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Drum programming is FUN!


mrblackbat

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Do you program all your drums from single hits, or do you have sampled loops? And where do you get your fills? I'm using Spectrasonics Stylus, which has billions of awesome drum loops, but the problem is they get way too repetitive and the fills are generally not exactly what I'm looking for...

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Originally posted by IndofunkCity

Do you program all your drums from single hits, or do you have sampled loops? And where do you get your fills? I'm using Spectrasonics Stylus, which has billions of awesome drum loops, but the problem is they get way too repetitive and the fills are generally not exactly what I'm looking for...


:(

:)

:(

:)



I do everything in Fruity Loops so I do all single hits. I would like to try out some of the other programs with fills and stuff though.

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I do everything in Reason. Use the drum machine in there mostly (single hits); and manually program fills in. Basically, for each groove I do a master on program 1 then add fills on the other 7 programs.

I use a few Rex loops as well, but that tends to be mroe when I want to do wackier stuff with filters etc, or just add the odd breakbeat.

I'll post some fresh tracks soon!

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Originally posted by Hopeless Romantic



I do everything in Fruity Loops so I do all single hits. I would like to try out some of the other programs with fills and stuff though.


I was actually asking blackbat, but thanks for your response, too.

Me, Help!I'maRock!, and tragicmagic had a little mini-session at my place yesterday and I vainly attempted to do the driving at the computer, creating bass lines and drum loops on the fly. Didn't really work, but I think with a little practice I could do it (and if we settle on a tempo beforehand). Made me GAS even more for a laptop that I can load up with my sequencing software so I could do that live... :)

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I've been programming drum machines since 1990 or so-
Honestly, all I use is ACID pro now for drum tracks. Loops are awesome, but being that I actually CAN play drums a little and I've always been a bass player- I'm very meticulous (sp?) aboutmy drum tracks. ALthough I often use loops, I also use TONS of single hits and I edit the loops to death to get what I want- It's actually quite easy, you just have to know where you want to cut the loops and you have to be able to hear the little parts you want in the "pre-recorded" fills- I never have any trouble using loops and getting a totall custom track (although, sometimes a prerecorded fill is EXACTLY what I do want)
Another thing that I do is to layer the snare drum and sometimes the bass drum as well with single hits- so I can process them seperately with reverb and compression and EQ without affecting the rest of the loop. It's not unusual for me to build a drum section with 15-20 samples and loops from a couple of different libraries. I usuallly set up a grid on ACID and use it like a step sequencer. No matter how good I got at MIDI drum programming (and I actually am pretty good at it ;) ) It was always the ghosting and rhythmic push and pull that were the hardest to emulate- loops has eliminated that for me.
Now I'm actually getting into programming bass lines, despite being a bassist- It's great to have all these sampled basses to choose from, but the performance is getting difficult.

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Originally posted by mrblackbat

I do everything in Reason. Use the drum machine in there mostly (single hits); and manually program fills in. Basically, for each groove I do a master on program 1 then add fills on the other 7 programs.


I use a few Rex loops as well, but that tends to be mroe when I want to do wackier stuff with filters etc, or just add the odd breakbeat.


I'll post some fresh tracks soon!

 

So all your drum sounds (bass, snare, etc) will sound the same from song to song? Not that that's a bad thing, I mean, damn, a drummer can't change kits for each song!

 

Before I got Stylus I used to use one-shots to program drum beats, I actually got pretty good at it, but since getting Stylus I've gotten lazy and just find a loop that I like...

 

This track has a simple loop up front, then a more electronic loop starting about 1/2 way through.

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I enjoy it also, but I'm totally unable to call my shots. I've come up with stuff I thought was cool, but it's always accidental. I could never take a song and make a drum track for it.

It's like, see what I can make happen, then do other stuff to go with it.

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Originally posted by IndofunkCity


Very true. I should try to do more like what you're doing...

 

 

 

Try using a loop and then on a seperate track putting snare hits to line up with the loop snare hits- do the same with the bass drum.

Cymbal crashes are also important- I often double them as well with a "better" cymbal crash (the ones from the Mick Fleetwood ACID library are my favorites- 24 bit and very clear, clean, and classic)

It takes some time to do all of this, but then you can EQ your bass drum and process a reverb on the snare seperately from the loop itself. It also gives you a chance to pan the cymbals a bit more than the loop (even though they are still IN the loop) it gives you more of a stereo field. Also, something many people forget is to add tambourine during choruses and such - even Heavy songs, you can often hear a tambourine very lightly adding sparkle and motion in the choruses. If you are doing more of a regular rock thing, you may want to consider adding it to snare hits as well (or every other one is a good tactic, emphasising either 1 &3 or 2&4)

Also, another thing to remember is if you are chopping a loop to get a fill, you should probably DOUBLE the tom or other hits on a seperate track so you get a natural decay since the the ambience is going to to be cut off when you chop the loop. Putting the entire drum track then through the same reverb (even if it's very, very, light) will help even out the differences in ambience using various loops and hits. My favorite "subtle" reverb for anything that makes it "jumb out" (even vox or accoustics) is the FREE PSPS "Pianoverb" plugin that simulates the reverb of sympathetic piano strings and can be tuned to respond- you can download it online. It' very subtle!

