NOOB HOME RECORDING (003) - VST Drum Programming

Nothing beats having real drums with a real drummer playing behind it. As with almost everything with this hobby, the drum kit or kits, the number of mics needed to capture the sound, studio rental if you happen to primarily work in your bedroom... all come at a cost. Not to mention hiring an experienced drummer if you don't already know one who is willing to work for free. I have none of the above so the next best thing is the drum machine or virtual drums.

The great thing about a drum machine or virtual instrument is that you gain access to different kinds of kits for less the cost and weight of having the actual gear. We have also reached a point in technology where the drum playing can be "humanized" with a click of a button to add some level of realism.

Most virtual drums come with hundreds of preset patterns played by a real drummer and programming a whole song can be as simple as selecting the patterns and sequencing them on your DAW. But if you want to make your song a bit more interesting, it would serve you to take the time programming your own patterns or at least use the presets as a starting point and tweak, add and remove elements as you go. You also need to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of drums and how it is played. Remember that a real drummer has only two hands so he can't hit three different cymbals at the same time. I used this programming method on "Make Me Crawl" and "Stereo". It was a painstaking process but very rewarding.

Now on with the project!

FILLING THE BLANKS
After lining up the kick and snare base pattern with the song, I proceeded to fill in blanks to "match" the drum patterns of the actual song.

Here's a snippet of the chorus without the virtual drums:




Here's the same snippet with the basic kick and snare pattern:




And here's the snippet with the addition of some elements. Pay close attention to the kick patterns:




As you may have noticed, I used snare hits on the hand clap parts since my goal for this rendition will be more electric guitar driven as opposed to the original's synthesizer leanings. Matching the patterns is just the second step in my process.

On NHR (004) - Adding Drum Fills,  I will even tweak it further by adding fills to give it more of a "rock" feel.