Drum Programming: The Ultimate Guide To Master Drum Tracks (Books Included)

Nowadays, many music makers utilize programmed drums to set up musical rhythms. In fact, for the past few years, drum programming has quickly become the new black of the industry due to the prevalence of drum machines. It successfully replaced regular drummers with near-perfect, versatile rhythmic digital devices. 

Although learning to program drums appears simple, knowing how to apply the basics cleverly is a hard-going challenge. But bother not! Today’s comprehensive guide is here to help you out (we even included a list of some best books). So accompany us on the journey to become drum program masters!

Table of Contents

Drum Programming: What’s It? 

Drum programming is simply creating a drum sequence using drum machines. Indeed, instead of performing with your drums live, you arrange drum notes in a particular order and the machine will construct drum melodies, which you may repeat, modify, and rearrange in other tracks.

However, different from drum synthesizing, you do not use samples of your own; instead, you collect and use ones developed by others. (however, one might claim that drum synthesizer is a subclass of drum programming).

Why Do We Need To Program Drums? 

Drum Programming Allows You To Become An All-around Artist

Programming drums is simple at its heart. Indeed, a basic kick-hat-snare percussion sequence is a piece of cake.

Once you become more involved in drum programming, though, you’ll discover that there’s a long road ahead. It might be a unique approach, like using syncopated rhythms, engineering sophisticated hi-hat sequences, or attempting to make your drumming feel more human-played, for example.

Mastering how to create drum arrangements, like attempting to handle everything else in the art of music-making, is a lifetime endeavor. However, hard work pays off.

Why Do We Need To Program Drums?
Learning how to program drums is beneficial. – Sound On Sound

Once you master the skill of programming drums, you’ll become a more all-around artist. Indeed, after learning how to program drums:

  • First, you’ll gain a better feel of rhythm.
  • Second, you’ll be an expert at selecting and controlling samples.
  • Third, you’ve figured out how to balance simplicity and complexity.
  • Fourth, and most importantly, you can apply drum programming knowledge to different aspects of music creation.

Drum Programming Creates More Ear-catching Music

Because our natural brain is built to recognize rhythmic patterns, being competent at drum programming may either create a masterpiece or destroy a dance song on an unconscious level.

According to research, ancient humans tend to imitate rhythms as a form to establish communal cohesiveness and cooperation between individuals. And after million years, that has been ingrained into the human mind. In other words, Mother Nature has always programmed us to love a solid rhythm.

And drum programming is born to give us just that solid rhythm. How so?

By providing an essential melodic component to dance music…

Groove. 

And drum programming is born to give us just that solid rhythm. How so?
Drum Programming is essential for dance music. – Soundbytes magazine 

A groove is a repeating sequence in drumming that establishes and sustains the track’s rhythm and pace. A groove resembles the drumming version of a riff for a guitar player.

Indeed, if you want the audience to move to your rhythm, your groove should be the backbone of all the songs (by move, I mean everything from stamping your feet to whirling with your arms swinging around.).

Lacking a driving groove, dance music is just another bizarre experimenting music.

Many newbies are stuck at this stage since they assume groove implies decreasing the rhythm to 125BPM and producing a groovy tech-house mix. But that is nothing close to the truth.

The grooves may appear in various forms: a 185BPM drum-and-bass record may feature one, and so may a 130BPM tech-trance hit.

Groove doesn’t imply swings; it just signifies that the song maintains a steady pattern that audiences can connect with.

How Drum Programs Form Grooves  

All of the elements and sequences in a track should add value to your groove, but 2 factors in particular that create the groundwork for it are drums and basses. Although the 2 perform well together, there is a notable distinction in their offerings to your groove.

If you play the bass alone, it will only offer a little groove.
Programmed drums can form beautiful grooves. – BANG! The Drum School

If you play the bass alone, it will only offer a little groove. This is because it must perform with another device, such as drums. Meanwhile, if you play your drum part individually, you’ll easily get a groove.

By starting with the basics, you can learn a lot about drumming. Drums are the melodic cornerstone of every music, and a composer can’t go into the complexities of advanced drum programming without first establishing a fundamental groundwork.

