Recommendations on how to take up drum programming

Discussion in 'Drums & Percussion' started by cGoEcYk, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    Hello, I have been advancing my home recording over the years. I took up recording because my band members moved away and I still wanted to work on compositions. I am mainly a bassist but took up and leveled up my guitar playing and gear so that I could keep on writing.

    I am finally at a point where I can get decent enough recordings. The next step is to get basic drums involved. My hope would be to program some basic enough stuff for two purposes- 1) to show my (remote) human drummer a general idea of what I was thinking 2) to hear how my engineering pans out vs a mix with drums.

    What do you guys recommend? How would you recommend someone starting out to proceed? I have the basic studio gears and record everything with tempo maps.
     
  2. elkinz

    elkinz Pun Enthusiast

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    EZdrummer2 is pretty killer if you are looking for an easy to use midi drum program. The expansions sound awesome, and programming beats is easy - it just takes time, patience, and a bit of creativity! Iv been jamming the made of metal expansion and its fantastic for a variety of genre applications too. I'm pretty keen to try the new Progressive expansion though!

    I started programming drums just by doing it to be honest. Just experiment and read tutorials and watch videos and youll pick it up super fast :) Try make beats to one of your riffs, and slowly increase the complexity of it. And try using different velocity of hits to get that real drummer feel!
     
  3. ikarus

    ikarus SS.org Regular

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  4. Audacis

    Audacis A band and also not

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    The way I picked up programming was learning to play some rudimentary beats myself. I played drums for a few years, but I've since been unable to get behind a kit in forever.

    Once you've got a decent drum VSTi or AU installed (and there's a couple of good free ones out there if you don't want to fork out for the Toontrack stuff), I'd try watching actual drummers playing. Get up to speed on the basics so you get a feel for how the drums are actually played, and when it comes to programming, be sure that an actual drummer could play it.

    For example, when going in for a tom fill or something that requires both hands, don't keep the hi-hats or cymbals going, since a drummer will most likely not be playing them all at the same time with just two hands. :p

    You should definitely check out drum tutorials on youtube, or watch people playing drum covers. A great channel is Drumeo, where they've got a little bit of everything (beginner to advanced) explained slowly and clearly with examples and notation available.

    Also important is dynamics; ghost notes, accents and the like.

    I learned a lot of what I know from drummers like Gavin Harrison. He's got some neat tricks to even out odd time signatures if you're in to any of that weirdness.

    And if you're still not sure, most drum programs tend to have grooves built in that you can just drag and drop on to the grid in your DAW. Good place to start! Check out how those grooves are constructed, or spend some time trying to program drums along to songs that you really like. I learned a lot of songwriting bits and pieces from trying to tab out (accurately!) songs by artists that I really admired using Guitar Pro.
     
  5. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the tips everyone! Once I started looking at the options these softwares seem really powerful and awesome. I'm starting to think Superior Drummer 2.0 because they sampled each drum like 5,000 times. If I get around to producing my own jams my priority would be to make things sound more realistic over super flawless pristine. I am thinking with the extra samples and all that I can make it sound more real/a lil dirtier if the time is invested in the detail.
     
  6. Audacis

    Audacis A band and also not

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    I think one way to get it sounding "real" is to humanize it a bit.

    Usually it'll snap to the grid on the piano-roll, but if you turn off the snap and try and get it close to the snap points by eye, you'll get those little variations that make it feel real.

    Or alternatively, most DAWs have a humanize function that moves the notes out of time slightly (a few ms) and vary the velocities by a random amount.
     
  7. oc616

    oc616 Control Deck Wins

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    Be careful with some samples. The advice Audacis has given is on point, but sometimes even with all the care in the world to "humaize" the info you have input on your track can be ruined by a particular sample loaded for a piece of the kit (some snares on Superior Drummer are awful for this).

    I'd suggest making a standardized input where you just do a few hits varying in velocity for each piece of the kit and just swap samples until you find some that don't go from "tap>fill>WHACK!" and nothing else.
     
  8. Vhyle

    Vhyle Music of the Wastes

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    ^

    I've been drumming for almost 20 years, and I only started programming a few years ago, for my Algarothsyum albums. I used Drumkit From Hell.

    Learning to program them was pretty easy with the Toontrack expansions (I haven't used anything else). Making them realistic is also "easy", but it does make it very tedious at times. Like what oc616 said - vary the velocities on almost everything. Especially on main things like hi-hat or ride hits. With drum fills, you can also shift notes left or right slightly off time. Same thing with ghost notes and accents. Lots of variation involved to make them sound convincing. Like I said, it does get tedious after a while, but the end result is worth it.

