Beat making doesn’t have to be an inscrutable process – despite the numerous ways there can be to achieve your desired sound, we’ve handpicked a few of the best and most popular methods for efficient drum programming in this exclusive guide.
You’ll learn about synths that emulate live drums and how to use them; what effects chain is best for various genres; how MIDI sequences work with drum production as well as other foundational techniques.
Drum Programming For Beginners:
One of the most challenging aspects of programming drums is deciding from where to start. Do you start with the bass-drum, kick-drum or snare-drum? Do you introduce fills and flourishes or should those be reserved for when a song is complete?
A drum loop can be as complex or simple as you want it to be, but approach it strategically. Start with a solid and consistent groove. Focus on your primary focus points: your snare-drum, bass-drum and kick-drum. Study how these drums relate to one another. With the right arrangement of different yet complementary elements, you can create an instantly recognisable beat that appeals to even the most demanding listeners.
Drum Programming For Producers:
Get To Know Your Virtual Drummer
A quality drum loop requires many more elements than just your standard hi-hat, snare, bass and kick drums. A unique combination of simple and complex drum samples is necessary to make your beats stand out.
Your virtual drummer might not be a perfect replica of a real drummer, but it’s bound to capture the spirit. With enough practice and experimentation, you’ll figure out how it works best for you.
The Anatomy Of A Good Beat
- Rhythm-oriented music tends to be instrumental in its composition. However, even though the drumbeat can be the most important part of your music, it’s certainly not the only element that deserves attention. Therefore it’s important to get acquainted with some of the more basic elements of rhythm as well.
- Your kick-drum should ideally have a consistent and distinctive sound. However, there doesn’t have to be a huge difference between every second kick drum hit. A variation of your main kick sound can add interest and colour to your beats, as long as it’s not too extreme. On the other hand, for a very basic drum beat you could use only one or two different sounds, because these pieces would be quite short.
- You should also look at your snare-drum with this in mind. The snare-drum will probably be your most important drumbeat in the song, but make sure not to draw attention to it. Your bass and kick should give more emphasis than snare-drum; you want your drums to be less noticeable.
- Your hi-hat can also act as a lead percussion instrument, but is best used as an accompaniment. If you’re looking for an interesting change of rhythm, try mixing different hi-hats in with individual hits of your other drums.
Additional Tips For Drum Programming
Double Kick In Place Of Snare
Your snare can be replaced by a double-kick for a more direct sound, or you could use one of these if you want to generate more energy in your groove. The key elements are the same: the bass will still be on the bottom, instead of on top of the kick beat and you’ll still use basic hi-hat patterns.
The Power Of Real-time Editing
If you’re working with live instruments, editing your digital drum programmes is crucial. This is where the power of real time editing comes in – it’s arguably one of the most important features when programming drums.
You don’t want to slam your Percussa board with unnecessary clips, but you also need to be fast in finding the best sounds for your beat. A layer can be added to create a fuller sound, or different effects can be applied if the original element isn’t hitting the mark.
The Importance Of Length And Levels
The length and volume of drum hits will have a big impact on your song. A very short drum hit can be used to generate energy in a beat. On the other hand, long, sustained drums can beef up the low end. Experiment with different levels so you can figure out what works for you. You should also experiment with different timings between your hi-hat hits. Don’t be afraid to use the rim of your hi-hat with a loose setting and then hitting it once every 16th note, for example.
The Power Of MIDI Sequences
Drum programming is an art form in itself. You can also speed up or slow down your drum patterns using MIDI sequences. You can also make drums beep or create different effects like reverb, chorus, delay and distortion using MIDI. It’s important to note that you can’t just drag and drop MIDI sequences onto your drums – these must be programmed.
So, these aspects must’ve given you an insight into drum programming and how it is important to understand for budding as well as experienced music producers. To be a master in drum programming, constant practice and depor understanding are required.