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How do you go about drum programming?


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There seems to be a few ways to go about drum programming and I'm trying to find the most efficient as of late I have do not have a real drummer at hand. (This question refers to the process before Drummer has been introduced in Logic X, which seems like a new great starting point for a beat)

 

When I program, I start in Logic's piano roll and come up with a "main beat." From there, I'll create variations and fills but this takes me a long time. I've always wondered how other people go about it.

 

Do you use the piano roll? external instruments(mpc/mashine/other pads)?

 

If you have a moment, tell me your process. I'll also take any website/tutorials you may have used. Thanks!

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I start in Logic's piano roll and come up with a "main beat." From there, I'll create variations and fills but this takes me a long time.

I pretty much have the same process. Come up with the main beat, loop it, remove or add here and there, build the song, and as the song is being built (adding guitars, vocals, keys...) I feel the need for a fill here or there, an open hat right there, a syncopated snare right before the last chorus, a crash right at the beginning of the outro, etc.... and keep adding (or removing) from the drum tracks.

 

While kicks and snares are usually pretty consistent in sound and volume throughout a track, I like to play a lot with the timing, velocity, loudness and color of the hi-hat, even its length and/or opening. For example I remember producing a track where the length of the sound of the hi-hat was different pretty much for every single hit of the hi-hat. That created a cool effect: "ts, ts, ts, ts-tssssss, ts, ts, ts-tsss...."

 

I sometimes use my mouse to program, and sometimes use the pads on my Axiom Pro to record live performance.

 

In the end it doesn't matter so much what techniques or work flow you use to program your drums. What matters the most is that you listen to drum programming you like (or better if that suits your genres: listen to real drummers playing the genre you're trying to emulate) and start really analyzing everything you hear: timing, tone, dynamic, consistency, flamming, note length, reverb, etc etc... and later try to reproduce that in your programming. The more you do that, the more you'll hear when you listen to drums. And the more you hear when you listen to drums, the more precise you can become in your drum programming. It's a back and forth kinda deal: listen - do - listen more - do more - etc...

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Hey David, Thank you for your reply! From your post, it sounds like your process is very similar to mine. I agree with your advice about listening to drummers, that is a very helpful tip. I was hoping that there was a hidden "secret" work flow that'd be quicker and easier but I guess you get more efficient with practice.

 

I don't have pads so I always work by mouse, though I was considering a small keyboard with pads like the akai 49/maudio equivalent / or a dedicated mashine.

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With me it isn't so much about efficiency. I feel like I have had a good session if I was satisfied artistically, or I was productive, or I learned something. Because I know that three years from now I will look back on a lot of growth, if I simply trust the work now.

 

I trust rhythm.

I can achieve it by performing (a form of programming) or by programming (a form of performance). ....... gee, I really hope I start a flame war with that. :)

Drummers can do stuff that I can't with my computer. I can do stuff that a drummer can't do.

They invested thousands of dollars in skins, cymbals, and microphones. I got more monitors, and computer stuff.

We both need to practice. We both need to understand how to think and express in rhythmic phrases,

Counting, tapping the foot, and clapping, still work.

We will both produce something artistic. Not better, not worse, just different.

 

A basic beat provides an easy foundation to work up a lot of music to. It is easy to place in the mix to help intuit a nice balance. With the computer, you can always come back a year from now when your chops are more developed. I love that option.

If you have midi files, you can edit with abandon.

 

Maybe it's the bare feet, but I think it is really that she plays along, got herself in the game, with world class artists.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Programming drums had become my least favourite part of composing, though that is changing.

 

What I've always done is to 'think like a drummer.' Now that could be an oxymoron, but we won't go there.

 

I started with a Yamaha RX-11 (ptui!), then an RX-5 (not too bad!) and then to a Roland R-5 (which gathers dust as I write). Used the drums from a Roland JV-1010 within Cubasis for a bit, until I bought Logic Express 7 and Addictive drums. Now, if there is one thing that I've come to hate is entering notes in a piano roll of one kind or another, so it was a total revelation when I saw Steve H. build a mapped instrument/hypermap in Logic. THAT is, for me, the best way to do the actual programming. Unfortunately, The hypereditor prior to Logic X was very hard on my eyes, and I found that fatiguing and a put-off. LPX I find easier to read, the neon colours and the subtle shade of the drum track in whatever lane is active makes it a lot easier, and I am getting back into programming without the tired eyes.

 

I usually start with a 2 measure region, build the basic beat around the kick, snare, and hi-hat, with variations in amplitude for each hit. Then, I'll copy the basic pattern, and add whatever variations/fills, etc, to my taste, and I'm on my way.

 

Sometimes, when I want a complex beat, I'll beat it out with my hands first, and then get what I want through trial and error.

 

That pretty much sums it up.

