Drums, flams and paradiddles …

The Youtube Video to accompany this tutorial is further down, I suggest reading through this page first if you have time before going to the Video.

Do you want to learn how to program your own drums. This tutorial session is relevant for Garage band, Logic Pro, Cubase. Most other DAWs will have a similar work flow. It will also be helpful if you have an electronic or acoustic drum kit and are wanting to know the basics of your first rhythm on the drum kit.

Sometimes you want a really simple drum loop. Let’s start at the beginning. There is also a drum kit designer tutorial built into Logic but for now we will just focus on creating a midi region to create a rhythm.

For this rhythm we shall use three parts of the kit. The bass drum or lick as it is often referred to, The Snare drum and the Hi-hats. This is what the standard pop or rock beat sounds and looks like in a DAW.

Created in Logic Pro

The Orange rectangles shown below indicate when the notes are played.

Music is divided into groups of repeated sections, we like the predictability of the repetition, it’s like the heart beat, probably the very first sound we ever heard.

On a standard kit these are the drums/notes that would make up most of our patterns

I use the duplicate notes in red when I want to simulate LH or RH stick to give a more natural sound.

Below is what the sheet music would look like for the drum rhythm. Often the bass and snare (black notes which in this example are shown as 1/4 notes or crotchets) are shown going down. There is no official way to notate drums but providing a clear legend at the beginning is invaluable if you wish to hand out the sheet music to a performer. See the link at the bottom for a great reference book if you want to “brush up” on drum notation.

If you don’t need to create sheet music then you can ignore the notation side of things, it is not necessary to be able create great drum loops.

We are going to use the most common sound or rhythm of four beats to the bar. This is known as “four four” often seen as a fraction like 4/4 but usually placed vertically.

If we count 1 2 3 4 that is a bar. If we count that 4 times that would be like counting to the first line of the rock & roll song Johnny B Goode. (Which incidentally is on a Nasa’s Voyager 1 travelling at 38000mph heading off to who knows where as we speak.) the rest of the song adds up to 12 bars and is often used in blues, known as a 12 bar blues.

The speed of the counting is what we call the tempo. It has been said that faster tempos makes us excited and slower beats calm us down. Possibly related to the heart beat rate when we are at rest or excited. A good starting place for pop music is around 120 beats per minute expressed as 120bpm. An easy way to feel this is to count in seconds and add a beat in between. It takes 1sec to say “One-thousand” so when we count aloud “One-thousand, Two-thousand” our Beats 1 and 3 land on the “One” and the “Two” the video will demonstrate it far better, I hope…

These two Beats 1 and 3, land on a healthy heart rate, (a healthy heart rate is about 60bpm which I believe is more than a coincidence) we use a bass drum to emphasise these two beats and the first is slightly stronger, we call this first beat the down beat.

The other two beats we emphasise with a snare drum. So our count goes like this 1,2,3,4 or BASS, snare, bass, snare.

The snare drum is unique on the drum kit as it has a set of springs underneath that can be put into tension with a lever and they rest tightly on the bottom of the drum skin. When the snare is on we get a snappy sound with a crisp delay. For latin rhythms we can often play with that off to get another tom tom sound. You can see the snare wires at the bottom of the drum picture below

Photo by Carlos Coronado

Listening to most pop and rock drums you will hear a “T” beat in between these main beats and this is the hi-hat. Listen again to the audio file above. In the image below the Hi-hats can be seen on the right hand side. This one is shown in the open position.

The hi-hat has two horizontal cymbals operated with a foot pedal that allows you to hold them closed, open, or any combination in between. We will use the closed hi-hat sound. This we play 8 times in a bar, we call these 8ths. In the notation above the top line of Xs indicate where we play a closed hi-hat sound.

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Drum Notation by Norman Weinberg

Ableton Live 10


FL Studio

Video and Studio equipment I use.

Audio Tecnica AT2035 studio mic

Scarlett 2i2 Audio interface

Yamaha MG20xu

Desk Boom Mic Stand

Sennheiser HD200 this model is the closest to my HD205 that I could see.

Published by fretsnreeds

Professional Musician working in the community with people of all ages educating and inspiring us all to make music.

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