D&b Drums

Since we have such a hot topic in DnB basses, why not a complimenting thread to discuss different approaches to the all-important accomanying beats?

I’ll get it rolling by talking about something I actually know a little bit about, structure of beats, and working them into meaningful beat phrases…

Alot of DnB I hear only has looping breakbeats overlayed on one another, with certain breakdowns and effects, or simple variations such as changing the structure of one pattern then switching back to original or the original with effects, etc etc… but in effect just creating more of the same loop… and then theres some really fantastic stuff seems to have beats that constantly flow and change. I spent years playing around with things trying to find a way to do this easily, and at one point conceded that it had to be a case of intense beat programming and lots of complex resampling… and amazing short term memory skills in the execution… since programming dnb is not quite as simple as programming hip-hop or something. Not so however, at least with 4/4 timing (well maybe not even… but its too complex for me to think about in anything but 4/4 hehe) Allow me to elaborate;

Start off by listening to the two breakbeat loops that will be used in this demonstration, that I’ve already taken the liberty of resampling into slot 00 and slot 02 after cutting them up a bit…Left that out as the initial 09xx creativity/randomness/etc is not what I’m talking about…Nor is EQ so dont bug me about it ;)

Now - looking at patterns 0 and 1. it doesnt sound much there, but basically I’ve sliced up instrument 00 in a way that expands it out to twice its length; by using sample start-points [09xx] in quarterly increments [0900(assumed), 0940, 0980, 09C0] of the total length. No reason not to do all this in halves or eighths or sixteenths or whatever, on either parameter, depending how complex you want to make the whole thing sound, and unless you want to keep the next step from being ugly, keep things like retrigger and 0Dxx type commands, which will not be propperly expanded by the advanced editor, out of it for now.
Anyway, instrument 01 is made as a result of rendering these two patterns.

Patterns 2 and 3:
What is done here is clone pattern 1 and 2, expand each new pattern and switch the instruments from 00 to 01 with advanced edit (that little tab at the top right corner of the pattern sequencer…) So it does the same slicing to a different break, at exactly half the rate… will make sense in a sec

Patterns 4 and 5:
Allow me to propperly introduce instrument 02. Here it is layed out in (almost) the exact same format as instrument 00 was in patterns 1 and 2 with regards to 09xx maneuvers. Again, clone 1 and 2, replace instrument slots wih advanced editor (dont expand though!). The only deviations from the original cloning were added after the final step, and rendered its way back up there, which I’ll explain in a sec…

Patterns 6 and 7:
Exactly the same process as patterns 2 and 3, but from pattern 4 and 5’s resample.

Patterns 8 and 9:
essentially 6 and 7 overlayed on 2 and 3.

You could do the same thing ad infinitum and the beats would keep being split up in slightly different ways, but not sound like random repetition as its more of a fractal effect.

Now, the thing I was saying about variation… due to the nature of spreading the sounds of the beats over time inherently with this process, it makes it possible to add complex variations across a long sample at the end result by changing small values higher up in the chain. This particular variation in pattern 4 was added because I thought it sounded too mechanical when overlaid in pattern 9, so I added a degree of human randomness to the equation, and that was enough to fix the problem :)

So yeah, have a play around with expanding your beats like this if you’re ever stuck with trying to work in variation… I discovered this method after being caught umpteen times making a short loop that I quite liked but screwing up the ideas I had with expanding them in teh execution. the trick with doing it with more than one layer is to do everything exactly the same to each layer, and work backwards with which stages need to be modified on which layer, as it can have chaotic (haha, literally^_^) effects, so its pointless to preempt where the changes should be made ahead of time, and you can waste time barking up the wrong trees…
So, for instance, you don’t have to literally use the expand button either, each step can have an entirely different set of parameters and still acheive good results, so long as you work on the principle of applying the effects to each layer equally and working backwards after seeing which parts don’t work… I dunno maybe your luck is better than mine though ^_^


  • I in now way think this clip to sound “fantastic”, thats not what i’m implying, there are lots of other ideas that can still be worked in for even better results, such as ghost notes, and theres a million effects you could use as well. Its just a demonstration of a single idea; if anything its derived from two beats I didnt think would marry very well, as a test to my theory. Please dont take it for anything more, I’m tired of my threads being derailed like that! :P

  • The reason for this thread is that I’d love to hear different methods and habits people have for doing this sort of stuff, and also drum mixing in D&B, drum selection/sound marraige in making breaks, LIVE variation of drums without resorting to another band-member, and any tricky time-savers you can think of… much like the basses thread but with drums ^_^

Cool trick! I’ve thought of doing something like this before, but you’ve added quite a bit to what I was originally thinking… thanks =D

cheerio alex

I listened to the demo and screwed with it a bit. This is a cool idea man! It’s a great tactic to use on any instrument. I used this idea on some drums and some farty 303 blips and it sounded lovely… music needs “magic tricks” in it for sure. Since the topic here is making better beats heres some random points!!!

