Never underestimate what a drum pattern does for your song. Your drum pattern forms the backbone of your track and gives it structure before the other instruments and elements come in to really give it some flavour. Take Stevie Wonder’s Superstition for example.
You could attribute the track’s legendary status to its funky clavinet riff, the seduction of the trumpet and saxophone, or Stevie Wonder’s irresistible vocals themselves, but the drum pattern is what had you bopping your heads from the go.
Its drum intro delivers an infectious 4-in-a-bar bass drum – often referred to as ‘4-on-the-floor’ – with a snare beat on the 2nd and 4th. Both of these patterns were common, and essential, in the 70s and 80s funk resurgence, before we started noticing them more in discos and the dancey pop music of today.
Different drum patterns cater to different genres of music, that’s obvious, but we wanna tell you the how’s and why’s of drum patterns, and just how easy it is for you to start your own on BandLab. Don’t be afraid to mess with the options of drum effects to give your drum patterns a little more depth!
The beat from Amen Brother remains a highly influential one that has been sampled heavily since the 90s to this day. It spawned the Drum and Bass movement, and was also used in NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. Created by the mind of Gregory Sylvester Coleman during the drum break of The Winston’s Amen Brother, the beat consists of a tight interplay between the kicks and snare against a consistent hi-hat.
Effect used: Warm Saturation, for added punch and colour for a lo-fi quality to the drums catering to the 90s resurgence of Hip Hop and Drum and Bass genres.
Back In Black is a simple rock beat that has a strong emphasis on the snare. The snare is often the loudest in similar examples of a power rock beat. The beat itself is inspired by the Disco genre, with alternating kicks and snares on 1 and 3 against 2 and 4.
Effect used: Cymbal Sparkle, to add a reverb for higher frequencies, best effective for classic arena rock as the reverb alters the spatial aspect of the track.
J Dilla was a catalyst in redefining Hip Hop in the 90s and was a pioneer in the non-usage of quantisation in his beats. This allows a dynamic and natural sound in his beats. Non-quantisation allows the beats to sound purposefully misplaced without a fixed velocity whenever the beats are performed and programmed live – all that to add the ingenious human touch to a beat.
Effect used: Warm Tube, for added compression and distortion that packs a punch to strengthen a beat.
Reggae drums use rim shots with accompanying kicks, usually played laid back with an extensive use of triplets. The space in between the notes are reinforced by the upstroke guitar which plays in every 2nd and 4th beats.
Effect used: Evolve Drums, primarily used in Dub Reggae to create an alternate psychedelic feel to the music. Other effects such as Phaser, Chorus and Flanger modulations are used to alter the sounds. Dub/Reggae artists usually apply these effects to the entire track including the drums.
Trap features the extensive use of rolling hi-hats and powerful beats. The drum patterns are usually complex and claustrophobic whilst allowing other elements to be heard, through simplicity and aggression.
Effect used: Thumper Overdrive (custom), for distortion and grit. The drive parameter was dialled down from 3.0 to 1.2, and the tone parameter was increased to 10kHz, for a much cleaner response and crispier audio resolution, all complementing the aggressive nature of the genre
House beats were crafted from the Roland Drum Machines. A signature sound is the Hi-hat from the Roland TR-909, which is one of Roland’s classic machines. This is a standard House Beat with that strong 4-on-the-floor beat – making it deliberately predictable and easier to dance to.
Effect used: Bass Boost, for stronger emphasis on the bass drum. The consistency of the bass drum drives the track and is important in the dance genre. A stronger bass drum could aid in the sub-frequencies, which is felt most in a club setting.
Now you have a better understanding of a genre’s drum patterns, go ahead and fork the tracks above and make them your own in the BandLab web Mix Editor’s Drum Machine or Virtual Instruments. Or you could go and create your own here, but don’t forget to share what you come up with!