Creating The Sounds Of Jon Hopkins In Ableton Live

The sounds of Jon Hopkins have always set the standards for combining beautifully melodic elements with driving techno rhythms.  In this article & video, Stu from the team shows you how to create the sounds of Jon Hopkins in Ableton Live.

Broken down into 4 segments, we will start with drums and over the coming weeks, showcase the finer details of how to create 'that' Open Eye Signal style bass, Jon's lush chords and ambience plus the use of Master FX & processing.

First up - Drums & Percussion!




Creating the perfect kick is crucial in techno.  In the video Stu talks about how Ableton's Drum Bus was used to shape the sound of his kick.

By adjusting the transient dial we are able to control the envelope and transient of the kick.

Negative Numbers (Left) - removes the main transients, mainly the kick appear softer and have less click.

Positive Numbers (Right) - Extra click is added, making the drum feel pokier and have more high frequency content.



Ableton's Drum Bus can also add subs, crunch and saturation by using the appropriate dial.  Get stuck in and see it in action.


If you want to learn more about How To Create Techno check our Techno 101 article. 


Adding Rhythm To Your Kick Patterns

By adding counter-rhythms we can make a standard 4x4 kick pattern begin to roll.  Jon Hopkins consistently plays a secondary, much quieter kick underneath the main kick, propelling the beat forward.


Note: Try using an EQ'd version of the same kick but playing on the off beat to get those beats rolling.  By moving these around we can create interesting rhythms that gallop and roll. 


The MIDI below shows how the counter rhythm has added swing and groove. 



Layering Percussion

When trying to create the sounds of Jon Hopkins we couldn't miss out his incredible use of percussion. 

In all of his tracks, you'll find a combination of processed foley loops, straight percussion sounds as well as more traditional straight up drum machine sounds like a 909 or Cabasa.  

Try recording your own foley loops using your iPhone and get processing, it's amazing how these small layers of personal sounds can lift your tracks and provide something that sounds both like Jon, and yourself. 


How To Use Side-Chain In Techno

The use of a side-chain is crucial in maintaining control and allowing your track to breath in time with the kick drum rhythm.  In this tutorial, Stu uses LFO Tool.   By using this we're able to shape the envelope of of a sound, tucking it in every time the kick plays. 

What's also great about the LFO tool is that we can dictate how fast or slow the envelope of the ducking is.  In the example below, you can see that at the start of the sound it will be silent then slowly ramps up. 




Keep up your production skills with our amazing Ableton Live Production Tips!