In music production, sometimes small things can make the biggest impact. One-shots are one of these elements.
Simply put, a one-shot is a single strike of a drum, note, chord or sound effect. Unlike loops, which are seamless, one-shots are single samples which are not continuously looped. They can be anything from drum hits, bass shots, sound effect samples or vocal stabs. Use them right and they’ll turn a so-so track into a fuller, denser and generally more unique song.
The best way to master using one-shots is by trial and error. However, knowing the best spot to layer them can take a bit of expertise. Here are some tried and tested ways of using one-shots that will provide direction on how you can use them in your projects!
Make Drum Parts Thicker
Customizing a drum rack is a classic way of using one-shots. If you like the groove of a drum loop but want to put a personal spin on it, you can add drum hits in between to tighten up the drum sounds or completely change the beats. It’s a great way to achieve the rhythmic accents that audio loops sometimes lack.
If you happen to get your hands on drum recordings, you can also use one-shots to augment them. For example, adding a fat snare drum one-shot on top of the existing snare recording can add consistency and weight to parts that are too thin. In other words, it is a shortcut to give your drums an extra lift.
Add Suspense to a Buildup
A recipe for an effective drop is a buildup that has just the right amount of suspense. On top of creating a long buildup, adding a shot of sound effects right before the drop is a great trick many producers rely on to create an unexpected twist. Listen closely to your favorite drops and you’ll be surprised how many of those over-the-top ones make use of this trick.
Knife Party, ‘404’
Sound used: “Go!” vocal stab
When: Before every drop
Now, try adding a whooshing sound or some other sound effect samples to your song after the buildup. You’ll hear the difference!
Highlight a Song’s Theme
It’s true that lyrics have the power to set the mood and tone of a song, but adding one-off elements on top of the vocals — or using drum-shots in your drum parts with sounds that correspond to the song’s theme — can help make your point in a less predictable way. Whether you sing about love or rap about school life, sound effect samples like water droplets or metal clanging help ensure your vocals are the song’s focal point, but with the added bonus of originality.
Noah Cyrus ft. Labrinth, “Make Me (Cry)”
Sound effect sampled: Water droplet
As with our Starter Kits, you only need to create audio channels to use one-shots. Remember to have one sound per channel so you can add on myriad effects to these snippets without affecting the rest of your project. A loop tool will come in handy since you might need to listen and re-listen to make sure everything is falling into place.
Note that because one-shots are not continuously looped, you’ll have to copy and paste your rhythms for longer parts. Also, it’s always good to work bar for bar in order to create something versatile and dynamic! To find them, just go to the studio’s Sound Library and search for the kit’s name using a search toolbar.
Now that you’re up to speed on one-shots, listen to the demos of our brand new 300 samples below for a taste of how they can add flavor to your song. They are divided into 5 themes so you can pick one (or more) that go with your music style and start adding them to your song right away:
Bread and Butter One-Shots
Go ahead and give them a shot here.