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Old 04-07-2013, 01:20 PM   #21
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Re: How do you drum?

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Originally Posted by Inertia View Post
Mostly a combination of the sounds and patterns I think, I never seem to find good samples for the drums.
I have some experience with real drums so I know how the usual patterns work and I have a good feeling for rhythm, but it never really works out.

How do you pick your samples/sounds?
I do a ton of sampling from my CD collection and vinyl. Then I've got a few Gold Baby sample packs I use on the regular and good hand drum/world percussion pack and Maschine library. That all pretty much has me sorted.

Honestly when I start a tune I usually start with choosing samples--at first I just pick a kick, snare and a couple hats that sound good and get a bit of a beat going. If a sound starts to not work as I move on with the tune I immediately trash it and find something else.

When a sample isn't working in a tune I don't try to EQ it, filter it, compress it to make it work. I find one that works w/o any processing. If a sample doesn't work right away it's going to cause problems down the road and once you've built up a good sample library there is no reason not to abandon a sample (probably to be used in another tune some day) since you've got a nice library to go pick something else from.

My sense of the way a lot of people seem to work is to force samples and synth patches into a mix instead of picking/designer sounds that work together without any processing. EQ/compression should be used to make a good set of sounds a great set of sounds, not make a bad set of sounds an mediocre set of sounds.

Also, have you tried layering several snares or kicks together like woody 909 with a nice snappy top end and a boomier 808? You do a bit of EQ work so they don't clash then compress just a tad to glue them together. Bounce that to audio. Better kick made with two samples.

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Old 04-07-2013, 01:27 PM   #22
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Re: How do you drum?

That's some great advise, thanks man

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Old 04-07-2013, 01:51 PM   #23
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Re: How do you drum?

Inertia, here's a simple thing to try. It works well with acoustic drums:

1) Put down a bass drum on all 4 quarters of a bar. Yep, 4 to the floor. Worry about complexity later.

2) On every second beat, put down a Snare. Midi velocity 100.

3) 1/16th of a beat before the second snare, put another Snare, velocity 80.
4) 1/16th of a beat after the second snare, put another Snare, velocity 80.

The exact velocity needed will vary from drum sound to drum sound, I use the above only as examples. What you get from the above is an effect I generally think of as 'feathering'. You can make the softer drums very quiet so that you can't quite hear the other snares but you notice when they are not there.

Essentially, a lot of good drum programming isn't just where you put the beats, the swing or how awesome you are at patching, but how you programme the velocity. The above example is extremely simple but you get the idea. I'm not in front of my DAW right now so the example is made from memory. I use this technique a lot. I know it works because on the tracks where I want drumming to sound natural I've received a lot of compliments on, well, how natural it sounds

I'd recommend laying down some very simple beats, such as a four-to-the-floor, then have some fun time just messing with velocities in different places. Everyone knows the increasing velocity trick of Trance tracks with 8-32 snares in a row just getting louder, but careful attention to velocity and learning how to make use of it will have massive benefits for your confidence in drum programming and the quality of what you get back from it.

Er, I've rambled a bit more than I intended

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Old 04-07-2013, 03:45 PM   #24
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Re: How do you drum?

I usually program my drums like I'm really playing a set. This doesn't really pertain to the topic, maybe, but here's a guide I wrote a few years ago about programming realistic drums:


The most imporant thing you need, in my opinion, is some good quality multi-sampled drums. If you use Ableton Live as your music software, Ableton's Session Drums are fantastic, and still sound better to me than the more expensive stuff. It includes many different sets, with many different velocity hits (more on velocity later). I've heard good things about addictive drums, but I still think Ableton's sound better (only judging from the audio samples).

Addictive drums:
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Why multi-sampled? Because drums sound different depending on how hard you hit them, and with what hand.

The next thing in order of importance (again, in my opinion) is a basic understanding of how drums are played. All the velocity tweaking in the world won't sound realistic if your drummer has three hands. If you hit a cymbal and a snare at the same time, you won't be hitting a hihat or a tom (unless you're holding a stick in your mouth, which I admit would be pretty rad). If you're playing some fast 16th notes on a hihat, you're going to have to skip a hit when you play the snare with the hand that would normally be playing the hihat on that beat. If you're playing a fill, you're not going to be able to keep playing that steady hihat beat.

