Stagger Drums? How to go about this rhythm?

Okay, wanted to open up a discussion about the drums on this (AMAZING) tune.

John Frusciante - Expre’act

John Frusciante is an incredible musican and all round safe dude! One of my all time favourites.

Anyway, in this song there are these very staggery swingy drums that seem to slow down and speed up yet fully remain in time. I can’t quite work out how to replicate that effect.

Here is what I know about the dude himself and his workflow, I know that this was around the time he was using renoise alot but I am not a renoise user and so know very little about it. Would using a tracker make this easier? Its almost like each individual hit is being swung bit really extremely and separate from one another.

Other than renoise I know he is a big analog guy. Lots and lots of modular and has been known to have a hardware only approach when he is under the name “trickfinger” If I remember that was all done using only 3 303s and 3 909s being sequenced. Any help with this would be awesome as I think its a great drum technique.

Many thanks and look forward to what people have to say! :slight_smile:


This sounds like it could almost be achieved if you resampled a few bars into a sampler and automated the start time, loop length, etc. There’s no way I could possibly know what he himself did, but if you wanted to replicate something like this it sounds like it would be relatively easy; you’d go completely off the grid in the process, but with a track like this it would almost flow if you did it correctly.

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my guess is that he is most likely playing with the ticks per beat feature in renoise and sequencing it at an unsually high tempo to make it easier to subdivide, the trick is to sequence it in something like 4/2 so that it sounds like 4/4 at slower tempo, or he could just be using some daw have the snap turned off just as xnoiseX mentioned

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In software, I would look into the Hypercyclic sequencer, though there are certainly other ways to achieve this. Slapping your drum into a sampler, looping it, and automating the endpoint or whatever. You could also do this manually by turning the grid off, but I don’t think it is necessary here.

If you think this is made in hardware/modular, what it almost certainly is is applying a LFO to beat division on a clock divider.


I would definitely say automation of tempo on a pretty simple beat

Reminds me of this further along in the track

I dont listen to Aphex Twin or IDM at all so i ecpect a fucken hi 5 for this one lads and lasses


Cool piece and great rhythm effect. My ears tell me that it’s in 3/4 (yes … probably with heavy swing) and he is using different overlapping Tuplets, I hear a plain old Triplet over the measure with a quintuplet over beats 2 and 3. I didn’t count it out… (no patience for that at the moment) so I’m likely wrong on the details, but I don’t think there is any electronic clock trickery going on here.

On the subject of “,slow down and speed up yet fully remain in time.” Check this out.

Listen to the sound file in this article called the Risset Accelerando (break beat that accelerates for ever)

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I don’t listen to either either… (except here of course) In fact… that is the first time I’ve listened to Aphex Twin. So “hi 5!!!”

That’s a cool piece… I got a little bored up to about 2:00 but then when it just indulges on torturing the rhythm I gotta say that is some darn athletic rhythmic and mixing prowess.

I also really liked the way stereo widening and panning was minimal except for the few spots where it intentionally went hyper… very effective technique that is useful for all parameters…“when in doubt, use the off button… a lot!!!”

Thank you all for your responses, some great stuff to try out here! Will have a go at playing around with some drums trying the above methods, If I get anywhere with it I will post the results. :slight_smile:

On a side note, first time posting my own thread on here, people all ways seem to be on point but yeah love the way everyone jumped on here. Really awesome. Love live IDMF :):heart:

That forever speeding up breakbeat was one the craziest things I have heard in a long time! I have heard the shepards tone thing before but didn’t know that it could work outside the context of a pure tone. Amazing, cheers!

Blew me away as well…it’s like that Escher print where the stairs go up (or down) for ever, but with rhythm.

Reality is one thing… Perception is everything.

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Second that, it is definitely manipulation of a clock divider or tempo automation. My brother and I make beats with two clock dividers in a chain, and manually varying the swing/sometimes applying LFO to the swing. It can sound very crazy at short sub-divisions, but makes some very cool grooves on longer sub-divisions. It’s also the quickest and easiest way to make this if you roll with hardware. Doing it inside the box, well…You could make a Max patch with as many clock dividers as you like :slight_smile:


I think you might like Son Lux. They use a lot of metric modulation where the beats slide in and out of different tempos. Particularly the first album ‘At war with walls and mazes’.

Whilst it is sampled and manipulated in the studio, they also have a freaking incredible drummer (Ian Chang) who pulls this stuff off live.

Thanks man! Just checked them out. They’re cool, I really like the way they manipulate the drums even with the more simple drums is like the whole sampling yourself vibe, like they’ve gone with an intreating drum sound.

Yeah thats crazy, love when drummers do interesting stuff live.
Speaking of mad live drummers check this out,

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