 

Cheers,

 

Glenn

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Thank you for your insightful reply Glen. Do you have any links, videos or tutorials on using the hyper editor for drums? Or maybe a glimpse into your workflow as I'm not too fond of the old piano roll myself.. I am very intrigued. I'm not too familiar with hyper editor though I have used the auto mapping feature using a superior drum kit where it automatically populated the fields from the sd kit and adjusted velocity for a roll.
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Hi,

 

I learned how to do it from a MPV titled Logic Tips n' Tricks. I don't recall the details of how to set it up at the moment, but it seems you are already half-way there. I'll try to review the tutorials tomorrow, and get back to you. If you want an idea of how it looks, though, I have a template up for addictive drums, here:

 

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=43029&p=514175&hilit=Addictive+Drums#p514175

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Hi,

 

I learned how to do it from a MPV titled Logic Tips n' Tricks. I don't recall the details of how to set it up at the moment, but it seems you are already half-way there. I'll try to review the tutorials tomorrow, and get back to you. If you want an idea of how it looks, though, I have a template up for addictive drums, here:

 

viewtopic.php?f=9&t=43029&p=514175&hilit=Addictive+Drums#p514175

 

Thank you, I'm going to take a look tonight when I'm on logic.

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Basically, this is how it's done; I may have forgotten something, but I think I have the basics here. I can't take credit for how to do this. As I mentioned, I learned it from Steve Horlick's Logic TnT 1 from Macprovideo.

 

Create a software instrument, load Superior Drummer.

 

Go to the Environment, create a new layer, name it what you want, and copy the Superior Drum instrument from the MIxer layer to it.

 

From the 'New' dropdown menu, select 'mapped instrument.' Name it. Cable the mapped instrument object to the Superior Drummer channel strip.

 

Go back to the Arrange page (Tracks page), load another instrument under Superior Drummer, and then reassign it to 'mapped instrument, or whatever you've named it. Create a region on this track, say 4 bars long.

 

Now, go back to the Environment, open the mapped instrument, and change the names of the keys to correspond to the keymap of Superior drummer.

 

Open the region on the mapped instrument in the piano roll, and enter, say, a 16th note for each and every key of the keymap. Don't stack the notes on top of each other, but rather enter them serially, so that they look like a staircase. Make sure each event is selected.

 

Now, go to the Step Editor page, create a new lane set. Select 'auto-define,' and then 'new lane set for current events.'

 

Let me know if this works for you. You should see the Superior Drummer step editor appear before your eyes with the events from the region scrolling down sequentially. At this point, you can delete the region in the arrange page. To test the new editor out, create a new region in your Superior Drummer track, go back to the lane set, and see if the notes that you enter sound. You can adjust the resolution of every lane as you wish. If I want a blues shuffle type template, I choose multiples of 12 16th notes per bar.

 

You can modify to taste. For things like the hihat, which may have more than one articulation, you can join them via a little circle on the left of the lane, so that only one articulation will play at a time.

 

Cheers, and good luck!

 

Glenn

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I just had to chime in and say that I think the drummer in Logic X is absolutely fabulous, and it has (so far) solved all my drum programming pains.....I just love it.....once you get your head around it, (which is actually pretty easy, it so intuitive) you see how there's a flow.....seriously, whoever thought it up is a genius!

I have BFD2 and EZ drummer, and I just don't ever see needing them again. The Logic drummer makes me not care about velocities, or quantizing, of fills, or loops, or anything......just drag the circle, and split where you want fills and crank the fill button. I can control the volumes, add percussion....I love it......AND I am amazed at how it give me exactly what I want!!!!! It's like there's a drummer in there??????

 

Most importantly, I can get a grooving drum track in fractions of the time.

 

Anyway, perhaps it's b/c I just finished my third song with it, and it's been a fun night, but I just had to chime in.......I'd never spent less time on drums and enjoyed the results so much

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Basically, this is how it's done; I may have forgotten something, but I think I have the basics here. I can't take credit for how to do this. As I mentioned, I learned it from Steve Horlick's Logic TnT 1 from Macprovideo.

 

Create a software instrument, load Superior Drummer.

 

Go to the Environment, create a new layer, name it what you want, and copy the Superior Drum instrument from the MIxer layer to it.

 

From the 'New' dropdown menu, select 'mapped instrument.' Name it. Cable the mapped instrument object to the Superior Drummer channel strip.

 

Go back to the Arrange page (Tracks page), load another instrument under Superior Drummer, and then reassign it to 'mapped instrument, or whatever you've named it. Create a region on this track, say 4 bars long.

 

Now, go back to the Environment, open the mapped instrument, and change the names of the keys to correspond to the keymap of Superior drummer.

