Rihanna’s “Fading” is one of our first sound design placements we’ve got for a big artist. It’s a clap loop that can be heard throughout the song as an answering rhythmic pattern to the main drum beat. So we dissected the process of making that clap and share the details with you.

Main takeaways from this tutorial:

  • Use live organic recording layers to make the sound unique
  • Apply HAAS effect to widen the tracks
  • Every clap hit matters and has a weight. Get the volume right.

The clap loop can be heard isolated at 1:37.

First things first – Clap rhythm LAYER #1

01_main_pattern

Firstly, the process began with building a main rhythmic 16th note pattern using just solo clap samples (Solo Clap 01…04). These are single clap hits which are going to maintain the main 2 bar loop rhythm. Two things are important here. Notice how at the second bar the volume of “Solo-19” and “Solo-13” clap samples are lowered (by around -5db). And at the very end of a loop there is an anacrusis “Solo-19” clap, that you can barely hear. Changing the volume dynamics is a way to make any musical element sound organic and less boring/robotic.

Clap Rhythm LAYER #2

Pattern Screen Shot 2

The next layer is a pattern of another small clap samples (smalllay2-20…2-32…1-15). The clap samples flams are short enough to match the loop tempo. You don’t want the chaos of too many non-rhythmic sounds, but a lil bit of flam is always nice to have. The placement of these clap samples create a syncopated feel with the right accents accompanying the main rhythmic solo claps pattern.

 

Clap Rhythm LAYERS 1 & 2

Pattern Screen Shot 3

Here is how these two layers sound together.

 

Clap rhythm LAYER 3

Pattern 3

It still does sound little off at the end, more like a break than a continuous loop. So we ad another clap sample (Mono Clap). The sample is built out of 5 clap hits and makes it flam longer. It appears right after the 4th quarter note hit connecting to the very last anacrusis clap appearing at the very end of the loop.

 

The living presence

Lastly, here is  one of the most important techniques helping any tracks sound organic and pro. In this case we recorded a live clapping which repeats the same main 16th rhythmic pattern. That instantly gave organic feel to the loop. This technique can be used on any musical element.

For example, you can write a guitar melody with your midi keyboard using virtual instrument guitar preset. Now add a real guitar recording layer of the same melody, or hum it with your  own voice if you don’t have a guitar. Use a laptop mic on purpose to add some grit. Now your guitar track sounds cool and unique.

Preview the clap loop with the live recording layer:

 

The recording of the live clapping is made in mono so we used a HAAS effect to widen it up. This way we trick our ears and make mono sound stereo.  “SuperTap 2-Taps Stereo plugin from Waves” is one of many plugins that can do this. Take a look at the screenshot above for the settings. The yellow tap (1st signal) is set to -45 in pan and the red tap (2nd signal) is set to 45 in pan. The Tempo section is set to “64ms” which means that the red tap (2nd signal) will be 64 milliseconds late.

And that’s how Rihanna’s clap was made. Hope you have some takeaways from this process that you can apply to your own tracks. Hit us at here if you have any questions 😉

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