Metal Beats and Breakdowns


Metal Drum Programming


Lesson Info

Metal Beats and Breakdowns

So I wanted to go into some beat construction uh next because that's one of the things that you guys said you wanted last time and would like to listen to you guys so let's talk about skank meeting to talk to you that scamp eats and blast beats and then we're going to move on to the next thing I just want to talk about some basics that are, uh you find in all types of metal on hard core that you can't really do without no I think that this is pretty self explanatory the graphic I've got here but if you can't tell what it is this is like a grid and uh say the first one of the symbols on it down beats only you see the right and hat on one and three and the snare on the uh on the two kicks on one of three says your first type and then you see the second type where you've got the cymbals and the snares on the upbeat but the kicks on the downs um and then you have their third type where the symbols go constantly on these air small variations of this classic beat but they all sound completel...

y different sewing program these from scratch and just give you an idea of how I got from scratch with these things back to pro tools was good thea media out of europe was gonna grab a kick drum make life easy gravis there and this this is all tempo dependent so first thing I would do is see of the tempo allows tempo allows for kicks on quarters or if it needs to be faster no that's right so you know where your pulse is gonna be for me to find out this right so then you had your snares on the down beats what a concept right? Oh check that and then from there at your symbols gonna I'm just doing this ah like grabbing these notes and copy them over so first one I'm going to do is just with the symbols on the downs what I'll do is I'll program these back to back to each other so you can just see what the differences are right away but I mean dudes when programming stuff right away like when you're just trying to get stuff down this is the level of detail I'm talking about going into this is what I'm going through this like you don't need to refine too much at this point but you're deciding on is where the field is you're not you're not doing all the intricate velocity work and automation work and all that you just deciding on the basics so the second one is with symbols on the upbeat with snare and the third one is going to be with symbols going the whole time so here's three different scanties now I know most drummer I think this one is the most legitimate one because you're playing the high hat the whole time but a lot of guys can't do that at higher tempos so they play it this way way you know, to each his own but they feel completely different you know and it's just tiny tiny alterations on that one skank beat concept and there's a few different things I want to touch on with velocities it's well um changing the kick pattern on these and I wanted to have a screen shot from logic for all your logic users so that you know that you know that we love you a swell so I'm going to put this into pro tools right now this pattern guitar boy seven sixty seven says this is so freaking awesome I've especially love this stuff on symbols so people do love what you're teaching here cool I'm glad to hear that one that is really good that people do all the time let me uh get off of this triple grid this is a very common one right here we just add this second bass drum uh to the second measure uh now this might seem super basic to you guys but all I'm doing right here is expanding on the concept of tiny changes to the beat of tiny additions. This attractions will change the field completely if you add this in certainly it sounds one hundred times more punk rock notice that kick pattern doesn't work nearly as well with one where the symbols are on the upbeat with snare so just something keep in mind, it's just not as cool. Um, and another thing that you should keep in mind is when you're working on these mess with the velocities, especially in the kicks in the hats, because think about what a real drummer would be doing with the with the scampi if you have done to don't intent intent that intent, there's no way that the drummers actual kick drum will be as loud on the second fast hit as the first one. It just doesn't naturally happen that way. And then on the ones where drummers air playing in the hands constantly through, well, that's a lot of high hat work close together. I mean there's no way that it will all be it a constant velocity. It would be loud, soft, loud, soft, blouse off loud, soft, generally. So why don't we program that in going to add these secondary kicks and lower the velocity on the second ones and then lower the velocities on the other high hat we got a certain sound more real that would be more like how a drummer we'd play because for some reason, they always play these beats lighter, so maybe more like this. Picking up what I'm putting down with these aa minor changes to velocity and rhythm if I'm gonna change files over to talk about the same thing with blast beats um now blast beats people who don't know this style of music uh tend to have this weird idea that blast beats air all one thing that they're noise when people who don't listen to this kind of music definitely have this weird idea about how blast beats or just this one blanket thing that is noise, not real music and yeah, sloppy blast beats definitely sound that crap, but a blast speed is probably one of the most possibly diverse types of beats you can put into metal and there's tons of different types of them and we're going to go into a few different ones and how to create them and what to be listening for but if you just want you just want tio have some stuff to listen to check out any song by demon board here give you more of the wall of sound type blast beating approach or thy artist murder that does are far more groovy blast beats give it that riding the horse feeling I talk about like you still want to get in the pit you still like you know where to bang your head with diehard is murder stuff but if you listen to black dahlia murder