The Rhythms of Chill Out
Unlike many other genres of dance music, there are no particular distinctions as to what makes a good chill out drum loop and the only guide that can be offered is that the loop should remain relatively simple and exhibit a laid back feel.
The kick drum can occur on the beat, every beat, or it can be less common, appearing on the second and fourth, or first and third beat, or any 16th division thereof. Indeed, in many chill out tracks where the kick drum occurs on all four beats, there is commonly an additional kick drum that will occur outside of this standard beat and occur on an 1/8th or 1/16th position. This moves the music away from the rigidity of the standard four to the floor and can help to increase the relaxed feel of the music.
Like the kick, the snare drum can appear anywhere in a chill out loop but generally speaking if the kick occurs off the beat, the snare will occur on the beat in order to maintain rhythmical positioning with the listener. This same principle can work in opposite too, if the kick lands on the beat, the snare can occur off the beat, but it is important to note that this relationship should not be solely attributed to the laid back feel of the loop, rather this relaxed motion occurs more with the positioning of the hi-hats and ancillary instruments.
As shown in Figure 22.1 , multiple rhythms are employed for the open hi-hats. Whilst a closed hat occurs on the somewhat standard 16th, a number of differing open hats patterns is employed that syncopate with the main beat. It’s this syncopation with the beat that creates the more chilled and relaxed feel to the music. This syncopation is further augmented by another percussive instrument (in this case a heavily processed clap).
This, of course, is only a general guideline to the drum patterns used, and it’s fully open to artistic license. The key is not to produce a loop that sounds rigid or programmed through experimenting by moving the kicks in relation to the snares to adjust the interplay between the two. If the tempo appears too fast, reducing the amount of snares, hi-hats or auxiliary instruments employed in the rhythm will often help slow it down and is preferable to physically slowing down the tempo since this will affect the rest of the instrumentation.
Closed hi-hats, for example, do not have to be placed on every 1/16th division, and in many examples, they will often play a rhythmical pattern of their own. In addition, auxiliary instruments such as congas bongos, toms, cabassas, triangles, shakers and tambourines also often make an appearance and offer further syncopation from the main rhythm and the uses of both Hemiola and polymeter will often appear in chill out loops.
Excerpt from Dance Music Manual: Tools, Toys, and Techniques by Rick Snoman © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.