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Drum programming tips for non-drummers?

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by 53Crëw, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. 53Crëw

    53Crëw Member

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    I don't play drums, but want to make my drum programming as "real" as possible. Does anyone have any sources that explain "how to play" drums in a way that can be applied to drum programming? Things like when to keep the hihat going, maybe explanations on different types of fills, etc. and some example drum tabs or something. I'd like to understand things a little better from a drummers perspective.....

    Or maybe you can recommend a good book? I thought about picking up something like "The Idiot's Guide to Playing Drums" or something like that.

    Thanks in Advance.
     
  2. Ihsahn1981

    Ihsahn1981 Member

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    Watch videos of drummers at work. Youtube is full of good ones.


    I remember studying this one when I first started programming drums:


    Youtube wasnt invented at the time, but I had the dvd that this clip came from.
     
    #2 Ihsahn1981, Mar 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  3. ahjteam

    ahjteam Anssi Tenhunen

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    Location:
    Virrat/Helsinki, Finland
    Code:
    Blast beat 1 (one step 16th, 32th or 64th beat)
    BD|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    SN|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x|
    HH|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    
    Blast beat 2
    BD|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x|
    SN|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    HH|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    
    Blast beat 3
    BD|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    SN|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x|
    HH|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    
    Blast beat 4
    KD|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    SN|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x|
    HH|-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x|
    
    Blast beat 5
    BD|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    SN|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    HH|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    
    lok'n'lol (one step 4th, 8th or 16th beat)
    BD|x---x---x---x---|
    SN|--x---x---x---x-|
    HH|xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx|
    
    slo lok'n'lol
    BD|x---x---x---x---|
    SN|--x---x---x---x-|
    HH|x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-|
    
    epic drum intro
    BD|------------------------|
    SN|------------------------|
    HH|x---x---x---x-----------|
    RT|----------------x-x-----|
    FT|----------------x-x-----|
    
    thats pretty much all you need.
     
  4. Exocaster

    Exocaster Nozzle

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    Pay careful attention to drummers whose style you enjoy and try to pick out the details of what they're doing like you would a guitarist. (I'm assuming you're a guitar player here; excuse me if you're a bassist/vocalist/keyboardist/etc.) Trying to pick up on the subtleties of what they're doing will separate good, realistic-sounding programming from something that sounds like a preset on an old Boss drum machine.

    One thing I've found is very important is paying attention to accents- which hits a drummer emphasizes to create a certain feel. Even in metal, not all your hits are exactly alike. That's a big part of creating a realistic sounding track rather than one that sounds like a machine gun.

    Really, programming well is just imitating drummers, with the added advantage of not having to physically learn how to play the things yourself. :lol: (Though it helps.) Really, it's a matter of understanding the instrument and its role, how drummers do what they do, and translating that into notes in your sequencer. To prove that even a guitarist can do it, here's part of a hard rock track I whipped up using EZDrummer for my base samples (programming all the beats manually), groove quantize in Cubase (playing behind the beat slightly on 2 and 4), and some of smy1's Faderhead samples from the forum here: Exocaster's Drum Clip
     
  5. Andrew07

    Andrew07 Member

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    ya i never really "got" the YouTube hype, but its been super helpful in trying to learn drums. i like this one
     
    #5 Andrew07, Mar 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2015
  6. Josh Burgess

    Josh Burgess Member

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    The best way I've started learning is by using tab programs like TabIt and Guitar Pro and checking out the midi drum tracks for songs posted.... just studying them and watching how different beats are made. Eventually you get the hang of it and can start putting together your own stuff. I now write all my music in midi tab software. heh.
     
  7. STINNETT

    STINNETT Bad / Nationwide

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    Exocaster makes some good points. I think that in order to program realistically, what it boils down to is that you have to really get into all the nuances of real drummers. You've got to understand what they're doing. Even if you don't learn how to physically do it yourself - you've got to understand the mechanics of it. Watching videos was probably my biggest source of learning.

    Being a guitarist, I thought that having stood beside drummers and listened to music for so long would enable me to program drums pretty convincingly - but once I got started doing it, I realized that I had absolutely no intuition about what to play where, how to put together interesting fills, etc. I guess this is what you're talking about. For me, it all came from studying the aforementioned videos and really paying more attention to my favorite drummers.

    I think that once you learn how to program drums well, it can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of songwriting. It is for me, that's why I always encourage people to get into it instead of using loops or prerecorded MIDI, etc.

