Become a member
Become a member
Continuer avec Google

or
Log in
Log in
Se connecter avec Google

or

Tutorial: How To Build A Great Drum Track Without Loops

By RobbieRyan on 06/18/2008 - (Anyone)
< All tips & tutorials

Introduction

Most popular music of the past century, from top 40 to Drum 'N Bass, is centered around a basic 4/4 rhythm. The challenge, of course, is for electronic producers to make drum tracks appropriate to the genres and tracks that we make. In this tutorial, I will describe how to produce basic rhythm tracks without reliance on pre-recorded loops. To begin, you will need to have a sequencer or DAW and some way of producing percussion elements and combining them with other musical elements.

Step 1

Many producers start with a beat at the beginning of the writing process. While this is certainly essential in some genres, this can be a hindrance when composing music in most other genres, as most of the musical decisions will be based around the drum pattern, as opposed to the other way around. If you listen to some of your favorite popular music, you'll notice that many of the basic elements of the song, such as the melody, an active bassline, or upbeat chord changes are what excites the listener, and the rhythmic elements such as drums and percussion only enhance the rest of the track.

Step 2

As stated before, it is recommended to have your basic elements of the song in place, with main melody, possible counter melody, and bassline. Once these are completed, you can begin to put together the rhythm track. At this point, set your sequencer to loop mode, and begin to put together track elements. Usually the kick drum is a good place to start, as it lines up typically with the bassline. After that, you can begin to add your downbeat, which, depending on the genre and style of song, can be a snare drum sound, a sidestick, or any sort of sample. You have the option to quantize.

Step 3

Once the kick and snare pattern has been created, it's time to do a couple of things. First, if the track is already quantized, you can alter the timing of the kick and the snare (depending on genre) so that it doesn't necessarily fall on the exact downbeat or backbeat, but a little before or after, as a real drummer would. We've all heard "canned" preprogrammed beats from toy keyboards, and no one wants that! After you've got your timing down, feel free to add some percussion elements like cymbals or hi-hats. Something fun to do to add the human feel would also be not quantize, for realism.

Step 4

Once more rhytmhic elements have been added, you can further add excitement to your drum track by overdubbing your main snare pattern with "ghost notes," little MIDI notes that add the impression of reverb or early reflection to your drum pattern and further introduce the illusion to the listener of a real drummer playing parts to your song. One other way to accent your drumming is to overlap another MIDI note of your snare sound being struck to add an artificial flange, due to the nature of MIDI timing. Break up your patterns by adding fills for transitions, to liven up your patterns.

Step 5

Once your pattern is established, start playing it with the rest of your tracks. If you are doing music that has a specific dance edge to it, feel free to add more percussive elements to spice up the track. Remember, drummers in real life only have two arms and two legs, so go easy on your extra patterns and fills if realism is your goal. Remember, drums can sit nicely in the mix or they can be upfront, depending on genre. Apply effects as needed, but remember, it's easy to overuse reverb and delay, as they tend to wash out many of the transients that make drum patterns exciting. Good luck!

Step 6

Once you've incorporated your drums into the rest of the song, there are a variety of options to bring them to the next level. Listeners should never have to think about the rhythm of the song, they should feel it. Remember not to muddy your drum tracks up with too many elements. Digital workstations have the potential for hundreds of rhythm tracks sounding together. While that sounds great in theory, in practice one should keep it simple, and remember to serve the song. If you can strip away all the rhythm elements of a song and it's still emotionally moving and exciting you're on your way.

Conclusion

Making drum tracks can be a very exciting process, and like composition and arranging, it is a constant source of learning as you improve your skills. Also, there are no hard and fast rules to constructing the drums, adding fills, etc. While I mentioned the creative options of MIDI drum tracks, loops can be used to great effect to enhance your tracks. The tools you have at your disposal today offer nearly limitless creative control. It is important to remember, however, that drums and percussion are something that mankind has had in our soul for millenia, and technology does not replace soul.
  • John Graham 5 posts
    John Graham
    New AFfiliate
    Posted on 10/01/2016 at 15:14:56
    Great advice. I've been used to starting my mixes with the drum track, often from loops. This gives me some other ideas...

Would you like to comment this tutorial?

Log in
Become a member
cookies

We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies

Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

Website preferences

We store your preferences so that you do not have to re-enter them every time your come back (forums options, dark or light theme, classifieds filter, standard or buzz news, newsletters popups...).

Log in

This one makes sure you don't have to re-enter your credentials every time you visit Audiofanzine.

Analytics

This data allows us to understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :)


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.