Step 1: Decide on a Vibe/Vision
Just want to say a few basic things before we get going if you don't know who I am and you're wondering why you should listen to me uh I've done a lot of stuff I have uh recorded lots of bands and I've played in my own band we've we ended up putting out three records on road runner and century media which you haven't heard of those I'm surprised that you're taking this class anyways and who we've played over a thousand shows on just about every continent except for antarctica and I've been involved with the production of lots of records and whether it's through engineering mixing, actually producing whatever some of them are up on the board that you can see and uh had to program lots of drums in my time for a few different reasons some of these records have written on some you haven't, but I have had to program drums lots of times in my life and sometimes it's because drummer's just flat out suck and you need to replace them on sometimes it just because you're writing stuff for a drumm...
er sometimes because you don't have a drummer I've been in all three of those situations and drum programming is something that doesn't go away but uh we should all get better it because it's just the new reality of writing and producing music fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you use it so one thing I do want to say about this class is that this is not a middie programming class really so much and this is not a software class we will be using software and we will be getting intimately but this more about the concepts of writing good drumbeats and we will definitely show you how to tweak your midi to get maximum results but if you want a primer on how to use the softer better should check my original easy drummer course or recurrences easy drummer to course either one of those will or both of them will get you where you need to go if you just flat out don't know how to work, you know a drum programming instrument or maybe or whatever this is not about that this is the next step which is actually making music with drums so start some drum basics uh those of you who aren't sure about what drums doing I'm just laughing because say how can you not know what drums were four but let's just talk about some of the different things that they provide a song first of all, in most cases at least in metal they dictate the feel of the song and they emphasize the grooves on the show you guys how the exact same music with completely different drums can be a completely different song and sometimes all you need to do is change the drums and you have a new part so um the whole feel of the song is dictated by the drums a lot of tension and release and variation in the songs themselves comes from the drums a lot of the good transitions are just drums lots of times that transitions in metal are not let's just say they don't work the way they do in traditional song writing where there's harmonic tension from a lot of tension which leads to a release like in your traditional earth pre chorus chorus structure where everything works harmonically sometimes metal doesn't really even stick to any sort of harmonic structure at all it's not in a keats nothing like that so a lot of the tension release comes from the drums and if you want to program effective drums I think that master intention releases a very big part of that so we're going to cover that and also shit can provide the hook of a song I mean sometimes if the riffs or super fast and there's not something that you can really lock in on with the riffs if you can't understand the vocals which is a big you know, I think it's a big complaint about metal you don't know what the vocals air doing everything just rhythmic vocals that don't have a lyrical hook to them the drums themselves can be what gives you the hook and helps you remember the song so that said I think getting started is probably the hardest part because there's a million different ways that you can go about this so we're gonna go over exactly how tio how to do this, but I think that the key thing for you guys to realize is that if you follow these exercises and actually go through them, your actual time to get started meaning time to actually get through the bull and into good writing will be way faster like if you actually take the time to do some exercises and they will be slow at first and you'll be slow at them, they won't be so wonderful, but after you do something maybe ten times, fifteen times you will get faster at it and, uh, the next you things and I talk to you guys about, I don't even think about someone of programming and most of the guys that I know who program well don't think about this stuff, but we used to, and I definitely thought about it when I was first starting. So first thing is active listening. Now, this is an overarching idea that I kind of want you guys tio be doing through this whole class try I mean, I know you're not going to do it every single example, but at the very least, do this for some of the examples and if you hate every example that I have find your own but do this anyways and it is keeping a listening journal now I talked about this in my song writing class with uh my awesome guest pat lukins who's a pop songwriter I went through how to keep active listening journal for song writing purposes, but in this case I won't talk about active listening r e learning drums and what that means is pick something you like it doesn't matter what whether it's ah travis barker or dave lombardo or shannon lucas or alex rudiger just pick something by somebody you like uh have that the you know it can be a small as a fill or it can be an entire song and write down everything you hear and I don't mean in with michael notation because most of you guys don't even know how to do that and that's fine, you don't have to uh just but write it down in a way that you understand it and uh you don't just pay attention and the cool thing is after you do this for about four different drummers, you're going to start to notice patterns that turn you on musically and you'll start teo I guess subconsciously put those into your own writing so there is a step by step process that that some of us follow for programming really sick drums and uh step one which is going to be well we take this whole first