Tutorials / 11 September 2020

How to make a UK drill beat on BandLab

Drill has its roots in Chicago back in the early 2010s, but when someone says drill today, they’re probably talking about UK drill.

Think of UK drill as a lovechild of Chicago drill and the hard-edged sound of underground London that combines musical influences from the darker side of hip-hop with heavy grime bass and snappy trap beats. It’s a sound that has got rap superstars like Drake and Travis Scott experimenting, and Stormzy recording over one.

It’s an enthralling beat that just might inspire you to further heights in your music making. That’s why we want to show you how to create your very own UK drill drum beat from the ground up using the drum sounds included in BandLab. All you need is your computer and internet access. Once you’ve made a track you can share it with friends and collaborators wherever they are in the world, and they can record vocals, add new musical parts, or remix it entirely.

Here are eight quick steps that will show you the basics of making a UK drill drum beat that you can use as a starting point for your own musical creations.

Read more: How to make a trap beat on BandLab

1. Set up the project 

Get on BandLab and click the + Create button in the top right of the screen to start a new project. You’ll be asked how you want to start your new track. Select the Instruments option, then set the instrument category to Drum Pads and the instrument to Ultraphat 808. Then, drag up on the project tempo to set it to 140BPM.

2. Creating a two-bar clip to work with

Click View and make sure the Snap To Grid option is selected. Right-click on the instrument track and select Create Region. Drag the icon at the bottom right hand corner of the region to adjust the length so that it’s two bars long. 

3. Creating a rhythm with hi-hats

Set View > Grid Size to 16th notes. Double-click the clip to enter the grid editor, then double click on the closed hi-hat lane on the first, fourth and seventh 1/16th notes. Hold [alt] on Windows or [option] on Mac then drag the notes to fill out the rest of the two bars.

4. Placing the first kick and snare

Double click on the kick drum lane on the first beat of the first and second bar to add a kick, then add a snare on 1.3 and 2.3. Add claps on top of the snare, this will give you a fuller sound with more impact. 

5. Adding more kicks

You now have the basic rhythm of a drill beat, but it doesn’t sound particularly interesting. We can make the beat more interesting by changing the position of the hits or adding more hits. Let’s add some more kicks first, first to the fifteenth 1/16th note of the first bar, then to the fifth 1/16th note of the second bar.

6. Adding another snare

A common trick in drill is to move the position of the second snare, or add more snares. Let’s add another snare with a clap on the twelfth 1/16th note of the second bar.

7. Introducing a hat roll

Like trap, drill often features hi-hat rolls. These are typically at a 1/32 resolution, so change the grid size setting to 1/32. Hi-hat rolls can be considered a type of drum sound in their own right, and are generally given their own space in the beat. Add four 32nd note hats at the 1.4 point. 

8. Adjusting hat velocity

To get a smooth, natural-sounding hat roll we need to adjust the hats’ velocity, which tells BandLab how loudly to play them. Select the Edit Note Velocity tool, and turn down the velocity of the second and fourth note of the hat roll down slightly. 

Watch this space for more tips, tricks and tutorials on more beatmaking basics on BandLab. You’re going to need it – we’re dropping something big real soon. Yes, it’ll involve making music.

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