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Writing Drum Parts

Lesson 19 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

Writing Drum Parts

Lesson 19 from: Studio Pass: Periphery

Adam "Nolly" Getgood, Matt Halpern

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Lesson Info

19. Writing Drum Parts

Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The topic of the lesson is about writing drum parts and how to experiment with different variations, dynamics, and placements to create interesting and unique grooves within a song structure.


  1. What will be recorded during the lesson?

    Samples of each drum individually at different velocities and different beats that can be used in personal projects.

  2. Why is it important to sit down and jam out the parts before recording?

    It helps to establish the motions and nuances of the drum parts and allows for better transitions between sections.

  3. How can variations in drum parts affect the overall feel and sound of a song?

    Different variations, such as adding more kick drums or using different cymbals, can create different sonic impacts and change the overall feel of the song.

  4. What are some factors to consider when choosing which drums to use in a part?

    The impact and emphasis needed for the song, as well as the specific drum sounds required for certain parts.

  5. How can dynamics be used to change the feel of a groove?

    By adjusting the volume and accenting certain drum elements, such as the snare or hi-hat, the groove can be dynamically changed to create a different impact.

  6. What are some ways to change the rhythm of a groove?

    Adding extra notes or accents, changing the placement of hits, or incorporating different instruments on the drum kit can alter the rhythm of a groove.

  7. How can experimenting with different placements and dynamics help define different sections of a song?

    By changing the placement of hits or using different instruments, certain sections can be differentiated and make the song more dynamic.

  8. What is the benefit of getting live feedback from band members when working on drum parts?

    Live feedback can provide different perspectives and ideas, and help improve and refine the drum parts.

Lesson Info

Writing Drum Parts

So, the purpose of what we'll do now is just to sort of take a couple different sections of the song and just kind of show you how the bass and drums work together specifically and then just little variations that I could try to change here and there. And I'll just describe what little differences I'm doing. And then after that, we're gonna actually record some samples of the kit, snare, toms, floor toms, kick. And then a couple different beats that will then be available afterwards right? Yeah. Cool, so the people watching can actually use the samples we have today. And, I don't know, make your own stuff. Totally, actually, as you guys are heading out there to get set up I'll explain a little bit about what those samples are. So basically what you get, what we're gonna record today that will be part of the bonus materials will be samples of each of the drums individually at different velocities. So you'll actually be able to use those in your own projects to reference or actuall...

y use them. And then we're actually gonna record some different beats and stuff that you can chop up and use in your projects as well. So, we're just gettin' set in the studio I think. So... Just a couple of things that I wanna try to emphasize in this part is, we'll play through maybe a little bit of the verse, a little bit of the chorus. There's an ending section of this song that kind of actually has a lot of open space. I just wanna show little variations. Maybe in one part I'm gonna add more kick drums. Maybe in another part I'll play like I said, a crash cymbal or the china. Or I'll accent in a certain way. All of those little nuances can affect the way something feels or the way it actually comes across sonically even in the studio. So it's important to kind of sit down and jam these parts out and get those motions down and get those parts kind of committed so that when you do record it, you know where you're going from section to section. And even transitions, a lot of times people ask about the transitions from section to section and what fills you can use that work better than others. I think it really, again, just comes down to what feels the best for you. Practice going from one section to the next using a different fill or a different take on a fill. I don't know, I think it's something that, again just comes with the amount of time that you sit down and actually work on variations. Don't just commit to one thing. Really, really give yourself a chance to exhaust the options before you commit to something. You know. (mumbling) I was thinking that just initially what we could do is, just play through that, the very first opening riff. Okay. Where it comes in, kind of that up tempo feel. And I just wanted to show that, you know, whether I play it on the open hi-hat, whether I play it on the crash or the stack. It's kind of the same part. It doesn't really change that drastically. It might just depend on something like the impact of the song. When this song comes in, we chose the crash cymbal to ride on because it's just a big boomy part that you really wanna have that emphasis for. So, I can show you how that changes based on other options that you could use. Cool, all right, can you hear me? I can. I sound... Let me turn you up a little bit. In my own ears I sound very thin. I don't know if the pull back is on that's... That sounds-- I gotcha. As long as it sounds fine in there. In my ears it sounds kind of weird but, as long as people... Yeah I think so. (bass twanging) There's like a weird oscillation but... Are you hearing it? I don't care. As long as it's not going out on the broadcast. That would probably be kind of annoying. It's okay with me. I mean it sounds good to me. Okay. Besides, the drums are way more important than the bass anyways, come on. You know what? In this case they are. Yeah there you go. You know what, I'll give you that. I'm just kidding. All right, so let's just take that first chorus or, you know, that opening riff. Mhm. And we'll just play through it briefly. And let's do it a couple times through just so I can show different variations, you know. Is it really messed up sounding? It sounds a little gated. Yeah I don't think that's a-- There's something weird going on there. (bass humming) I don't know if that's... A line that is going through or something. If you're on man, you can do that without me. Yeah totally. So the first groove sounds like this so... (upbeat drum music) So that part conceivably could have been played also on an open hi-hat. And it's not gonna be a big of a difference but maybe that could have been more appropriate in certain settings. But it's good to be able to just experiment. So it would go like this... (upbeat drum music) And I don't necessarily worry as much about which drums I'm hitting. Like if I choose to do these toms. Versus these toms. Or even necessarily the two floor toms. Unless it's a part where it's specifically requiring a lower drum sound or maybe a higher pitch drum sound. When it comes to the cymbals and which cymbals I'm accenting. A lot of that it's just, in terms of, if I'm riding on this crash then I have these other cymbals that I can use as accents. Or little sort of diversions from this sort of pulsey feel. The next section of the song is actually the verse. And there's a lot of different ways that this could be played. So the way that it's actually performed is it's like this. So it's one... (smooth drum music) So there's a lot of things there that you could really change up and vary. Instead of keeping the pulse on the left foot with the hi-hat, which I'm doing here... I could actually instead of just playing the quarter notes on the stack I could play eighth notes so, like this... (smooth drum music) Which again, I don't like that feel because the song is very much sort of in the pocket. Especially in that section, it's really groovy, it's really laid back. So I kind of wanna create more space. When I end up playing kind of all of those down beats on the stack, it almost puts it like right on the beat or almost kind of pushes me ahead of the beat in a way. And again, I really want it to fall back. So, in that scenario it was really obvious from a feel perspective that I wanted to be able to just accent as little as I could and create as much space within the groove as I could. So it, again, it feels more like this. (upbeat drum music) But there's also all sorts of other takes on this part that you could play based on the music. So, the thing that I connect with in that section is really the vocal part which, if you had a pulse kind of goes... (humming) And that's the part so, there's all sorts of things you could do. We could've gone like... (upbeat drum music) And again those are just random variations I'm kind of comin' up with on the spot just to give examples but, I mean, I'd likely work through a lot of these different scenarios prior to actually committing to the parts. Whether it was working through based on programming or whether it was working through it actually on the drums. It was all about just finding that right feel. Finding that right part. So, real quick before-- I don't know if we can even get the bass going but-- Unfortunately, yeah, we're just gonna have to play on without it. We don't know what the issue is with that. That's okay. With this part, something that I guess you could boil this down to rather than focusing on this song in particular is it's really all about finding the interchangeable components to what you're doing behind the drums. So, there's certain things you could change. You could change the overall structure. But when it comes to a song, a lot of times you don't want to be changing the structure necessarily. You wanna be able to follow a specific structure. So the structure or the setting of the song is actually a great thing to use as a boundary setter or rule setter so you know the boundaries that you have to stay within as you're performing. Rather than trying to change that overall skeleton. So the first thing is, understanding the structure and really knowing it and having it memorized. And like I said before, it's not just the rhythm, it's the melodies, it's the other parts as well. The lyrics, the message, all that stuff could dictate what you play. But then from there we can focus on dynamic changes and dynamics are a huge thing. They change a lot. So if we were to play a groove like this as our starting point. We could sort of build on this dynamically. So something like this, like... (groovy drum music) So this gets into the idea of mixing yourself. If the producer said, "Okay that's cool, "but I really want to hear a louder "attack on the snare drum". Then I would have to keep the hi-hat the same, the kick drum the same but focus on really changing the dynamics of the snare drum. So I would maybe go like this... (groovy drum music) Which is very different from what we started with which was... (groovy drum music) And then maybe dynamically we wanna change the part that we're playing on the hi-hat. So instead of playing with the beat of the stick accenting on the top of the hi-hat making a really kind of tight chic, maybe we wanna play with the side of the stick hitting the hi-hat. So something like this, like... (loud drum music) Maybe you wanna change the kick drum and the way that we accent that. Maybe it's supposed to be really, really loud. Or maybe really, really soft, like this... (soft drum music) So there's all these different things that you can change as far as your dynamic approach. From there, we can also change the rhythms that we're playing. So instead of strictly focusing on this eighth note feel, and the accents we're having everything fall on now, we could actually change the rhythm. So that's the next thing that we could focus on. You have your structure. You can change the dynamics and now we would focus on actually changing the rhythms we're playing. And it could be just one of your limbs. So the hi-hat for example, instead of going... (groovy drum music) Now I could add in a couple extra notes. So do something like this... (groovy drum music) And as you heard I also accented more bass drums hits there. So you could slowly start adding more little nuances. You could even focus on kind of melding and changing the dynamic approach with rhythmic changes so you take that initial beat and you build kind of off of it rhythmically and sort of placement wise as well. So something like this... (lively drum music) So there's a lot of stuff you can do just based off that initial groove, that initial framework. And what I was really trying to show throughout that whole process there, that whole evolution of that groove was that I'm still hitting the main accents. So, you can really experiment a lot and go pretty far with this stuff. It's just again, it's a matter of not deviating too far from that main groove, from that main structure. That last thing that we could add to this now is actual placement changes. So now in this groove I could change instead of maybe playing on the hi-hat I could play on the ride bell or I could add in other instruments on the kit to make the sound kind of evolve further. So something like this... (lively drum music) So I guess the lesson here and what's really to do it's just to jam and have fun. But do it in a way where you're focused on the part that you're trying to perform and the part that you're trying to record. Take certain sections of certain songs and really try to recycle them. Try to change the placements, try to change the dynamics, change the rhythm so that it still represents the basic structure but could maybe help define a section or make one verse different from the next slightly. There's all sorts of other things that we could do like displacements and modulation but that's a little bit too deep as far as what I want to get into now. But for the most part, really have fun with the parts. And this is what we do in Periphery. I mean we'll sit down. Like I said, either at the computer and program these different ideas in. Or ideally for me, we get in a room and we sit down and we actually work through these parts and you can get real feedback that way from your other band members and they can say "Wow, I really hated that groove "when it was on the hi-hat "but when you switched it to the stack it was awesome". Or maybe accent the china here or this thing here. It's just good to get that live feedback instead of just trying to rely on your own ideas all the time.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Halpern Drum Samples
Micing Guitar Cab
Nolly's Mic List

