Programming Amazing Drum Tracks: a Guide for Non-Drummers
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Programming Amazing Drum Tracks: a Guide for Non-Drummers

A non-drummer's guide to creating and mixing amazingly realistic drum tracks. Make your music professional and saleable.
4.8 (45 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
694 students enrolled
Created by Carl Eden
Last updated 11/2014
Current price: $10 Original price: $45 Discount: 78% off
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  • 4 hours on-demand video
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • program amazing drum tracks that sound like they were played by a pro drummer.
  • mix like a professional to make your drum tracks cut through your mixes and shine.
  • make your music more saleable by giving it a pro drum sound.
View Curriculum
  • You will need a computer running sequencing software of your choice.
  • A MIDI keyboard would be helpful but not essential.
  • You will need a basic understanding of your sequencer software - how to load an instrument on to a track, how to open the piano roll/key editor and how to apply simple eq and effects.

"Carl Eden you are a hero, all these silly vids on yotube are telling one to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on vst plugins or whatever, imagine how simple it was. thank you from the bottom of yours truly"

"Just what I was looking for! Thanx a million! You say it straight and to the point! Great course! Be blessed!"

Do you dream of selling your songs? Would you like your tracks to sound like a real, world-class drummer played on them recorded in one of the finest studios in the world? The start of a great song is a great drum track with a fantastic feel, pristine sound and bespoke, fluent fills, however only the few can afford the skills of a real, talented drummer plus time in the studio.

In this course I give you all the skills and knowledge you need to program original, professional and organic beats and mix the results for maximum impact within your songs. Learn the recording and mixing tricks of the pros and all without ever having to pick up a pair of drum sticks!

Absolutely no prior knowledge is needed and, by the end of the course, you will be creating and mixing drum tracks that shine and that give your songs the edge that's needed to stand out.

All you need is any sequencer software that can load soft synths and that utilises a piano-roll-style editor (ie. all of them including Cubase, Ableton, Logic, Sonar and Reaper). Where third party plugins are used, links are given to freeware alternatives.

And, with a one month money-back guarantee in case you are not completely satisfied, you have absolutely nothing to lose so sign up now and begin to create commercial-sounding drum tracks today.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is for computer musicians wanting to produce top quality, album-ready drum tracks right in their sequencer.
  • You may have limited or no knowledge of drumming.
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Curriculum For This Course
30 Lectures
1 Lecture 00:44

A brief introduction to the course.

Preview 00:44
The Drum Kit is a Real Instrument
2 Lectures 03:21

In this lecture we take a look at the real drum kit in order to understand how it works, how it is played and how the various percussion elements come together to make a successful drum rhythm.

Understanding the Drum Kit

A quick note on the standard drummer limb-count!

A Word on the Limitations of the Drummer!
1 page
Getting Ready to Record
2 Lectures 05:19

A brief overview of some of the premium drum samplers on offer today with links to check them out for yourself.

Choosing a Drum Kit Plugin
3 pages

This lecture is all about getting set up in your sequencer ready to record your first drum track. By the end you will have the drum plugin and tracks set up correctly.

If you're not a Cubase user then don't worry as the process is very similar from sequencer to sequencer. You will need a basic understanding of your own sequencer including:

  • how to load a drum plugin on to a track
  • how to create an empty part on that track
  • how to access the key or piano roll editor for that part
  • how to do the same for two more drum plugins -OR-
  • how to create two extra midi tracks to access the original drum plugin.
Setting Up Your Drum Tracks in Your Sequencer
Creating Realistic Drum Tracks
5 Lectures 01:03:19

This lecture takes you through the process of creating a basic bass and snare track with a natural feel. All note input is done in step time so no live playing is required. You will:

  • find the bass and snare drums in your key/piano roll editor
  • step time record a basic bass and snare rhythm
  • experiment with changing the feel through manipulation of the bass drum timing
  • use velocity to emulate the way that a real drummer plays.
Preview 13:22

In this lecture you will use the second part you previously created to record the hi-hats. You will:

  • learn how to create 8th notes
  • use velocity to humanise the hi-hat part
  • add extra grace notes for a more sophisticated feel
  • learn when to use open hi-hats
  • explore 16th note rhythms.
Adding the Hi-Hats

In this lecture you will discover what ghost notes are and how real drummers subconsciously use them to enhance the feel. You will learn the rule about how to place ghost notes and how to adapt that rule for your particular track.

These 'Secret' Ghost Notes Will Transform Your Track

In this lecture we will consider:

  • why add percussion?
  • when is percussion appropriate
  • a brief introduction to Latin American rhythms
  • how to humanise 'clicked in' rhythms.

Additionally links are provided below to both Latin American and African rhythms resources.