 

Open the region on the mapped instrument in the piano roll, and enter, say, a 16th note for each and every key of the keymap. Don't stack the notes on top of each other, but rather enter them serially, so that they look like a staircase. Make sure each event is selected.

 

Now, go to the Step Editor page, create a new lane set. Select 'auto-define,' and then 'new lane set for current events.'

 

Let me know if this works for you. You should see the Superior Drummer step editor appear before your eyes with the events from the region scrolling down sequentially. At this point, you can delete the region in the arrange page. To test the new editor out, create a new region in your Superior Drummer track, go back to the lane set, and see if the notes that you enter sound. You can adjust the resolution of every lane as you wish. If I want a blues shuffle type template, I choose multiples of 12 16th notes per bar.

 

You can modify to taste. For things like the hihat, which may have more than one articulation, you can join them via a little circle on the left of the lane, so that only one articulation will play at a time.

 

Cheers, and good luck!

 

Glenn

 

Thank you for your time and detailed response Glenn! It is very much appreciated. I plan on giving it a go as soon as I get a free minute away from my current project. I'm excited to try!

 

I just had to chime in and say that I think the drummer in Logic X is absolutely fabulous, and it has (so far) solved all my drum programming pains.....I just love it.....once you get your head around it, (which is actually pretty easy, it so intuitive) you see how there's a flow.....seriously, whoever thought it up is a genius!

I have BFD2 and EZ drummer, and I just don't ever see needing them again. The Logic drummer makes me not care about velocities, or quantizing, of fills, or loops, or anything......just drag the circle, and split where you want fills and crank the fill button. I can control the volumes, add percussion....I love it......AND I am amazed at how it give me exactly what I want!!!!! It's like there's a drummer in there??????

 

Most importantly, I can get a grooving drum track in fractions of the time.

 

Anyway, perhaps it's b/c I just finished my third song with it, and it's been a fun night, but I just had to chime in.......I'd never spent less time on drums and enjoyed the results so much

 

I like the new Drummer feature in Logic X too (it is rather great) but I also like making drum patters on my own/experimenting with new concepts.

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  • 1 month later...
I just had to chime in and say that I think the drummer in Logic X is absolutely fabulous, and it has (so far) solved all my drum programming pains.....I just love it.....once you get your head around it, (which is actually pretty easy, it so intuitive) you see how there's a flow.....seriously, whoever thought it up is a genius! I have BFD2 and EZ drummer, and I just don't ever see needing them again. The Logic drummer makes me not care about velocities, or quantizing, of fills, or loops, or anything......just drag the circle, and split where you want fills and crank the fill button. I can control the volumes, add percussion....I love it......AND I am amazed at how it give me exactly what I want!!!!! It's like there's a drummer in there?????? Most importantly, I can get a grooving drum track in fractions of the time. Anyway, perhaps it's b/c I just finished my third song with it, and it's been a fun night, but I just had to chime in.......I'd never spent less time on drums and enjoyed the results so much

 

Drummer is a beautiful thing, isn't it? :D

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For me Drums are my thing !! I can program and it sounds like I played it :D

I have a roland V drums and used a sampler for sounds . All my friends will send me a mp3

of a song there working on with the tempo I will do the Drum tracks and send them a midi track

if they want there own sampler for drum sounds or I will send them all wav - aiff files dry

for each drum sound :lol:

anyone that I did tracks for are telling me to start a website and do it for money..

I just don't have the time :roll:

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  • 6 months later...
Learning the basics of playing a drum kit has helped me tremendously. I still suck as a drummer but the knowledge has allowed me to understand better what I'm hearing when listening to drum parts from other songs and have a better idea (structurally) of what I want my drums to sound like.
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  • 3 weeks later...

If you use Drummer, are you stuck with Logic kits? More specifically, is there any easy way to use Drummer with EZ kits? Or do you have to do tedious drum mapping? Drummer I assume uses general MIDI.

 

And a related question: If you have a groove that you like, say it is general MIDI. Can you put it in Drummer and then spice it up with fills or whatever there? I know you can go from Drummer to MIDI, but can you go in the other direction?

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You can add any kit you want in the drummer track. Just replace the existing kit with whatever you want. (I think it's will work with anything but I've only tried it with es24 drums and ultrabeat).

 

However, it seemed like the dynamics got all screwed up (lost ghost notes/flam/etc.) and sounded terrible. Sounded pretty much the same as exporting midi from a drummer region (which lacks all the flam/ghost notes etc.) to a region on another track. I think it may just be a matter of tweaking with settings to get it right but I haven't played around with it yet. It could also be that drummer only communicates these elements with the stock drums...

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And a related question: If you have a groove that you like, say it is general MIDI. Can you put it in Drummer and then spice it up with fills or whatever there? I know you can go from Drummer to MIDI, but can you go in the other direction?