I would also suggest not playing past your real life skill level (at least not until you get better at programing drums). This will keep you from programming something that sounds unnatural or just not possible. If somebody can program amazingly intricate fills and flourishes (that sound natural), there's a good chance they know how to in real life. All of the drums I program are beats I can actually play. This keeps things from getting out of my control. Sometimes I'd love to make some really awesome drums beats beyond my ability, but I wouldn't even be able to know how to program them, since I wouldn't know how a real drummer would actually play those beats. Can't play drums in real life? Then stick to simple beats and fills, until you get more comfortable.

Now we can get into the technical stuff, mainly the velocity and timing. You'll need to vary the velocity, but sticking a randomizer on there won't be enough to get as close as you can to a realistic sound. What I always do is layout my drums without any velocity changes, then I go through and make broad velocity decisions. For example, alternating hihat hits should probably have alternating strong and softer velocities. One slightly louder than the other. All you would need would be two different volumes (for now). Same with anything being played in quick succession (a basic ratatat snare fill, for example, or a double kick drum). Basically, if you hit anything two times in a row, you should slightly adjust the velocity. I actually adjust these AS I'm laying out my patterns, but I when I first started, I made changes after-the-fact.

Now you can throw a velocity randomizer on there with a LOW setting (you don't want your drummer to sound like he's drunk). The randomizer along with your basic velocity adjustments will have your drums sounding pretty good, but now you should add some character to them. For example, if your drummer plays a sweet fill, there's a good chance he may hit whatever it is he hits after the fill a bit harder than normal, since he still has that energy left from the fill. Maybe he looses control a bit if he has to maintain a difficult pattern. His velocity hits may get more irregular (only a tad). If he does the same fill or flourish twice in one song, I'm pretty sure it won't be played exactly the same each time. And any sort of faster playing will naturally be slightly louder than slower stuff (a fast fill, for example).

Now, all of this work may still sound a bit artificial if you don't add variations throughout the beat. Add a tiny little flourish here and there throughout the song (at appropriate moments). Maybe it's something as simple as hitting the snare twice in a row, or hitting a splash cymbal instead of the crash you've been using all this time. Maybe it's something more complicated like playing a cool little diddy on the hihat or doing a half-fill. You don't have to go crazy with this stuff, just stick it in here and there (you can hear this on the link I posted (ohhh! There's that self-promo again!)). It's easy to write out a few drum parts and be done with it, but a real drummer will probably add things here and there as he plays, since he would get bored just playing the same thing over and over again.

And finally, you can add a humanizer that slightly changes the timing of each hit, but I personally think that this is the least important step, if you can do all of the above steps. I don't know how this is achieved in other music software, or weather there's a VST for it, but I throw a drum groove on my clip in Ableton and turn all of the sliders down except for timing, which I adjust accordingly (actually, this is a must on ANY instrument that mimics the real thing (you know, like a piano or something)).

Keep in mind that all of this stuff should be SUBTLE. Don't go overboard.

Hope that helps and was fairly painless to read through.

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Old 04-07-2013, 04:29 PM   #25
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Re: How do you drum?

Something I used to do in Live Drum rack on a 4 by 4 grid (and I should start doing in Maschine), divide your drums by "body parts".
I had 2/3 kicks at the bottom row, snare and toms in the two rows above and cymbals at the 4th row.
This way I knew I could only trigger one "foot line" at a time and only two at a time of the other lines.

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Old 04-07-2013, 04:52 PM   #26
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Re: How do you drum?

This thread just got amazing. Thanks yall.

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Old 04-07-2013, 05:30 PM   #27
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Re: How do you drum?

best tips for making solid percussion:

try to learn real drums. i've played since a VERY young age and that's helping me a lot now, even though i rarely actually play on a drum set nowadays.

i usually use the grid for making my percussion, i really like the control it gives me (mainly over velocity and decay). in ableton it's really cool to play around with the different transposition options as well. you need patience if you're going to use that technique though, at least if you're going for non-repetetive patterns at a high paced feel. but it's worth it, the results are amazing if you are ready to spend a little time on it and after a while you won't listen to "vordhosbn" by afx and think it's fucking impossible, you just understand that he spent a lot of time with trial and error. and that he is a fucking genius; he's not inhuman though.
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Old 04-07-2013, 05:30 PM   #28
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Re: How do you drum?

i manually put my drums in the piano roll

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Old 04-07-2013, 06:19 PM   #29
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Re: How do you drum?

A solid percussion and drum beat doesnt necessarily have to sound like the real thing. Dependent on the style you're after, there are no rules. I sometimes use up to 3 or 4 kick drums in the same pattern; admittedly this takes on the role of a baseline due to the changes in pitch, but I often use quite a few snares and handclaps and various percussive noises (split in to what frequencies they hit).
For me a drum pattern really comes into its own when you start using delays/reverbs/distortion etc.
Panning also spreads out the beat and volume/reverb to place the sound in a specific space.
I rarely find a beat interesting until these elements have been addressed.
But you dont have to be a drummer or even understand how a drum kit works to come up with a killer beat.... unless you're going for ultra realism.