necro fade yourself blast speeds they do have groove, but all the rest are completely outlined in the symbols. And so you almost have the rift taking place on the drum set. So it's not just a wall of noise like yeah, it sounds extreme because of the speed of the drum, but it's very musical because the riff is accented within them. Three well, four different bands here that use blast based completely different ways. So, you know, you want to get good at blast beats I would study up on different variations. And these are all blast beats. Each has a very different feel. And you want to experiment with what works best with the vibe you're going for. So when I make sure that my pro tools is cooperating with me here all right, killer. All right? So I'm gonna start with a self oh, blast you can see here. So full blast is everything at the same time and everything kick snare hat a ride or china or whatever everything is going at the same time and good luck playing it fast. But the cool thing about this is that you know exactly where the beat lies and it's in the one, two, three, four one, two, three, four so so the first thing I would do and I will show you is I would do this in succession like first I would have the snare and I give you guys a very basic death metal riff underneath it so that you can hear how this progresses ok then I would have the kick then I would add the symbols you know depending on the riff if I want to outline the riff a little bit do things differently what I was doing here is symbol like crash on the downs and then a crash right before it goes to single notes at the end as you can see it outlines where the rift changes listen to the rift it's all paul mutes and stuff and then when it goes open it hits a crash so all right so that's one type of blast that's uh yourself oh blast everything at the same time on top of the euro blast this is also called alternating blast which is kick snare kicks and air kicks near kicks there so I kind of feel and uh some people find this easier some people find it harder but um is kick with your symbols at the same time and this they're on the up so and it has an alternate kind of feels so right here because the kick is what's on the down beat out program the kick first and this is to the same exact riff one you have to hear the differences between the blast beats on the same exact riff so so with the kick on the downbeat and you add the snare and then at the same symbols in because you know this rifts the same I want to outline the same way I want to play you the two types of last week's back to back suffer blast you're a blast brutal is health but just completely different field in my opinion one sounds like a machine gun the other one sounds like a tank is rolling over you and they're both brutal uh crip topsy blast is a lot like the cfo blast they set the kicks or going in double bass the whole time it's a lot harder to play so you can't go you can't go too high a temple with this because since the kick is going double the amount of you go too fast is going to sound dumb doesn't sound like a keyboard typewriter uh or you know bouncing ten bouncing basketball or cliquey cliquey crap but for this one the snare start with the snare because the snare is defining the down since the kick is going double bass and stuff over then you have the kicks and then at the same symbols cause against the same riff and I want to outline the same way way now let me play all three of them back to back so you can hear the difference suffer blast last chelsea blast and again all completely brutal all completely different what's up just a quick note for folks there's actually a pretty cool conversation in the live room going on about like the place of blast beats in a composition talking about creating tension all that just so you know, tomorrow's class is like a perfect place to talk about that because that's all about song writing so we're going to cover that subject here today but I think that's an interesting thing to come back tomorrow. I just want to make sure people are aware that you are doing that that classical imposing metal melodies, harmonies so and also in my original song writing class we talked a lot about tension release I will just say this one thing about blast beats you can use them and you can abuse them but you know you khun totally right, a boring song that turns the majority of people off a most death metal that has blast beats too much or you can do stuff like gojira, who is one of the bigger underground metal bands in the world. Um gets to tourist metallica all the time and do huge things and they have blast beats to and what's the difference. They use them as the perfect tension release whenever they have a blast. Pete it's always at the right time, it's exactly where you want this song to just basically explode and as opposed to just exploding the whole time like if everything is at one hundred there's no dynamics like your dynamics are gone so there is no if everything is tension than there is no tension and everything is released there is no release, so there are ways to effectively use a blast beat another examples slip knot when the biggest metal bands in the world and they have blast beats, they just use them very effectively in just the right parts. Now there are bands who have tons of blast beats who have still got in pretty big like black dahlia murder, but they use very musical blast beats where the drums are outlining the riffs the whole time. So even if the snares and kicks there non stop in the symbols, you have very melodic riffs being outlined the whole time, so they're using them as a way to actually bring forward the melody of the whole you know of the musical arrangement, which is actually a pretty novel concept to me because you take a super brutal, um beat and you make it melodic, that's it's kind of I don't know, I think it's somewhat revolutionary base sure, what differentiates a euro blast beat from the skank one with symbols on the down needs speed the speed against the music uh, skank beat is more like a punk rock pizza don't enter and like I'm a good driver that's I don't care though that's not the point