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How Can I Make Drum Loops?


Dave Pierce

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Can you guys help me out a little bit here? I've searched a little on this topic, and I haven't found answers to my specific needs. Let me give you the background quickly:

 

* I want to make scratch recordings of my originals for my new originals band.

 

* I want to be able to create a drum pattern, then loop it, with some variations. Stock patterns won't do -- I want to show the drummer the accents I hear in my head. :)

 

* I'm definitely NOT looking for the full-on music workstation experience here. I work with computers all day long at work -- making music on them at night sounds like a total drag to me. (Yes, I know how powerful they can be. I just don't want to go there).

 

* A drum machine would be fine. Easy to use software would be fine too. I'll probably just record the audio output to a 4-track recorder, or to my Pro Tools system or something.

 

* If there is free software that does this I'm all over that, but I don't mind spending a Franklin or two if that's the right answer.

 

* The overriding criteria for me is quick and easy. I'm not looking for finished-product recordings here, just a scratch track I can show my bandmates.

 

So -- whatcha think? Hopefully I'm not opening some great Mac/PC, drum machine/sequencer, live/memorex debate here... :D

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Hmmm. I guess google is my friend. :P When I spent more than seven seconds googling, :rolleyes: I found something that seems useful, called Acoustica Beatcraft.

 

I'd still be very interested in any opinions you guys have, but hey -- I've already got a passable scratch track for a verse. :D

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Dave,

 

For a low-cost solution, I just use my keyboard (with drum sounds of course) and then record that on my computer using Audacity. Audacity then allows you to move stuff around, copy it, etc. Can make a usable loop if you work at it a bit.

 

I learned of Audacity on this message board, so perhaps you know about it. I think Blueskeys told me about it.

 

You can get it here - http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download

 

Make sure you get the plug-in too to allow you to save as MP3.

 

Great little free program.

Steve (Stevie Ray)

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

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If you're using software make sure it had a dedicated scoop erase feature. This allows you to erase mistakes by holding down the erase button while pressing the pad that made the note you want to get rid of at the same time... all while the loop is active and you're recording. All drum machines do this.

 

It's the fastest way to make rhythm loops. You're adding parts, erasing this, trying out that... all while the loop is going. On-the fly quantization change is also helpful. Almost all drum machines also do this.

 

I like drum machines btw. :D

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Thanks guys!

 

If this software I found doesn't work out, I'll probably look for a drum machine on eBay.

 

Busch - I wouldn't say that I use ProTools. I own a small Digi 001 system, which I put together when I first got back into playing almost five years ago. But I've found that I have very little patience for using computers to make music, it feels too much like work. It is a good tool for recording though, and I have done a little bit of recording on it. It's mostly a highly-efficient dust collector in my garage. :rolleyes:

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Sounds like something along the lines of the Alesis SR-16 might work.

 

If you are willing to record to 4-track, I'd also recommend tappping out drum beats on keys using the sounds in your board(s).

 

Nowadays, a computer is almost necessary for music-making when you are the sole conductor. :):cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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This is one of my fav. topics for an enthusiastic loop-maker like myself. :D

 

Dave, first of all, what gear do you have currently, and what style of music are you aiming for? If you have some basic workstation like a Motif or a triton, you can make some really cool drum loops. If you have a sampler, load it with the best acoustic drum samples, or electronic kits, depending on what type of sound you're aiming for. I have both Acoustica Beatcraft and FXpansion GURU, and though acoustica beatcraft is a really nifty tool, guru is the closest thing you can get for a simple and easy drum solution. Some tips :

 

- You can listen to records of your favorite artists and try to imitate them.

- Layering drums can give you awesome results. Dont layer too much, because then it'll just sound cheesy.

- If you have a sampler, you can go wild with it (depending on what sampler you have). Consider changing the pitch of your samples, adding a step filter for each strike of the drum sample (for each step), adding a random LFO, time stretch, layering different pitches, etc., It depends on how much you can do with your sampler.

- If you're going for acoustic drum loops, then concentrate on getting the best samples you can, and then trying your best to imitating a real drummer. For example, use choke groups for hihats,and dont use too many sounds at the same time, something that a real drummer cant do. After you finish your loop (assuming its still in midi format), quantize it to a perfect 16th or 32nd resolution (or maybe different, depends on what time you're working with), and then quantize it again, this time, with a slight swing feel (if your sequencer has that function).

