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It's not lupus.
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I've finally gotten back to working on a project I started back when I was still in high school... Long story short. I have some songs written. These songs require drums. I do not play drums nor really know how to do much more than taking toontrack grooves and dropping them onto a track in Reaper. I'm a complete noob at drum programming, so bear with me.

How do you generally go about doing it?

Got any pointers for someone who has no clue what the hell they are doing?

Any good tutorials elsewhere on the web you could point me to?
 

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I think too much
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Trust me, you're better off dropping toontrack grooves into Reaper. Programming drums sucks almost as much as hearing them in a project. This is coming from someone who programmed his own drums for an EP CD, and released it. I did okay, but there's no way I'd do it again from scratch.
 

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Tr00 Kvlt
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I always use Guitar Pro to program the drums. I usually tab the whole song out, all instruments, and after that is done I start experimenting until i'm happy with the structure and all, then I delete all but the drums, and export the drums as MIDI....import into Reaper and presto, drum tracks.

I think Guitar Pro (you can also use Tux Guitar, which is a free program that will read guitar pro files) is the easiest way to do this.
 

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Premium Member
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Now this is using Sonar 7XL and addictive drums....I usually open up two midi tracks to do my drums, one for formulating fills, off tempos, and the general beat or beats, the second track is for the actual drums I'm going to use. That way, as I'm coming up with something, I can quickly pull it down onto my track, go back to the other, come up with a fill or whatever, and drag that down onto the usable track as well. All this using the step sequencer in Sonar. Hope that made sense....
 

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Dont you love balls?
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I'm actually using Reaper too, but with Superior. I just insert a midi item, bring up the piano roll, set the note values, and type it in. Might seem slow or old-fashioned, but I get by fine.

Ken, were you using EZdrummer? Maybe then it would make sense (I don't have any experience with it), but with S2.0 I really don't find it difficult at all :shrug:
 

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Premium Member
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How do you generally go about doing it?
I usually try to lay down a very basic groove first and repeat it over an entire section; hi-hat, snare, and kick. Nothing fancy. Then I slowly expand it with variation, detail and fills, as needed. Usually, I construct drum parts in my head and then program them in directly, but sometimes I need to experiment for a while before I reach a satisfactory result.

Got any pointers for someone who has no clue what the hell they are doing?
Inspiration. Try to find a song with a drum track that excites you, and try to absorb it and get an idea of what's going on as well. Try to replicate it by drumming on your lap. That's a great starting point, and it will help you get it down on the piano roll later.

Also, you've mentioned you have a library of grooves. Those could make great reference. Take a peek at them inside the piano roll to see how they're constructed. For practice, you could also import an existing, mixed song into your sequencer and replicate its drums, but getting around tempo changes might be tricky - far from all music is recorded with the help of a metronome.

Paying attention to velocity is key (i.e. how hard the drums are hit); this is what makes or breaks a sequenced drum track. For the kick and snare drums, you can get away with being fairly consistent. I usually use a velocity of around 105 for the kick drum and 125 - 127 for the snare. You should be able to set the velocity for individual notes (or rather, hits) in the piano roll. For the hi-hat, I like to alternate between a lower and a higher value (e.g. 95 and 65).
 

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Reverend Secret Flower
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i will drag and drop some of the premade beats, then start changing from there.

i really like using my midi controller keyboard. for the hits off the grid and rolls, i can definatly tap it out on a keyboard better than i can sit there and painstakingly adjust the hits.
 

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Knives!
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I do a lot of drum programming and I felt the same way as you a couple of years ago. First place I started was in guitar pro although I wouldn't do that now because I find it easier to manipulate dynamics i.e velocities in the piano roll within cubase. My first suggestion would be to let the kick drum follow the riff, then add the cymbals, then add the snare, and then tweak that pattern i.e delete/add a few kicks till you have something that doesn't sound as mechanical. For the time-being set all of your velocities to 127, or at least your kick and snare - when you come to produce the track if it's metal you'll want maximum punch on most of the hits.

Try slowing the riff right down to hear what's happening so you can match the kick with it. These are just the techniques I used and they are a good starting point, I feel.
 

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Prague Owlmighty
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I always use Guitar Pro to program the drums. I usually tab the whole song out, all instruments, and after that is done I start experimenting until i'm happy with the structure and all, then I delete all but the drums, and export the drums as MIDI....import into Reaper and presto, drum tracks.

I think Guitar Pro (you can also use Tux Guitar, which is a free program that will read guitar pro files) is the easiest way to do this.
I do this too, but in conjunction with Reason. I have almost a hundred samples of individual drums and cymbals from my drummers set (12 different kicks, 12 different snares, ect. it makes the samples sound more natural when they are randomized), which I have triggered by different midi values on the piano roll. I based those midi values off of the drum set midi from guitar pro, so I can export the midi from guitar pro, import it into reason, and then...decently real drums programmed drums!

Here's something Me and the roommate did recently with these drums. (we're still working out the solo at the end and some mixing, but its over all like 90% done).



And here's another thing I did when I was testing these drums out. The snare and kicks aren't randomized in this one, but you get the picture.



If you go the guitar pro route, I would love to help you out with these samples.
 

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Premium Member
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i will drag and drop some of the premade beats, then start changing from there.
this is a great place to start.

