When a band performs, it is the vocalist and the one on the guitars were among the first to be noticed by the common audience. Drummers are given less attention. That’s what normally happens, until and unless you’re really into drums or you’re a musician. Also, if we were to check the ratio of individuals who would love to learn drums it is also lesser compare to those who will pursue learning guitars.
But like the other musical instruments, playing drums and programming it to produce such a quality and professional sound, is complicated. There are also basics that have to be learned, advanced training to undergo to further enhance your skills and extra effort and dedication to master this craft.
So, let’s explore and discover how the beauty and art of programming your drums.
Into the Swing of Things
In this discussion, we will focus on drum machines and sequencers. These two can create perfect rhythmic passages that have the machine-like characteristics common to early ’80s pop, hip-hop, and straight-eight dance music.
Commonly, sequencing software allows free movement on the grid, as well as movements as small as a tick. In quantization, we can choose from the following: whole-quarter-, eighth-, 16th-, 32nd-, and 64th-note values in straight, dotted-note, and triplet varieties. We have the luxury of almost any variation of time in between these standard subdivisions.
What gives rhythmic passages their funk is the Swing and I can say one of the most critical programming elements to understand. Let me cite an example of a classic drum-machine reference for swing, the Akai MPC-60 shuffle. But you would also love to explore Propellerhead Reason ReGroove mixer and apply the MPC-60 shuffle percentages. It has the ability to apply a groove or swing to multiple tracks. Changes made to that groove affect the tracks that have the selected groove associated with them.
Turn it Up
Another important element is volume. First, you have to know natural volume accents and tonal change between strokes. These accents helped a static 8- or 16-bar loop to have variety and have more life.
When programming, you have physically tap out the beat to figure out where the natural accents would be if played by a live drummer. On this way you will be able to get the general volumes in place. After that, try altering the volume of the accent hits by plus or minus one to five ticks. You can also try more often to make a copy of a 16-bar pattern and change the volumes of the hi-hats, but keep the same kick and snare pattern and you will be amazed how a little programming can fool the human ear into thinking there are more changes in the programmed beat than actually occur because this technique gives two distinct patterns.
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