Ratings and Reviews

Connor Smith

I haven't even finished the course and already my mixes have improved dramatically. Night and day difference. I haven't watched the portions with Matt as I'm using drum samples (GGD specifically), but I have no doubt it's great. Matt is always incredibly helpful and is a brilliant drummer. I thoroughly enjoy listening to Nolly, he's very articulate and his approach to audio engineering is flat out brilliant. I'm so happy I purchased this course. Before my mixes were good (balance and things of that nature) but lacked life and energy. I just wasn't getting the professional level sound I was searching for. Now, I am proud of my mixes and actually think they're getting to the point where they sound professional and don't sound like they were produced by a dude in his bedroom with about half of year of recording and audio engineering experience. The metal genre is difficult to mix as there's a lot going on and the "current metal sound" is very crisp and clear while still being very heavy and punchy. It isn't 80s dad metal where guitars are hissy and flubby. lol I am a huge Periphery fan and it's a privilege to watch Nolly share his knowledge. I really enjoy his approach as its very simple but very effective. He doesn't have insane mixing strategies, he just does what works and it's applicable to any DAW and is helpful for almost any genre of music. Brilliant course!

a Creativelive Student

This was an amazing course! I loved hearing from both Matt and Nolly on their thought process behind drums in general. I love the point they drove home about getting a great source tone. That seems to be forgotten in a lot of recordings and they try to fix it in the mix. Jolly did a fantastic job of making it look "easy" to take already great sounding source tones and making them really shine! Cant wait to put these concepts into practice in my own projects. What a great source of knowledge here. Thanks for this great class!

Adrian Gougov

Best course and overall learning experience I've had in a long long while. Nolly and Matt are superb. Nolly is an astonishing mixing and recording engineer and a great teacher. Not only does he explains his methods carefully and in detail, but also lays down key concepts in an understandable language. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to mix modern heavy music. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna learn how to track drums properly. Definitely worth the investment if you wanna see one of modern metal's best drummers track a whole song from start to finish. Props to Creative Live for bringing this material to us.

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