Finger Drumming Techniques

Any finger drummers here? I know that some of you use drum pad controllers to control their elektrons.

What are your finger drumming techniques? I’d been using different ‘default setups’ for quite a while now, but recently stumbled across some great finger drumming tutorials where the kick was not on pad 1, snare not on pad 2 etc. Optimizing the pad assignments makes finger drumming so MUCH more efficient and fluent!! I’m currently working on a setup specifically for house/techno grooves, but still work in progress, kick on pad 13 (!), several hihats/snares etc all over the place. I structure the pads not by sounds but in a rhythmic way: A) straight 4th’s - kick and hihats, B) snare 4th’s, C) offbeat 8th’s, D) anything in between. I’m als trying to follow the natural position/flow of my hands.

What’s your pad setup? Anybody here doing finger drumming on elektrons like all those guys in the MPC/Maschine communities?

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In my MPC days I used a default kick pad 1, snare pad 2, etc type layout for a while but then moved to a layout similar to this:


Then I stuck to it for years. Even today, after not doing finger drumming for 9 months or so, if I see pads and the sounds are not laid out like this my brain and fingers just can’t understand it.

(image is from here: http://hiphophypedog.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/production-tips-akai-mpc-mapping.html)

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That’s a nice setup. Maybe that’s just it.

I just moved things around because layering kick and closed hat and/or ride in one hand feels weird once you add a clap to the same hand. But that’s just how I prefer playing (basic beat in the left, special stuff in the right). You could also just use two hands to clap :smiley:

Any other thoughts? In the MPC and Maschine communities, there’s a lot of live drumming going on. I would just like to share some thoughts about applying such a kind of approach on the Elektrons.

Quiet here, but if you’re reading this with passive interest: check your drum pads! they should trigger sounds even with the lightest touch. I’m using a MPD32 and now I finally put 4 layers of tape into the space between the drum pad rubber and the sensors, as discussed in many places in the internet.

Whoaaa, what a blast!! Like being used to be practicing on a standard piano and switching to an open concert grand! I never thought that some tape can have so much impact! you can get used to anything, but if some tape can make fills, crescendos and relaxed drumming with your finger tips so much easier?

Check your pads, if you haven’t already!

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I guess with they way the RYTM is set up with specific sound engines on certain pads you could never do this rejiggeration of the pads? That set up makes total sense!

I guess with they way the RYTM is set up with specific sound engines on certain pads you could never do this rejiggeration of the pads? That set up makes total sense![/quote]
You’re right, not on the Rytm itself, but on a controller!

BTW, that’s the setup I ended up with after lots and lots of iterations:


Left half for basic quarter beat stuff, right half for offbeat hats etc. Pads 1, 14, 15, 16 control tracks on the OT, all the other pads are assigned to the Rytm. I do fills on OT pads when changing the kit on the Rytm and vice versa. Llayering sounds is easy with this setup. Sometimes I also map more pads to the OT (for instance one ride on the Rytm, one on the OT), not so sure about that part yet.

Say hello if you would like to discuss more about this topic.

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nice to see how people are approaching this… i totally agree @MK7 - default layouts make no sense! they seem to be derived from old GM maps which don’t translate well to playability on pads… probably fine for key boards, i don’t know… but who wants to play drums on the keyboard?

my layout is more similar to what @koam suggested, and i have a similar situation in that I now use the layout all the time and having things in different spots really confuses me!

the main difference is that i’ll rarely have more than 6 or 8 drum sounds, sometimes more if it’s a nice break with some ghost hits that you just can’t miss out on… the rest of the pads will be dedicated to sample chops or melodic loops/basslines that can help add more structure to the beat.

i spent ages doing this and even put together an EP of single pass live takes on the 1k. the vid below is a bit old now, but gives you some idea of what i’m getting at.

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apologies for the triple vid above… can’t seem to fix it? not sure whats happening there…

Nice video, thanks for posting!

I need so many drums (which I also replace frequently) to keep the drums entertaining in a techno/house sense. Basically I just analyzed the way how I was programming beats on my gear and translated this to a drum pad. I/we also have other sources for melodies (a System-1 for live played basses etc with the right hand, and my music colleague with 1-3 electribes), but I have to admit that I really like this MPC approach where you have all you need on the pads. Maybe I design some kits with such a layout, or add a second pad layout on bank B like this.

Did you try to apply a finger drumming approach to the Elektrons or are those just just good old MPC times? I’m really satisfied with using Elektrons for finger drumming, ‘reducing the barriers’ between different worlds/approaches. The MPD, Rytm, OT combo somehow feels like a MPC (very expensive one though…) with very different brain :smiley: … a crossfader that scrolls through whole libraries of sounds …

https://www.macprovideo.com/tutorial/maschine-virtuosity

Great tutorial! I’m practicing the lessons already and can really recommend it to anybody interested in finger drumming.

I’m not yet sure what’s the optimal degree of finger drumming in a house/techno live setup, maybe just for breaks or build-up’s, and do the rest once via live recording mode. However, it might be a good idea to practice more than will be needed in the end…

Any ideas?

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(not my cup of tea), but a good example

That’s what I need, thanks for posting!


very nice
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Anyone looking for some inspiring finger drumming vids should check out the spinscott YouTube channel. All non sequenced jungle on various mpcs. Mind boggling and he makes it look so easy and casual.
Finger drumming has never come naturally to me which is kind of weird since I’m a drummer. I think I’d be better suited with a pad controller like an octapad (or something more modern) but they’re so expensive. I’ll probably just build something someday if I can find the time.

This is some kind of training with a similar layout as shown in the beginning of the thread. With the alternating hands it feels more natural to play than with the standard layout (at least to me) and is supposed to give quick results that sound musical.

And if you need some motivation, Jeremy Ellis is always a shure shot. Here´s a full recording I made of his show some time ago. Awesome dude!

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Digging deep to resurrect this one…

I’ve recently been working on pad drumming with Koala using a Launchpad X and figured I’d update my approach from my MPC2000XL era of the mid 00s.

I checked out a lot of different options but this is the one I like best:

Which is explained here:

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It’s worth saying that while finger drumming originated via pad grids, the idea has branched off with respect to deep sampled instruments eg this is the keymap for a (Kontakt based) Piccolo Snare (obviously an entirely different approach than playing an entire kit with a couple of snare samples, vs 384)

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