Drum Programming 101: How to write great drum parts

Master the basics of great drum programming and take your beats from static loops to complete grooves
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Instructed by Dave Jolley Music / Production
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  • Lectures 21
  • Length 2.5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 8/2015 English

Course Description

To me, there is a huge missing gap from online production videos with helping beginning electronic musicians go from being stuck in a loop to writing more full-fledged beats. So it was my intention with this first video to deliver you with the solid foundations of what makes for great programmed drums, and provide you with the skills needed to begin writing more interesting, musical drum parts for your tracks. By getting these very simple foundational ideas under your belt, you begin to understand more about how EDM is structured, how to make beats quickly, and you find yourself making much more creative beats. At least, that's my hope here :) The course is designed for those beginners who want to transition to an intermediate skill level but don't know how. I've made it fast so that you spend less time watching me build these ideas, and more time exploring how they work. In the series, I use examples from a wide variety of Genres-- from Hip Hop to Techno, House, and Future Bass-- to show that these core principles apply across styles. There is over 2 hours of content here, teaching you the core skill of writing beats regardless of which DAW you use. The idea here is to get your skills up to the next level as quickly as possible, and set you up for part 2 of this series, where we explore some of the more creative uses of these foundational ideas. These lessons took years of study for me to discover-- I hope that you take advantage of all that I've learned and boiled down here for you, and get your skills up and running quickly!If you have a computer, a DAW that you're familiar with, a few good drum samples and a way to hear everything, then I will show you how to make beats that make the rest of your music shine.

What are the requirements?

  • A computer with a DAW of choice (Logic, Live, Cubase, Studio One, etc.)
  • Speakers, Monitors, or Headphones that accurately represent the whole frequency range. Hearing bass will be important in this course, and laptop speakers are not advised
  • A working familiarity with the basics of your DAW
  • A basic level understanding of making electronic music; Knowledge of samplers, which drum sounds are which, what a compressor and an EQ is, and how to write a basic drum beat
  • A basic level understanding of rhythm theory; knowledge of quarter-notes, eighth-notes, and sixteenth-notes; understanding of what the beats of a bar are, what bars are, and what tempo is
  • A basic understanding of how to write basic beats in various genres; what a house beat is, what a hip-hop beat is, etc.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Write more musical sounding drum patterns
  • Create a balanced sounding drum kit from samples quickly
  • Create Drums that "breathe" with the music in a subtle but pleasing way
  • Use Accents to spice up drum tracks and create fresh, new rhythms
  • Understand exactly how to write clear, focused drum phrases
  • Go from short loops to more developed drum parts

Who is the target audience?

  • Beginner to Intermediate producers who are finding themselves "stuck" for new ideas of drum programming
  • Live Instrumentalists who are dabbling with programmed drums and want to learn more about it
  • Electronic Musicians who find that their drums lack excitement and movement
  • Electronic musicians who don't "Get" how to program great drum parts
  • Musicians looking the understand the underlying principles that make programmed drums sound great

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction
Welcome to the course

My thoughts on starting with the best content you can find, and a few of my personal favorite suggestions...

Section 2: Getting your drums to sound right
Intro to Quick Levels

In this lecture, I teach you how to get up and running with balanced relative levels for your drums


In this lecture, I explore how to make your drums "sit right" by using envelopes and tuning to make sure your drum samples sound great. We start with a kit made of random samples on my hard drive that don't particularly sound that great together, and massage them into a more coherent sounding kit by the end of the lesson.

Section 3: Phrasing
Intro to Phrasing

The most basic place to create a phrase is with musical ideas that are more than 1 bar long. This lesson explores how many ideas can open up in just 2 bars


We take the 2 bar phrasing from the last lesson, and double it! 4 bar loops really start to unlock the musicality of our patterns. Learn how!


In this lesson, we learn some basic ways that we can sequence our patterns to create bigger, more flowing, and more musical patterns.


The core idea of phrasing and musicality-- call and response. In this lesson we explore ways to use call and response in your drum patterns to make them truly musical ideas on their own.


In this lesson, we explore the idea of rhythmic consonance, and why some beats just flow while others sound clunky

Section 4: Pitching Drums
Intro to Pitching Drums; Why, When, and How

In this lesson, play with subtle pitching of hi hats to create some variation and breath in the groove


This lesson explores a secret Deadmau5 trick that makes 4 to the floor drum parts groove with a lot more movement for what seems like a deceptively simple beat


In this lesson, we learn how pitching snares in subtle ways can add a nice subtle breath to your drum parts

Section 5: Drum Layering 101

An intro on how to layer drums to beef up your hits and make your kit cut, punch, boom, and crunch exactly as you like

Section 6: Accents in Rhythm
Intro to Accents

The most basic use of accents is by adding in some percussion elements to make your track have more shape, so in this lesson, we look at the common ways to do this.


This lesson explores how a live drummer commonly accents his beats-- by hitting drums harder or softer. In a drum sampler, we use volocity to this same effect to give a beat more life.


This last lesson starts to put us in the territory of some popular ways to creatively accent your drum parts with reverb and oneshots.

Section 7: Course Summary
Reviewing what we've learned

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Instructor Biography

Dave Jolley, Producer, Musician, and Tutor

I have been a producer, musician, and tutor of electronic music since 1999. I have releases on Addictech records, and have taught along side Lorin Bassnectar for the Red Bull Music Academy. I have a passion for beats, bass, and sound design, and am constantly writing, producing, and discovering new sounds.

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