Also if you can do it on a keyboard or drum machine, I like using my middle fingers and use my left hand for bass drum, right hand for snare. I find I can come up with pretty convincing beats this way, then just overlay the hi-hat or ride after.
 

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I think too much
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I'm actually using Reaper too, but with Superior. I just insert a midi item, bring up the piano roll, set the note values, and type it in. Might seem slow or old-fashioned, but I get by fine.

Ken, were you using EZdrummer? Maybe then it would make sense (I don't have any experience with it), but with S2.0 I really don't find it difficult at all :shrug:
No, I did it all with a keyboard.

Programming drums is not difficult. Programming drums well is. I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion of pasting together existing beats and slightly modifying them.

That'll give you what you need. :agreed:
 

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NSLALP
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13,286 Posts
For those of you who program with Guitar Pro (that's what I'm doing at the moment), how do you get the MIDI track imported into Reaper with a separate track for each drum/cymbal? I just get everything in one stereo track, and I can't seem to separate it out after the fact either.
 

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Prague Owlmighty
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For those of you who program with Guitar Pro (that's what I'm doing at the moment), how do you get the MIDI track imported into Reaper with a separate track for each drum/cymbal? I just get everything in one stereo track, and I can't seem to separate it out after the fact either.
I think you'll just have to manually cut and paste the midi into different tracks. Though you probably don't depending on what software instrument you use for the drums (there are more than likely faders and pan knobs for each drum). Though I do use Guitar Pro drums, I tend to import the midi into Reason to trigger my sounds.
 

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NSLALP
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I think you'll just have to manually cut and paste the midi into different tracks. Though you probably don't depending on what software instrument you use for the drums (there are more than likely faders and pan knobs for each drum). Though I do use Guitar Pro drums, I tend to import the midi into Reason to trigger my sounds.
Right, I'm using Superior so I can pan and tweak each individual drum and then capture a run-through as a stereo track, but I thought I'd want each one on a separate MIDI track in Reaper for more flexibility down the road.
 

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Prague Owlmighty
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Right, I'm using Superior so I can pan and tweak each individual drum and then capture a run-through as a stereo track, but I thought I'd want each one on a separate MIDI track in Reaper for more flexibility down the road.
I hear ya. I don't know that there is an easy way to do it. You make have to just copy the midi note for the kick drum and make it it's own track, and so on. I don't know that there is an easy way for that.
 

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Super Moderator
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I'm old school. No computers. I sequence on a Yamaha Motif ES6.

Whatever gear you use, I strongly believe in actually "playing" your beats on a keyboard or percussion pad like the Korg padKONTROL. Step programming is not only tedious, but it makes getting a good groove nearly impossible. Groove is in the slight imperfections you get from playing something in real time--programming everything by sight doesn't get you there, in my experience. And groove is important in every style of music.

One other tip. If you do play your beats on a keyboard/pad controller, feel free to quantize the fuck out of the snare and kick, but never quantize the cymbals or toms if you can avoid it. Yes, this means you need to practice playing things accurately. It's important to have the snare and kick be very precise, but the other instruments sound too robotic if they are.

My basic technique is to stitch the song together section by section, and then add in fills with punch-in recording on my sequencer. Sometimes it takes awhile, sometimes not.

I also recommend spending some time getting your head around what actual drummers do. Once you learn the basics, you'll find that it's really not that difficult to program good beats.
 

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Pallin' around
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I'm old school. No computers. I sequence on a Yamaha Motif ES6.

Whatever gear you use, I strongly believe in actually "playing" your beats on a keyboard or percussion pad like the Korg padKONTROL. Step programming is not only tedious, but it makes getting a good groove nearly impossible. Groove is in the slight imperfections you get from playing something in real time--programming everything by sight doesn't get you there, in my experience. And groove is important in every style of music.

One other tip. If you do play your beats on a keyboard/pad controller, feel free to quantize the fuck out of the snare and kick, but never quantize the cymbals or toms if you can avoid it. Yes, this means you need to practice playing things accurately. It's important to have the snare and kick be very precise, but the other instruments sound too robotic if they are.

My basic technique is to stitch the song together section by section, and then add in fills with punch-in recording on my sequencer. Sometimes it takes awhile, sometimes not.

I also recommend spending some time getting your head around what actual drummers do. Once you learn the basics, you'll find that it's really not that difficult to program good beats.
To add to this, Reaper has a really good "humanize" algorithm that lets you choose any individual beat or group of beats and randomly change the volume, and/or the position of the beat forward and backwards with a bias. I've just started to get into this, and a bit of lag when things get slow and open up really makes a difference :yesway:
 

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NSLALP
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To add to this, Reaper has a really good "humanize" algorithm that lets you choose any individual beat or group of beats and randomly change the volume, and/or the position of the beat forward and backwards with a bias. I've just started to get into this, and a bit of lag when things get slow and open up really makes a difference :yesway:
This is why I own a drummer, and why he now owns an e-kit. :D
 

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Super Moderator
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This is why I own a drummer, and why he now owns an e-kit. :D
Good call. If I wasn't such a complete control freak, I'd probably find an e-friendly drummer myself. Maybe I'm weird, but I have way too much fun trying to make all the music on my own.

I tried an e-kit for awhile, but that whole coordination thing requires just a wee bit of practice. I'm too fucking old to learn that from scratch... :lol:
 
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