 

B

 

P.S. It's hard to program drum tracks if you aren't familliar with what a drummer actually plays- and even then, it gets tricky.

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Originally posted by IndofunkCity


So all your drum sounds (bass, snare, etc) will sound the same from song to song? Not that that's a bad thing, I mean, damn, a drummer can't change kits for each song!


Before I got Stylus I used to use one-shots to program drum beats, I actually got pretty good at it, but since getting Stylus I've gotten lazy and just find a loop that I like...


has a simple loop up front, then a more electronic loop starting about 1/2 way through.

 

 

No not at all - I load seperate samples for each song. And even use more than one drum machine. There are a few "kits" that I go back to, but I also create my own for various songs etc.

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Originally posted by BryanMichael


P.S. It's hard to program drum tracks if you aren't familliar with what a drummer actually plays- and even then, it gets tricky.

 

 

This is extremely true. When I first tried to learn some drum programming I ended up reading a lot of material online about beginning drums. The basic types of beats etc.

 

If anyone seems to be having trouble finding out what to put into the tracks search around for that stuff.

 

I still have issues with fills but I can make beats now.

 

Note: This post was for the people just starting with drum programming or people that tried and got frustrated (I did this at first).

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Originally posted by mrblackbat

No not at all - I load seperate samples for each song. And even use more than one drum machine. There are a few "kits" that I go back to, but I also create my own for various songs etc.

 

Hmm, I gotta take another look at the Reason drum machine...

 

What version of Reason are you running? Me = 2.5

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Originally posted by IndofunkCity


Hmm, I gotta take another look at the Reason drum machine...


What version of Reason are you running? Me = 2.5

 

 

I'm still on 2.0. Basically, the drum machine is empty when you first load it into the rack; you have to either load a kit, or load samples individually into each slot. Then you've got all the tweaking options for each sound (pitch control, pan, volume etc etc etc). If you use pattern selection in the sequence window (basically selecting bank) then it's a really powerful tool.

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Originally posted by Hopeless Romantic



This is extremely true. When I first tried to learn some drum programming I ended up reading a lot of material online about beginning drums. The basic types of beats etc.


If anyone seems to be having trouble finding out what to put into the tracks search around for that stuff.


I still have issues with fills but I can make beats now.


Note: This post was for the people just starting with drum programming or people that tried and got frustrated (I did this at first).



I agree. Sometimes when I'm trying to step program a fill, I still have to sit there with sticks and say..."Okay, if I'm playing this...then I can't be playing the high hat at the same time...and the bas drum is doing this...etc..."

Hopefully my 'hints' above will help people using loops to expand a bit and not feel so limited. The great advantage of MIDI drum programming however is that if you don't like the kit..just replace it! The performance stays the same :cool: But as I've tried to get more done lately (15 years of being a "sideman" and not recording my own stuff, but helping others to perform, finish, and record theirs or in a "band" setting...) I'm actually enjoying limitations, like well, this is the drum loop set I'm working with...how can I make it work? (despite having a bazillion loops and ACID libraries- some great ones are actually FREE though on Computer Music magazine...)

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Originally posted by BryanMichael



I agree. Sometimes when I'm trying to step program a fill, I still have to sit there with sticks and say..."Okay, if I'm playing this...then I can't be playing the high hat at the same time...and the bas drum is doing this...etc..."


Hopefully my 'hints' above will help people using loops to expand a bit and not feel so limited. The great advantage of MIDI drum programming however is that if you don't like the kit..just replace it! The performance stays the same
:cool:
But as I've tried to get more done lately (15 years of being a "sideman" and not recording my own stuff, but helping others to perform, finish, and record theirs or in a "band" setting...) I'm actually enjoying limitations, like well, this is the drum loop set I'm working with...how can I make it work? (despite having a bazillion loops and ACID libraries- some great ones are actually FREE though on Computer Music magazine...)



There's a couple of tracks we've done where we've emulated real drummers, which sound great; but I find that the real fun starts when you just ignore what a drummer can or can't do and instead focus on what the drum machine you're using can do. Or in the case of Reason, the several drum machines you have can do. SOme of the rhythm tracks (and synth tracks too) are ludicrous and couldn't be played by real people, but then I figured that even though we used to do all these songs with a real drummer previously, there was almost no point just trying to emulate what he did and leave it at that. This way, if we do recruit a new drummer, we've also got a whole bunch of other rhythmic parts that still have a place in the music.

