How to compose The drum

Francis

Francis

Composer ⎜ Sound Engineer ⎜ Sound Designer

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I decided to answer through the blog a question about drum tracks, and more specifically how to record them or how to compose them with plug-ins as software instruments.

I have often heard that for many people, the most difficult thing to compose in a song is the drum part, and there are many tools to help you compose your drum part.

The drum
The drum

The easiest way is to use audio loops.

There are tons of them in GarageBand, Logic pro  and Ableton live and Sequel and Cubase from Steinberg.

Gold loops!

Obviously, the problem with audio loops is that they are composed on a certain number of measures and do not necessarily have an adequate structure with break, relaunch and variations that we could have on a real drum set.


Be aware that there are also tools to break them down ! Such as Regoover Pro from Accusonus or to re-cut them with ReCycle de Propellerhead or in your favorite Daw…

Another way to enjoy a drum track is to ask a drummer friend to record the drum part of your dreams.

Usually from a good feeling and your friend will want to help you.

First of all, ask him if the musical style you are looking for in the rhythm section is in the style of the drum parts he likes to compose.

I’m telling you this following an experience I had: a so-called pop-rock drum set, recorded on a metalhead’s drum set. Understand that you can end up with 3 disadvantages: 

  • the drummer will play the style he likes…
  • there won’t necessarily be the right number of microphones at the recording…
  • the sound of the drums will not be in accordance with your composition…

With or without drum that is the question?

A third solution is to use virtual instruments. Indeed, they have the advantage of reproducing drum sounds according to style. There are many of them, the best known being:

This will allow you to compose your drum section thanks to midi loops recorded with real drummers to compose your verses, choruses, breaks, bridges…

The result is quite amazing and now these tools have a premixing or even mixing section that are worthy of great recording studios. 

The disadvantage of these tools is reproduce an acoustic drum set with the feeling of a drummer offers.

So don’t ask him to compose a section of EDM, Trap or Hip Hop drums.

If you want this style you will have to switch to other types of more complete tools.

A very simple example:  Machine from Native Instruments.

Thanks to this combo control surface and software, you have all the power to create your own batteries on your own realizations.

Is it too difficult?

Finally, for all musicians who find the composition of a drum section a difficult exercise, there is a fourth tool that can simplify the task for them, as they have Logic Pro X.

Indeed this software has a track called Drummer.

The purpose of this track is to automatically create drum sections for you based on the structure of your song and it works beautifully well.

Each time you cut your region to create new sections automatically, Drummer creates the restart break before the next part. 

What is admirable is that everything you create with Drummer will be in audio directly usable to help you in your composition. To go further, we choose the style, the drummer, and the type of battery.

This Drummer track is:

  • convertible in Midi to edit notes and velocities
  • it can be re-interpreted by another software instrument such as EZDrummer for example.

However, whatever tool you choose, there is a flat.

I give you some important information that may help you in your future compositions whether it is pop rock, dance, hip-hop or electro, from the moment you define the key of your song (example in C minor).

t is important that the elements (bass drum, snare drum, cymbal, toms, charleston…) of your drum set are in tune.

I have demonstrated this time and again in training sessions, and it will make it easier for you to compose.

To the tuning!!!!!

I mention this subject today in this blog, because I receive mixing orders to do and most of the time I find that the batteries are not tuned.

I regularly solve friction problems (example between the bass drum and the bass drum) simply by tuning the bass drum. Some will tell me “I knew it”, others will tell me “I already do it”…

All the tools mentioned above have a note tuning potentiometer, think about it!

If you don’t know how to do it, the easiest way is to ask ! Don’t hesitate to ask me if you have trouble composing your drum track. I am a drummer by training and composing rhythms is really a passion for me, in any style.

Believe me if I tell you that the drum tracks I compose are always in tune with your project. That’s also being a drummer, I would even say that’s also being a Beatmaker…

Photo by Josh Sorenson from Pexels