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Programming Realistic Drum Parts | Media

Tips & Techniques By Rory Dow
Published September 2010

These audio files accompany Rory Dow's SOS September 2010 workshop about programming natural sounding drum parts using modern drum-library software.

The following audio files illustrate some of the techniques I described in this month's article about programming realistic drums:

Drum Programming | September 2010 issue by Sound On Sound

Download all Hi-Res WAVs | 30 MB


Here, we have a simple one-bar loop, which I chose because it was simple yet had a bit of character. It's a 100bpm swing/bebop style loop pulled from the BFD2 pattern library. At present, it is only one bar long. The one-bar loop is repeated four times for the purpose of study: quite boring so far, isn't it?


The base one-bar loop is duplicated, and the second duplication is edited to give a new two-bar loop. I've added some toms and an open hi‑hat in the second bar. Again this loop is repeated four times in the audio file, just for the purposes of study.


The two-bar loop now becomes a four-bar loop. During the fourth bar, I've simply changed the toms pattern a little, and added a ghost snare hit. This is looped twice.


Doubling up again. the four-bar loop becomes an eight-bar loop. The second four bars include changes to the hi‑hat, some snare rolls and some minor edits to the tom fill at the end.


Next, I've added some live percussion to the whole eight bars (a cheap tambourine put through some mild compression). I've also added some cymbal hits (crash and splash) and edited the fill in the eighth bar, in order to help the transition into whatever might come next. Finally, I added back some of the room microphones in BFD2 and put some mild compression over the whole drum loop, in order to gel the new shaker percussion and the BFD2 loop together. The whole thing is looped twice.

So, from a simple one-bar loop, I've created an eight-bar song section, which doesn't feel overly looped or robotic. The whole process took no longer than 20 minutes. When extending this out to create an entire track, two hours would be a reasonable amount of time to spend, though your own mileage may vary, of course.