Thus, having that in mind, let’s look at how every component of a basic drum set interacts with each other to form a typical groove.

  • Kick: A bass drum serves as a melodic backbone for almost all house music varieties. As a result, a kick drum will remain the most strict and “on-grid” among all the other percussion parts while characterizing a song’s sound qualities, style, arrangement, and category.
  • Backbeat: A backbeat is the earliest sign of syncopation in a drum sequence, and it serves to establish your groove’s intensity and drive. It’s generally accomplished using a clapping or snaring sample. We’ll go through how to harness this drive to make human-sounding drumming beats in your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) in more detail in the below section.
  • Cymbals: Such percussions span the musical spectrum’s higher range, providing propulsion via offbeat hats and intensity via riding cymbals or crashes. Shakers and tambourines are examples of this instrument that lend richness and swings to a traditional rhythm.
  • Secondary Percussions: The remaining of your percussive instruments provide the drumming rhythm complexity, layering, syncopation, and similar intricacies. During your percussion programming and sample choosing, you have the most artistic freedom regarding placement. 

How To Start Learning Drum Programming

You can’t sketch a building unless you know what it is, and you can’t compute percussion rhythms without knowing what a drum sounds like.

When composers contact us with an issue, we almost always answer, “You have to listen to music.”

The issue may be that they just couldn’t think of anything for their drops. No need to worry; just go pay heed to a few drops.

The issue may be that their introduction is somewhat bland. Alright, just listen to several exciting intros.

It is critical to listen.
Listening is the key. – Popular Science

If you’re a novice, listening is crucial. You should pay heed to music with solid percussion. 

It’s advisable not to hear the music passively but to examine it consciously. Jot down, ask why the producers utilized certain elements, consider how powerful their groove is, and which elements contribute most.

That is, it is effective listening. Consider it creation hours and devote 30-60 minutes to studying music recordings, particularly the drumming structures in those compositions.

Once you know what you’re heading for, learn the basics of drum programming like sample choosing, time signatures, and common techniques to create a drum sequence. Afterward, equip yourself with the fundamentals of DAWs, try applying learned knowledge to your chosen DAW, and start making music.

Note: If studying on your own is too challenging, a few bọoks and online courses might help you. With these helpful materials, you can learn to program drums effectively any time and anywhere at a much more reasonable price.

6 Best Books On Programming Drums Everyone Should Know (2022 Updated)

Book’s NameTargetContentOverall Score
Drum Programming: A Complete Guide to Program and Think Like a Drummer By Ray F. BadnessBeginners and IntermediatesHow to play drums and think like a drummer.The basics of DAWs and drum programming.How to compose tracks using special techniques.10/10
Drum Programming: The Complete Guide to Creating Great Rhythm Tracks By Justin PatersonBeginnersThe practice of drum programming. The principles and tools needed to program drums.How to use DAWs.9.5/10
Advanced Funk Studies: Creative Patterns for the Advanced Drummer Paperback Skilled drummersAdvanced knowledge of funk and fusion in drum programming.9/10
Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted ReedBeginnersRhythmic patterns. Notation reading abilities.The basics of drum programming.9/10
Producing Drum Beats: Writing & Mixing Killer Drum Grooves (Productions: Beats)BeginnersThe basics of drum sets and drum programming.The most effective ways for programming drums and percussive recordings in your DAWs.8.5/10
260 Drum Machine Patterns By Hal Leonard LLCBeginners and IntermediatesCommon and unique drum patterns.How to utilize learned patterns to create dope tracks.8/10

Drum Programming: A Complete Guide to Program and Think Like a Drummer By Ray F. Badness 

This Ray F. Badness book is your comprehensive guidebook on programming and functioning like a drummer rather than a drum machine operator.

This book takes a straightforward, logical method to mastering how to beat drums and effectively imitate a drum set on a pre-recorded tape, rather than just offering directions for you to write on your device.

Indeed, while there are numerous publications on the main DAWs, lots of them only discuss the application and presume you’re familiar with topics like drum programming. 

Luckily, this book fills in the blanks. Even if you have zero prior music skills and have never gained much from a music textbook, you will be able to comprehend the content with this book effortlessly.

