Basic concepts every producer should know about drum programming
Let’s discuss a couple of basic concepts to help improve your drum programming…
Programming a very realistic percussion rhythm can be tricky at first, however, a lot can be learned from how an actual drummer plays.
Here’s a look at a couple of basic concepts that I think will greatly improve your drum programming.
First up, and probably the most important, is Accent.
Accenting a note is purposefully making it more prominent than other notes in a sequence – whether it’s through the traditional method of velocity or something more experimental like modulation.
Even the best drummers in the world can’t play exactly the same velocity every time, and emulating this electronically will certainly add a level of humanization.
Furthermore, professional drummers will purposefully choose which notes to perform louder than others and create a “sub-rhythm” between the main elements like kick and snare, and a hi-hat for example.
The next key concept is the idea of emulating the weaker-hand, for example, setting every second note in the sequence a lower velocity and play with the relationship of which notes are Accented, not Accented and which ones are being played by which hand.
Getting a little bit more technical…
The next key idea behind getting the grip on drum programming is understanding Syncopation. By definition, Syncopation is a temporary break of the regular Accent, typically on an off-beat.
This adds another level of groove to what may be a rather repetitive rhythm. In Electronic music, you can often hear this in a shuffle in the hi-hats every four beats or something like that.
Ghost Notes are either a purposeful lack of notes or very soft articulation of a note to create a contrast between a main rhythm. The most obvious example of these is those “in-between” Snare drum hits that aren’t on a one or five beat.
These are just basic concepts and there’s a lot more to drumming, however when you combine and apply these in various ways you can get some very interesting results for your electronic productions.
For a more detailed walkthrough check out the tutorial video here: