To talk more about ‘less is more’ production tricks, here are two other cases where I use Ableton Live’s volume templates in productions.
Cymbals are nice, but you usually want to control the decay time, when they should end. With the volume envelope I could take a very long cymbal ringing, and fade it out exactly at a specific point in the timeline. It’s very handy, you could use any long ringing cymbals and never worry about them playing over sections you don’t want. If you also change the pitch, you suddenly have a big set of cymbals available, from the same sample!
Another case is taking drum samples to annotate an existing drum line, but you don’t want the existing kick in the drum sample to be present. All you need is to go inside the volume envelope and take down the kick slice volumes. No need to use eq to take out anything below 100Hz, the kick sound would still be heard in the higher frequencies — unless you of course want that as a production value.
It’s a classical trick to put in multiple drum loops to make the final drum section sound more polyrhytmic and interesting (but that’s another story).
It seems I spend more time nowadays to cut put material than adding — and that’s actually good news for me.