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Unlike other books, this one doesn’t just provide simple templates to replicate. Although it is from the 1990s and is mostly aimed at rock music, the principles it covers are timeless.

It introduces to you the fundamentals of composing tracks, such as chord progressions, equalization, song arrangement, and harmonies (rather than just creating bog-standard boring tracks).

This book will assist you in developing a strategy for taking the beats in your brain and bringing it to the real world. It also assists you in becoming acquainted with the various elements and capabilities of your drum machine without overloading you with terminologies. 

By completing this guide, you will develop a knowledge of the drum set that most players spend years of learning – resulting in more practical programming and excellent outcomes!

Overall, a fantastic introductory book.

“Excellent, well-thought-out content; however, if you don’t possess any prior knowledge of music, it might be difficult to grasp. I expected this to be a simple strategy to program sounds in my drum machine, but it’s far more complex than that. 

It’s an awesome guidebook with useful insights for everything it is, but you’ll have to research and study a little bit beforehand to best use it- it’s made for newbies, but I believe it’s actually meant for intermediates, more like those who’ve previously studied how to perform the drums in real life (not machine).” – Jerrico Usher

Drum Programming: The Complete Guide to Creating Great Rhythm Tracks By Justin Paterson

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Dr. Justin Paterson is a percussionist, song composer, and drumming and digital music instructor. He spent several years as a solo drummer before moving on to programming, sound editing, and composition.

He had partnered with the London College of Music, a member of the University of West London, since 2004, when he directed an MA program in Advanced Music Technology.

To his credit, he owns multiple academic publications and has taught a master’s course for drum programmers for the Audio Engineering Society in the United Kingdom. He has also worked in computer engineering.

This book offers a comprehensive introduction to the practice of drum programming and the principles and tools that underpin it. It takes us on a journey through the first stages of utilizing a computerized recording studio, the formation of each sound element, and the production of quality results.

It is tailored for students of all mainstream drum programming software and investigates

  • the evolution of rhythmic sequencing.
  • digital recording studios and how to utilize them.
  • MIDI programming in one shot.
  • samplers and romplers.
  • refined swing rhythm and beat-constructing.
  • recordings and grooves.
  • generating drum patterns with a layer-by-layer synthesizer.
  • mixing and production. 

It finishes with thorough instructions on creating drum sequences for various music genres spanning from mainstream pop and metal to jazz, hip hop, drum ‘n’ bass, and EDM.

The book progresses through studio pictures and audio samples. Helpful hints and practical activities (and associated online resources) keep readers engaged and interested all along the journey.

However, note that this book contains no four-to-the-floor beat. Thus, if you are more about EDM or similar categories, this book is perhaps not for you. It is only suitable for fans of music with diverse tempos, like hip-hop music or drum-and-bass. 

“For a professional student, it’s extremely comprehensive and definitely well thought out. It’s perhaps suitable for a young composer that wants total control over drum programming.

However, for hobbyists like me, I’d prefer something easier that focuses on step sequencing rhythms with drum loops —silent gaps intro—ends.” – C HUGHES

Advanced Funk Studies: Creative Patterns for the Advanced Drummer Paperback 

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Advanced Funk Studies, named one of the top 25 drumming textbooks by Modern Drummer magazine, will allow you to push your rhythm to the next height. You’ll quickly learn groovy drumming rhythms with the help of writer and acclaimed percussionist Rick Latham.

Most of those concepts in this publication come from a few of the most popular and skilled funk musicians. In addition, its bonus audio CDs deliver examples of the workouts.

This is perfect for increasing your flexibility over your workstation. At the same time, this practical book will help you improve your funky and fusion percussion skills. 

The book progresses through many hi-hat rhythms, beginning with a quarter, 8th, and 16th rhythm. End of the book, notable musicians of this style such as Steve Gadd, David Garibaldi, and Peter Erskine are mentioned.

Its audio CDs are a terrific bonus to help you understand how you should perform the workouts. We would strongly advise this course to anybody who wants to improve their drum programming skills and advance their ideas.

“This book is pretty complicated, entertaining, and includes a wide range of workouts suitable for an intermediate percussionist. The only part I don’t like about it is the notation. I had to rewrite it on almost all pages to look more like the notation I was used to.” – Amy B.

Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer by Ted Reed

Progressive Steps to Syncopation for the Modern Drummer ranked 2nd on Modern Drummer’s rundown of the 25 Best Drum Publications in 1993 and is among the most comprehensive and valuable publications ever published for drummers.

It was explicitly designed to handle syncopation and has become a staple resource for instructing beginner drummers on rhythmic patterns and developing reading abilities.

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This textbook contains many emphasized 8ths, patterned 8ths and 16ths, 8th-note triplets, and 16th chords for longer leads. Besides that, instructors can also use it to create lots of their case studies.

Reed’s work is an extraordinarily comprehensive yet practical book. It highlights timing, energy, and concept management. It’s notably beneficial for percussionists, who may employ the drum machine patterns to perform “against” ostinato beats.

Another highlight of this guidebook is its usefulness for people of all skill levels. Novices will love the “gradual” complexity (simple to advanced), while skilled artists will notice boundless chances for rhythmic explorations.

“This book is designed for drummers but suited to various devices. I practice mixing basslines with it.” – Amazon Customer.

Producing Drum Beats: Writing & Mixing Killer Drum Grooves (Productions: Beats)

Drums play a considerable part in the composition and mixing of a track, whether hip-hop, urban, metal, progressive, disco, EDM, jazz, funk, or reggae.

This guide will teach all you’ll have to understand to make your original killer tracks, from explaining each drum and how they’re most commonly performed to MIDI percussion programming tactics employed by the experts and the proper application of compressor, EQ, and other effects while mixing tracks.

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With patience and regular training, you’ll be ready to adapt those drum programming approaches to your own, pushing your music-making expertise to the next height. By completing this book, you’ll have everything you need to be a professional beat-maker.

If you’re a beginner, this book is an excellent starting point. Indeed, Erik begins with the fundamentals, so even if you have never stood in front of a drum set before, you can’t tell the differences between the crash and splash cymbals or believe a guiro is a rotating child’s toy, you’ll still be OK.

After covering the foundations, Erik walks you over a few of the most effective ways for programming drums and percussive recordings in your DAW. What’s incredible about these techniques is that you’re studying them from those of the greatest in the business.

“This book was fantastic! For almost 30 years, I’ve been a composer, performer, and vocalist, but I’ve always lacked producers and engineers to assist me in developing my songs. My objective is to master how to construct simple drum beats on my own, and this book is enabling me to pursue that goal. 

I’ve already created a few tracks and am having a great time with them. The author discusses how a drum set functions in detail and provides a solid introduction to basic MIDI principles.” – Mary Shaw

260 Drum Machine Patterns By Hal Leonard LLC

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Hal Leonard LLC, established in 1947, is currently the globe’s biggest source of music performance and training resources, with more than one million products available in both print and digital formats. And if you’re searching their collection on drum programming, there is one famous textbook called 260 Drum Machine Patterns.

As the title implies, you will discover more than 260 simple drum beats, sequences, and breaks in this book. These are even some unique sequences that you may effortlessly recreate on any drum system. 

This book provides the most commonly used grooves in modern songs, and many arrangements include flams so that you can easily replicate them on the newly updated line of drum machines.

This fantastic library of unique rhythms to get you going with programming any drum system. 

“Sure, it is designed for older music genres. Still, digital producers can also utilize the knowledge in this book to create better modern drum and EDM beats. 

Unarguably, the paper quality is poor. ***However*** Possessing a ‘library’ of drum sequences for various types of music to utilize as a framework is helpful.

What’s the most valuable part? It’s the 20 basic categories of music addressed in this book. (Well, I wouldn’t be using Waltz or Paso Doble personally). And, amazingly, you can enter the rhythms into your DAW program device and gain a helpful framework for your drums with only a few minor adjustments.” – TG.

How To Improve Your Skills 

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals of drum programming, you can develop them by introducing more grooves, nuances, and delicate syncopation to truly take your drumming experience to the next height.

Until now, our percussive basis has been based on traditional drum rhythms. Now is the time to consider a few unique ways to help your drum sequence pop out.

