Step 2: Block out the Arrangement


Metal Drum Programming


Lesson Info

Step 2: Block out the Arrangement

All right step two you've got the vibe down you know you wanted to be a crushing doomed track or grippingly fast or whatever step two is you block out the arrangement all right step one was five envision step to his block out the arrangement and uh the arrangement uh I mean this in terms of the parts themselves or and the song as a whole uh the goal here is to make sure that every single part of the song has the right field so when you're blocking out the arrangement the song you just basically are making a skeleton here and for uh for those of for people in the audience who illustrate or whatever it would be the same thing is when you do a pencil sketch on a note pad or uh you do the stick figure out lines that you're then later going to flesh in like it's the same exact idea you're making a skeleton for the song in midi but what's important about that skeleton is that the field is right for every part so if it's snare on down beats it doesn't matter if the phils air stupid it doesn't...

matter of your symbols just sound dumb yet what matters is that all the strong be it's happened in the right place and so start off by just programming very, very simple parts I get the point across again these don't need to be refined we'll get into how did refined them later but you do want to get from start to finish and you do want to make sure that every part you get the picture on every part and I guess you know the examples that I wrote down would be do you want this to be an atmospheric part with symbols and tom's or is this supposed to be really intense part with a bunch of double bass and bombastic fills and sometimes it's not exactly obvious like with that dancing example, I show you guys where the riff of you a different drum beat to it could sound like a song by a completely different band it so it can be confusing but its that important the identity of the song lies within what kind of feel you put across so this some of you will recognize this but this is from easy drummer to uh they have some really, really good song writing features in there where this we're not going to know this is not an easy drummer to class, but I do have to say that their song creator we'll map out arrangements for you and you don't have to keep them exactly how they are like that this is what it looks like you basically receive I can pull that up real quick come on easy drummer there you are whoops drums, song creator and then check that out right here you have all these song structures and I'm not going to pull these in right now because that this set up the way I need it for this class but as you can see, my mouse is on the song structures a b a b short abc long if you guys don't know what that means you should tune in tomorrow because I'm gonna be talking about what all these song forms are but anyways you put these dictate different sections of a song like a b a b would be reversed course first course whatever we'll go into more detail tomorrow on the song writing melody class but anyways he pull these into here and they will they will block out an entire song structure for you and whether or not you keep the actual beats that air in there at least you've got a structure and then you can go in and refine we're fine it from there but er like I said this is not gonna be that easy drummer too if you want to watch a class about easy drummer to recurrence the amazing recurrence the honorable and great recurrence did a creative live about easy drummer too he is great I love that guy he's amazing um and yeah I guess you guys can find that on the creative live web site I'll show the link in the chat room ok killer killer um anyways so places to start and this goes back to vibe in vision for the song start with the field how do you want the part to field slows? Midtempo is a fast and like the dancing one I showed you that one's pretty slow the black dahlia one I was going to show you that ones fast. Uh, slayer, I'd say is kind of mid too fast, but like, what is how do you want each part to feel and here's? One thing to keep in mind the perceived speed is much war important than the tempo and what I mean by that is halftime drums over fast guitars can still be at a high tempo yet feel slow. So just remember that what the perceived speed is the most important thing, and also I'm going to be showing you guys slow examples that are like higher tempos, for instance. And so before you guys start spewing hate in the chat room about how have high tempos on slow songs just know that what I mean by slows the perceived speed, the feel of the song that is the most important thing here. So another thing is that you want you want the song to be interesting the whole time, and a way to do that is through controlling the dynamics now in aa. In metal, how do you control dynamics from section a section it's? Actually really tough? Because you only have, like, five or six options, but within those five or six options, uh, you really should learn how teo howto work, but, you know, it could be something as simple as this one part has double bass, and this one part doesn't have double bass. Uh, this one part is a blast seat on the high hat. This one part is a euro blast on the ride. Uh, that change, the dynamic of the song and little tweaks like that will make the song interesting the whole way through each part, and he used to have its own five. I don't know if any of you guys know of a dry run. And tom knight, he was a teacher or is a teacher, the atlanta institute of music, where I went to school for a while, and he we played for, like, tlc. And all these, like big r and b names, is