Help me suck less at drums in Reason

This forum is for discussing Reason. Questions, answers, ideas, and opinions... all apply.
User avatar
dvdrtldg
Posts: 2008
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 28 Jun 2022

I've never had much success at programming drums. I'm musically literate but have never been a drummer, so I don't have a lot of insight into how to make things sound really good. If I'm making a "straight" piece of music, here's my workflow:

* Fire up Dr Octo Rex, pick a drum loop to get started with

* Add bass line, some melodic elements, get some structure happening

* Launch Kong or Redrum, start trying to come up with a decent pattern using Drum Sequencer and/or BeatMap, including fills

* Once I have things more or less how I want them, send drum notes to track

* Get groove from the drum loop in Dr Octo Rex, apply to drum MIDI track

* Be disappointed at how shitty and non-cohesive everything sounds

.... any tips? Maybe starting with a loop isn't a great idea? I dunno. Help!

User avatar
BRIGGS
Posts: 1971
Joined: 25 Sep 2015
Location: Orange County California

Post 28 Jun 2022

Study drumming and drummers....have drummer friends to help you. Works for me. : )

My drum programming is usually the first thing most people compliment me on. Funny thing is, my drums are nothing fancy, they just support the songs well.
r11s

User avatar
Jagwah
Posts: 2348
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

Post 28 Jun 2022

For a long time I always started with drums as well. I have since learnt the benefits of not starting with drums. A Drum loop or even just a straight kick is very structured so when I write with that in the background I find I get very different results compared to not doing it.

The best example would be having a good bass patch then coming up with a bass line on my MIDI keyboard. No metronome no Tempo set no drums at all just totally freeform playing, the results are a world away from that structured playing and I feel I get far more creative results.

The same goes for writing melodies. If I have something structured behind them I find it much more difficult to get a natural Groove happening. It's more like I try to change notes on the beats. So if I need to I will take the drums out temporarily and write a melody with just the baseline or a chord progression, I find it makes quite a difference.

Then once I have the parts I like I can write the drums around it. Drums are much more of an afterthought for me these days, I used to think they were very important in getting a big sounding track but I see it differently now.

Przemyslaw
Posts: 64
Joined: 05 Jan 2018

Post 28 Jun 2022

Is it any related with track "dead on a drum line" ? :)
I think groove from loop is great and I use that function too with great results. But I play drums manually on keybed. It all depends on style but playing manually can open ideas and creativity, human feelling, and dynamics. Another story is processing, sound structure the drums themselves and operate with bass line. Right compression and mix can make the drums come alive.

User avatar
challism
Moderator
Posts: 4025
Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Location: Fanboy Shill

Post 29 Jun 2022

Done!
boom.JPG
Closing thread now. ;)
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Players are to MIDI what synthesizers are to waveforms.

ReasonTalk Rules and Guidelines

User avatar
Aosta
Posts: 738
Joined: 26 Jun 2017

Post 29 Jun 2022

challism wrote:
29 Jun 2022
Done!

Exactly what I was going to suggest! :thumbup:
Tend the flame

User avatar
Overtherainbow
Posts: 78
Joined: 26 Jun 2022

Post 29 Jun 2022

Maybe it will be useful for you to check out Samuel Prather's series on programming Jazz drums in Reason:



there's also a Reason video on combining Players for writing drums quickly with wide strokes:



Other useful ones for me were the BusyWorksBeats workshop videos:


TritoneAddiction
Posts: 3613
Joined: 29 Aug 2015
Location: Sweden

Post 29 Jun 2022

Maybe it's not possible, but if you have the opportunity to learn to play real drums, even if it is on a very very basic level it should do A LOT to improve the way you write drum parts. It will help you to think like a drummer, even if you don't get technically competent.

Also for me besides learning some basic drum playing, listening to a lot of music where drums are celebrated and is a huge part of the music and song writing itself. In these two examples the drums are basically 50-60% of the music. It's music where the drums aren't just an afterthought or stay in the background. Listening to drum heavy music will naturally turn your focus to the drums imo. On the surface it may seem like a band like Slipknot is just playing fast, but Joey Jordison really knew how to WRITE drum parts that fit the music. So whether that's your style or not there's a lot to be learned from them I think. Their self titles album is drum heaven.


