Make Midi Drums Sound Better!

Drums. Every guitarist's fear. Every producer's secret weapon.

I'm willing to bet that if you're a guitarist, your drums have been an afterthought in the ol' production process. They're not that important surely?

Unfortunately, credit where it's due, drums are one of the crucial elements of a production, and they are usually overlooked by people starting their production journey.

I was once told by an award-winning songwriter that if he listens to a demo track, he tunes his ear into the vocals and the drums. If they're not great, he doesn't bother listening to the rest of the song. It's brutal, but unfortunately true! That's why it's so important to get these basic drum skills down.

We're going to start with basic drum programming using one of the default drum kits inside Logic. This is going to cover playing the groove in, layering parts and quantising. 

Drums are really good at signifying dynamic shifts (As in Verse -> Chorus) and we're going to look at how to achieve a subtle energy lift moving from a hi-hat to a ride cymbal.

But the main skill I want you to consider after this lesson is the importance of Sample Replacement! The idea that we can layer different sounds to make a bigger/better/more suitable sound. It's a skill that's super easy to learn but takes a lot of practice to do really well. Layer the wrong sounds and you end up with something really messy. Do it right and you get really punchy, cool-sounding drums. I've included the perfect drum samples for this track in the downloads section. If you want to have a go at choosing your own samples and using them instead, go for it!

Downloads

Get the kick and snare samples I used in the lesson in the downloads tab so you can use them in your own arrangements!

For Next Time

After this lesson, if you want to get some more practice in, I want you to try out some of the other drum machines in your DAW (There are heaps and heaps in Logic). Play around with different settings and try to identify some favourites. Having a good understanding of your instrument and sample libraries is one of the biggest skills you can have as a producer.

If you want to search online for some other free drum samples, then try and program a drum groove using ONLY audio samples, this is more common in straight pop music, but I often find tracks I work on contain no 'real' drums.