How to program drums efficiently

Unless you are making electronic music, try to stay away from programming drums by either inputting notes are flipping switches on and off, which is very simple to do in software like Reason. For R&B, Neo Soul or Hip Hop I advise you to turn off all quantize and snapping functions and bang your beat out real time as you record. Of course the output won’t be exactly on time however this is want you want to achieve, a humanized drum pattern.

 Afterwards, you then go into the editor, zoom in and slightly adjust parts that are too far out, but remember no quantizingFor the hats, the looser they are, the more swing the over all feeling is. Snares too, try bringing them forward a little so they are a little earlier than they should be. You will notice this on a lot of Neo Soul tracks, it gives it more swing and bounce to the over all track.

A quantized beat tends to have no life, and you will have a very hard time trying to spice things up with other instruments afterwards. The same should be applied with the bass line too. The bass should never be perfectly aligned with any of the drums. It should be played real time using a real bass or through the keys. The note positioning can be adjusted afterwards, but for bass lines it is better to have then slightly delayed i.e. later than the beat to get a good natural swing. Also moving the bass away from the kick drum help eliminate peaking issues and having to tweak the compression.

The quantize function does tidy up things it is better for the electronic music genre e.g. Dance, House, Garage, Techno.

Check out my little track below. I just tapped in the drums live then looped it.

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6 thoughts on “How to program drums efficiently”

    1. Cheers, a friend played the sax for me on this one who also lives in Japan. The snare if I can recall was sampled from some hip hop track. I just keep them in my own personal collection.

  1. Very good advice there, I have tended to quantized my drums first and then attempt to humanize them afterwards. But still sounds kind of stuff. I will try this method.

  2. Thanks for the tips. Since I am drummer anyway, I like actually playing and recording my own drums. I can still edit them later.

    1. Recording your own live drums, is a good way to go for that natural feel. You just have to watch out for the tempo though once you put it into the DAW. You may need to chop up sections in order to maintain the BPM.

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