User avatar
selig
RE Developer
Posts: 10520
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 29 Jun 2022

As a drummer, I learned a LOT by trying to play along with records I liked. How should this help if you are not trying to be a ‘drummer’? It helps because you learn esoteric things like how long between fills, when to fill, how much to fill, when to change the beat and how/how much to change, etc. You are not learning to ‘drum’ per se, you are learning about ‘drumming’ (or you could say you’re learning to THINK like a drummer). You don’t have to be good at it (quantize or pattern building is your friend!), the main point is to reverse engineer the drum tracks/songs you love and to gradually ‘absorb’ the basic structures and their variations util they become second nature
Eventually you’ll gather up a bag of ‘tricks’ that can even become automatic to you! Happy to give examples if you’re interested…
Selig Audio, LLC

User avatar
challism
Moderator
Posts: 4025
Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Location: Fanboy Shill

Post 29 Jun 2022

Overtherainbow wrote:
29 Jun 2022
Maybe it will be useful for you to check out Samuel Prather's series on programming Jazz drums in Reason:
Thank you for posting those. I was thinking of those very youtube videos, but hadn't yet taken the time to find them. That guy is great! Love his channel.
Players are to MIDI what synthesizers are to waveforms.

ReasonTalk Rules and Guidelines

jlgrimes
Posts: 630
Joined: 06 Jun 2017

Post 29 Jun 2022

dvdrtldg wrote:
28 Jun 2022
I've never had much success at programming drums. I'm musically literate but have never been a drummer, so I don't have a lot of insight into how to make things sound really good. If I'm making a "straight" piece of music, here's my workflow:

* Fire up Dr Octo Rex, pick a drum loop to get started with

* Add bass line, some melodic elements, get some structure happening

* Launch Kong or Redrum, start trying to come up with a decent pattern using Drum Sequencer and/or BeatMap, including fills

* Once I have things more or less how I want them, send drum notes to track

* Get groove from the drum loop in Dr Octo Rex, apply to drum MIDI track

* Be disappointed at how shitty and non-cohesive everything sounds

.... any tips? Maybe starting with a loop isn't a great idea? I dunno. Help!

I think Genre is important as different techniques will work differently with different genres.


The main idea is to create a good rhythm section which is usually a combination of drums, bass, and chord progressions so if any element is off, it can all fall apart.


If you are using loops and then adding kicks and snares on top, bad layering could be an issue as well. If you plan on doing your own kick and snare patterns over a loop it is usually good to filter out the lows in a Drum loop or even find a hi hat only loop.


Also drum problems can come down to basically a few categories (bad performance/programming, bad engineering, bad sound design/selection). You want to narrow down to the main element you need to improve in (performance programming, engineering, or sound design/selection).

That said it pays to still study songs that are out there in your particular genre and focus on the drums. What kind of patterns are they using? Are they hard quantized? Are they swinging? Are they playing "loosely"? What are the dynamics like? Are the kicks and snares punchy? Does any samples you have sound similar to theirs? How loud are they mixed in compared to other instruments? What type of effects do you think they are using? What techniques do they use for drops/fills/transitions/hooks? Is the song basically one drum loop or different patterns? If you are recording live drums, then you probably have a bunch of more questions to ask, but even if you aren't there are still alot of things to consider when trying to get a good drum sound. It also help to study live drummers as a drummer is a very important part of a live show. Drummers alot of time are the ones who cue changes, count in songs, help keep time in "quiet" sections. Sometimes this can seem unnoticeable if you don't play live but it can help if you want a more "organic" sounding song, and usually certain good Electronic producers will use similar techniques.

It really is a lifetime process of keeping up with drums as it can be a big part of certain producer's sound but that said sometimes the problems can be a poor rhythm section or other issues.

User avatar
Overtherainbow
Posts: 78
Joined: 26 Jun 2022

Post 29 Jun 2022

challism wrote:
29 Jun 2022
Love his channel.
:thumbup: likewise! Very underrated. He also recommends doing what Selig suggested - listening to and deconstructing music.

User avatar
bluedog_sd
Posts: 8
Joined: 30 Jan 2022

Post 29 Jun 2022

Someone else posted about Samuel Prather and I second that motion but also I will give another of his good videos and n particular he is using Reason Drum Kits in it which is an awesome Rack Instrument for drums sounds. I use it all of the time with a bunch of Midi files that I have downloaded and saved (Samuel Prather talk about that in here too)

I'm Mark :puf_smile:
The guy who built a touch device MIDI controller for the SSL on TouchOSC - JQD Mirror
https://jqdmirror.com/

User avatar
dvdrtldg
Posts: 2008
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 30 Jun 2022

Some great advice & resources here, thanks guys it's much appreciated

PhillipOrdonez
Posts: 3163
Joined: 20 Oct 2017
Location: Norway

Post 30 Jun 2022

Definitely the key is listening or analysing the drums on the style you want to produce, and then try to recreate and apply the learned techniques over your own pieces.
The latest release:

RobC
Posts: 1475
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 30 Jun 2022

Beatboxing helps, too! (No, I do not do the common pppfffbbt beatboxing, but I mimic something close to LinnDrum)

Also, program it! Let your melodic elements play. Do a basic 1 kick on the main beat, and two snare hits on the two down beats (1 = kick 2 = snare 3 = silence 4 = snare) in a 4/4 measure. And maybe the 4/4 closed hats between them. Let that loop. Then on a 1/16th grid, add another kick, and listen where it sounds best. Make sure to force it a bit to syncopate with the bass. Otherwise it might sound "good" that kick and bass hit at the same time - which will actually get boring very quickly. Maybe set restrictions, such as limiting the kicks to just 1 hit within every 1/4th range (not counting the 1st main kick). Then you do the same with the other drums, until you find something that fits nicely for each respectively.