basically a human metrodome. When the most amazing drum gods have ever had the honor of being in the same room within one of the things that he said to me first is, every drum part should play to the structure of the song, so it's not just that you're playing a cool beat that makes the part sound cool, you know, think about what comes to for it, what comes after and how this all falls into the big picture of the song you have a wicked double bass part that opens the song and you think it's so damn cool that you're just going to put something like that the whole way through, well, a p ece your drummer probably can't do it and be is boring. So remember, while every part should have its own vibe, it should be interesting the whole way through and one, just like you guys will probably find an example to refute me with this every you know, with everything I say, you confined opposite things, but then this is generally true is that don't follow one part with another part that has a similar vibe, so you know, if you go from blast beat to blast beat to blast, speak to blast beat the effect that you have isn't lots of blast beats. The effect that you have is that the person skips your song. Um, if you have nothing but double bass, well, the effect you have isn't that people think you're so bad ass because you're playing double bass the whole time what you have is that people get bored and skip your song um or the other effect that you have is you got to play this stuff live and people say wow, they really suck in real life I can't believe that it was really when I heard it on the record when you play double basis to fifty bpm for four minutes straight but yeah, I guess I guess it makes sense no one can actually do that in real life besides shannon lucas or alex rudiger and uh lastly use tension and release to add movement and I'm going to get into how to actually program tension release into your midi but just like tension and release is important in actual song writing it goes down to a drum programming level and one of the best ways to do that is through getting good at using velocities the velocities are the best way I think to use tension release effectively but we're going to get into the specifics and I'll give you guys exercises and we'll have a good time so well so get some more music starts of basic slow parts no I'm going to do is they're going toe play you guys some stuff and, uh let you uh this is where I want some feedback from the crowd on what they hear in these parts, so what I'm gonna do is I'm going to play the part from the song itself then I'm going to play you the middie that we programmed in that way you can kind of hear the drums on their own and I want to hear what your thoughts are. So, uh, we'll start with a song by everybody's favorite bands stone sour and we're specifically looking at the drumbeat in the verse no play you the, uh, draw many that we got for that. All right, so first of all, pretend like there's no kicks on here and I think the best way to do that would be to have no kicks on there so and mute him way might hear them in the overheads in the room. So embarrass me on this suspected okay, so just that just what the hands air doing provide most of the motion in my opinion, the where the snares landing to me is almost everything. Yes, so mark zero he says that the you notice that the high hat feels fast against the b uh, mike bacon sounds like a basic four four with added kicks um and then charles monroe what holds the feeling slow is the snare? Yep, correct. Let's, listen to that again. See, I think that the hats do help it phil or more intense, but I think that the kicks air really what's was pushing it in my opinion, but yeah, for sure the snare is what keeps it in that in the idea, the general idea of slow and what the hats and the kicks are doing are adding intensity for sure, but if you again, if you're to take away one of those elements like let's, listen, they're just kicking snare I think that gives you completely different information about the beat then if you started like this, but the one thing that's constant about all that, I guess you could also started like this, but I don't know anyone who would do this. It all works together, but you kind of have to define first off, in my opinion, where the beat lies, and I think that the snare is what's really defining that? Yes, sir, and then one one more kind of interesting thing that a couple people said, steve said, apart from the kick it's, very simple and straightforward and to walk, says the hands aren't doing anything terribly interesting on their own very solid backbeat, but the kicks ad movement intention to the song. Yeah, and let me just say that simplicity is your friend. This stuff does not have to be complicated is a matter of fact, it shouldn't be complicated unless you make the deliberate choice for it to be complicated, like it shouldn't just be complicated for the sake of being complicated it's, how about see if anybody in the chat room thinks that it should be more complicated I don't think so I think it's perfect the way it is but I'm just going to say that I don't think that's a very complicated picture on pattern I think it's pretty simple like try to play on a talk done done, done, done, done, done done right benton benton that's easy honestly I don't know there's anything complicated about this beat? I think everything about it is pretty basic. However, it is the exact right beat for the riff and I think that that's that's what's important about it um cave mays says exactly that the drums got out of the way of the song like it should have because their other melodies that also need to be heard yes correct I'll play the song