Better Drum Programming

Piggy backing on the linear programming and the “only use 4tracks” approach,
How about using just one track?
You could use sound locks and p locks.
I think I’ll give this a try, I could use some practice with that type of utilization.


It’s good and all, but I figure if you have access to three or four drums you might as well use them.

When I use the Bbox machine in my MnM linear is how I keep it. Kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4, then a second track for hats.

Skip to like ten minutes


Digitakt has send fx, so sure you could use one track for drums and lock the send level if you want some fx. Ofc I also use sample locks on my OT. Since tracks are monophonic each sample gets cut off by the next one that’s triggered, so I’d use sample locks (or sample chains) for choking open and closed hats, but I also use them for variations.
I have a few drum machines I like sampled with different accents and/or sampled through outboard gear/recorded on to tape, so usually I do quite a lot of sample locking.
Using the same drum sound with different accents and different types of saturation is a mostly subtle but pretty effective way of introducing variation.
But I also put totally different drum sounds on the same track based on the type of insert fx loaded into the fx slots.
The linear drumming approach definitely makes that easier.

Also it frees OT tracks that might be needed later in the track, Thru Machines and maybe Neighbour Machines or any other stuff I might want to do,
Also prevents excessive fx use. :slight_smile:


I second all of these.
I got great results adding ‘ghost notes’ - low volume, low probability, maybe microtimed just slightly off - really humanises the feel.


It may be not the most direct and fastes way to a good drum programming, but beeing a non-drummer and having had the impression that my drum programming sucked, I bought an electronic drum kit and started to learn at least some basics myself.

It’s much fun to work with the sticks and my feet, to feel the body moving, and listening to the beat. After some time I recognised that my “programmed” drum parts became more and more vivid, groovy, and swinging. I think it’s because I somehow understood, what I was looking for, and could somehow imagine, what I should do :wink:

BTW there is a much cheaper way … get a drum-pad for some bucks, the ones drummers use to practice without their kit, two sticks, watch some of the many excellent online-tutorials, or get a beginners book to learn the basics.


Listen to Mike Clark play the drum set. Linear funk master.

A great way to use conditional trigs :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

The first instrument I learned to play was drums, I don’t play regularly anymore and you don’t need to be a drummer to be a good drum programmer but I do think there’s some truth to this.

Anyway conditional trigs, parameter locks, and the fill button are all there to help you add depth and feel to your beats without adding MORE drums/sounds. Use different reverb amounts, decay times, and pitch on snare hits in your fills or conditional trigs. And don’t forget about chromatic mode!!


Saw it on Amazon last night! Wish I had an extra $60 laying around

Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers

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Yeah, you can get the ebook for 9,99€.
I actually enjoy reading such books, because they make me look at the topic through from a different perspective and it’s always good to renew knowledge.
Also I think it’s good to sometimes do things in a different way, just for the sake of doing it differently.
I also usually skim through tutorial sites every morning :slight_smile:
So from this perspective I’d say it’s definitely worth reading no matter how long you’ve been making music.


Just starting to use more pattern variation for drum transitions. Add some toms at the end of the phrase, mute everything else. Throw a crash symbol in there. The hard pattern flip works well at times, but only in certain scenarios.

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it’s still available for ‘normal’ price here:

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Hello everybody! Let’s get the TLDR out of the way: My goal is to make better beats. How would you go about it?

I’ve made my own songs for about 20 years but it’s mostly been in the domain of atmospheric acoustic music with absolutely no percussion. Although I’ve listened to all kinds of music all my life, I probably haven’t listened to electronic / rhythmic music as analytically as many other types of music.

Since getting more into electronic music in the past 18 months I’ve noticed what I’ve known all along - I often struggle with making beats.

What I need is practice. What I have is time and determination. Two years from now I want to look back and see how I’ve developed. What I’d like to create is stylistically something akin to Aphex Twin, although more simplistic because my songs have a strong melodic, sometimes cinematic quality to it. In general, I’d like to build a sense of being able to know what kind of beat works with a specific track. This, I know, will be a life-long lesson.

What I would gladly take is advice from you guys. How would you go about it - in terms of listening, reading, practising? The dos and donts of it all… What are your favourite machines for making beats and why? (I’ve got Octatrack, Machinedrum UW and Digitone, although I rarely use DN for percussion.)

Hope you’re all well and can find time and inspiration to make music.


listening and practicing a lot. The more beats you make the better you get. As with everything you have to put in time to get good at it.
Watching tutorials on youtube. When I started with trying to do idm, electronic beats with some complexity, I found a few very helpful tutorials for ableton. Some of them were eye opener. These techniques usually translate well to all platforms, it‘s not gear specific.
Just put in time to find good quality tutorials, youtube is full of nonsense as well.
And listen a lot, trust your ears. Try to recreate some beats you like.

doesn’t get better than that :+1:
I would go with the machinedrum first, it‘s dedicated for this job


For a few ideas this is nice, no DAW needed it also applies to groove boxes, drummachines etc.

Of course, there are no rules and I don’t like to think in terms of genres, it’s mostly marketing speak these days anyway. Don’t box yourself in.

I think a simple looper helps to get feeling for a beat just for fun and practise. Introducing/removing elements periodically.


Any chance you remember which ones? My DAW is Logic but like you said, these will probably be useful no matter what.

My first choice right now as well!

This is where I just have to grind it out. No matter how educational it is, I’ve never, never done cover versions in any genre, as I’ve always preferred to spend that time making my own music. Will have to take a different stance on it now.

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doesn‘t have to be cover versions, just something in the ballpark :slightly_smiling_face:


Tons of teachers and pros recommend the “make your own version” of an artist’s song. It won’t end up sounding anything like it. Just recently I saw an interview with James Taylor saying he did something similar when first starting out. Also a famous author just said in an interview on NPR that he basically transcribed other author’s works for a few years to get a granular view of story structure and plot. It’s just an exercise that can make you appreciate the craft and learn some tricks. In the end you will still sound like you and AFX will still sound like AFX.


well, don’t cover things, just try and copy the patterns but with your own sounds.
You aways mess it up and make something new anyway, but the process of listening to something closely enough to copy it is the fastest way to pick up what’s going on.

IDM not withstanding there’s only so many patterns that sound great tbh, after that it’s sound choice, swing and mixing…

Also, it’s quite good to have something like this:

and just build beats based on random selections from it. Your sound, their patterns. After you’ve done a bunch of that you might be stocked up with a lot of new rhythmic ideas.

I find Attack Magazine’s “Beat Dissected” columns are another good resource.

After that use D16 Decimort to get some grit in threre and use some field recordings.

(that last bit might be personal taste)


Oh, that’s exactly what the last two people said in loads less words.


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By the end of the video I don’t think I would say it sounds exactly like Aphex, but it does sound pretty cool.

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