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Old 04-07-2013, 06:31 PM   #30
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Re: How do you drum?

It solely depends on the music style/genre you're producing. A simple techno beat will have a kick on every first hit of a 4 bar whereas an electro beat will have the beats way more "diffused". My suggestion would be to listen to the style/genre of music you want to follow with the producing and keep the beat "aligned" to that. Although not saying you should rigidly follow what others are doing. It just helps with the general outline of what you should be doing instead of going in blind.
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Old 04-07-2013, 07:39 PM   #31
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Re: How do you drum?

Not that the previous post isn't valid, because it is but...

My suggestion would be to not try and mimic or "try and make a drum pattern that sounds like x." just take the advice here, absolutely go into your next project "blind," just something until it sounds good to you, and go with whatever comes.

For me, I always wind up with something more solid when I let the project decide how it's going to sound as opposed to trying to make it sound a certain way.

Sure I have influence over mood and feel but that's where it stops.

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Old 04-07-2013, 11:55 PM   #32
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Re: How do you drum?

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Old 04-07-2013, 11:58 PM   #33
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Re: How do you drum?

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Originally Posted by FauxEffet View Post
Velocity is of course important. I lay out my drums as audio and often use two or three tracks per sound, with different sound levels and a low-pass filter that varies according to sound level (if you hit something hard, it will excite higher modes).

Regarding the importance of timing, here's a really nice article/interview about swing, quantization and so on that inspired me a lot: [can't post links, google "Roger Linn On Swing, Groove & The Magic Of The MPC's Timing" (or go to Attack Magazine's website)]
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Old 05-07-2013, 12:45 AM   #34
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Re: How do you drum?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlantis View Post
I usually program my drums like I'm really playing a set. This doesn't really pertain to the topic, maybe, but here's a guide I wrote a few years ago about programming realistic drums:


The most imporant thing you need, in my opinion, is some good quality multi-sampled drums. If you use Ableton Live as your music software, Ableton's Session Drums are fantastic, and still sound better to me than the more expensive stuff. It includes many different sets, with many different velocity hits (more on velocity later). I've heard good things about addictive drums, but I still think Ableton's sound better (only judging from the audio samples).

Addictive drums:
[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Why multi-sampled? Because drums sound different depending on how hard you hit them, and with what hand.

The next thing in order of importance (again, in my opinion) is a basic understanding of how drums are played. All the velocity tweaking in the world won't sound realistic if your drummer has three hands. If you hit a cymbal and a snare at the same time, you won't be hitting a hihat or a tom (unless you're holding a stick in your mouth, which I admit would be pretty rad). If you're playing some fast 16th notes on a hihat, you're going to have to skip a hit when you play the snare with the hand that would normally be playing the hihat on that beat. If you're playing a fill, you're not going to be able to keep playing that steady hihat beat.

I would also suggest not playing past your real life skill level (at least not until you get better at programing drums). This will keep you from programming something that sounds unnatural or just not possible. If somebody can program amazingly intricate fills and flourishes (that sound natural), there's a good chance they know how to in real life. All of the drums I program are beats I can actually play. This keeps things from getting out of my control. Sometimes I'd love to make some really awesome drums beats beyond my ability, but I wouldn't even be able to know how to program them, since I wouldn't know how a real drummer would actually play those beats. Can't play drums in real life? Then stick to simple beats and fills, until you get more comfortable.

Now we can get into the technical stuff, mainly the velocity and timing. You'll need to vary the velocity, but sticking a randomizer on there won't be enough to get as close as you can to a realistic sound. What I always do is layout my drums without any velocity changes, then I go through and make broad velocity decisions. For example, alternating hihat hits should probably have alternating strong and softer velocities. One slightly louder than the other. All you would need would be two different volumes (for now). Same with anything being played in quick succession (a basic ratatat snare fill, for example, or a double kick drum). Basically, if you hit anything two times in a row, you should slightly adjust the velocity. I actually adjust these AS I'm laying out my patterns, but I when I first started, I made changes after-the-fact.