again to see you as can have that is a reference one more time I actually think that the snare is helping giving it motion actually hearing that but the kicks air actually playing the guitar riff exactly so it marries the guitar riff to the feel of the vocals while giving it a forward motion which is why it works so let's take another example of something slow and this is a new example of a thunder tom part by a band called isis no relation to the terrorist group this is an old doom band and this is another example of some slow stuff this is so us can hear a thunder tom part all right, you can hear it's, droney it's do me it's slower and, uh, the beats not totally established and now I'm going to play you guys the actual drumbeat and again, I want you guys to be giving me your thought and what you're hearing. Let me just say one thing that I think is very important about this is the use of space ten ten, ten, ten ten ten ten ten trunk space to turn to turn to rent int intent space that right there does that employs tension and release in its own way just within the drumbeat space. Then again and the phrase is air different every single time but it's the same idea you get a thunder tongue with a little fill that wraps it up and then space and let you hear it within the song again. Any thoughts yet from you know gallery co anchor of natasha says I noticed there's no kick the reber bombed the tom's adds lots of tension on mark zero the river makes it sound to you even bigger. I think the river doesn't add tension it adds vibe which could be used this tension but I think the tension and the release is in the start on the stop of it not so much in the river I think and who knows if that's reverb aru mme sound they could have recorded that in a very big room and that could just be the sound of drums a band like isis you would expect a more natural sending recording but yes, the reverb is in my opinion a very a big part of that as well and uh you know you can control reverb on some of these easy drummer packs or add your own but yes that's more of a mixed thing and I will be giving a mixed class later on in september the thirtieth I believe but that is something important tio to consider however I will say this I think that people shouldn't get carried away and mixing this stuff because we're talking about writing so don't confuse mixing and writing definitely if you want big reverb drums and that's the vibe of your song cool put on a big reverb and go because if you have very tight, precise, clean small drones that it might be harder to write what you're going for but just don't get too carried away with that because it's goingto kill your creativity so a couple of comments lots of comments about like building up the tension and building up though that drama sets a buildup for the song creating tension and preparing the listener for release in the songs is paul tom yep mikey prs builds up nicely awesome, pretty good buildup to the following let's see, mike perez gives it power when it gets to the height of the intro. Yeah, exactly when you get to the height of the intro. Well, first of all, you notice the vocals come in parksville partially through the example, and then a really big phil takes place, which is taking us further into the song into the actual body of the song and allah, I let it run through that a little bit more. Okay, you can see or hear it's uh, actually going into a drumbeat in the next part and opening up, so the tension and release is not only within the actual part itself, but it's within the whole arrangement of the entire song it's going from a part where it's not constant, where it stop and start, start and stop, start and stop build, build the arrangement, add the vocal lt's at a big ass phil and then you're into the beat and so that's that's using space effectively and growing the arrangement to build tension, which then releases so yeah, that's great from to walk seventy six twenty even though there isn't a traditional back beat with the use of repetition, it's still establishes a groove and feel totally, yeah, absolutely we'll play it one more time I think that also that comes from the guitar part of the arrangement because the guitar isn't planning something very noted he's just strumming a riff. So you are getting a lot of the, uh I guess where the time where you feel the time does come a lot from the guitar, because even with the drums stop, the guitar continues on something with nickel, but yes, his absolutely right. Um, and let me just say real quick before you give me the next question, there is a next one that this is what I mean by doing an active listening exercise. We're doing one together right now, but this is what you guys should be doing on your own. I picked these parts because I think they're cool and I think they, uh they basically illustrate what the hell are we even talking about in the first place? But you guys might not even like these bands and that's cool if you don't, you should do this on stuff you like and stuff you want to incorporate into your style, but this is if you're wondering how to do list active listening exercise, this is how you do it, play it, you transcribe it and you ask yourself, well, what the hell's going on here, and how does it affect the song so what's up just we could keep going with this for as long as you want, so you could take one more and then move on to the next example, perfect one from paige's the dynamics makes it if he hit the toms loud as he could every hit, it would have a totally different feel and lose that fight. Oh yeah, absolutely, um, let me pull up the velocities on this real quick, and steve agreed with that and said, I love the way he sneaks in the