as opposed to you know that's totally different it's the speed the skank is more of a midtempo thing and blast speed is faster maybe one more right now before we move on complex process with a drummer ever play a blast beat with the snare on the downbeat and the kids on the upbeat or is that just crazy you know that would happen that's uh that's called reverse euro blast reverse alternating blast where it goes kicks in their kicks in their gigs narrow lake I mean snare kicks and air kicks snare kicks in their kicks I can't do it and that one is actually a little harder for certain drummers to do but I don't know why it just is but uh but yes drummers do those more black speak questions I think we're probably gonna move on okay cool I have a few more blast beat examples to go through if anyone has more please feel free to ask because this is a really misunderstood topic um then I went into triple blasts and I had tio change things up a little just because it's it was a whole different tempos of my original rift didn't work but what's triple blasts as you can see got one in the kicks one two three one two three one two three one two three and the one two three's air defined by the hats right there that's was outlining the where the I guess where the metrodome is going to go but the snaring the kicks or playing the triplets now you can do every kind of blast beat in a triplet way I just wanted to basically bring forward that yes you can do these into triple it feels first thing I did was I figured out the snare and I have the kicks and symbols that in a second court just so that you could kind of feel where things were going musically up that again all right and move on to one more and this is gonna be detective blasts or modified euro um and this is modified a little bit differently than what I just talked about there is all kinds datemodified bless but this is modified more in the hands and this is more what I was talking about that happens in black dahlia murder songs necro favorite songs all the times where the symbols outlined the riffs so we're back to my original riff you know it's not a very melodic rift but still this is going to be the modified euro more tech death style so start with uh I know it says I know it's a snare right here but I meant kick we're actually gonna change that because they hate mistakes just kidding and then you have the snare on the ups all right then you add velocities and then here is a symbol pattern for you I'm gonna play just the cinders whoops mute the guitars musical pattern there's actually a groove to that and that's what you hear in these black dahlia songs there's actually a groove going on in the symbols so the dramas themselves or super brutal but over that brutality there is a natural groove happening and that's why it sounds cool that's why it's catchy that's why it bounces that's why it works was still being really, really brutal it's because there still is melody or something as supports the melody worked into that pull that with now it's interesting to me going through this stuff because most people hear this kind of stuff and they think it's all noise on that's the kind of beat that is really controversial among drummers who don't play metal like that's usually that I don't do that shit I don't play I play musical beats I play stuff with groups like I hear that all the time like, well, I don't do that blast the ship but it but it's not just that blast be shit first of all, your physical dexterity to do this right has to be like an athlete let the guys who really do this are basically drum athletes which is really amazing like they have to work x amount of hours every single day they can't let up but they let up for more than a day or two it's gone and these there's a lot going on that they have to memorize it is not like not like playing rock and roll like this it's like an olympic sport on the drums but then you take you take something that can be mind numbing and sound like a machine gun if you just the whole time and you add a groove over that well, first of all that's kind of brilliant the second of all that's tough play super imposing a groove over something that doesn't have a groove is tough to do when you're one person with multiple limbs so I think there's a lot to it but lastly, adding the group into that is the way that it helps make these songs sound the way they do that's how they are catching that's, how they stay brutal and so they meet both ends of that criteria because to pull off bad ass extreme metal it does have to be brutal but it also has to stick in your head or it's just going to sound like more youtube crap well, I love to hear was that breakdown between here's the brutality here's the group added together make something amazing so metal dude, I think you're going to be covering this wants you to go more in depth on the velocities for blasting that's what we're gonna talk about I can't talk about that right now to be great velocities need to be lower there you go philosophies for last week no um now remember when you're dealing with, uh with human beings playing this stuff, you're not you're not dealing with a machine like uh nobody can actually play this stuff all at one twenty seven now I have my kicks at one not even all at one twenty seven or do I yes, I'm all there because let's face it most death metal drummers play with the sample, but if this was a real drummer, these philosophies should be varied but snare velocity is super important on this there's no way that a drummer will play blast beats of the same velocity as he plays you know, slower beats like the snare is just softer like you cannot physically get from up here to down here in uh in four times at four times the speed like it doesn't physically work, you have tio keep it like that and in keeping it like that you've just play softer so they're just naturally softer beats so first of all I would have a range you see these these are much lower not too hard not too soft, so have a range and then they're randomized because obviously nobody hits of the same velocity every time so in pro tools um you do have the event operations window and you could go