Or you can also program kick with the bass silenced. That way you only accidentally hit together with the bass. This rule goes for any elements that sound similar in tone (example hat & shaker).

If an element of your drumloop sounds weird, or off, try either moving that hit around a bit, or add another drum hit before or after it, likewise moving it around until it sounds right.

So yeah, this is more the mathematical approach, than making rhythm that comes from the heart/soul, so to say, but you can create something really unique AND good.

User avatar
challism
Moderator
Posts: 4025
Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Location: Fanboy Shill

Post 30 Jun 2022

RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
Beatboxing helps, too! (No, I do not do the common pppfffbbt beatboxing, but I mimic something close to LinnDrum)
Good idea there. Why not record yourself (in an audio track in the project) making drum sounds where you think they should go. Then you can look at the audio and place appropriate drum hits where the audio track's sound waves spike. Don't worry how cringy it might be... it's just a tool you are using to place your drum hits and fills - use it like a map - you can delete the audio file once you've applied the drum hits.
Players are to MIDI what synthesizers are to waveforms.

ReasonTalk Rules and Guidelines

RobC
Posts: 1475
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 01 Jul 2022

challism wrote:
30 Jun 2022
RobC wrote:
30 Jun 2022
Beatboxing helps, too! (No, I do not do the common pppfffbbt beatboxing, but I mimic something close to LinnDrum)
Good idea there. Why not record yourself (in an audio track in the project) making drum sounds where you think they should go. Then you can look at the audio and place appropriate drum hits where the audio track's sound waves spike. Don't worry how cringy it might be... it's just a tool you are using to place your drum hits and fills - use it like a map - you can delete the audio file once you've applied the drum hits.
No need to, just use Pulverizer's envelope follower to trigger your drum hits by the audio, and you even can add your spitty groove and velocity. : D

Hey, I even want to make a drum kit of my beatboxing ~ just needs a bit of engineering, and it's pretty cool, actually.

User avatar
JiggeryPokery
RE Developer
Posts: 1169
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 01 Jul 2022

selig wrote:
29 Jun 2022
learn esoteric things like how long between fills, when to fill, how much to fill,
Oh man, this! :lol:

Ten years ago I was in the audience of an open-mic type pub gig, and amongst the performers that night there was a late teens/early 20s rock/pop band on. Their drummer was—genuinely—all fill, no beat.

Truly one of the most frighteningly amusing awful musical moments I've ever heard.

He just wouldn't STFU from overwhelming every other member of his team with firing off a couple of toms every other 16th. It was like his hero was Animal from The Muppets, but frankly even Animal was a better percussionist - he could keep a beat when he needed to!





[Of course, it's possible to break rules and have, say, tom-toms going all the times (Suzanne Vega's Wooden Horse springs to my mind, there are plenty of others), but listen to stuff you like and enjoy and learn the basic rules before figuring out when it's ok to break them, and absolutely don't overfill, and don't hit more than two things with a stick at once (unless you're "double-tracking" your percussion, or you have an extra hand), so quit the hats and cymbals during those drum rolls. 16th Triplets can be your friend too.

Another good way of learning how to put drums together is buying some pro MIDI loop sets like GrooveMonkey. They tend to be better than audio loops as you can properly edit positions and fills. I remember buying two or three GrooveMonkey (er... a blues one, and a pop/rock one probably) of those when I was starting out.

Anyway, after their set, as the lead singer walked past my seat, I said "You need a new drummer, mate".

I think that's the only funny anecdote I've got.

User avatar
dvdrtldg
Posts: 2008
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 02 Jul 2022

JiggeryPokery wrote:
01 Jul 2022
selig wrote:
29 Jun 2022
learn esoteric things like how long between fills, when to fill, how much to fill,
Oh man, this! :lol:

Ten years ago I was in the audience of an open-mic type pub gig, and amongst the performers that night there was a late teens/early 20s rock/pop band on. Their drummer was—genuinely—all fill, no beat.

Truly one of the most frighteningly amusing awful musical moments I've ever heard.

He just wouldn't STFU from overwhelming every other member of his team with firing off a couple of toms every other 16th. It was like his hero was Animal from The Muppets, but frankly even Animal was a better percussionist - he could keep a beat when he needed to!