smaller hits in between the big one's totally check out the velocities on this, I'll play the example, make sure that the song itself isn't playing. Check out the velocities on on this is it plays you know, I think one thing that's also worth noting here is that you might not transcribe this perfectly because you don't you can't really hear everything in a recording and that's ok, I don't not do this just because you're afraid of not being able to transcribe it perfectly that you're not going for perfection here, what you're going for us understanding and understanding and perfection or two completely different things you're not going for perfection. Perfection is for the mix in the final product, what you're going for, his understanding vied, I feel and how it works song structure, tension release that these air conceptual things so try to at least get eighty five percent of the way there with the accuracy of your active listening and your many examples but don't don't kill yourself if it's not perfect and don't not do this because it's not perfect here's another example of this is from a indications strange song called a car bomb I like that name um I'll play you guys the song first and then uh well I'll skip to or words where the where the drums come in well here's another slow example s so heavy um and here let you hear the drums now now there's a very, very interesting tension release device being used in these drums and, uh I'm going to try to not talk about it and see if anybody in the audience catches thiss but I had to play one more time from the song itself and what I want you guys to be listening for is there is one element in these drums which provides all the tension and it's glaringly obvious to me let's see, it is glaringly obvious to you guys you could play this song again one moment, guys cool. We know a soon as there's some questions going, but in the meantime uh so one thing to note about this this is another slow feel and right here it was basically just riding on one symbol and you're having the slowness actually dictated by the snare here where the snare lands don't chant in tow done done that tent and like there is telling you everything yes sir yeah so paige says the kick is following the guitar riff yet again and the snare is adding that smack accent symbols are doing the same yes, but that doesn't tell me where the tension releases is to see if anybody if anybody uh came up with that have not allah give you guys the prize and in the meantime yes, the kicks are matching the guitars perfectly and the basically you've got three things going on. The snare is dictating the feel the kick is matching the guitars and the symbols are giving you the metro gnome three completely different functions listen to it again and that's important to note there's uh three limbs in action maybe four limbs I don't know if he plays this on a single kick or double but anyways you got three things going on again the symbol one, two, three, four one, two, three, four that's dictating the tempo that's the metrodome the snare one, two, three, four one, two three for that's dictating the field and then the kick drum is detained, the rift done done don't don't don't don't don't down, down, down, down and I realize that sound like an idiot when I sing this stuff out but you guys seem to be doing the same thing so we all need to sound like idiots together so what's up right? So we've got a few people who gave answers all of them different so far mike bacon the tension releases from the space between the kicks bring doug seventy six attention releases from the symbols whitney s alive the attentions created by the triple it feel near the end of the yes who said that? Mm parts you got it but with eyes alive with eyes alive you're smart I wish I could give you some sort of ah cookie or something but but you khun just in lieu of that you just can't have a good day today knowing that you're smart not saying that none of you got other guys they're smart in there either but yes it goes from a straight field to a triplet field odd too I mean even tow odd odd just naturally having an odd number things even in an even space adds tension because of the way that the human here in the human brain like to perceive things you know in orderly fashion one, two, three, four one, two, three four so it's done done done done done that's all and even time and then the dun dun dun dun dun dun that's all in triplets check it out attention released built right into the beat itself and that's what makes it interesting? Try to imagine what it would be like if it didn't have triplets there don't on content intent and ten ten contented intendant and whatever it wouldn't be nearly a school, it would be like the second half of it the whole time, just that second half through the whole beat, it would be nearly as cool. So it's a very, very effective way of using tension releases, adding odd time into their anything else anybody has to say on this before I move on uh, I'm about to move on, if not once. Mm party and paige's a couple comments here tension release is actually not triplets, but dotted quarters, I think, uh mm party says our paxson says how many arguments over troops I've had in the studio with bands over that. So can you talk a little about that difference? Uh, I've always it doesn't mean that his dotted quarters in this example yeah, that's what it sounded like to them, I think well, you know, he might be right, but the I think that the, uh that it's still going from straight to something odd that's that's the big idea there is even tow odd it's not something as it's, not something as important as the specific the exact specific thing that's happening and that's