An Ableton session based around the creation of long form drum parts programmed per drum, with structural controls and fills.



Big Drummer is a project to create interesting drum accompaniments quickly but with variety, structure and fills. It is destined to flexible and quick to program and reusable.


Big Drummer is made up of three individually programmed parts,

  • Individual drum lines programmed per drum in clips
  • Drum fills programmed across the entire kit in clips
  • Control bus which changes the forces within the kit currently in use

It can be controlled via envelope or automation data and can easily be included in other sessions and projects for dynamic use.

Big Drummer screen shot

Drum Parts

Individual drum lines are programmed via the midi tracks contained within the group Drum Limbs. Patterns of any length may be contained within clips which can be combined with follows actions to introduce additional variety within lines. However, static fully composed lines can be created and launched in a song like structure while still taking advantage of the easy fill creation and gesture mapping of Big Drummer.

Big Drummer drum parts

While it is intended that only an individual drum part is programmed into clips on each track this is just a suggested convention.

Drum Fills

The fills track allows for the creation of drum fills. Drum fills can be programmed across the entire kit as desired at any interval intended. It is acceptable to have either continuous fills or have the fills spaced out. A variety of fills can be deployed as different clips and follow actions used to control the structure of the part.

Big Drummer Fills

Drum fill clip data is shifted up two octaves when leaving the fills track this identifies it a a drum fill rather than just drum triggers.

Control Buss

All drum parts and fills are directed through the control buss. The control buss can be used in a number of ways. Either to control the emergence of fills from the pattern or to vary the individual drums currently in use.

This is done by using envelopes hosted within the dummy midi clips. The envelops are used to turn on/off chains within the MIDI Effects Rack The Big Controller. These dummy midi clips are referred to as gestures within the project file example.

Big Controller envelopes

The structure of a song can also be programmed via automation data within the arrangement window. This can allow for more exact placement of fills and deployment of drum voices within a song.


This Ableton Live Package contains the Big Drummer project.