    Sorry to do this, but [shamelessplug], you can hear what I'm talking about in my music, with the link in my sig. lol sorry, had to. [/shamelessplug]
     
  9. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

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    question. these drum programs are just basic drum sounds but if you want more metal sounding drums then you need to buy an expansion?

    So is there a drum program that has metal drums already on it like default?
     
  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Or learn to mix - expansions like drumkit from hell or metal machine for ezdrummer are just mixed basic sounds with EQ and compression etc. It can be nice to have the presets sounding that way for ease of use but I'd recommend learning how to make natural drum sounds more metal too.
     
  11. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

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    OK well that would be way down the line from now. I've never programmed drums before. And I'm not sure how great I want the drums to sound. I'm not looking to make an album by myself using these programs, as I'm in a band right now and I just want to be able to program drums so I can make my ideas come to life, on my own time, so perhaps I can show them my ideas. Or I just want to do it for fun.

    But I don't understand what I need to have in order to run a metal drum program. for example, I see a superior drummer 2.0 software for $180 or something like that. Then I see these metal expansion packs for like $40 or $50 or $70..................so do I need to buy the superior drummer 2.0 in order to be able to run these metal expansions or can I just buy the $40 metal program and be all set with that?

    Are there less expensive programs that are still good? Obviously I'd want the drums to sound good but it's not critical that I make them sound as authentic as possible as I'm not looking to make an EP using them

    There's all these different packs and versions and I do not know what to get!! :shred:
     
  12. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the tips guys. I am looking forward to Superior 2.0 which should arrive sometime this week. Holiday special prices were compelling enough that I took the plunge.
     
  13. cGoEcYk

    cGoEcYk SS.org Regular

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    OK- so my Superior 2.0 finally showed up. I'll install it later tonight (based on what I've read seems like a slight pain to install, not intuitive anyway).

    My friend was saying that now I need EZDRummer to actually work with it. Does that make sense? Did I just buy a bunch of samples but now I need the platform? FML, haha.

    Also, what do I need to to do make beats like this?

    [​IMG]
     
  14. wilsky757

    wilsky757 SS.org Regular

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    no way bro superior is all you need
     
  15. leecloudpitt

    leecloudpitt SS.org Regular

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    Thanks Audacis for the mention of Drumeo and Gavin Harrison
     
  16. InCasinoOut

    InCasinoOut syncopAZN

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    Learn how to read drum tabs! They're more accurate than text based guitar tabs in terms of note values, and you can directly program a drum beat by copying a tab. Easiest way to see how drum tabs work is to pick a song you're very familiar with (especially if in your head you know all the various drum parts) and follow along reading the tab while listening to the song. Then you can input that song into your MIDI editor and start playing with different velocities to humanize the sound. Eventually you'll be able to come up with your own drum parts, but you can always mix and match existing drum grooves and fills from your favorite songs once you know how to read drum tabs and then program them!

    edit: Personally, I find drum programming to be a lot of fun. When I was younger I played the drums far more often than the guitar, but living situations in the past few years make drumming very infrequent (plus I got addicted to guitar playing all over again), so I program all the drums in Reaper and use Addictive Drums for all my recordings now. Being able to read drum tabs then was invaluable in learning how to play them, and also now programming them since I don't have the means to record a real kit. I love it when people ask who played the drums in my recordings, because I know I did it right if it sounds like a real human drummer to musicians and non-musicians alike.
     
  17. randomas

    randomas SS.org Regular

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  18. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I think to program realistic sounding drums, you really need to learn to think like a drummer. Think about physical limitations, both in how many parts you can hit at once as well as how hard you can hit, dominant hand vs non-dominant hand strength, etc. I learned a lot by sitting down and trying to program existing drum parts, and really agonizing over getting the articulations perfectly right.

    It's kind of a pain in the neck, but the results are worth it. :lol:
     
  19. Vince

    Vince Contributor

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    Drew is right. For me, how I started was to use a drum machine or something with multiple pads, like most sequencers. You can usually find them fairly cheap on eBay. Sit there and use your left hand for the bass drum and your right hand for the snare. Work on creating grooves with just the bass drum and snare, then you can always look to add in cymbals, toms, hi-hat, etc., later. Now I just use the piano roll, but I've been doing it for years.
     

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