Syncopation

As previously stated, the backbeat is only 1 type of syncopation, but there are many more innovative variations. The 4 most popular types of syncopation are as follows:

Backbeat

Backbeat syncopated rhythms stress the 2 and 4 pulses rather than the traditional downbeats of a quarter (usually the kick drum). Mastering how to control backbeat rhythms may give your drum programming more vitality, desired sloth, and everything else in between.

Offbeat

This syncopation starts to bring rhythmic characteristics beyond the downbeats’ regular tempo. Offbeat rhythms are most common in the house genre whenever the hi-hats are inserted and the energy builds up.

Suspension

This contrasts the heavier focus with softer rhythms. In addition, by experimenting with basic predictions, these sequences can provide an overlaying loop and flowing effects inside the drumming beat.

Missed Beat

This emphasizes unexpected spots, frequently resulting in off-kilter rhythms that keep the audience expecting strikes that never happen or occur sooner than they predicted. This is frequent in trap and futuristic bass music when the kick beat is positioned in unusual areas to develop excitement and suspense.

Drum Envelopes

Drum programming and groove building’s effectiveness is all around the gap between the punches as it revolves around the punches themselves.

Like most devices hardly complement a track without a little equalizing and compressing, only a few drum samples will be exactly right for the beat without a bit of modification.

Prolonged rhythms can weigh down a beat
Paying attention to drum envelopes makes a big difference. – SoundBridge

Prolonged rhythms can weigh down a beat, leaving it sound more disengaged and lacking energy than planned, and this is when samplers help greatly. Likewise, working with the ADSR settings of specific notes may help to sharpen up a beat while also creating valuable room inside your drum composition.

The advantages of this strategy are significant for only one small yet crucial reason: it creates greater headspace by overlapping fewer samples. This results in a stronger groove that is both deeper and more powerful.

Humanization

When it comes to humanizing machine-made percussions, you must note these 2 facts:

  • Even the most skilled percussionist on the planet cannot perform with the same precision as a machine.
  • There are no 2 punches that are the same.

Preset groove patterns in most common DAWs may enable you to make minor timing and tempo modifications to your project. They are ideal for newcomers; however, this is everything they can offer.

The secret is to personally tweak specific components of the drum programming so that they run immediately before or somewhat after the digitized grids. The first option will lend power to your groove, while the second will slow it down optimally.

This is what experts call “tapping in the groove.” In most cases, a variation of merely 2-10 milliseconds will get the job done perfectly.

Drum Loops 

Adding ready-made drum loops into your track is a terrific idea to start a mood flow, but they will rarely sound original or beautiful right off the bat.

Drum loops are important
Drum loops are crucial. – Sound On Sound 

Like anything else in music creation, how you employ these elements may make the difference between highly qualified drum programming and amateur-sounding rhythm.

Be precise and picky as you cut, organize, and contort those loops to work with your song, and keep in mind that only because a punch is in that loop doesn’t imply it needs to be in your mix.

Tip: If your programmed drums rely heavily on a particular rhythmic loop, consider removing that pattern from the audio sample. The basic rhythm patterns in DAWs perform OK, but specific audio samples offer a whole different swing characteristic that may deliver remarkable outcomes.

Hooks Within Percussions

Who says your rhythms should deliver as much excitement when composing the core hook? A few percussion notes serving as a melodic hook may offer an additional level of intrigue to your beat. 

There are several ways to accomplish this, but the 3 we find ourselves employing the most frequently are

Pitched Percussions

A few drums possess a unique tone that allows users to sculpt them into a melody sequence. In this case, ensuring that they are adjusted to the tone of your song will allow them to perform basic riffs to accompany the main synthesizer chords.

Call and Response

Percussive rhythms can communicate with one another, with each loop presenting a question-like structure and then another percussion unit responding to it.

Mirror Rhythms

Adding a drumming layer that fits the harmonic sequence and timing of the main synthesizer or accompanying arpeggiator might help to boost the intensity level of your composition.

Such techniques are effective in categories such as house and hardcore, where people in the nightclub are more focused on the song’s pulse than the exquisite melody that bloom on top of it.

