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"Humanizing" programmed drums

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by jet_dry, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. jet_dry

    jet_dry Member

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    I've been working with programming drums, playing with velocities and whatnot, and it's still sounding like I might as well be playing them on a keyboard. Does anyone have any tips for making drums sound more realistic?

    thanks
     
  2. HandsOfDespair

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    Iterative quantization?
     
  3. C_F_H_13

    C_F_H_13 Protools Guru

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    couple of simple things I do.

    1. I always edit velocities with how a drummer plays in mind. One example is that drummers always have a weak side (generally the left) so when doing rolls I always make the left side softter.

    2. more then anything, I think the timing on drums make's it sound more real. Just having the slightest timing differences in the kicks will make it sound more realistic.

    3. obviously the quality and layers of your sampled drums makes a huge difference. Something like S2.0 or BFD 2 have more then enough layers to make realistic drum sounds.
     
  4. JoshSylosis

    JoshSylosis Member

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    i always move beats on hats and ride (mainly fast thrash or blasts) sliiiightly ahead of the beat as most drummers right hands are prone to being slightly ahead.
    also do that a lot with tom/snare build ups - whichever drum the right hand is on i'll move a tiny bit forward
     
  5. AllanD

    AllanD boom tap boom-boom tap

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    I'm having a problem with making the crash sound real when you're hitting it like hi-hats. Any solution to this?
     
  6. zackpennington

    zackpennington Like a boss

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    Fake cymbals are a bitch. The trick is to have it hit hard on down beats, but the lighter on other hits, and lots of variation (of velocity) on the other hits. Also, cymbals will sound a lot less fake with the rest of the music over top of them. They should be fairly low in the mix so they won't be so noticeable.
     
  7. Erlend_

    Erlend_ Member

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    A good tip for getting a more realistic hi-hat:

    First edit the velocities so that the groove is right. Like in 3/4 it could be something like: HARD soft soft HARD soft soft HARD soft soft... and so on in that fasion.
    Then select all the HARD hits and randomize the velocity a bit. Then select all the soft hits and randomize the velocity to taste.

    The key is to get the groove right first. This is what will keep the song moving.
    The randomizing of the velocity will help you avoid that dreaded machinegun effect.

    Now here is an important point. Do not do the randomizing on a couple of bars and copy&paste!
    Get the groove right and copy that where needed. Then when the whole song is set up, do the randomizing.


    One final thought, when you have programmed some drums, try to air-drum them while listening to them.
    Its great fun :)
    But it also helps you tell if what you have programmed is something a real drummer would do.
     
  8. Plankis

    Plankis Member

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    Say you have a groove with a kick, or even worse: ghost notes from a snare, doing 16ths that goes on for minutes. I surely would have done the major editing and randomization on the first groove, copypasted, then done some more randomization where needed*. It gives a better workflow for me at least.

    * "Where needed" can mean A LOT, depending on the groove. The ghost notes of a snare really needs to be randomized on almost every hit.
     
  9. Erlend_

    Erlend_ Member

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    In my original post I was talking about hihats mainly.
    I always get the groove done by editing the velocities manually.

    What the randomizer does is that it ensures that there will always be subtle differences in the velocity of each hit and that helps it sound more human.
    We are talking very subtle here. I set the allowed range of my randomizer very narrow. Sometimes just a range of 4 or 5. I just try different values until I get the feel I want.

    Anyway, I think we work in a very similar way. I also program a couple of bars first and get the basic groove right. Then copy these and do any changes needed (fills, cymbal hits etc.) and THEN do the randomizing.
    Im not saying you need to program everything manually.
    Maybe that wasnt clear in my original post.

    And of course, for some things you might not even want to randomize at all :)
     
  10. Morgan C

    Morgan C MAX LOUD PRESETS¯\(°_o)/¯

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    This. You have to learn to think like a drummer. Just messing with the velocities can change COMPLETELY how you hear a beat or fill.

    Honestly, once you learn to do this, its just so easy. In Sonar I can just click on a note and drag up and down to change the velocity. So I can just go through and doing a segment manually is ridiculously fast and easy, because I know what I want to hear in my head, and how I'd play it, which notes would be accented.


    If you've got a 16th fill, four hits. First one is going to be the hardest. Always. Second one a little softer because its his left hand. Third one probably in between the first and second because its his right hand, but its his second hit on a fast fill so its going to be weaker. Fourth one will be weakest.
    So maybe velocities will be 120, 113, 116, 108, or somehing like that. It depends on the software you're using.

    To try out how much velocites can influence a fill, make some French Triplets, or whatever they're called nowadays. Two 16ths followed by two 8ths, repeated a few times. Try accenting the 16ths, then try accenting the 8ths. Its the exact same pattern but a radically different feel.
     
  11. Erlend_

    Erlend_ Member

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    Indeed.. I agree with what you're saying here..
    Im not a drummer so I can only really guess how it should be.

    One good tip for us non-drummers:
    Many sampled drum packs come with alot of midi beats that were recorded by a drummer.. You can learn alot from studying these.
     
  12. Dexter_prog

    Dexter_prog New Metal Member

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    Are you using Reaper? It's got some great humanizing tools that has helped me get better non-machine gun drums
     
  13. NicholasDWolfwood

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    I think this is a big one that sometimes goes unnoticed: never program it so it's hitting three things on the hands at once (ie two cymbals and the snare; hihat, tom1 and tom3; etc). thats a dead give away that its programmed.
     
  14. mick thompson

    mick thompson AKA: Ross Canpolat! SM!

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    hmm i've always found the machine gun effect on snares etc of triggered drums is always hard to get past.

    try compression so that it only comes in on harder dynamics. you could also try automation of pitch shifting and shift your samples per hit either up 1 cent, down 3 cents, up 4 cents etc (but not too extreme - otherwise it will sound completely out of tune)... also setting a secondary channel for lower velocities and higher velocities and triggering them off with a sample that has been slightly altered in pitch and compression can help.

    normally the rule is that if it sounds bad in the 1st place there is not much more you can do, so try editing your samples prior to triggering them and set up multiple trigger samples to trigger the same track but on different velocities - it may help but its never going to sound 100% natural
     
  15. Dexter_prog

    Dexter_prog New Metal Member

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    Not necessarily, Katatonia do it all the time and they don't program drums. It just shows that there's more than 1 drum take there.
     
  16. Fragle

    Fragle Member

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    one thing that's bugging me with the humanization feature in reaper:

    if you have some straight 16th double bass parts, and humanize them in reapers midi editor, some of the hits get swallowed or don't play anymore.....this is even when humanizing the timing like 2-3%.
    that's the reason i tend to stick with velocity humanization only, but i wonder if there's a workaround?
     

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