what I mean is you're going for eighty five percent ninety percent right if you don't have every last little detail about it but this is not this idea is not like the triplet fight that you have in the studio where people play three sixteenth notes in a pattern and think it's a triplet that's not the that's not the argument we're having that that's not the point of this the point of this is that it goes from even tow odd I mean from odd yet even tow odd even tow odd so it goes from from being in a place is resolved to a place attention back to a resolution or tends to non tents or non tense too tense I keep getting that backwards because I do things backwards we uh we good yeah let's keep your ok cool let's pick out another example I'm not going to able to get to every single one of these so I want to skip forward to one of my faster examples and this is by a band most of us know in love this is at the gates and I will let you hear the song first and uh just make sure that we are in the same page right here and uh this is you know that this is borderline between fast in mid tempo it just it really just depends on the context of the band if the band goes way faster than this then this is mid tempo but this is their top speed than this is fast but anyway so let's just check out this beat pretty mind numbing when you hear without the cool asteroid if I let you guys hear the cool ass roof again no yeah if people want to tell me what they hear in that uh cool and if not I'll just tell you is what I hear in that which is that's just your basic metal skank beet uh you've got the kick holding down the timing and uh snare on the upbeat and it just goes for it and I actually think the tension release isn't being provided by the drums I think that this kind of drumbeat all it does is it gives you a feel which is right riding the horse is what I like to call it, um and don't confuse what I call riding the horse with gallup rhythms that's some bands use yeah, one thing that's interesting to note here is that when you listen to it with the music you get more of a one two three four to two kind of vibe which is why I consider this mid pace when you listen to the drums by themselves uh if the riff you can it doesn't really give you much of that information if the rift was much faster then this will feel much faster. Yeah, it was like a sixteen note riff darrington did enter and that that deterrent it, whatever that kind of stupid stuff, then this would feel like a much faster song. So that right here is an example that you guys should consider that sometimes the feel is dictated by something other than the drums. And sometimes the drums need to just keep the tempo going and that goes back subsiding. Exactly which role the drums you're gonna have into context of the song, we'll tell you one more mid tempo beat and then we'll move on to other stuff by the ghost. Inside is a song called destined because song second guys, teo, skip forward. Okay, what I think is really interesting to note about this. Is that this to me? This, uh, this ghost inside example er is a midtempo example. Um, but the field right here is being dictated by where the snare falls to me. This at the gates example is also a midtempo example, but the fields being dictated by where the guitars fall. S o that's just a key distinction I want people to make is figure out what is the instrument that's dictating where the beat is going to go or where the field is going to be, and then you work around that it's not always going to be the drums and this by doing more active listening you guys will we'll figure that out now I'm going to skip forward too the exercise and basically you guys need to do once you get to the next thing it is right your own stuff and basically take one slow one mid and one fast and turn them into song sections or turned them into songs the more these you do the better off you will be and I will play you real quick my sloman and fast because we're going to go into these into detail later on after the break but this is what I came up with first low men and fast this one's actually the slow markers got moved around a little all right? So that's my example of something slow you just have a slow basic beat going slow riffs my example something more mid tempo a little bit cooler too all right well you hear that without the riffs and again with these just be listening note what is that? What is propelling this forward again and I'll let you hear what the rift now cool and then lastly I'm going to play you as a fast example right now I'm powering through these because I want to get to my skype call with andy marsh and uh we're going to go into these later but I'm going to play just these drumbeats and just, you know, these are just things that I picked up from doing active listening on other artists. So this is just a double bass with stare on the upbeat, and another thing that I should say is, if you're not sure how to start, also look at the tune, track grooves and alter them. That is a very good thing to do. I back it, you should do it. But you know, the more you do from scratch, the better off you're going to be, and what do you think? Would you think using pre program midian that editing it from there would b is effective learning tools, such as starting with many girls from yes and no, I think it's a very effective tool of you get from point a to point b very quickly, and hey, sometimes that tune track committee is exactly what you're looking for. So, yes, it's, a very effective tool, and you should do it. But while you're learning how to do this and you want to get better at it, you should definitely do these exercises.

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