Adding Percussion

Why loosen up a track? Shouldn't drums be tight? The answer is 'to an extent.' Drummers are human beings too and will impart a human feel on what they play. In this lecture we will look at:

  • manually moving notes off the quantise grid
  • pushing and pulling the various drums and cymbals
  • loosening up our three player percussion track
  • making sure our adjusted loop doesn't glitch.
Humanize! Loosening Up the Tracks
3 Lectures 23:54

In this lecture you will learn:

  • where to place your fill
  • how to use the various drums to create your first fill
  • the correct way to play toms
  • how to use the snare in a fill
  • the role of the hi-hat in the fill
  • how to create a human-sounding fill
Creating Your First Fill

No drummer is an island. In this lecture we look at more sophisticated techniques for fills and how the drummer and other musicians (by which I mean other instrument tracks) might sound tight by agreeing on how to phrase a given fill.

Add Fills & Phrasing Like a Real Drummer

In this final session on fills we will look at fills as musical punctuation marks, different sizes of fill for different purposes and the use of the crash cymbal to release tension after a fill.

A Final Word on Fills
Thinking About Flow
4 Lectures 26:46

In this lecture we will look at how to move a drum track from verse to chorus so that it lifts and feels natural. We will examine the use of the ride cymbal as well as variations in rhythm between sections in order for the song to flow organically.

How Drummers Think

Drummers don't play like clockwork. The best ones know when to push and pull the track by a few bpm (beats per minute) in order to enhance the feel of each section. In this lecture you will learn how to:

  • use tempo changes at appropriate points in a song
  • decide between 'jump' vs 'ramp' tempo changes
  • increase the energy of a particular section.
Using the Tempo Track to Push and Pull the feel

In this lecture we look at how to handle a big rall (slowing down of the beat) into the final chorus of a ballad for maximum dramatic effect.

Navigating More Extreme Tempo Variations

In the final lecture of this section we look at an actual case study. You will hear the entire song with the drum track on screen for you to follow. In addition, Carl explains what is going on throughout.

You can download the actual chatter-free track from the supplementary material for further study if you wish.

Putting It All Together
Real-Time Recording
3 Lectures 27:50
This is quite a detailed lecture about actually recording drums as you play them on your MIDI keyboard. We will cover: reducing latency (delay) between the keyboard and the plugin, setting up the click track, confirming the various drum positions on the keyboard, getting our hand positions right, how to practise slowing the track down to record more difficult rhythms, fleshing out a basic verse and chorus part, and avoiding glitching between parts.
Recording Drums in Real Time

In this lecture we look at what it is to quantise our performance. We will learn the techniques and the various quantise types that we might use.
Quantising Drums

In this final section on real-time recording we will edit our drum part, tidying up velocity, and briefly discuss other options such as adding ghost notes.
Editing the Real-Time Performance
Mixing Drums
7 Lectures 01:01:05

Now that we have recorded our drums it's time to start mixing them. In this lecture we look at breaking down our existing tracks into their various kit elements before balancing their relative volumes and panning each instrument appropriately.

Setting Up the Basic Mix

This lecture is an in-depth look at how to correctly EQ each drum and cymbal in order to improve the overall tone. Included in the supplementary material is an EQ chart for you to work from when EQing your own kits.

Preview 12:51

This lecture is an introduction to using compression on your individual kit elements. We cover the basics:

  • threshold
  • attack
  • hold
  • release
  • make-up gain

focusing on how we can use these controls to sculpt our drum sound.

Using Compression

Multiband compression is another tool in our compression arsenal. We can use it on the whole kit in order to tighten it up. This lecture is an introduction to how to understand and apply multiband compression.

Multiband Compression

In this lecture we look at adding reverb to our drums. We usually add reverb on a 'per drum' basis as each element will require a different amount. The bass will require least since it can muddy the mix very easily. The snare is usually where the most reverb is applied but all the drums and cymbals will need at least a minimum amount of ambience if we want them to sound like they are sitting in a real space.

It is often a good idea to use two reverbs: one for the snare which is bigger and more obvious and one for everything else which may be merely a room model.

Considering Reverb

This short lecture spotlights some of Carl's favorite effects, the use of which can really enhance your drum sound. Of course all effects are a matter of taste and you are encouraged as ever to experiment.

Other Fx

In this lecture you will learn a technique for really thickening up and powering up your drum track!

Creating a Drum Sound That Pops - The Secret Recipe!
Bringing It All Together
1 Lecture 05:21

In this lecture we look at how we bring the drums and other instruments together.

Sitting the Drum Track in the Mix
Bonus Material
2 Lectures 08:41
Genres of music which have an inherent swing include R'n'B and rap as well as hip hop and funk so this lecture should be useful if you are producing tracks in those styles.
Rhythms that Swing

Most music is in four beats per bar but that's not to say it has to be. Think Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush or Seven Days by Sting or pretty much anything by Jethro Tull. In this lecture we examine how to navigate 7/8 and take a little look at 5/4.
Different Time Signatures
About the Instructor
Carl Eden
4.8 Average rating
45 Reviews
694 Students
1 Course
Musician and Music Educator

Carl Eden, BA(hons), PGCE, AVCM is a musician, audio consultant and educator. He has worked extensively as a media composer with a diverse range of clients which includes the BBC and ILR.

When not occupied with freelance work, he works as a music educator teaching music technology and performance to young people in school.

Carl's blend of audio skills and knowledge coupled with his 24 years teaching experience make him the ideal instructor to help you achieve your sound-related goals.