[Of course, it's possible to break rules and have, say, tom-toms going all the times (Suzanne Vega's Wooden Horse springs to my mind, there are plenty of others), but listen to stuff you like and enjoy and learn the basic rules before figuring out when it's ok to break them, and absolutely don't overfill, and don't hit more than two things with a stick at once (unless you're "double-tracking" your percussion, or you have an extra hand), so quit the hats and cymbals during those drum rolls. 16th Triplets can be your friend too.

Another good way of learning how to put drums together is buying some pro MIDI loop sets like GrooveMonkey. They tend to be better than audio loops as you can properly edit positions and fills. I remember buying two or three GrooveMonkey (er... a blues one, and a pop/rock one probably) of those when I was starting out.

Anyway, after their set, as the lead singer walked past my seat, I said "You need a new drummer, mate".

I think that's the only funny anecdote I've got.
:D

That's classic - although one of my few virtues as a drum programmer is not overdoing the fills. I'm not a big bells & whistles guy when it comes to drums, my favourite drummers are guys like Jaki Liebezeit who just sit there & nail the song to the floor

User avatar
challism
Moderator
Posts: 4025
Joined: 17 Jan 2015
Location: Fanboy Shill

Post 02 Jul 2022

I think this is a pretty good channel for music theory and songwriting techniques.
Here's a playlist of their entire "Drum Hack" series.
Players are to MIDI what synthesizers are to waveforms.

ReasonTalk Rules and Guidelines

User avatar
deigm
Posts: 174
Joined: 10 Oct 2018
Location: Australia

Post 03 Jul 2022

Great thread. Soaking it all up :thumbup:

User avatar
JiggeryPokery
RE Developer
Posts: 1169
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

Post 03 Jul 2022

dvdrtldg wrote:
02 Jul 2022
I'm not a big bells & whistles guy when it comes to drums, my favourite drummers are guys like Jaki Liebezeit who just sit there & nail the song to the floor
I don't really know much about drummers, per se, can't name many tbh.

But you're right there are certainly drummers who focus on being a solid rhythm section, perhaps at the expense of a bit of creativity: I only know Mick Fleetwood, for example, from The Mac's c.1990 Greatest Hits collection, so I don't know if there's more variety in deeper album cuts, but what strikes me from the selected tracks in that collection alone is that for a drummer of some reknown, he does come across as a bit ... mechanical, although I don't mean that perjoratively, just that there's not a lot ... flourish in his work, at least in that era. It is mostly just solid beat. It reminds me that Tusk is another of those tracks, like Wooden Horse, where the percussion relies on constantly rhythmic pounds of the toms, so he certainly does know where the toms are ;) .

I only saw it a few months ago, but if you like musical movies, and you've not seen it and this is a thread about drumming, I highly recommend Whiplash (2014). I read a few drummers dislike it, and sure, it's a bit extreme but it's a movie, not a documentary.


RobC
Posts: 1475
Joined: 10 Mar 2018

Post 03 Jul 2022

You don't necessarily need fills and whatnot, btw.

For example, sometimes I created a drum beat, where there was something special, even when soloing each drum. It can sound complex and fun. But the most special thing: simply muting a few kick hits, or other drums at the end of your loop, kind of broke the beat, and gave a sense of a fill, and prepared the listener for the next section in the song.

So yeah, you can do a ton of things with just muting/silencing.

Although this mostly works with a rather minimalistic set of drums. (Such as when you design them from scratch and get sick of designing and get creative with other ways instead. : ) )

Speaking of limited, yet creative: a fun example is Mantronix - Bassline (stretched)

Yep, all eccentric stuff... : P

User avatar
selig
RE Developer
Posts: 10520
Joined: 15 Jan 2015
Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 05 Jul 2022

challism wrote:
02 Jul 2022
I think this is a pretty good channel for music theory and songwriting techniques.
Here's a playlist of their entire "Drum Hack" series.
Not sure I totally get it, they give the first example as if it is universally understood to be inferior to the final version. But what I hear is a simple approach (which I have been asked to do many times) vs a busy approach (which I've been asked not to do just as many times!).

I didn't think the final example was any better or worse than the original, just busier. And I'm not sure there are folks out there 'accidentally' creating a simple beat when they intended to create a busy one, so maybe that's why I don't totally get it I guess because that seems to be the intended audience, no?

Bottom line, a simple repetitive beat is just as valid as a more complex beat, it comes down to personal taste and intended audience/genre IMO.
And was I imagining it but the bass line also changed with the final version of the drum beat, indicating you can't just change one and expect the other to also work without change.
Selig Audio, LLC

  • Information
  • Who is online

    Users browsing this forum: Bluescat, dcush, Trendiction [Bot] and 6 guests