Drum Programming For Experts

When composers approach the professional rank, their ears are trained to tiny cues that most beginners ignore. A programmed percussion groove springs to life through the small details of sample selection, distinctive time signatures, and solid frameworks.

Sample modulation 

Sample modulation allows percussion samples that appear excellent on their own to maintain attention across several repeats.

By applying LFOs to settings like a sample’s beginning node, intensity, mixing, or detune amount, every single pulse of the sample will be somewhat unique from the ones that occurred before it. This proves the stated statement that no player ever strikes his drum the same way twice.

Round-robin sampling 

Round-robin sampling, which means performing a percussion rhythm while spinning near-sounding samples randomly, is one technique to bring your track to the next height.

Choose an odd number of samples based on the timing characteristic of your project (5,7 or 9 samples if producing in average 4/4/ rhythm), and get your unique patterns activated random samples along the process.

Electronic songs are also, by definition, formulaic and repetitive.
Round-robin sampling can spice your track up. – Apple Support 

Electronic songs are also, by definition, formulaic and repetitive. However, seasoned composers are too familiar with the principles to begin experimenting with the traditional 4 or 8-bar looping patterns that are so commonly produced in 4/4 style by incorporating polymeters.

Polymeters 

Polymeters are formed when 2 different patterns are placed over each other.

You can layer a conventional 4/4 music pattern on a 3-bar sequence to create wonderful effects. As a result, every loop repeats over one another at presumably unique time frames. So, for example, perhaps an 8-bar kick loop plays below a 12-bar rhythm of found audio.

These flowing patterns keep the audience’s attention focused on your beat for much longer than a traditional, unchanging track.

Arrangements 

Changing the timing characteristics of your sequences is a method to keep things fresh, but there are many other ways of looking at arrangements that may help prolong the length of a programmed drum groove.

Professional composers are constantly searching for strategies to extend the duration of their grooves beyond the standard 4 or 8-bar sequences.

Professional composers are constantly searching for strategies to extend the duration of their grooves beyond the standard 4 or 8-bar sequences.
The arrangement can make or break your track. – EDMProd 

Look for spots where you can include unpredictable drum smacks. Drum bursts at the close of each 16 bars are perhaps the most common way to keep your song arrangement energetic and thrilling, but simpler and more subtle samples perform well too.

Maybe a melodic percussive element performs in the fifth bar of an 8-bar sequence, or a couple of hits are omitted from the ninth bar of a 16-bar sequence.

Sophisticated arranging tactics flirt with the assumptions of the audience. But, if done correctly, they contribute to irresistible drum beats as thrilling as when mixers humanize the track.

Tip: Minimize stiff switches at foreseeable points wherever possible. It all boils down to toeing the line between parts to produce unanticipated and memorable experiences.

Can Samples Affect Your Drum Programming?

Yes, a lot.

Indeed, the higher the quality of your raw materials, the less effort you will have to put in. Yes, you can stack 7 snares in a song, but sometimes 1 good snare is all that’s required.

The same is also true for kicks. Adding kicks over one another is a challenging technique all on its own, and it is generally preferable to select just a high-quality kick sample.

Can Samples Affect Your Drum Programming?
Drum samples are essential in drum programming. – Hip Hop Makers

Yet, the problem is that quality samples are difficult to find, and almost all of them call for a charge. If you also find selecting good samplers a challenge, a few tips below might help.

Note that choosing decent samples still requires you to arrange your drum rhythms. Samples will not complete the tasks for you.

Good samples only maximize the chance of your drums playing amazingly from the start, and unlike low-quality ones, they don’t require as much editing to merge in with the remainder of your tracks.

How To Choose Good Samples For Drum Programming 

Nowadays, there are a lot of low-quality sample bundles available for free and for a subscription. However, they would just be a waste of money; and even if you try to use them, they will take you forever to edit.

Meanwhile, quality samples are the foundation of excellent-sounding drum tracks. They should serve you for several years and enable you to create numerous songs easily. 

But how can we tell which one is quality? When searching for a good sample packet, keep the following principles.

P/s: You might ask why “good” but not “the best”? We will not discuss how to choose the best samples for your drum track because no sample is the best – we only have the most suitable one.

Use Your Ears

There is no specific strategy or method for selecting the most suitable samples; it is simply trusting your ears.

