Tutorials Learn The Technique Of Drum Construction


Beat Scientist
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The construction of drums could either be a simple or complex process. You obviously have your own way of doing things, but with the tips provided in this article, you may walk away with learning a few new tricks.


The first thing that should be done is to come up with an idea for your drums. A few things to ask yourself:
  • What kind of drums do I want to make?
  • What sort of mood am I in today?
  • Do I want to use that sample I heard recently?
You could sit down and just start making music and see what comes out, but having an idea and concept of what you want to accomplish will help you greatly. If you're in a good mood, chances are you would be more comfortable making moderate drums, or if you're in a bad mood, you might want to make something evil. If you want to make an evil drum loop even though you're in a GOOD mood then you have problems! (*cough*Fade*cough). Having recently heard a sample that you want to use or a melody you can't get out of your head can be another way of realizing your drum loop.


Everyone's different, and I prefer to always start my beat with drums because it's the laying foundation of hip hop music. You can start off with taking an actual drum loop from a break record and use that as inspiration, sort of like a guide of how you want your drum pattern to be. The swing, tempo, even the entire spectrum of the drums are something to listen for when finding a drum loop. For example, you could use this as a guide:

Once you have inspiration from a drum loop, it's time to find your own drum sounds! I usually dig through various breakbeat records and sample 2 or 3 drum sounds each for the kick, snare, and hat. This way I have a variety of drum sounds at my disposal and I can layer them and come up with my own sound. Here's what I came up with, my variation of the sample drum loop: My Drum Loop

My tempo is at 93 bpm, with a 4/4 time signature, and of course the shuffle was on, which gives the drums a nice swing. In this example, I have 3 kicks, 3 hats, and 4 snares. Yes, that's a bit too much but it's the way I layered them that I felt I needed more than just 1 or 2 samples.


With my first kick, I muffled the sound by lowering the "tone" knob in Redrum, to give it more of a thump. My 2nd and 3rd kicks didn't need much processing, as they sounded good from where I sampled them. The 2nd kick has more of a punch and the 3rd has a slight thump to it.


I find it hard to get a good sounding hat, so I usually grab 2 or 3 of them and see if I can make a smooth-layered sound instead of the typical hiss-filled samples. My first hat is a quick-hit, that comes in on the 14th and 15th step, with the volume lowered so that it gives it a background feel to the hats. The 2nd and 3rd hats both come in at every other step, but one has a low-pass EQ and the other a hi-pass EQ. All three combined make for a nicely filled hat section.


Ah yes, the snares. I'm using 4 snares on this drum loop but really there's not much to what I've done with them. All I did was just use 4 different sounding snares and tried to make them mesh together by lowering or increasing the volume of each one. I made sure that I had a snare sound that will fill out each part of the audio spectrum so that I can have a completely full snare sound. Something thin, quiet, and something fat and loud.


The real trick is with the "length" knob in Redrum, which is one of the most important parts of every drum sample. Each time you sample something and add it to Redrum, it will have some sort of "noise" in it such as hiss, a click/pop, or even the tail end of a reverb effect. To get rid of these sounds, you could either process your sound separately in a program like Audition, but for a quick fix you can just turn down the "length" knob, which will cut off anything trailing after your drum hit, depending on how much you trim off. It can also make the sound seem "punchier", when combined with a thicker sound will give you a nice result.


For this loop I kept it simple by having my kicks on steps 1, 3, 8, 9, 11, the hats on every other step plus one of the hats on 14 and 15, and my snares are all on 5 and 13. I always try to make a loop that has an exciting vibe to it, with a decent amount of swing to give it that human feel.


You can use some of these settings and examples as a starting point to making your own drum loops with Redrum, or whatever other software program you use. Even with hardware, for example, the Akai MPC, you can use these examples. If you make your own patterns similar to mine, I'd like to hear it! Go ahead and post a link to your drum loop in the Comments section below.
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