    Exocaster posted a fine example, and here is my own example of a guitarist creating what I think is some pretty realistic drumming:

    Metalhead's Drum Programming
     
  8. colonel kurtz

    colonel kurtz Member

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    1)make sure you aren't hitting too much shit at the same time...i've noticed that some of the stock loops that come with EZD DKFH have an open hat, cymbal, and snare hit at the same time, which isn't humanly possible. remember that you have a limit of 2 hands and feet available at any instant.

    2)don't put all the hits hard on the grid - stick some of them a little bit before or after. i know this sounds weird since so many people now try to hard-quantize live performances, but it'll keep things from sounding so robotic.

    3)mix up velocities, and make especially sure that fills and blastbeats have much softer hits than slower/simpler parts
     
  9. HeadCrusher

    HeadCrusher Member

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    :lol: haha, priceless! :worship:
    That's how I learned it too.
     
  10. Genius Gone Insane

    Genius Gone Insane http://www.¯\(°_o)/¯.com

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    The best way is to record it yourself, then take a look and see if you can see the groove. Are you playing ahead of the metronome for the first half of the riff?
     
  11. Damian B

    Damian B ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    drum programming tips for a non-drummer, from a drummer :loco:

    lol

    anyways, i would invest in guitar pro, and then you can download tabs that have the drums included and see how they are programmed. you could also buy an old fashioned book, it would do the same thing. also, like others have mentioned, don't program anything that can't be done it real life; drummers will instantly know ;)

    watching drummers is a good idea, but most likely you will totally confused for a good while before you can really figure out what's going on. if you can, it would probably be beneficial to get behind a real kit. you don't really have to learn how to play anything, but learn what the drums are called, and get a feel for certain things; for example, open vs. closed high hats, hitting the bell on the ride cymbal, the pitches of the toms, on or off snares, rimshots, etc.

    it won't be easy, but your drum parts will be 100 times better in the end.

    good luck!
     
  12. 53Crëw

    53Crëw Member

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    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    Most of the things I have questions about are things like should the kick keep going at the same beat during fills, and when you're doing 16th notes on the hihat, are you actually skipping a hihat hit when you hit the snare?... Little details like that. Maybe studying some tab more will help answer those types of questions.

    I may check out guitar pro and look at some tabs.

    I tend to randomize the velocities to give a human quality to the drums. I also quantize the drums with a 5 or 10% random window so that everything is not perfectly on the beat, although sometimes I wonder if this sounds too sloppy?

    Cheers.
     
  13. Exocaster

    Exocaster Nozzle

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    I use a bit smaller of a random window, but I also have swing settings that I use for a behind-the-beat groove, as I'm usually not working at very high tempos.

    And to answer a couple of your questions: myself, I don't keep the kick going during fills unless it's doing constant 16th note doubles. If there's an actual pattern with the kicks that has gaps between the hits, I leave the kick out unless it's incorporated as part of the fill.

    And yes, if you're doing 16ths on the hats, you skip the hit the snare falls on. That's one where you don't want to completely randomize your velocities, but you want variation within a pattern, with hits 1 and 3 per beat being the harder hits, 2 and 4 being softer. 1 is usually the hardest.
     
  14. mikko/boogie

    mikko/boogie Tortellini Twister

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    Sounds great! I really like the rolls. Have never been able make them sound anything close to the real thing. What program/technique do you use for programming drums?
     
  15. STINNETT

    STINNETT Bad / Nationwide

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    Thanks, I use Sonar 7 and I program everything with the mouse. As far as technique, I just try to emulate the moves of some of my favorite drummers. I try to visualize the fills being physically played and really think about how hard one might be hitting the drums. Being meticulous with the velocities is pretty important I think.
     
  16. mikko/boogie

    mikko/boogie Tortellini Twister

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    Sounds pretty much like my approach (dammit no short cuts!).
    Have you recorded the drum/cymbal sounds yourself or are you using a sample pack of some sort? I think maybe my biggest problem is not having samples of the same drum at different velocities. Or do you only rely on the velocity parameters in Sonar? In that case I'd say you just blew my mind!
     
  17. STINNETT

    STINNETT Bad / Nationwide

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    I use Drumkit From Hell Superior, sorry I forgot to mention that part. I just program the MIDI within Sonar. DFHS of course contains multiple samples of every drum / cymbal.
     
  18. Ericlingus

    Ericlingus Prettiest Hair Around

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    I use the DFH add on in EZ drummer. If I say use a cymbal with a velocity of say 90 and then use the same cymbal but with a velocity of 50, would the program automatically use a different sample of that same cymbal? This would apply to all the other drums/cymbals as well.
     
  19. HeadCrusher

    HeadCrusher Member

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  20. colonel kurtz

    colonel kurtz Member

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    that's some fucking wicked programming right there

    i thought i was getting ok at that shit...but now i feel inferior

    thanks man
     

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