Indeed, developing your ears to search for samples that complement your song is beneficial.
Listening is, again, the key. – Vinmec 

Indeed, teaching your ears to search for samples that complement your song is beneficial. However, aside from learning from your mistakes, the greatest method to achieve this is to pay heed to different music. 

If you’re considering purchasing a sample pack, we highly suggest you first get a free trial pack or demo bundle if one is there. This is an excellent way of testing the condition of the samples and determining whether the pack is of top standard.

Don’t Collect Too Many Samples

Another thing we wish we’d known before was not to put everything in your sample collection. You need a couple of decent sets to get started. The more tracks you collect, the more time you will search for the ideal one. Spare your time and be inventive with what you own.

Look For The Samples That Can Work With One Another 

Even when your drum programming skill is at a top standard, it will fall by the wayside if the samples you’re utilizing aren’t up to par. 

Just because a drum sample feels AMAZING on its own doesn’t imply it’ll play fantastically with your existing samples, and a good mixing skill can do nothing to improve the situation.

The drum samples have to feel like they fit one another. Otherwise, you will turn the audience off. It may be enticing to settle down with what fits at that time simply, but taking a little more effort to select the suitable sample will make a big difference.

Don’t Look For The Perfect Sample

When you buy a lot of sample packages, you tend to hunt for the ideal piece, taking you a lot of time to decide. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many sample packages you own; this problem may arise.

When you buy a lot of sample packages, you tend to hunt for the ideal piece, taking you a lot of time to decide. In fact, it doesn’t matter how many sample packages you own; this problem may arise.
No need to go after perfection. – Psychologies

Sometimes, when you’re seeking a specific sample, say a kick, you can stumble upon one that works wonders without any adjustments, which is terrific.

Most of the time, this does not occur; you will go over samples that look like they may work, decent samples, samples with minor problems, and so forth.

And those are the ones that you should use. Don’t waste your precious time looking for the ideal samples; it’s a waste of energy and money. Instead, search for a sample that performs well and then modify it to make it the optimal sample.

For instance, you want a hearty kick with a great clatter of about 200Hz and a clean high-end. You find something with a decent clatter but not as high-end. Take advantage of it. It’s not the ideal sample, and it’s not precisely what you’re searching for, but it’ll get the job done.

From there, you may simply enhance the high-end using an equalizer or add additional distortions, or overlay it with another kick that has your desired high-end characteristic.

Rather than listening to the samples as they are, consider what they could become. If you follow this advice, you’ll discover that the samples you have are much more helpful than what you assume.

Where To Find Good Samples

Given the sheer number of low-quality samples in the marketplace, Jobandedu’s team has compiled a list of several excellent sample bundles for several music categories below:

House/Modern EDM:

  • Sounds of KSHMR Vol. 1
  • Wobble House 2 by CR2 Records
  • Future Nu-Disco
  • Melodic Techno V1 (Tech)
  • Toolroom: Mark Knight
  • Mike Vale – Tech House Edge

Trance:

  • Activa Trance Essentials
  • Sunny Lax Studio Essentials
  • Studio Essentials Progressive House
  • Progressive House Drums
  • Dave Parkinson Trance Essentials

Dubstep/Drum and Bass:

  • Leviathan
  • Excision Sample Pack
  • Virtual Riot Sample Pack
  • Reso – Drum & Bass Intelligence
  • Document One Technique Essential

Future Bass/Trap:

  • 813 Presents: Hypercolor Bass
  • Ekali Drum Kit
  • Savage Drums for Trap
  • Pusher: Future Bass
  • Krane Samples Vol. 4

How To Work With Drum Samples Effectively

Contrasting Percussions 

Think about the contrasts in your audio selection. Choose a few gentler samples to smooth out the rhythm and some samples with extremely powerful pulses that jump out of the loudspeakers as highlights.

Those latter samples are frequently sourced from bundles outside of your style — thus, if you’re a house composer, don’t be afraid to employ a powerful hi-hat from a hard trap collection!

Drum Tuning

Although drums are formally recognized as inharmonic devices, most of them have a foundational tone.

