Jump to content

I suck at 4/4 rock drums.

Recommended Posts

Seriously... I don't get this at all... I can program some interesting orcestral rhythms, drumlines, dance beats... but for the life of me, I can't put together a simple 4/4 rock beat.

I've been trying to record some fairly straight forward rock songs with my new guitar, but no matter how hard I try, the beats I make are always annoyingly "meh"... even if they aren't supposed to draw attention to themselves. Heavy sections and softer sections alike... nothing sounds good.

Any ideas on how I can spice up my beats?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Firstly: Zircon's remixing tips part 1 gives a bunch of hints about drums, and even though it is largely focussed on electronica, it mostly applies to rock too.

Anyways, what I often do is start with the "basic" 4/4 beat. The one with a kick on every 1/4 and a snare on every 1/2 of a bar. So we start with this:

kick: X-------X-------

Boring. But then I just add and subtract as seems fit. For example, a really simple change would be to add a kick on an 1/8, like so:

kick: X-------X-X-----

If you need something with a bit of bounce try adding one of those off beat snare thingos, and take away the middle kick:

kick: X---------X-----

Once I needed something with some real energy, so I made this little thing:

kick: X-------X-----X-

I don't think any of these are particularly wonderful or great, but they get the job done, and thats what matters, right?

Oh, and if you wanted advice on cymbals... well I dunno. I usually make a bunch of cymabal patterns, a bunch of beat patterns and then mix it up so it isn't all boring.

Also, as stated above, many of the tricks from Dance and stuff are heaps useful, like ghost hits and the like.

Oh! Don't neglect processing. Rock drums have to sound like rock drums to sit in the mix right. Make sure you got your compressor, EQ, Reverb and maybe even distortion plugins out, because you are going to need them.

EDIT: Fixed up the code bits, because hypohons are clearer than little X's. Also, read what Suzumebachi said and realised that he is right, rarely is the kick drum hit at the same time as the snare. Also realised that if you want extra spice, try some cowbell. Because I need more cowbell [/reference]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

rock drums are pretty easy imo.

a basic usable pattern:

snare: ....X.......X...
kick: X.....X...X.....
open hat: X...X...X...X...

There are tons of different things you can do w/ the kicks and hats, though. the kick pattern kinda determines the general "feel" for the beat, imo. Play around and get used to the kinda grooves that the diff patterns make. Then you can write a drum groove that fits the music you're writing.

Every 4 bars it's cool to do a lil snare fill, you know? Makes things more interesting.

You just gotta listen to rock patterns, and you'll pick it up in no time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

a few quick tips:

1) very rarely in rock music are the kick drum and the snare hit at the same time.

2) syncopation is key.

3) hi-hats on every 8th gets boring quick. if you're gonna do them on every 8th, use velocity to accent the ones on every 4th.

some quick examples off the top of my head: (x should be softer than X)

basic stuff here
BD: X-----X-X-------
SN: ----X-------X---
CH: X-x-X-x-X---X-x-
OH: ----------x-----

generic punk beat
BD: X---XX--XX-X-X--
SN: --X---X---X---X-
CH: ----------------
OH: X-X-X-X-X-X-X-X-

more generic crap
BD: X---------Xx----
SN: ----X--x-x--X---
CH: X---X-x-X-x-X-x-
OH: --x-------------

when i get home i can give you some audio examples if you'd like, as well as going over fills etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My biggest tip would be to listen to the style of a couple of rock drummers and try and emulate their drum writing. Depending on the style of rock you're going for, drum writing can be either extremely simple (punk) or extremely complex (prog). Just try copying a couple of songs and then making your own creative changes to them. Its a good way to start.

And processing is key to the drum sound. The drums in "When The Levee Breaks", for example, are HUGE and instantly recognizable. Think about how you want them to sound - do you want them thick with reverb, or pretty dry. Do you want them overcompressed, like say triphop drums, or do you want them natural sounding?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was pretty proud of my drum sequencing on this one. The rest...... not so much.

Tiger Heli wip


I recorded this a while back, when I had first hooked my guitar up to the PC - the guitar tone is pretty bad, but I thought I did an okay job on the drums - I tried to mix it up as much as possible, keeping every verse fresh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe you could try something like this:

BD: X--x--X-Xx-----xX--x--X-Xx-X----
SN: ----X-------X-------X-------X---
CH: XoxoXoxoXoxoXoxoXoxwXoxoXoxoXo-o
OH: ------------------------------x-

where X are hard hits, x medium hits, o soft hits and w two hits in the time of one :)

Oh yeah, and what's really important besides pattern is the groove feel of the durms. If they are 100% quantized they sound boring. Try to select every 4 of them and move them back and forth (only a tiny bit) until it makes your head bang, repeat with others, too until you got the desired effect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best way to learn any style after actually listening to music in that style is to search for tabs online. Hit google up for "drum tabs" and some bands you like and program the tabs into your sequencer. The best drum line I ever wrote started out as a stolen James Brown drum beat, which I ripped off from a drum tab. :)

Edit: also, move all the drums back so that the snare hits on the first beat of each measure for an aggressive metal beat like so:

HH x-x-o-x-x-x-o-x-
SN x---x---x---x---
BD --x---x---x---x-

Or even better, with double kicks:

HH x-x-o-x-x-x-o-x-
SN x---x---x---x---
BD --xx--xx--xx--x-


Link to comment
Share on other sites

two things:

1) A book like the drummers cookbook is pretty useful, as it's just a cheap thing that has all sorts of basic rock beats in it. Great in a pinch.


2) Alot of the groove in a drum beat is in how you play the cymbols. Pay attention to where the open hat is going.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, i'm a precussionist first and foremost, so, i know what imatalkinbout. The first thing you should do (after reviewing source material, if it's for a ReMix) is decide the kind of feel you want. And by that, you gotta kinda gauge how much motion you're trying to evoke. If you want to dance, try to stay on the beat, or lat meet on the beat more than not. For a rock beat, there're so many styles that it's up to you which feel will feel RIGHT in your piece. I have a ton of midis, and the drum parts tend to be anywhere from mellow to pretty intense. You've just gotta suck it up and put down what you think would HELP, taher than putting a kit in because you HAVE to...If you can't pull anything off STILL, try another instrument, or even orchestral percussion to emulate a more progressive symphonic feel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.


×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...