Now you can throw a velocity randomizer on there with a LOW setting (you don't want your drummer to sound like he's drunk). The randomizer along with your basic velocity adjustments will have your drums sounding pretty good, but now you should add some character to them. For example, if your drummer plays a sweet fill, there's a good chance he may hit whatever it is he hits after the fill a bit harder than normal, since he still has that energy left from the fill. Maybe he looses control a bit if he has to maintain a difficult pattern. His velocity hits may get more irregular (only a tad). If he does the same fill or flourish twice in one song, I'm pretty sure it won't be played exactly the same each time. And any sort of faster playing will naturally be slightly louder than slower stuff (a fast fill, for example).

Now, all of this work may still sound a bit artificial if you don't add variations throughout the beat. Add a tiny little flourish here and there throughout the song (at appropriate moments). Maybe it's something as simple as hitting the snare twice in a row, or hitting a splash cymbal instead of the crash you've been using all this time. Maybe it's something more complicated like playing a cool little diddy on the hihat or doing a half-fill. You don't have to go crazy with this stuff, just stick it in here and there (you can hear this on the link I posted (ohhh! There's that self-promo again!)). It's easy to write out a few drum parts and be done with it, but a real drummer will probably add things here and there as he plays, since he would get bored just playing the same thing over and over again.

And finally, you can add a humanizer that slightly changes the timing of each hit, but I personally think that this is the least important step, if you can do all of the above steps. I don't know how this is achieved in other music software, or weather there's a VST for it, but I throw a drum groove on my clip in Ableton and turn all of the sliders down except for timing, which I adjust accordingly (actually, this is a must on ANY instrument that mimics the real thing (you know, like a piano or something)).

Keep in mind that all of this stuff should be SUBTLE. Don't go overboard.

Hope that helps and was fairly painless to read through.
I used to play drums so I naturally make my drums sound like they are actually playable, but lately I've been making things that wouldn't be able to be played in a real drum set. May I ask why you want it to sound playable? Just curious.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:51 AM   #35
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Re: How do you drum?

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Originally Posted by magicmushroom View Post
I used to play drums so I naturally make my drums sound like they are actually playable, but lately I've been making things that wouldn't be able to be played in a real drum set. May I ask why you want it to sound playable? Just curious.
Probably because I come from playing in a lot of bands. I guess it's my way of injecting a little "humanity" into my stuff, even though it's still done on a computer.

Not EVERYTHING I make is acoustic stuff, but I feel like I'm strongest using acoustic samples. My electronic drums haven't impressed anybody yet.

Lately I've gotten really simple with my drums, both acoustic and electronic. Not sure why this is......

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Old 05-07-2013, 03:46 AM   #36
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Re: How do you drum?

Wow Vlantis, you recommended AD? That's mainly what I use heh.

I dont have any advice other than maybe check out some Tube vids with people demonstrating drums/midi controlled drumming and such.
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Old 05-07-2013, 03:48 PM   #37
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Re: How do you drum?

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Wow Vlantis, you recommended AD? That's mainly what I use heh.

I dont have any advice other than maybe check out some Tube vids with people demonstrating drums/midi controlled drumming and such.
AD is the single best add on I've bought in the last six years. Their brush set just kills. I've tried other drums, sometimes more expensive, but I just don't like them as much.

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Old 05-07-2013, 06:35 PM   #38
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Re: How do you drum?

I want to buy an e-kit and play through AD so bad!
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Old 21-07-2013, 10:51 AM   #39
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Re: How do you drum?

I usually start a track with drums.. and when composition grows up - drums changes till I find perfect sounding snares, kiks etc..
so it blends in...
but sometimes it all goes wrong...

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Old 21-07-2013, 12:23 PM   #40
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Re: How do you drum?

1. build kit in Drum rack

2. hit trigger finger for basic kick snare hat pattern, sometimes I'll toss in a couple of additional parts

3. quantize and edit to taste in piano roll add some max for live "humanization" to taste and add any additional percussion sounds to the piano roll that I'm wanting to use to build complexity

4. bounce each drum rack "cell" to an audio track. mangle from there, certain types of sounds i'll bounce together, say 3 or 4 high hat things that sound similar or make up a pattern, its a common sense thing

5. lately I've been adding live recorded sounds, lighters, rocks, glass, kitchen stuff straight into my daw, with my shitty interface preamp set to 11 to get some noise, room ambience and whatnot, as sometimes a bunch of samples in a drum rack sound kind of steril. i'll then edit/warp that stuff to taste. the roomy stuff often gets compressed to shit so you really hear the sound of the room... this def is NOT the way to go about making really hi-fi sounds.

6. eq, filter, bitcrush, all that other stuff to make it sound less.... standard and clean

:edit: like Dizmo said, learning to actually play some drums, even in a limited capacity is a huge help.

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