to change velocity and, um you can limit it to a ranch, I have it between one hundred, one hundred ten randomized to one hundred percent and that's it that's a cool way to do it. I mean, you don't need to go too much crazier than that if you think about it, most records going samples on them blended in with the drums so there will be something keeping it fairly consistent and if you have a good drummer, they will play this consistently like this is not unrealistic right here to keep it within a certain range and just randomize it and same thing with the symbols as you can see, I'm going to highlight these there's some hard hits I just can't loud because yellow, but um but like as you can see here, a lot of these are randomized and a lot like with the snare, the randomized to a certain within a certain range for the most part because let's face it, you're hitting the high hat in the snare at the same time or alternating it's more of one single motion happening and it's not like somebody is going toe unless they suck, they're not going toe suddenly hit the hat way harder than the snare if they're going hats, their hats in their hats in their ads or in unison, it's, not going toe is not going to lean much more heavily to the side of one, so it kind of randomize them in the same general direction and then make the accents louder. That's it. There you go, velocities in one felt swoop here on so these symbols again and just for fun going to make these all one even velocity. Not as bad as I thought it would, but it's a little unrealistic. Nobody is going to be moving around that fast on the ride bell and then hit all the other accents consistently. Besides someone like alex rudiger, aura, shannon lucas, or the guys that I look up to with these kinds of beats. All right, uh, move on to one more concept. And, uh, then I want to make time for our guest. So breakdowns where he talked about the clicky pen with andy, and, uh, I don't want to spend too much time on these, because the fact is, you, khun, right, the's with morse code, you can write these with the clicky pen again, right is with dice. You can write them with a random number generator, which means it doesn't take that much talent to write these, and if you think it does sorry to hear that, but the basic formula these days and I say these days because a breakdown used to mean something different metal on hardboard just kind of uh kind of changed the meaning of a breakdown like like happens for lots of styles breakdowns here is basically the kick hits on every chug crasher china's on quarter notes or eighth notes and snares on down beats is appropriate depending on the tempo either on two and four or on the threes and that's it that's it it like besides that it's all in where in the song it goes and how it's releasing the tension it's basically oh good breakdown is the payoff and the rest of the song is to set up or in the case of like for instance, the dye artist murder song, rain and darkness that we talked about before the breakdown does happen at the beginning of the song. However, there is a huge buildup into that breakdown and so when it comes in it's like an explosion but it wouldn't explode that way that just came in if it wasn't built up into it wouldn't work the same way so with breakdown s'more of it is and how it actually happens in in the song more so than the actual patterns though that is pretty important and I think that that's uh almost everything I want to talk about here just want to go to this uh often times less is more idea real quick, if you noticed earlier, when I was going through my songs, I was subtracting information rather than adding it and that's, because most drummers can play your ideas certain tempo, most strummer's air not going to suddenly be able to add a whole subdivision. Um, most germans will be able to take away, so also, I just think usually eighty five percent of the time, the most simple direct approach is the best approach, like what is obviously the right beat is the right be most of the time, like, you don't have to double think you don't have teo you no doubt yourself that much, like normally, the first thing you come up with will be the right thing for these kinds of things it's usually pretty, pretty obvious and, well, the first thing you should do, though, if things don't feel right, is to start subtracting because oftentimes the simple solution is the solution those of you who don't play drums and I'm going to show this in detail in the next segment. But those you don't play drums, one of things you guys do wrong, and I'm talking to you like, so I know you're listening, one of the things that you do wrong. All the time is try to be too complicated. And what happens with that is a. Your drummer's don't know what the hell to do when you overwhelm them with this garbage. And second of all, it just sounds like crap. And I don't know why. I think it has something to do with the fact that the human ear is used to hearing what's natural on the drum set. And when you deviate from that too much, things just sound awkward.

Class Description

Wanna learn how to program metal drums the RIGHT way? In this half-day class, you'll learn exactly how to do it from producer Eyal Levi of Audiohammer Studios (Whitechapel, August Burns Red, JFAC).

Eyal will show you how to program fast, slow, and mid-tempo beats (and yes, that includes every kind of blast beat under the sun), fills, accents, and more. You’ll also learn the art of varying velocities and timing so your programmed parts sound realistic and natural. Plus, you'll hear from Eyal's special guest Andy Marsh (Thy Art is Murder).

If you want to sharpen your drum programming skills, this class is for you.


Michael Nolasco

First off, great class. I have wanted to learn and know how to make my programmed drums feel like what a real drummer would do, which is basically the approach Eyal takes with programmed drums. Feel free to take this down if it's not okay, but I found this site to help with learning drum rudiments:


Eyal!! Thanks for the insight on drum programming, truly enjoyed the course and definitely got something out of it. Highly recommend