen:
In the EFFECTS page we can insert up to four different effects on our pad – remember effects are applied to the entire pad, it’s not possible to add them selectively to individual layers.
The MPC Software has heaps of usable effects built in and some of these are great for dirtying up our samples – one of my favourites is the ‘Resampler’ effect, so let’s insert this across our entire pad. Double tap effect INSERT 1:
With both the TYPE and MANUFACTURER buttons enabled, tap on the ‘+’ icon to the left of ‘Internal Effects’ and under ‘Akai Professional’, select the ‘Resampler’ effect. Press SELECT and click on the pencil icon to change the effect settings:
This brings up the settings for the Resampler.
As you can see the resampler is a very simple effect to edit. The Rate value changes the bit rate of your sample, giving it a more crunchy vibe. Try a setting of 19. The Decim is the ‘decimator’ setting – try sweeping through this while continually hitting pad A02 until you find a sweet spot. I settled on a value of 41. Press CLOSE to return to the main EFFECTS page.
Now let’s add a bit of vintage warmth from one of the included ‘Vintage Effects’. Double tap INSERT 2, expand the ‘Vintage Effects > Akai Professional’ folder and select ‘SP-1200’:
The SP-1200 effect emulates the output of a classic EMU Sp1200 sampler, adding both warmth and some subtle crunch. There’s no configurable settings for this effect.
Have a listen to pad A02 and compare it to pad A01. It definitely sounds like it’s spent some time hanging out in some old 12 bit samplers… but can we do even more?
LFO and Filters
I spend a lot of time in ‘The MPC Touch Bible’ looking at filters and LFO, including detailed information on what they are and how they work, but to wrap up this particular MPC Touch tutorial I thought I’d very quickly show you what’s possible using a combination of low pass filter and a NOISE wave LFO.
First, copy pad A02 to pad A03 using the COPY button method I explained previously. Press pad A03, and in PROGRAM EDIT, go to LFO MODULATION:
On the LFO row, change the WAVE type from Sine to Noise. Leave all other settings as they are.
On the DESTINATIONS row, set the FILTER to 127. This means that the LFO will modulate the filter on our pad using a NOISE wave modulation. Here’s what the LFO MODULATION page should now look like.
Before we can actually modulate a filter, we need to actually apply one to our pad. We do this in Program Edit’s FILTER ENV page:
In the top FILTER row, set the filter TYPE to ‘MPC’ (it’s the last filter in the list). We’re now going to have some fun with the filter CUTOFF (which controls the frequency the filter acts upon).
Select Q-LINK bank 4 (the fourth LED lit under the Q-LINK button) and while continually playing pad A03, start turning the second Q-LINK dial from the bottom to gradually reduce the CUTOFF value.
By the time you are approximately halfway you’ll hear that the clap has taken on a very crunchy sound that almost sounds as if the clap is breaking apart. As you reduce the CUTOFF value even more, this effect becomes even greater until eventually the clap is barely holding itself together!
I really like what I’m hearing at a CUTOFF of 64 – a true ‘clap from hell’:)
You might also hear that our clap sounds very slightly different each time you hit the pad. This is the random nature of the NOISE wave changing the way our LFO modulates our sample. In my MPC Touch tutorial book I’m going to use this feature to help introduce subtle timbre and character changes in my drum kits, and I’ll also show you the wealth of other creative sound design techniques you can achieve with the LFO and filters.
MPC Touch ‘Clap From Hell’ – The Next Step
Remember, you can make a ‘portable’, standalone version of your pad experiments by ‘resampling’ your pads in SAMPLER mode. And while the original clap sample was in mono, you can experiment with your pad layer ‘PAN’ settings to easily transform your claps into stereo.
I cover all these techniques and much more in great detail in ‘The MPC Touch Bible‘, jam packed with practical MPC Touch tutorials covering sound design, chopping, sequencing, instrument programs & multisampling, drum kit building and much much more.
In the meantime, if you head back to the BROWSER, you can load up my final version of this program – ‘Clap From Hell – Final.xpm’. This includes the three unique clap pads we made in this tutorial (pads A01, A02 and A03), the original (single layer) clap on pad A04, a stereo version on pad A05 (made by adjusting each layer’s panning setting in the PAN VELOCITY page), a standalone (resampled) version on pad A06, and a range of different experiments on the rest of the pads in BANK A. Which one do you like the best?