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How to Produce Beats: Layering Drums / Drum Programming

Hey, what’s up, guys? I’ve got another video for you here on Friday.

We’re going to do a little production thing. I had a lot of questions come in via Twitter and Facebook and the website about beat production.

So I thought I’d kind of break this track down and talk about layering things. Specifically, I’m going to look at the snare drum on this track, but we’ll touch on some other things too.

Anyways, let’s play — I’ve got a chorus here, so let’s play this and listen to it, and then we’ll break things apart, and I’ll kind of walk you through how I layer stuff and sort of what I think about when I do it. So here we go.


Okay, so that’s the chorus and let’s listen to a little bit of it with just the drums going.


Okay, so that’s the main rhythm section. Let’s talk about layering. Why would you layer? Pretty much to create contrast.

A lot of younger guys, they’ll use the same groove the whole way through with the same instrumentation, and then they wonder why they can’t get their choruses to have a lot of energy or why they can’t get their choruses to fill out and sound big.

A lot of it is just creating contrast. If you notice, I’ve got these three kind of main snare drum tracks here. In the verse, there’s really only one going.


Right. So, and that’s sort of like my fundamental snare drum. It’s a sample with — it’s got a bunch of different sounds in it.


So there’s like, a snare, I think there’s a tambourine, some claps in it, it’s been processed, and you’ll find a lot of samples like this out on the net.


Right. So that’s the verse.

And it works well in the verse.


You know, it’s really chill, it’s laid back, it’s not overbearing, and then we get to the chorus, and we need something a little bigger, so we have our original drum.


And then I added in this sample from SSD.

[snare SSD]

Which is like, a real snare drum.

[snare, SSD]

Right. Combined with our original snare…

[snare combination]

So already, it’s bigger going into the chorus, just because we’ve added another sample in. But I also add some claps in as well.


In the original sample, just a little bit of ring on it.


Right. Ran it to a plate.

[clap with plate reverb]


Give it some space. Then there’s this short delay trick we talk about in a past video that kind of gives it some width.

[clap with delay]

So it gets bigger when we hit the chorus.

So our chorus snare drum sounds — here we go. Sounds like this.


So automatically, our drums get bigger when we hit the chorus.


Right. And the vocals are out right here, because we’re still tracking that stuff and writing.

But anyways, you can do the same concept with kick drums. A lot of guys use multiple kick drums on the chorus or whatever.

I haven’t really gotten that far in the production yet. I’ll probably go to a sub kick here on the bridge.


But anyways, you get the gist. So use different — bring things in and out in your production. Like, if you look at this, I’ve got this chorus breakdown section here, and if you notice, it starts out with our fundamental snare, and then I add in the claps, and then I bring in the actual organic sample here. Hats come in half way through.

So the whole thing builds without really riding faders.


Right. So you get that whole crescendo, that whole growing kind of feeling there. Then just off bringing things in and out, you know, other things if you notice, I use different hi-hats than I use in the verse. In the verse, I’ve got these.


These eighth notes, a little drum machine sounding, and then in the choruses…


Sixteenth notes, and we’ve got a little distortion on it, and then you know, I also had a shaker in on the chorus.

[hats and shaker]

Which you really feel more than anything.


But if I take it out…

[drums, no shaker]

You know. So again, start layering stuff. Get creative. This is a real kind of production thing. It’s nothing that’s really going to make your kick drums sound more awesome or anything like that, but it’s a great way to get into beat production.

Layer stuff, play with stuff, kind of develop a vision, and decide if you want your drum set to sound more programmed and electronic or more vibey and acoustic, or you know, whatever. Listen to a lot of records and kind of dissect and hear what they do, and you’ll hear this stuff all the time. They’ll use different kick drums for verses, as choruses, as bridges, as whatever.

Anyways, that’s that. I hope you got something with this. I think I’m going to do more of this stuff. I think we’ll do like, videos every Tuesday and Friday, and on Fridays, we’ll do production stuff, and on Tuesdays, we’ll do mix tutorials and plug-in videos and whatnot.

So let me know what you think about that. I’m working on another premium tutorial over beat production, where basically I just make a beat from scratch my way, sans an MPC. I usually just pull samples in like this and throw it on the grid, so I’ll show you how I do that, and you know, keep sending in questions via Facebook and Twitter.

I know it takes me a bit to get back to them, but I try to respond to everybody, I’m getting increasingly more busy and this summer is going to get crazy.

So like us on Facebook, get at me on Twitter, and subscribe if you haven’t subscribed already. I’m going to try and start putting two out every week. They may hit later in the day, but regardless, we’ll get them out.

So anyways, thanks for watching, and we’ll see you in the next video.




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