Non-drummers have thoughts on what a drum part is, and we are usually WAY off in what it actually is. In order to program drum parts correctly, we need to change our mindset and begin to “Think Like a Drummer”
I remember the first time I tried a virtual drum instrument. The demos sounded so good, I thought it would solve all my drummer issues. To say the experience was underwhelming would be an understatement. No matter what I did it did not solve anything and it sounded only slightly better than me hand placing samples onto the timeline.
It turned out, as it usually does, that it was user error. You see, if you are not a drummer, programming a drum part is nearly an impossible task.
This blog series will teach you to think like a drummer.
As a non-drummer, we may think an 8th note Hi-hat pattern is pretty simple. Just draw in some 8th notes, adjust a velocity, and call it a day. How many times have you done that exact thing and been happy with the outcome? Sure, it might work sometimes, but rarely if ever will that work. Thinking like a drummer is more than analyzing patterns. It’s analyzing patterns within patterns, finding the intent of the drum part you are programming, using the correct articulations for the patterns, and understanding rudiments.
Learning to drum takes years of practice. Learning to program drums can be a bit faster, but it still takes time to learn the craft of making it sound real.
If you already play drums, half the battle of “Thinking Like a Drummer” has already been won. You now just need to analyze what you already do and convert that into midi. If you have an E-Kit the job can be even easier.
Throughout this blog series, we will look at how to program drums the way a drummer would play them. Midi grooves can be a good way to get a job done quickly, but even then, you spend so much time adjusting them to fit your needs that it would most likely be faster if you could just program it yourself.
MIDI keyboards can also speed up the process, but in certain cases such as double stroke rolls, playing it on a MIDI keyboard can be impractical.
Part one of this series is dedicated to using the Moeller Technique on an 8th note Hihat pattern. We’ll cover downstrokes, upstrokes, articulations, patterns within patterns, feel, as well as accented hits.
Before we get to the video, it’s important to know that the Moeller Technique is a way of using a variety of techniques with the goal of improving hand speed, power, and control while offering the flexibility to add accented notes at will. In this specific case, it is downstrokes and upstrokes to create a specific feel. Drummers have been using this technique for generations to help with speed, power, and control. We will cover more Moeller techniques on different drums in later blogs. Today, let's start with the Hihats and start our journey of “Thinking Like a Drummer”
To follow along with the video, please use quality headphones or a treated room. Some of the content we cover is very subtle and will come across best in a good listening environment.