We can’t forget to leave out hits for a hit. A lack of a hit can be just as powerful as a hit itself. Try taking out one of your key snare hits at the end of the fourth measure. It leaves you wanting more huh! To sound heavy and jagged a beat needs light soft flourishes as well. Try making a cymbal sound like it flies away within the beat …

Silence is one of the top sounds ever and it’s free ^_^

Also melodics on the drums are very important in breakcore and DnB. It’s crucial to allow your kicks to bounce back and forth between octaves or notes, the snare should play out a melody even if it’s a two note almost undetectable melody. This will hook the ear in. Try to keep drums in tune. This is my last random point… pick a hit to REALLY accent (make it louder and or layer another sound behind it). It will add the buttslap to the beat. If you write great tunes and have never thought about any of this … man.

Nice little demo there, and nice tutorial, cheers dude :)

thanks alex! good tips! also thanks for the “less is more” as well KAK. its good to remember :)

okay, i threw this little thing together last night. it’s not much but hopefully it’ll help someone.

I basically cut two funk breaks up that i thought would sound good on top of eachother. The shack up break (because it has such tight drums that dont run into eachother) and some other, more splashy break.

pretty much when i’m bored i chop up breaks and make 'em into instrument files. :D

so i chopped these up (using kaneel’s “no beatslicer required” superior method :P) and arranged them on the first two tracks so that they would fit together nicely and flow. really just play around with it. I like to make a basic DnB break that i can go and chop up to f**** later. start simple!

then i added a bunch of single hits. I compressed some of the tighter snares and kicks but made sure they didnt peak, as i just wanted them to snap more from the compressor. take a look at the compressor settings and you’ll see what i mean. I also added some distortion to a few tracks to get some of the elements to “bite” through the mix a little better.

so i threw this all together, and played with levels till everything fit, and bounced this break down :)

At first i was hesitant to put it up here, but, i’ve made better, so it’s all good.

heres the file:



well depending on what style you are going after is gonna determine the accompanying drum style
drumfunk/choppage stuff you wanna keep a lose quantization and retain orig break feel
tech step/neuro gen is close to traditional 2 step beat and more hard quantized same applys for hardstep/technoid stuff, but with more fast pacing and drum loops that sound like heavy metal fills etc
layering and distortion is a personal preference, but say something like current value uses sidechained compression on the kick drums to keep the break punching thru as loud as the bass

Tried to make something from just the small “real kit” that was included with renoise as an instrument.
I added quite a lot of effects and played with the pattern timing a fair bit, the amen is gated to hell to make it as minimal as possible, and added a few samples over the top.


great example of “less is more” in the #break and ##break patterns!

I think this needs to take a few steps out of the dnb basses thread at the start of the “transform” pattern though ;)

great stuff, looking forward to the complete track


heres something i threw together using the drums in the thing the original poster gave… :D
errr, hope the ventrilo sounds didnt get recorded onto it… lol.

This is such a hard topic… To me the hardest thing is getting over the kickdrum as the primary source of bass. I always make my kicks too loud and forget to check what things sound like doubled with a sub. Thats maybe the one serious reason i don’t do d&b at all

The thing you have to remember about the kick is that the most important part of the kick sound is actually the slap of the mallot hitting the skin. This is all high frequency stuff, and the bass that follows can be added from anywhere really. Alot of rock acts highpass their kicks and use the bass guitar as the exclusive source of bass.

heh why i was asking about sidechained compression in dnb
hell check out current value - faith
3rd track in player
kinda an extreme example but my god :w00t:

it’s pretty extreme man, but current value must be some sort of god!

Current value:
“less sum compression,
good preparation of the single sounds / tracks,
clear transients,
solving latency problems (from plugins) if there occur any,
and good taking care of the amp /pitch envelopes in relation to eachother”

Current Value appears to be very good at selecting sounds which work well together and not overlaying frequencies too much, hence the power of the sounds.

i’d def suggest peeping more of his stuff
he’s def got his own sound and style to a science at this point

Current value IS a god! I have lots of his stuff, although playing it out can be a bit hit & miss :)

I’m still working on something in his kinda style (and DJ Hidden’s) at the moment, but it’s hard work. These tips should come in handy :)

I like the tightness in programming of those current value tracks beats, but the vocal samples used and repetitiveness throughout kinda kill it for me…comes off as trying to be (forced) hard & serious. Still nice agressiveness to rinse for a few minutes…shame it doesn’t get more junglely and unpredictable