Layering tutorial

…or, an approach to fattening up your MDUW tracks.

It’s not novel in and of itself, it’s based on some fairly well-known “layering” principles … what I’ve been exploring is how to apply them to house tracks on the MDUW specifically, with a mind to handling its limitations and exploiting its capabilities. I find it permits a more textured groove than the internal synths alone, and one whose elements don’t overwhelm the master efx, two issues I often come across as I work.

First, create a 1-2 bar top rhythm loop. Use the master efx however you like – add a splash to the snare here, some delay on the hats there. Get it sounding good on its own. Sample the resulting loop into RAM-R1.

Next, go to a different pattern and kit. This time create your oontz basics, focusing on the sounds that will sound good dry / will not need to be fed into any of the MD’s master efx, but will also benefit from their own 1-band EQ. Kick, offbeat hats, 1-cycle bass line for example.

Add two RAM-P1 machines to the pattern and pan them L-R slightly. These will play back the saved top loop in pseudo-stereo.

Lastly, add a couple of samples of melodic sounds you like. Chord hit, synth hit, whatever – but not more than a couple. Load these up to their own machines.

Prepwork is done. Now to put it all together:

The basic groove combined with the RAM top will sound great together cos you can filter/EQ the RAM-P machines to sit right where you want them to among the internals. This is a couple of layers already, good enough to sound cool on its own, but what’s even better: You haven’t yet engaged the main pattern’s reverb or delay, which you can reserve for use with the melodic samples. The MD’s effects are limited of course, and the advantage here is that they won’t be overloaded.

demo here

first bit is the top rhythm alone built with internal synths and a vinyl sample.
second is the ram sample version of it.
third comes the basic groove of kick etc. made with the internals and 1-cycle bass.
next is the basic groove combined with the ram top.
then the melodic sounds thru the MD’s effects, solo first then together with the rest

enjoy :slight_smile:


Very interesting approach, which also makes use of the MD’s lofi sampling, and the groove sounds great! Impressive, thanks for posting (idea and sound example) Chad!

EDIT: I don’t own a MD atm, as you know, but just realized that I use my El Capistan very similarly to your RAM sampling approach, high-dampened tape delay on the tops. In the end it’s all about techniques, not gear.

EDIT2: what a slick groove, very well done!


Dear Dubathonic, what on earth are you playing at?
I must say this is in very bad taste. How very dare you post about productive methodology & demonstrate constructive use of an instrument on this forum?
I must ask you to refrain from this belligerent & seemingly thoughtless behaviour in future!
I strongly suggest you get in line & start complaining about weak monomachines, soulless machinedrums, disfunctional octatracks, poor midi implementation on the newer machines & whilst you’re at it, have a pop at overbridge!
Yours with much sincerity

:imp: :joy:


Knowledge dropped!

The spirit of Elektron Users lives on!



cool post ! was just sitting on the MD today and creating several kits, … you never know when you need them … dnb house, something else , your advice sure comes in handy at this moment!

btw -… i always put a ctl machine on track 16 … always …

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A momentary lapse. I’m working up an anti-Sidstation screed just for you. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

machinedrum posts make me happy. Thanks! Gonna try this now.

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Great post. Tips like this are inspirational gold.

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I kept thinking about this idea, unfortunately without owning a MD at the moment. If I had one, I would start reserving 3 tracks per default for that purpose!

Hopefully the drum machine fairy will bring you one soon :-J

Great sound - can you explain in more detail the issue of “overloading the effects” I’m quite new to the MD but it’s my favourite Elektron machine. I use a lot of delay and find it quite satisfying - but I struggle getting a decent 'verb without a lot of fiddling - what are the limitations of the effects as you see them? Cheers!

mostly what i meant by that was the fact that you only have one effect of each type in the master effects – delay, reverb etc. – and moreover in the comp/eq’s cases they can only be applied to the entire output. plocking dedicated ctr machines is a workaround in some cases, but if for example you’re trying to compose using two different delay time settings it may not always completely solve the problem.

i’ve also noticed that if i plock the reverb and delay settings on individual trigs on many different tracks, sometimes the effect will glitch and the hit will come out dry. it doesn’t happen often, and not till i’ve plocked a lot, so i suspect it’s from overloading the dsp.

of course it’s possible to address problems like that by using outboard gear and/or multitracking, but i tend to focus on itb solutions that i can apply in a live setting without needing to drag additional kit to a gig.

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Makes perfect sense - thanks!