Not sure if there's a better way but what I do is use the follow option in drummer to make a drummer region that 'follows' the track with the groove I've made.

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I experimented a bit. If you take a general MIDI drum track from a third party, you CAN convert it to a Drummer track, but it immediately changes it to a somewhat different groove. I expected such behavoir with non general MIDI drum tracks (ie Toontracks or Addictive Drums), but not with general MIDI. I thought that was rather odd. So, it seems Drummer does not use general midi?? Anybody know?
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If you take a general MIDI drum track from a third party, you CAN convert it to a Drummer track, but it immediately changes it to a somewhat different groove.

It can be a completely different groove, so really, convert is a misnomer here. You can turn your MIDI region into a Drummer region, only it will be completely different (I tried once with a region that only contained handclaps and got a full kick/snare/hi-hat/crash drum pattern).

 

So, it seems Drummer does not use general midi?? Anybody know?

Drummer regions use their own kind of programming which is based on MIDI but has its own features, some sort of "enhanced MIDI" if you'd like.

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  • 2 weeks later...

OK, I've been in the thick of figuring out my flow chart cum checklist for drum programming for the last two months or so and I want to get clear on a few things.

 

1) What I take away from David's last comment is that there is no real way to use Drummer with something like EZdrummer or Steven Slate drums. Is that correct?

 

2) After reading around, it seems like the main problem with using the hyper editor is that you cannot easily save your set up. It seems that you have to recreate everything for each project. Or at least you have to set it up and then save it and use it as a template for all future projects. Is that correct.

 

3) Related to 2, I got discouraged with the hyper editor after I set things up as per Glenn's instructions, then shut the hyper editor window, but didn't seem to be able to get back to where I was. Am I imagining that, or is there some sort of problem with shutting and opening the hyper editor window mid project? So for example, are your Lane names saved?

 

Disclaimer: I'm trying to get as much of my work flow into Logic as possible. So, for example, I am trying to move from Finale to the Score editor in Logic. That said, after two months of working on drum programming, I think ALL of the programs have serious flaws, including Logic. Really, you know those pictures where the photographer puts the camera so that the person's shoe takes up half the picture? That's how all the drum programs seem to me. Feature A is great, while B and C are almost invisible. And so I am probably moving towards a hybrid workflow that makes use of up to five different programs.

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  • 4 months later...
OK, I've been in the thick of figuring out my flow chart cum checklist for drum programming for the last two months or so and I want to get clear on a few things.

 

1) What I take away from David's last comment is that there is no real way to use Drummer with something like EZdrummer or Steven Slate drums. Is that correct? ..

 

Do this little test.

1. Open an empty project and add 3 Arrangement Track "markers". Intro / Verse / Chorus

2. Click the + Plus symbol and select DRUMMER

3. Drummer will now populate a new track to follow the Arrangement above. Tweak to your liking.

4. Create a new Midi Track and select your Drum AU Software Instrument (in my case this is Addictive Drums)

5. Make sure the Kit you choose is GM.

*6. Highlight the DRUMMER Track (Yellow Regions) then Click and Hold OPTION and Drag a copy to the new Midi AU Drum Track.

7. Mute the DRUMMER Track.

(*You could Control Click those (Yellow) Regions and select Convert to Midi Region.)

 

You now have a Drummer performance playing Drums from an Audio Unit Plug-in. In some cases you may have to choose the Piano Roll to select different Notes for a Kit piece you want example: Crash 1 vs Crash 2. Is this what you are wanting to do?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I play everything in by hand on a keyboard. Then i tighten up in the grid where required. I try to avoid quantizing anything.

 

Everything doesn't have to be played at the same time, of course

 

I'm really good at it, but the editing of velocities and timing to get the 'finished track' is what really takes hours. To the extent that I'm leaning towards recording more and more real drums simply to avoid this hassle. I can play some basic stuff and have access to a few amazing drummers. Obviously though some 'huge' sounding stuff can't be done at mine, and some of the drum libraries I use sound so good that i can't replicate the fancy studio without going there and tracking it myself!

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  • 1 month later...

- pianoroll together with EXS24

 

- hypereditor together with EXS24, this reflects the one shot approach you would expect for drum hits, also you immediately see the velo of each hit

 

- put single drum samples on audio tracks, each type its own audio track, a lot of pros in EDM work this way

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I like using the Step Editor with the GM Drum Kit lanes

 

I set the main tool to the pencil and the secondary tool to the eraser

This lets me easily draw in drum parts and have quick control over velocities

 

Only thing to keep in mind is that different drum libraries might map sounds differently. For instance, I use NI's Studio Drummer and I have to know that where it says "handclap" (usually note Eb1), on Studio Drummer is a harder snare sound

 

As long as you know your drum library well this is a really quick and efficient way to write convincing drum parts

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  • 2 weeks later...

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