- Work on velocities for each hit. If you're doing a drum roll, not each will have the same velocity. Try a little inconsistency in velocity.

 

Thats all i can remember for now. From what I've learnt so far, you cant get a good loop unless you spend a lot of time with it. I.e. you cant get an amazing drum loop in 3 minutes. Requires some more effort than that. :)

Dont follow me....i'm lost too....
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Originally posted by delirium:

Alesis SR-16 I threw out from the window...

Completely unusable and hard to program.

delirium, were you able to put it back together a la humpty dumpty and sell it? :P

 

It could very well work in Dave's situation. At least worth checking out. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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when I want to lay a beat down quick I use a DR-770. I use it to control my Motif ES Rac drums.

It is real easy to Lay ideas down in a hurry.

MY Toys - Kurzweil PC1X, Roland A-90, Yamaha KX88, Yamaha CS1x, Novation 49SL MkII, Presonus Studiolive 16.4.2, JBL PRX615M

 

My Music Page

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Originally posted by keyman_sam:

Thats all i can remember for now. From what I've learnt so far, you cant get a good loop unless you spend a lot of time with it. I.e. you cant get an amazing drum loop in 3 minutes. Requires some more effort than that. :)

Actually, if you play the drums (I can do so to an OK standard using the keyboard) and you do a "run" for a number of bars you'll usually find a few where everything really gels.

 

That said... I think you have to take care over not having a loop with too much heavy accenting--otherwise it ends up sounding like a "loop" as it were. (As in... you often end up choosing what sounds "interesting," but what you may really need is something more "steady.")

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Dave, I bought a book that was very helpful in understanding the components of the groove. It is written by Ed Friedland ,who contributes to Bass player magazine.He gives a lot of different styles of music and the makeup of the groove with drum and basslines included. He gives tips on programming the drum machine and tips on accents. Some of the styles are;

 

James Brown

Meters

bom bom

Reggae

Jimmy Reed

Flat tire groove

Eighth note grooves

Chuck Brown

Disco octave

and more

 

I find it makes a good reference book for the drum machine ,It has a cd included.

I was pretty pitiful at programming it before I got it

 

 

http://www.edfriedland.com/img/book_bassgrooves.jpg

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Thanks for all the tips, guys. This place rules!

 

I've had zero music time today (just got home from work, then a movie with the wife). But seriously, all I need to do is capture the feel of a tune. This won't end up on any recording that will be heard by people not in my band. I just want a better way to show the guys my new tunes than making bass and snare noises in the mic while playing the tunes. ;)

 

--Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Originally posted by Trill:

Dave, I bought a book that was very helpful in understanding the components of the groove. It is written by Ed Friedland ,who contributes to Bass player magazine.He gives a lot of different styles of music and the makeup of the groove with drum and basslines included.

Looks great... I'll be ordering a copy of that, for bass line playing/programming as well. :thu:
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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Trill:

Dave, I bought a book that was very helpful in understanding the components of the groove. It is written by Ed Friedland ,who contributes to Bass player magazine.He gives a lot of different styles of music and the makeup of the groove with drum and basslines included.

Looks great... I'll be ordering a copy of that, for bass line playing/programming as well. :thu:
I saw the book at borders and was going to use it to improve my left hand grooves. You could astually use the cd to show the guys in a band what groove your going for.

(Trill whispering) don't tell anyone but my respect for drummers went way up after discovering what it takes to get a great groove. ... A lot of cordination , You find out the hi- hat is what seperates the men from the boys :D

 

For $14.40 and with a CD ,you can't beat it.(Pun not intended)

Bass Grooves

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  • 3 weeks later...

After reading your needs, Dave, I would go with a hardware drum machine. The pads give you physical input and you can easily take it to practice and plug it in for the drummer to hear. A lot of people like Alesis. For me Roland and Boss have done well over the years. Even a deal on an Emu Command Station would be good. Those are actually the easiest I have found for doing drum parts as you can either build parts by pressing buttons, playing onto the pads, or piecing together different parts of included rhythms.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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Oh, and here is a tip.

 

Since you are using this to build patterns to show your drummer I suggest you select a drum kit that matches the sound of your drummer's kit. Build your patterns with those sounds and it will be easier for the drummer to give you that sound from his playing.

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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