I asked this question over on Reddit's [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
subreddit and have made a list of the responses. There are some good tips here to keep your percussion interesting:
• Avoid copy/pasting.
• Make very minor changes to the timing/velocity every 2-4 bars (experiment!).
• Don't be afraid to introduce new instruments.
• Use your ears, not just the grid (not all good sounds fit exactly on the grid).
• Keep changes subtle (change a lot of small things over time).
• Experiment with panning, send amount, delay feedback etc.
• Complicated loops that repeat are more noticeable then simple loops, so keep loops simple.
• Steer the focus of the listener. Repeating loops only sound repetitive if the listener notices them. Have complex, non-repeating melodies in the foreground that 'distract' the listener from the repetition. Put pauses in the melody so it has more punch when it comes back in.
• Take parts of the loop out, make them their own pattern and edit them so they're slightly different. This can change the feel of the track so experiment.
• Euclidean Rhythms are rhythms made using the Euclidean Algorithm and are a great example of non-repetitive rhythm. Here's an online [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
• Make a lot of alternate loops for each percussive instrument and switch them out or completely remove them for certain bars to keep things interesting.
• Don't change the major percussion (kicks, snares) around to much, maybe every 8th or even 16th bar. Keep them steady.
• Change from half-time to full-time or vice-versa.
• Make no 8 beats identical. The brain is very good at picking up loops. Try making no 4 beats identical.
• Try reversing samples and putting them on the 8th/16th beat etc. (like a reverse kick).
• Make something happen every 2,4,8,16 bars like a extra hat fill every 2, maybe a different one every 4, a double clap every 8, and a reverse kick on the 16th.
• Make longer loops so they repeat less.
• Real drummers go up in volume near/just before a bridge or chorus, so raise the volume a bit from the 4th-6th bar up to the break/chorus.
• Drum fills at the end of phrases stop things getting repetitive, especially different drum fills every so often.
• Listen to KOAN Sound (but you should be doing this already).
• Use interesting, unique and high quality samples.
• Even better, record your own samples.
• Read [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
post about individually laying down instruments, not copy-pasting patterns
• Try looping a simple beat you like throughout the track, then go back and add variation.
• Listen to Aphex Twin (just stay the hell away from the music videos).
• Put an LFO on a low pass filter. Small changes in automation mean the listener know something is changing but can't put their finger on it.
• Automate the pitch of percussion to give it movement.
• Create loops that cater to specific parts of each track. Make the drums match/set the feel of the track.
• Avoid generic rhythms. Try taking a generic drum & bass loop or house loop and add a kick or move one around. Try removing instruments from the loop. Try different alterations at different points in the track.
• Match the kick to the melody for a few bars (say, 4). Try doing this and cutting out all other percussion at the same time.
Thank you: /u/KobeWithAccent, /u/x2mirko,/u/edensg, /u/Jaalmakadamia, /u/Wh1tcomb, /u/riley212, /u/passingtimetonight, /u/plamisplam, /u/plamisplam , /u/daijobu, /u/ClydeMachine, /u/Pawtang, /u/SpaceCadetJones, /u/dj_soo, /u/m8that808s, /u/poisonstings, /u/Dagga_Ninety5, /u/simpsje0, /u/Igetyaman
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