Snares and claps are the rhythmic foundation of most drum tracks. Genres may even be defined only by the sound and style of their kick drum, snare, and claps. Combining, or layering, claps, and snares allows you to build a customized sound that can fit perfectly in your mix. It may provide a new depth to the track and elevate your work much above what an unprocessed sample might provide. In the next tutorial, we will show you how to process and layer your claps.

As usual, we prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. It includes most of the drum elements of a full mix, except the clap sound. Let’s take a listen to it.

This is a screenshot of my mix before creating and layering the clap sounds. Layer your claps.
~Full Mix – Without Clap

Sample selection

On the surface, it appears that all that remains to be done is to select a few suitable clap or snare sounds, place them on the second and fourth beats of the bar, and consider the job done. This could be effective at first. However, there are several easy ways to further improve your rhythm section. One of them is to layer your claps.

The advantage is that with this process, complemented with a few of the processing techniques covered here, you can give your projects your very own distinctive imprint, and achieve a more polished, modern sound.

Let’s begin with the first stage, which would be selecting the appropriate samples.

It would be wise to begin with a snare drum sound for the foundation of our sound since snares frequently have more energy in the low midrange of the frequency spectrum, which we would surely need to cover. We’ll choose a short, punchy sound for the snare drum. A nice 909 snare drum sample could be a suitable option. Let’s hear how it sounds together with the kick drum.

This is a screenshot of snare drum audio channel. layer your claps with a snare.
~Kick Drum & 909 Snare Drum

Time to add a clap sound. It should be layered right on top of the original snare. Claps often have a staggered attack phase and less fullness than snares. This is great because instead of adding another similar sound, what we want is something that enhances the snare. Let’s hear how our first clap sounds in the context of the kick and snare drum.

This is a screenshot of snare drum & clap 1 audio channels.
~Kick Drum & 909 Snare Drum & Clap 1

It might be useful to include a second clap layer in order to widen the clap sound. This time, we’ll pick a slightly different-sounding sample, layer it beneath the first snare drum and clap, then pre-shift its timing, for widening purposes. Let’s hear our layered sounds together with the kick drum.

This is a screenshot of snare drum, clap 1 and clap 2 audio channels. Layer your claps.
~Kick Drum, 909 Snare Drum & Clap 1 & 2

Layer your claps and mix them to sit well together

At this stage, we’ve done some basic mixing with the levels of all three layers. It’s time to start working on the processing.

To make our task easier, we will group all three sounds and call the group track “Clap Final.”

The first effect we’ll apply to our newly created group track is reverb. In this case, we’ve used Melda Productions’ MCharm free reverb plugin. In terms of settings, we’ll go with a shorter reverb tail and some additional EQ-ing available in the plugin itself. Let’s hear our layered sounds without and then with reverb.

This is a screenshot of the reverb effect used to process the final clap sound.
~Kick Drum & Clap Final – Unprocessed
~Kick Drum & Clap Final – Processed With Reverb

A compressor would be the next effect in our chain. We used MCompressor by Melda Production, which is also free, for this purpose. Compression is used to bind all three layers while also controlling the layered sound’s body and final shape. Again, we will hear our sound unprocessed and then processed.

This is a screenshot of the compressor effect used to process the final clap sound.
~Kick Drum & Clap Final – Processed With Reverb
~Clap Final – Processed With Reverb & Compressor

An EQ will be the third and final plugin in our effect chain. In this particular instance, we’ve selected a free plugin called Nova by Tokyo Down. It’s a dynamic EQ that can be applied to a wide range of audio material. As you can see in the image below, we have reduced some of the high-mid frequencies while increasing the low-mids. Let’s compare our sound before and after processing with the EQ.

This is a screenshot of the EQ effect used to process the final clap sound.
~Clap Final – Processed With Reverb & Compressor
~Clap Final – Processed With Reverb, Compressor & EQ

Additional processing of the clap sound could include the use of stereo expanders or another reverb, but this is entirely optional and will not be required in this case.

Finally, let’s hear how our fully processed clap and snare layers sound in the context of the full mix.

~Full Mix – Clap Final (Processed)

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