Drummer Talk 256 – Drum Programming 101

We’re back from Summer break with a fresh show talking about why we drummers should look at learning to program drums.

Opening Detritus

  • What have we been up to all Summer long??
  • We have a huge queue of transcriptions!

Drummer Talk Mailbag

From Jonas:
Hi, i’m a finnish guy and i just discovered your podcast and now it is all i listen to at work. Anyway, i am using a birch kit which i heard Dave also uses. Could you give me some tips on how to remove the ringing around the kit? Thanks:)

From Nicole
Hi Dave and Troy, Longtime listener and fan of the podcast – first time writer. While you are on your 2015 summer hiatus, I thought I would take a moment to suggest a future topic for the show. I would really enjoy a podcast dedicated to female drummers or women in percussion. Your show has mentioned and sometimes featured female voices (i.e. February 2015 interview with Staff Sergeant Jackie Jones), but there are definitely more male voices heard on the podcast.

This comes as no a surprise, turn on the TV and drummers in mainstream popular music are overwhelmingly male. Previous generations of girls and women were explicitly told they could not play drums because “it was an instrument for boys.” Thankfully, today more girls and women are picking up drum sticks than ever before AND organizations exist to help encourage women and girls to explore drumming. If as male hosts you feel apprehensive to tackle this topic, perhaps hosting a panel discussion that includes women with knowledge about female drummers can shed light on the exciting initiatives to “raise awareness about women percussionists” and “inspire women and girls of all ages to drum.”

I am a female percussionist and have been teaching drum set for 13 years. I currently teach at the Women’s Drum Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. My experience at the Women’s Drum Center has demonstrated that after being told drumming is not for them — girls and women are thankful for a safe space to explore their dream of drumming. My suggestion for this topic is not meant to divide the drumming community by gender, but simply to shine a brief spotlight on female drummers. Such insight might help the drumming community think about ways to be inclusive to all of it’s members…or at least see things from other drummers’ perspectives. Thanks for your all of your hard work on the podcast. It’s a tremendous resource that covers such a wide range of topics. I will continue to be an avid listener.



Topic Notes

  • Why bother learning drum programming?
    • This is the future (present?) of modern music production (especially if it’s not 100% rock oriented)
    • Drummers make the best programmers because we know what real drum patterns should sound like
    • There is more work to have out there!
  • Difference between the DAWs
    • Logic Pro X – $199
      • Best all-around tool and best bang for your buck.  Huge stock library complete with patches, samples, and loops. Great MIDI editor. Mac only
    • ProTools – $599
      • The industry standard for audio recording and editing with broad plugin support. Most widely-supported in studios. AVID is known for spotty customer service and the MIDI editor is lacking
    • Ableton Live – $449/$749
      • Best tool for audio manipulation, especially time-stretching and remixing. The interface is unique and colorful, but many of the parameters all look alike. Its unique workflow can make for a steep learning curve if you already know Logic or ProTools
      • We record DT in Ableton Live!
    • Reason – $399
      • 2nd best bang for your buck! Solid and extremely stable (due to its enclosed architecture) with great customer support. It’s siloed nature is also its greatest weakness: no outside plugin/library support (although they do have a proprietary plugin called rack extensions)! This really keeps it from being fully embraced by the professional community and keeps it feeling more like a consumer tool.
    • FL Studio – $737
  • MIDI vs Recorded Drums
    • Strengths
      • Infinite editability
      • Infinite sound tweakability
    • Weaknesses
      • Live drum parts can have a lot more energy, nuance, and realism
  • Common mistakes of drum programming
    • The 8-armed drummer
    • Not programming out phrases the way a drummer would actually play them
      • Too dependent on short loops
    • Lack of velocity editing
  • Drum Programing Plugins

Music from this week’s Show:

In closing…

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Next Week:  Drum Programming 201 (how to write convincing drum patterns in the DAW)

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