Drum Programming

This page needs to be here. I get really picky about drummers and drum theory. One conversation I’d like to completely delete from band practices is “drum theory” and ideas about tempo and time signatures.

The drum tracks on this page were quickly and easily programmed via free software called Hydrogen from Sourceforge. Hydrogen (and other drum programs) notate 12th notes and 24th notes as “16th note triplets” and “32nd note triplets.” I would prefer it if they just notated them as 12th notes and 24th notes, but whatever.

These two double bass samples demonstrate that without changing the speed of the feet, you can change the BPM just by switching your hand pattern. The hand pattern is not complicated here, it is just back/forth, right/left right/left. The 2nd one is important because it illustrates what a blast beat will sound like without changing your feet. This is really important if your band wants blast beats but doesn’t want the drummer fucking up the song every time. Even though the snare is set to play theoretically 32 times through the blast section, I only programmed it to play 31 times because the machine program sounded crappy switching from the blast pattern back to the easy 16th note pattern whenever I punched in the last snare hit. This should show that if a machine is having trouble resolving a final snare hit, a real drummer will have trouble resolving it as well, and there are some cases when resolving a blast beat it is better to skip the last snare hit.

Metal BPM Solvency – 75 & 100

Metal BPM Solvency – 84, 112, and 42

Before you go, “I don’t care. I don’t need to know this. What the fuck is this for, man?” This is to show that there is such a thing called BPM solvency, and if you want to program more sophisticated beats or play sophisticated sounding hihat patterns, you will want to have an idea of the theory of BPM solvency. If you still insist this information isn’t important, then I will ask that you go your own way. It inevitably comes up no matter what band I join, and everybody looks at me like I’m speaking Chinese, backwards. I digress.

It is important to note that the feel of 3rds is always 1/4th less time than the feel of the 4ths. And the feel of 4ths is 1/3rd more time than the feel of the thirds. One analogy is to say 3rds is like counting to 45 seconds, and 4ths is like counting to a minute and 20 seconds. The more you can wrap your head around this idea, the better a musician you will be, and the less you’ll be inclined to write boring, predictable music.

If you’re still with me here, you will want a copy of this chart. This chart will help you to program beats for more sophisticated songs like what I’ve written here. Take a listen:

Dude, I’m Thinking of Becoming an FBI Agent Man

Now listen to this programmed beat:

Dude Man song – 72 & 96 BPM Solvency

This is, to the best of my knowledge, the correct electronic program version for that beat. Within one musical phrase I am switching back and forth between the feel of 4ths and 3rds and using the BPM solvency theory to keep the 4ths sounding like 4ths and the 3rds sounding like 3rds. Keep in mind I wrote the riff and drum beat for this song years before I bothered to program it with drum software. Thus I was probably not performing the exact BPMs of what I programmed and vise versa. The BPMs I chose for the programmed version are based off of the chart I mapped out, and they are much easier and faster to program into the software without having to worry about decimal points.

I have some drum video lessons I will link to later on.