Many samplers permit relatively simple pitch modifications.
Drum tuning will help you get the best out of your samples. – iDrumTune

Many samplers allow for simple pitch modifications. However, be careful as loud beats might put your rhythm off. On the other hand, modifying the tune is an excellent approach to executing the call/response strategy described previously.

Keep in mind that changing the tune will most likely influence the runtime of the sample unless you already have the distortion options switched on. Lower-pitched ones slow down your beat in terms of frequency components and swing time.

Arrangement

An inexperienced producer’s composition tends to reveal its cards too soon. Before adding a new component, an intelligent composer holds it until the very last second.

Keep in mind that big synthesizers and loose filters aren’t the only ways to produce an intense climax in your last drop. Adding one more layer of percussion or a high-energy strike till the very end may transform a decent pattern into a spectacular one.

FAQs

Simplicity Or Complexity In Drum Programming? 

Many artists believe that intricacy is the most crucial factor in drum programming. They believe that their beats should contain at least 15 layers and that the more effects they use, the nicer the track. However, this isn’t true at all.

Overcomplexity or overproduction is a serious concern.

The critical point to remember here is that simplicity is usually the greatest. This means that if you’re composing a Deadmau5-style futuristic house song and are unsure whether you need to layer an additional percussive effect, you should avoid it.

Another reason to minimize complication is that the drums only account for a tiny portion of the composition, though necessary. You'll need to give space for your bassline, synthesizers, FX, and other audio.
Simplicity or complexity has always been a hot topic. – Jakob Busk Sørensen

Another reason to minimize complication is that the drums only account for a tiny portion of the composition, though necessary. You’ll need to give space for your bassline, synthesizers, FX, and other audio.

If you want to focus on your percussion early in the creative phase (which we encourage), you should plan for what you’ll add later and leave room for it.

Furthermore, the simpler your drums sound, the more power they carry. The hard-hitting bass music famous a couple of years ago, along with the far older trance, contained simple drum beats. What impressed the audience was how every drum beat pierced the mix.

The significant characteristics (kicks, snares, claps, toms) typically become overshadowed if your drum parts are excessively complicated.

MIDI And Audio: Which Method Should We Use To Create Drum Patterns?

We don’t need to take too much time on this topic since, after all, it isn’t too important. Basically, there are 2 techniques for designing drum patterns: sketching in MIDI chords or simply dropping in audio samples.

Both offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss shortly below.

MIDI

MIDI is ideal if you’re dealing with highly demanding, four-on-the-floor music, such as psytrance, dubstep, trap, or hardcore.

Pros:

  • It’s simple to switch up drum samples.
  • MIDI offers human-feeling speed programs.
  • It’s easy to use.
  • It displays all of the drums in one area.

Cons:

  • Individual drum sounds are difficult to arrange and edit.
  • MIDI is less visually appealing for mixing applications.
  • It’s wholly segregated from the setup — you must launch your DAW’s keyboard sheet or phase sequencer to view what you’ve programmed.
  • It is tricky to perform non-realtime audio editing on samples.
  • Loops are challenging to implement.

Audio

Focusing on other acoustic categories, or even adding manual swing? Audio may be more suitable for you.

Pros:

  • It is simple to visualize samples.
  • It’s effortless to adjust samples.
  • You can quickly develop numerous versions from available samples.
  • You’ll have a quicker workflow by dragging and dropping.
  • Manual time offsets for each beat are simpler (they could be performed in MIDI as well, but it’s difficult to understand what’s taking place)

Cons:

  • It is challenging to change samples once they have been installed.
  • Adjusting each track is considerably more time-consuming.
  • With several layers, the audio gets overloaded.
  • Little “hands-on” and emotional, and a lot of mechanical and accurate.

Experiment with both methods of operation. Maybe you love working with MIDI yet seek individual tracks to a drumming rack-style approach. Or perhaps you’re like me and utilize both for multiple purposes and effects.

Wrapping Up 

Although the academic sides of drum programming may be learned and researched, the other things just take a lot of time. 

You won’t understand how a beautiful groove feels when you haven’t done it, and you can’t know how samples perform next to each other just by listening to your favorite composers. So pay attention, put the papers into practice, be patient, and success will follow.

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