What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

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monkeyzoot
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What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Sun Oct 06, 2019 1:41 pm

I have been going absolutely insane for years now trying to work out how to program uk garage style drums to a professional standard, I can make some passable patterns but I still don't know how on earth they do it so well.

The other day in an instagram post El-b a famous garage producer said people always ask about drum sounds but it's not about the sounds its about how you process them with eq, compression etc. I don't know much about mixing, I know using gates compression and bussing is important to glue the drums, but I'm really going made trying to work out what techniques they use.

Even if you sample a couple drums from their tracks and arrange them in the same pattern, they don't swing as well as they do in the actual record and WHYYYYYy? I don't know.

Here are a few examples of the kind of swing I want to achieve:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_uggscguzs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgV2uGhN7xY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-N9kwIQV9M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHhJzKwVRvQ

I'd really appreciate some advice about this, I've been experimenting and seeing how things sound and what I can do for a few years but there's only so much I can discover myself without some direction from people who know how it's done.

jestermgee
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by jestermgee » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:15 pm

There are loads of tricks you can add to drums to add some shuffle or "groove". Years is a bit of a long time to go without knowing about how to get your grooves.

For a start, check out the Groove Pool in Live which could assist in making the sounds you are after. If you want the feel of an existing track you can simply sample a loop and extract the groove from it and apply it to your own beat. Will take some experimentation but can certainly add some interest. Here's an older example from Live 8 but applies today

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcDaWRXlvIE

There are also other methods to use some shadow notes or delays to spice things up, for instance a quick search:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZin3rTJgek

monkeyzoot
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:29 pm

I know it's a long time, I guess I'm holding myself to a high standard, I've experimented a lot with the groove pool, and I can make and understand the midi patterns themselves , it's just the sound design and processing that is a mystery to me. I can make ok or passable drums but they just do not swing like professional releases and I want to know some of the tricks professionals are using to get the swing.

Here's a quick loop I made, not the best but I was trying to copy the drum pattern from the first example I gave in my original post: https://soundcloud.com/user-821604663/h ... ut-of-this

If you listen to just the drums (I made that to ask about song structure else where because that's something I also struggle with), you can hear that my drums don't swing nearly as well as the pattern I was trying to emulate (this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_uggscguzs)

I understand all the theory behind swing, but I just can't get my drums to swing like professional releases, and I know there are lots of tricks that I have not been able to discover myself and I don't know any musicians who can help me :(

I guess I'm just looking for all the tips and tricks people have for drum swing to help me improve, I get the basics but the professional sound is very hard to discover yourself and I really don't know how all these producers are making these drums so well.

Anyway thanks for your response, these videos are helpful.

jestermgee
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by jestermgee » Sun Oct 06, 2019 11:29 pm

Sounding alright to me but as a recommendation I would suggest not trying to exactly replicate what someone else is doing simply for the fact they could be using a different DAW that has a slightly different shuffle/groove algorithm that simply throws off the timing from what you can do. Could also be a case they manually adjust hits to get the groove or whatever. Also, just the difference in samples used can make it seem different.

I know it can be torture to have an exact idea in mind and not seem to be able to get it but getting damn close is pretty good. I'm sure in the process you have learned how the mechanisms work and slowly will build up more tricks. I personally need to actually utilise groove more myself.

monkeyzoot
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:18 am

I've learned a lot but I'm still not much closer to knowing how they do it and I've been practising every day and for a very long time. Here is another example which is easier to hear what's not working: https://soundcloud.com/user-821604663/bad-drums

These kind of tunes always start with the drum beat and that's pretty stressful lol because mine don't work, I want to get the oldschool cut up drum style but I know those producers learnt in studios and were taught what to do by professional house and techno producers and each other but I don't have that opportunity, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be 10+ years of teaching myself before I can make anything of that quality.

I'll keep practising though, it's the mixing and mastering tricks that seem hard to discover myself but I'm sure eventually I can get closer.

Shift Gorden
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by Shift Gorden » Mon Oct 07, 2019 11:07 pm

Quick question - what quantize settings do you use?

