Simple breakbeat programming


Anyone have any tips on programming simple breakbeat patterns?

I know a lot of people suggest sampling and chopping, but I’ve been trying just to program some simple breakbeat patterns - for example having a simple breakbeat 808.

Things start off ok for a few bars, but then either just sound odd, or just get to repetitive etc


Can you provide some audio examples?

The problem could lie in a not optimal sample selection, bad eq, or just the rhytmic aspect…

One tip is to make a beat and make some variations of it and then pitching whole thing up, it could give you some ideas not necesarilly improvement.

I don’t feel like I’m an expert on breakbeats, but what I can say about general beat making is that getting a feel for the rhythm is obviously very, very important, especially if you’re using a step sequencer.

In either case, you want to put your main kick and snare pattern together, and build around that with other percussion (cymbals, toms, random noise, whatever). You’ll also want to include different velocities or utilize accents if you can, and even ghost notes. If your sequencer allows, try including some micro-timing of certain hits too to kind of keep things just a little off-kilter.

You can also use a mix of sequences and sampled sounds and loops, so maybe your main kick and snare is sequenced, but you’ve got a good high hat or percussion loop over that.

I’d also say that once you have your main 16 or 32 step pattern, create as many variations of that as you can, even if they just include one or two extra hits, or a snare roll, or something like that. Then you can chain those together to keep things interesting, or even include chance/random hits throughout your beat if your sequencer allows.

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Variation is key and also ghost notes.

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As @HyperstationJr said, velocity is your friend: it really makes a difference when used right.

One thing I sometimes do (using NI Battery 4) is insert sounds/notes from the whole cell range here and there semi-randomly on a basic drumbeat and see where it takes me. I’ve happened on some pretty interesting drum patterns that way.

Thanks for the feedback.

I was going to post a unprocessed example but it seems I can’t put links in here.

How would you post an example?

If no one has mentioned it Beats Dissected by Attack magazine is rediculously awesome for learning classic dance music patterns and it is a free series of articles w Ableton screen caps. I still use it for inspiration.



I would upload it on google drive/ soundcloud private option/any other webpage and share the link here.
Check how other people share tracks… Mostly from soundcloud.


I was wondering do I need to post a certain number of times before I can post links.

Yes. But i sorted you. Give it a go now.

OK - here is a basic outline of one:

It needs boosting up with samples and processing, but hopefully you get an idea.

To me, it sounds too tame if that makes sense?

Sounds good to me. It was noted earlier about ghost notes and variation being the key. If you feel a little like “cheating” you can take any break you like and “render to midi” in the DAW of your choice (I know Ableton, Logic, and Cubase have this feature, and it makes life easy when learning). If nothing else, you can see where the ghost notes and moving around kicks and accented hits tend to work best. If you are looking for breakbeat inspiration, just google “ALL THE BREAKS”. I don’t recommend using them as they are, but they can really serve as a template when doing your own.

Here’s also a kind of good lesson for those who want to make breaks with 808 sounds. Just freeze or screenshot the video at certain sections

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To me the big issue are the things you mention that aren’t done. When you say “tame” that makes me think of texture/timbre more than the pattern itself.

Can you post an example of what you are going for?

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that is a good question! I’m not really sure :joy:

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Sequence in time…then turn off the snap and warp…
the sequence to the desired length making/time stretching the sequence from (y) bars into (x) bars = instant funk.

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