5 quick tips to make your drum programming a lot better (part 2)

A few days ago I published 5 quick tips to make your drum programming a lot better (part 1) so I wanted to follow up with part 2 today;

Programming Drums Pic003

1. Velocity
Like I said in my last post a drummer doesn’t hit each note at the same volume. So when you program your drums you should play around with the velocity/volume of each note to make some notes louder than others.

Programming Drums Pic005

2. Ghost Notes
Ghost notes are notes you play in between the regular notes at a real low volume so you rather feel them than actually hear them if that makes any sense. When programming snares and hihats ghost notes can really work, especially if you want to create a marching kinda feel.

3. Tom as Kick
Sometimes when I want a huge kick I like to replace or layer the kick with a (floor) tom. Can make it sound huge.

4. Drumfills
To make my drum patterns less repetitive and give it more of a live feel I like to program or sample drum fills at certain places in the beat. Maybe at the end of each 8 bars or maybe before going into the hook or the bridge just to give an idea. EZ drummer is a great plugin for this.

Programming Drums Pic001

5. Sample drum breaks
Those old classic drum breaks you hear on old soul records like James Brown etc. are pretty much impossible to re-create digitally when programming drums, so I like to sample drum breaks of old records as well (sometimes I layer them with my own drums or re-program the loop if I just want the same groove but a more modern sound). But then you always got the issue of clearing the sample if you want to release it. Of course you can choose to release it without clearing the sample but then you always got the risk of getting sued. So to avoid all that it might be better to use royalty free samples. But it’s hard to find royalty free drum break samples that sound as good as the classics. So I just create my own breaks. I record a great drummer, record that to analog tape, process/mix it on an SSL console and other gear to create that vintage classic sound myself. So if you got access to all that I suggest you should do the same. For those who can’t or just don’t got the time for it I got a sample pack with over 300 original royalty free drum breaks (that I created as I just described) dropping Friday. But if you do got access to a good studio with nice analog gear (SSL, Neve etc) and a good tape machine I would definitely encourage to create your own samples. The possibilities are endless, be creative!

Shroom Vintage Drum Breaks - Artwork Manga (by Jason Warner)

by Shroom


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5 quick tips to make your drum programming a lot better (part 1)

1. Use the right sounds
First of all you need to use great sounds of high quality. The sounds you use need to fit your production. So before even going thru your sample libraries you should figur out for yourself how you want your drums to sound. Then you should pick your sounds carefully and tweak them till they sound the way you want them to sound.

Drum layering pic003

2. Layer your kicks and/or snares
To make your drums knock more a very simple trick you can use is layering your kicks and snares. When layering make sure you at least pick one sample with a lot of body and one with a lot of attack/punch. And if it’s kicks your layering you might want to add one with some low end as well (maybe an 808). Always make sure the sounds your layering are in-phase. When your samples are out-of-phase you can always try to hit the phase button. Check out this article for more details on layering drums.

Programming Drums Pic002

3. Program off-grid
To create some more groove/swing and to give you drums more of a live feel, like it was played by a real drummer, you should program them slightly off-grid. Kicks and snares I usually program just slightly off-grid but with hihats I play around some more till I got the groove right. Also the bass plays a big part when it comes to creating groove but even with 808 driven tracks you can make your drums groove if your program them right.

Hihats Pic002

4. Reverb
When you’re programming drum samples you don’t really create a feeling that all these drums were played in the same room. That’s why I like to put a little bit of reverb on my drum bus to re-create that feeling. You have to be careful tho, cause reverb can also push your drums to the back of the mix and I usually like my drums to be in-your-face.

5. Use a few different hihats
When a drummer plays he never hits each note the same way and at the same volume. That’s why I like to use a couple of different hihat samples that come close to each other but still sound slightly different.


by Shroom


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