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Here's some info that I've saved from a Looper's Delight post re: drum machine programming. It's from a really accomplished drummer (and drum programmer for that matter), in response to some questions asked by a list member. Some pretty good tips in here:

=======================


it sounded like you were trying to compose with drum sounds as opposed to writing things that an actual drummer would play.

I think this is a very valid approach, aesthetically but not a strong groove approach. No judgement either way.

Groove oriented drummers think very simply and for good reason: their job (when they are good enough that people will pay them a lot of money for what they do) is to serve the song and provide a minimalistic enough foundation so that the composer/songwriter has a lot of room to move over the top of it; both melodically, harmonically and timbrally.

How I think as a drummer is to come up with a simple and distinctive drum groove that I try to play. Frequently that may be a one bar groove but
a lot of times I may compose a two or four bar groove that has slight variations in it.

I consider any single variation from a repeated pattern, whether an
AAAA form or a more complicated ABAC ABAD form to be a
'fill' and I tend to only use fills in a ration of 1/8 or more frequently 1/16
when I'm playing (especially if I'm recording a record for someone).

Frequently , I will even take the 'linear rhythm' which is the combined syncopative quality of all the parts played in a piece and I will make
the fill play that exact rhythm-----this creates what I call a 'groove fill' or a fill that pushes the forward momentum of the piece. A wild fill that
radically differs from the "linear rhythm' of the piece will be distracting frequently.

I also think very seriously about whether a drummer would actually be able to play a fill that I program. As an example, if you are playing 16th notes on a hihat with a backbeat on snare on beats 2 and 4, DON"T put a hihat note on 2 and 4. It's not physically possible for a drummer to play a hi hat
on beats 2 and 4 at a higher speed.

Towards this end, go out and watch a good 'pocket' funk or soul drummer play and watch what they do physically. You don't want to be doing melodic tom fills that are physically impossible to play by a human being.
We unconciously 'hear' this when people program ineffectively.

I always use very simple song forms when providing variation in a drum groove: AAAB, AABA, ABAC, ABCB, for example, if I am writing a four bar groove.

This comes from a very Afro-centric orientation which is the basis of most
trapset groove playing (pre Drum and Bass and Glitch styles).

The Afro-centric approach is very call and response or response and call oriented.

Because drum machines lack 'energy' or a human feel, programmers frequently feel the need to make their patterns more complicated
so that 'something happens'. Oddly enough, I have found that the opposite approach is more effective...............I think it is much stronger to
make the groove as simple as effective in conveyng the kind of feel you want to get across and then build the 'human' qualities into the upper voices (or bass voice). In many pop groups this is what the drummer does anyway.

Also, because drum machines lack 'energy' frequently mixers pull them down in the mix. I, again, have found the opposite approach works better.
I actually will mix a drum machine in a piece louder than I would as a compensation for lack of energy.

I'd say in general, don't be afraid to use the machine as a trance element..............extremeley minimalistic with really nice choice of sounds
(also beware of huge kick drum sounds that mask, timbrally with big subsonic bass guitar or synth tones).

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Originally posted by mrblackbat



There's a couple of tracks we've done where we've emulated real drummers, which sound great; but I find that the real fun starts when you just ignore what a drummer can or can't do and instead focus on what the drum machine you're using can do. Or in the case of Reason, the several drum machines you have can do. SOme of the rhythm tracks (and synth tracks too) are ludicrous and couldn't be played by real people, but then I figured that even though we used to do all these songs with a real drummer previously, there was almost no point just trying to emulate what he did and leave it at that. This way, if we do recruit a new drummer, we've also got a whole bunch of other rhythmic parts that still have a place in the music.



I agree- but it depends on what you are going for- in general, I'm going for a more "natural" sound.

One thing I read from Stewart Copeland one time was that he overdubbed alot of drum fills and stuff because he could- it was making a recording, not a live performance- but he said guys he would see out performing police songs were trying so very hard to get everything sounding just like the record and he was amazed at how close they came! He said he wondered if they understood that he had overdubbed all those things...


:D

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Originally posted by BryanMichael



I agree- but it depends on what you are going for- in general, I'm going for a more "natural" sound.


One thing I read from Stewart Copeland one time was that he overdubbed alot of drum fills and stuff because he could- it was making a recording, not a live performance- but he said guys he would see out performing police songs were trying so very hard to get everything sounding just like the record and he was amazed at how close they came! He said he wondered if they understood that he had overdubbed all those things...



:D



Yeah, what I've been doing is trying to get a natural sound, then overlaying all kinds of mental stuff on. Had a lot of fun working out what was physically possible for fills if a drummer actually played them.

And I really agree with the idea of using overdubs and stuff on a recording; Billy Corgan was a big inspiration for me on that front. I often lay down ten or 12 guitar parts in a song and several vocal tracks, but live I can only play one (usually not that adeptly either seeing as I'm singing too....)

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