segment to talk about is deciding on the vibe in the vision of the song if you don't decide on the vibe in the vision you don't have anything what is a metal song without vibe it's just a lot of notes and a lot of noise um that's what you want to avoid and if you don't have any vibe in your drum programming is just going to sound like shitty programming that you hate by bands that spam you all the time that you can understand why they well they even existed so we're gonna help you get outside of that so you got to decide on the vibe in of vision if you don't know where to start with that pick somebody you like and emulate them that's the way I did it like and I'm going to show you a few examples of that so first of all before we go into those examples there some things that you might want to ask yourself when you start doing your active listening is um so overall feel the songs that loosen chaotic is it telling precise using a slayer the black dahlia murder is that what do you want to sound like? The reason I used those two examples because the beets are often the same minus the blast beats but the fields are completely different and it's important to define that what are you going for and also secondly who are you playing with so if you're playing with shannon lucas or you're playing with dave lombardo and I realized most of you will never play with these people but you are playing with somebody and I'm using very extreme example still illustrate the point if you're playing with the drummer you have to know your drummer's I guess limitations you have to know what they can and can't do and worked or work with that don't work against that and I think the best way I can put this in for a guitar player to understand is if you're working with a drummer and a drummer's humming a rift to you uh obviously you're going to have to do some interpretation of what they think if they're not a guitar player but say that the drummers coming this rift to you and then he asks you at the end of the rift to put a bunch of sweeps and you don't know how to play sweeps but you're not very well but he's insisting on it and not only does he want these sweeps but these sweeps don't make any sense like the say that the rift is in first position and he wants you to jump into sweeps in twelve position and jump around the neck doing all this stuff that you don't know how to do well what do you think that's going to sound like it's going to sound like total crap a because you don't know how to play it and b because it makes no sense on the guitar well the same applies when your programming drums if you're actually working with another human being you got to take into account what they can and can't do before you give them stuff to play and don't get this stuff if you program stuff outside of their skill set and I'm just laughing because this happens all the time and I would think that people would pay attention tio you know the strengths and weaknesses of who they're playing with but they don't and so this is your psa to start paying attention to who you're working with actually one of the on the big things going to talk about with my guest andy march later on is working within the constraints of the people you work with so actually and you're deciding on a violin of vision um who you're playing with it's a very big deal because they're going to play a certain way so you might already be locked into something based on that but let's uh let's say for a second you're not playing with a great drummer uh you're just doing this in a vacuum and uh you plan on getting a drummer later so it's up to you to decide that if you don't know where to start uh you do need to find something you can grab on and expand off of so defined some things that you want like we said before loosen chaotic, tight and precise and whatever other elements of style you want incorporated in there and uh just listen to a few examples by a few drummers that I like you may have heard of some of these guys you may not have heard of some of these guys but there's reasons that I picked them so let's uh stuck about chuck biscuits. I'm sure a lot of you guys have not heard of this guy because he hasn't been in the scene for a long time but he is the old drummer from dancing and he is super simple kind of drummer um no frills all thrills. So what are you picking up about that I'd pick up that super solid very simple straight ahead and just rocks so if you're playing with a guy like that, you're not going to write stuff to fifty bpm and expect him to play wicked double bass it's just not gonna happen if you're smart. So I uh you know, if I was doing this I would transcribe some of that song so I could get the idea of how does a drummer pull off sounding super solid yet keep it simple so who else did I pick out? I picked up shannon lucas from black dahlia murder who I says the direct opposite of that um extremely clean and precise not a lot of dynamics and it's a whole other style of music and let mia pick that looks like I don't have that example, so we'll skip straightforward tio dave lombardo rang, but if you guys don't know who shannon lucas is, you should definitely look up the black dahlia murder and uh, I would look up what a horrible night to have a curse and just listen to how precise and extreme the drums are, and I can tell you for a fact from having worked with them that that stuff is really on that program, but when you have a drummer who can play at two thirty two to fifty two to sixty bpm and keep it up, you're going to write a different style of music. So what if you're working with the dave lombardo and check out raining blood real quick? Use that it's old school also skip forward and let you guys hear when you play something slower it's funny when you hear something from back then it's nowhere near is tight as what we're used to nowadays but it's I think it's important to just realize that it's a completely different style of drummer all over the place it's wild it's chaotic but it's really cool and if you're working with somebody like that again, you're going to be writing different things to suit that part, and then lastly, I just wanted to pull up some cynic with a sean reiner who is again polar opposite of all these guys that pick this guy is jazzier nature, a ton more ghost