MJ Cole swears by the 16T quantize - works perfectly.

fishmonkey
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by fishmonkey » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:55 am

i don't think your "issue" is with drum processing and mixing.

people who don't play drums have a marked tendency to underestimate the art and skill of percussion. if you sit most musicians down at a drum kit and ask them to play the most basic rock beat they will fail comically.

i had a quick listen to your examples, and i would say that what you are hearing/liking and trying to reproduce is a sense of funky syncopation. syncopation is essentially about introducing a sense of unexpectedness to a rhythm. this is most obvious in funk, where syncopation is used to create a powerful sense of time being pushed and/or pulled, slowed down and/or sped up. James Brown's Papa Don't Take No Mess is a fabulous example of this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ziBH-67sew

also, all instruments in an arrangement contribute to the sense of syncopation, not just the drums. in most modern music the bass and drums form the foundation but everything plays a part. it can be very unhelpful to approach making music with too much of a "building blocks" mindset (i'll program my cool beat, and then add some bass on top, and then...). think more like an arranger/conductor and less like an engineer.

your remake of the Ghost beat has the basic time structure in place, but it's missing all the sub-rhythms that make the original track rhythmically interesting, especially the hi hat pattern. and your kick drum sound is kinda weak, which doesn't provide much of a solid foundation for the hi hat to play off. similarly, your "Bad Drums" example is rhythmically very straight up and predictable, especially the combination of the kick drum and hi hat pattern.

so my advice is to learn more about the sublteties of drumming and rhythm. you can't program what you don't understand...
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

monkeyzoot
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Tue Oct 08, 2019 6:21 pm

Thanks for this interesting point, I never really understood syncopation I think you're right I need to know more about it, I used to play ragtime music on piano and although I knew how it should be played I never understood what syncopation actually was.

I listened to that example, is it the unexpected open hi hats that 'push' the beat forward, is that the syncopation?

I will learn more about rhythm, but I do still think I'm missing a lot in terms of sound design, because I find it very hard to get even the most basic patterns to swing right.

For example this classic house pattern with two ghost snares just before and after the third kick drum in the bar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQOnioD2ggQ

The drum pattern and rhythm is very basic, but getting the drum sounds to work as a kit is something I find very hard, if I try make it I get this: https://soundcloud.com/user-821604663/todd-pattern

I know that I'll improve with sound design as I practise but it does take a long time to work it out yourself, it would be great to have some tips.

This post about it has been useful: http://blackdownsoundboy.blogspot.com/2 ... -jazz.html

But there's not much on there about the actual sound design and no matter how much I sample, experiment, pitch things and play around I just can't seem to improve much.

TLW
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by TLW » Wed Oct 09, 2019 12:39 am

Syncopation is when notes occur outside the regular time structure of a time signature. For example, dotted 1/8s in 4/4 are syncopated. That’s all it means.

I was going to write a lot, but then I remembered these videos which say things far better than I can. A series of three Point Blank Music School tutorials about house drums by James Wilshire. If you’ve not seen them they might be useful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ct8kHZe4wPI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiSJLa6u50E
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzflDqptjbY&t=643s
Live 10.1 Suite, M4L, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

monkeyzoot
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:37 am

I have seen these but always helpful to see how he does it, thanks for sharing!

jonbenderr
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by jonbenderr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:51 pm

Not sure if you are into max for live or not, but there are some great drum sequencers out there with excellent swing algos!

K-Devices Autobeat is a great one.

This is probably a very simplified explanation, but very basic swing is all about slightly delaying even numbered notes.

Here's an example where I actually used K-Devices Autobeat to get a nice groove going. Can't listen to your examples right now so it might not be what you are looking for...

https://soundcloud.com/jon-benderr/need

I have a couple of my own drum sequencers now that implement a similar swing technique.

monkeyzoot
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by monkeyzoot » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:22 pm

I haven’t used max for live much besides a few basic devices like convolution reverb, I’ll defiantly give that a try (if it’s not expensive or anything), I love sequencers midi can be a bit too much control, I always get much better results with hardware sequencers.

That’s a really beautiful track, very inspiring, thanks for sharing :)

jonbenderr
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Re: What drum processing techniques are used to make drum swing work?

Post by jonbenderr » Wed Oct 09, 2019 2:31 pm

Thanks for the compliment!

Here's a link to Autobeat

https://www.ableton.com/en/packs/autobeat/

If autobeat is to pricey for you, search maxforlive.com

There are some nice freebies.

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