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Learning Drum Composition

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Anyone have tutorials on (midi) drum composition? It's really hard for me to emulate drums that I hear in songs. I put down a kick every few measures, separated by a snare, with a bunch of hi-hats. It always ends up sounding lifeless and dull. Is it a processing issue?

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There's a lot that goes into making drums sound real. The samples you use, how you sequence them, how you mix them, what effects you use... Hard to say what you're doing wrong without an example.

It would also help to know whether you're trying to make them sound real and recorded or just trying to make a cool beat. You'd use somewhat different techniques for those.

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i think he say he need to figured out about the compotition

and for the composition. i think the best is too see in other midi file of course,

there is plenty of drum line examples,

a exemple of beat

begin by a cymbal + 7 hit hat

do the same below but 8 kick in the same place

all the 2 kick place a snare by replacing the kick and you got a beat,

took 2 mesure to do this in 160 tempo... check on other midi it's the better way to learn this,

after you will certainly want to mix them, but it's another story lol

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The drum programming will depend of the genre of the song you're mixing : the drum work won't be the same for a rock or a metal song for instance.

If you use FL Studio, you can learn some drums loops with the FPC Generator.

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Yes, this is also true, when on metal, kick is often even blasted, rock must be modered and more slow ^^.

it's sure it's depend of what you want to compose...

well like chernabogue say or some midi files as exemple you want do metal take metal track to see how it's like, you want a rock check in the rock midi file

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Rozovian covered the many aspects that go into this, and unfortunately, having any one of those be off can ruin drums. The style you're aiming for will also drastically change what you need to do. It'd be best if you can post an example of what you're roughly going for, and what you've made.

One of the best ways to learn this stuff is looking at demos that come with your DAW and seeing how the drums are put together.

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Another tip : you can find some MIDI files of tracks on the web (vgmusic.com, etc...) and take a look at the drums. Or like Palpable said, watch the demos that come with your DAW.

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Play drums on Expert on Rock Band. No, seriously, this helped me figure out how so many songs had their drums composed, which let me sequence some of those rhythms as starting points for my own.

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If you're going for realistic acoustic drums, then I would recommend dropping a little money and picking up something like EZ Drummer, Addictive Drums, Groove Bias, or any other number of acoustic kits that contain round-robins (multiple samples for the same hit). This keeps hits from sounding exactly the same, and thus less mechanical and more realistic. It also eliminates the "machine gun effect" when you're sequencing things like rolls and buildups. Plus, most of these types of plugins are already pre-mixed by industry masters and further still, you usually have a variety of presets to choose from on top of that. Like if you want a roomy-sounding kit or a large, wide-open sounding kit, etc etc etc.

EZ Drummer is, well, the easiest, but Addictive Drums isn't too bad either and has more kit presets to choose from and is much more tweakable. As far as the MIDI goes, many drumkit plugins also have a large library of MIDI files for you to drag-and-drop into your project. And they've usually been recorded by professional drummers, so the timing is always excellent, but still humanized and organic. And the MIDI files themselves are often good templates for you to use to change stuff around and customize them into something a little more "you". You'll also start to notice things in those MIDI files vs the ones in something like the Fruity FPC, where the velocities and timing of each note are varied, just as they would be if you were playing them live.

Building your own acoustic kit out of samples is a tremendous pain and requires a lot of effort on all sides and even then, typically still sounds pretty mechanical and fakey in the end.

As already stated though, if you're doing electronic music, it probably doesn't matter too much. Just learn to slap some EQ, compression, and whatever else on each sound and have fun with it.

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Addictive Drums is great, it's what I use for all of my drums. This is an example if you'd like to hear. What kind of genre are you generally aiming for?

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My tip on learning how to write drum parts:

Pick your favorite drummer... sequence out the entire drum track to some of his songs. You'll learn the nuances of whoever your influences are this way.

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Thanks for the tips guys. The style I'm going for is drum&bass, electronic, IDM. I know that's different from normal composition, and I know a lot of the flavor lies in the processing, but I feel like I should first understand compositional basics.

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Load up some of the MIDI drum loops in your program or check out the default patterns for the drum machine when you choose a "Drum and Bass" style preset.

Those basics should get you started with the general "groove" of some of the genres.

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My tip on learning how to write drum parts:

Pick your favorite drummer... sequence out the entire drum track to some of his songs. You'll learn the nuances of whoever your influences are this way.

Definitely do this. Try and imitate your favorite drums from any song. I did this a lot with Dream Theater songs at first to try and see how the parts fit together and flow. Here's an example of a track I made entirely as a drum programming exercise:

http://fishy.escariot.net/public/Dance.mp3

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Heh, D&B means that probably some of the stuff mentioned here isn't that important. The sequencing tends to be straightforward, it's more the samples, production, and effects that'll make it work. For D&B, I tend to throw some loop in the background and layer some snares and kicks (usually something boomy with something with a nice high-end sound) so that they hit hard. It's not too difficult to sequence everything either, if you go that route. And like Arcana said, it should be pretty easy to find a demo where you can look into the nuts and bolts.

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