notes, way more controlled, and lots of jazz influences. All right, so these guys are not necessarily my favorite drummers on earth, though I like them all a lot, and I've gotten to work with a few of them, and they're all great, but I picked them because they're so different from one another, and because if you only pick guys that do the same thing, you're going toe often just be locked into a result that sounds like you're ripping off one style, so try toe pick your examples from, I guess, is many varying different styles of metal as you can, and here is the exercise I would do. We already went through the first two parts of that, so pick your favorite drummers. Four of them try to have them be varied in style, and then, uh, this is where it gets overwhelming, and I had a challenge in my own head about whether or not I should say, pick entire songs like I did in my original easy drummer class, but a lot of you guys seem to have come back to me that it's too much work, tio do entire songs, and I get it. This could be very tedious if you're not going to do entire songs, at least pick your favorite parts like, um, you're only short changing yourself by not doing all the work, but if you needed to boil it down to what's the most important thing going to get you the most bang for your buck is pick your favorite parts and transcribed those into many, just like we did. And, uh, I'm going to go into the middies a little bit later, but you take them into midi, and then you ask yourself, how does this part effect overall vibe of the song. So, for instance, let's, go back to the stancik example rift comes in, and the drums are just kind of holding down the beat of first, and then he comes into an actual drumbeat. Now listen to it again and then try to imagine that with double bass on it instead, even if he was playing in half time, but he had a double bass, so would be a completely different band. This would be a slayer song, listen to that riff and tell me it's, not a slayer riff. On drums would make it in fact a slayer song and that I think that that right there is a perfect example of why the actual vibe dictated by these drums is everything so when you're doing this don't just finish the midi and say you're done then you have to ask yourself how this works within the context of the music or it's always has to be within the context of an actual musical piece and then lastly write something similar and I think that that's the part that's most important if you actually want to incorporate this into your style you have to then create something with it if you don't do that you're basically just a middie cover artist which is cool but not that cool so if if anybody has any questions about what we've already covered now would be the time to go on like because I'm about to take this further but a lot of people agreeing we've got one person who says I have been programing rock drums for a while but I'm starting to get metal clients I'm very excited about this class on guitar boy seventy six, seventy seven that is exactly what I did to teach myself programming grabbing my favorite trump songs and trying to play them on midi yeah, so I like that I like that approach well it's just like if you're learning it on guitar if you're picking up on instrument that you actually play with your hands, you learn other people's stuff in order to get better. I mean, most people do, and if you don't, you might you might have what I call a swiss cheese skills like you might be good at certain things, but it's going to be in complete, um, and the piano roll in the middie programming is the same thing. They treat it like it's an instrument, even though it's at a computer and it can get tedious practicing your scales can also get really tedious or practicing rudiments as a drummer can get hell, a tedious it's, not fun, but you've got to find a way to make it fun, and the way that I did was by working on people stuff that I actually liked, and that should be the main thing that you're that you're keeping in mind when you do this stuff is pick stuff you like don't work on stuff you don't like, um, if you work on stuff you don't like, that stuff you don't like is gonna work its way into your style, because anything that we learn then comes out in our style. So were a product of all our experiences, so don't don't go learning parts by drummers that you're not into, so anyways. I think that that's it with that exercise you should just do it all right that's all I have to say about that um we'll be getting deeper with that though, so sure one quick why? Steve steve, do you recommend just going straight with keyboard mouse or using something like drum pads or anything like that? Do you recommend just when you're when you're learning this, you know directly to the computer well, that's actually a very interesting question and one thing that I think is important whether you're doing this on a keyboard or you're doing this on a drum pad is that you envision in your head a real drummer playing the parts of air drum the parts and play them like that or whatever whatever you need to do if it's at a pad than, uh that's you know, a step more towards being like real drums, but the point is that you imagined the mechanics of what a real drummer would do. So if you're writing a part and you have something in mind, you program it and then you start air drumming it and you realize that you can't be here on this symbol and this tom at the same time as hitting a snare and a high hat it just doesn't work, you don't have four limbs same way that getting from this tom over here to this crash in a space of thirty second note. You know, I'm sure there's some guys who can do it and awesome for them, but most guys can't. And, uh, your drummer probably can't. So, uh, that goes back to working within the constraints and limitations of who you're working with, but you should definitely definitely try tio, actually air drum this stuff and doesn't matter. It looks ridiculous. That's, actually, something that my guests are going to be talking about, uh, we're all of us air drum, this stuff. Um, one of my guess is even a drummer, and he air drums stuff when he programs. So you have to make sure that this stuff actually works in real life and there's, no way to check it without physically trying, so, yeah.