Can we talk about creation of drums?

In Rack I feel like this is an area I struggle with, either drum patterns are too random or weird, or they are too regular and boring, and/or the drum sounds themselves are weak.

What techniques and tips do you use to create interesting and good sounding drums?

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Have you tried the Iverson sequencers? They bring lots of lovely probability to your regular patterns. Perfect for House/Techno and dance music.

For drum sounds it’s Vult Knock all the way for kicks and I like Palette for designing a variety of perc sounds. I’ve recently bought the Prok collection but haven’t had time to play with them yet.

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I’ve enjoyed using the Frozen Wasteland Quad Algorithmic Rhythm Generator a lot for drums, modulating the accents, pads, offset, and/or steps can keep things pretty interesting. I often use Psi Op, Hora’s Hi Hat, and Vult Knock. The new Kickbaba module seems pretty good too.

Lapsus from Vult is also pretty nice for a reasonable amount of variation. The Vult Mysteries collection is $10, but worth it I think. Another commercial option is the Entrian Drum set, which is pretty powerful although I haven’t had time to properly explore it yet.

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Psi Op from Fehler Fabrik is a great Drum Synth for more unusual sounds.

The Prok collection is excellent, Erica drums is very useful too as is Plaits/Palette. Knock or the new Deep from Hora for Kicks or better yet, synthesise your own.

You can make some nice hats with filtered violet noise. I tend to use sampled snares - although there’s an excellent tutorial on the forum by Espen iirc about snare synthesis.

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Does anyone else find the Prok BD a bit “flammy”? It sometimes sounds like there’s a very short double hit going on.

Just a couple of tips, that might help.

  • Random patterns: less is more,

  • weird patterns: try to have a recognisable pattern within the weird pattern, so that it doesn’t sound too much out there.

  • regular/straight patterns: spice these up with swing and there where applicable different pattern lengths, so they become less “boring”.

Depending on whether you synthesized the drums yourself, or whether you chosen any of the fantastic drum modules that can be found in the several of plugins (Hora drums / Vult / Prok / Psi Op) And there are a couple of others that are sample based i think.

Most of them have a good starting point set, but it all really depends on what you are trying to achieve (type of sound/genre of music).

Post processing of the drum sound will take your drum/percussion sound a long way further, ranging from just EQ to distortion-gain / compression and/or delay-verb / saturation / frequency shifter / bit crusher.

Any combination of these in a creative way can have interesting results. Also remember to use switches on the effects to actually turn on/off the effect so they only get applied at the right moment when you really want it there.

Trial and error, rinse repeat :slight_smile:

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A technique I like to use if a drum pattern is too weird: reset the sequence with a divided clock. For example, even the weirdest sequence won’t be weird at all if you reset it every 4 steps. Try resetting it at 8 steps, 16 steps, 32 steps, (or in between but I think most of us are used to music that repeats in multiples of 4 so that will probably be considered the least weird) and dial in to your desired weirdness level.

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been doing this with a sampler too… record a bunch of rando random, set it to retrig on a divided clock and then move the start point around until I find a nice groove.

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I do that often with eugene. Just dial in some weirdness and then use some divided clock to reset at 8 or 16 clicks. Other than all the already mentioned tips, I strongly recommend using dynamics and ghost notes. Sequence a VCA for each channel to get dynamics and use random muted short sounds as ghost notes. Maybe try using gate-delays on different channels to change the feel to a more laid-back groove as well.

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for kick drums Palette can be pretty nice with 2 voices on the kick drum voice and then i’ll usually use Host fx and a distortion or saturator plus some eq. Rackwindows Tape, Felher Fabrik “Chi” or Vult Decline can be nice on drums too.

have you tried Hora’s new Deep? i have only used the premium version but its not bad. to me it can sound similar to the kicks on my Xbase09. the Hora 808 isnt bad either but it can have an inconsistent attack if you are trying to get that heavy slap.

like @Eurikon mentioned, post processing drums definitely helps a lot.

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A lot of people run drums through my “Shaper” for some saturation.

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When it comes to drum sequencing, you generally are going to want something pretty internally consistent that creates structure for your patch. The role of percussion in music is generally to establish a consistent rhythmic backbone for the piece, so too much variance in the sequence will leave your piece feeling kind of aimless and unformed. Sequential switches that allow you to progress through different preestablished patterns at regular (or controlled random) intervals are a good way to create movement in a patch without sacrificing form, as are modulation of the sound design parameters of the drum elements themselves.

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and if you are hopelessly retro like me you can just sequence the drums :wink:

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Maybe this should be a separate topic but how do you add swing? Semi-random modulation of a delay?

do you really want it random?

I don’t know if an alternating time shift is more ‘swingy’

You can add swing by using Clocked and adding swing to the output you are using to trigger the drum (closed high hat for example).

Swing usually works best with a X2 or X4 clock.

I second this question. I am unsatisfied by the “dry robotic” feel of the clocked swing. I know there is a micro time tool by orange line, but I rarely take the time to dial in a perfect swing with that. Any other options???

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Agree with the importance of form here. On top of using switches to go through set patterns like you mentioned, I like to send extra triggers in those in-between moments left empty by the backbone structure and make 'em go through a Bernoulli gate so that they only hit occasionally.

And maybe it’s been brought up already, but slightly changing the amplitude of your percussive hits can add some life to your drums. And while modulating volume, why not take this further and modulate other parameters along the way (ex: the release value from your ADSR, the cutoff value from your VCF, etc.)

I’m all out of swing options here! Ive used Clocked, Swing and the swing bit on Topograph.

swing is a pretty mathematical process - as the time between odd > even pulses gets longer, the time between even > odd pulses gets shorter. (Or vice versa)

If you are not liking the swing on Clocked and Topograph, perhaps swing isn’t what you are looking for or expecting?

Is there some software swing in other applications you do like?