Question About Drum Programming

So I am still plugging away at Renoise and one thing that I am really having a difficult time with is just programming a good beat. Coming from Ableton and Reason I used to either play drums by hand or punch them into a step sequencer and the switch to punching them in on the tracker has proven quite difficult. I was hoping that some people could give me a few tips on how they go about programming their drums. Do you shorten your pattern to 1 or 2 bars to make it less complicated? Do you by chance punch in the kicks or high hates first and then build things up that way? Do you dive all different drum sounds their own track lane? How many lines per beat do you like to work with?

Also, on those other programs, there used to be groove templates to add in for each track, so you could for example, set a track to an mpc groove of 50% on your high hat track and that would give it some funky swing. As far as I can tell, renoises groove template adds groove to the entire song, which I do not like and the groove tool is really confusing and difficult, are there any other options here? Could one just set a high number of lines per beat and then just shift over random notes or would that be too much?

Any help here would be great.

what kind of drums are you looking for, genres? Quantized / unquantized, realistic, hyper edited? There are more ways to Rome here, different options. I say use whatever sounds good and suits you best, there’s no right or wrong way in that having all hits in one track is worse then dividing all drumhits across different tracks or vice versa. Everything can have its use, experiment and find out what works for the music you’re trying to make.

Personally I start out in lbp 4, because the numbers are stuck in my head best from the old days, then when I have the global song structure ready, I expand every pattern, doubling the size and increasing the resolution, setting the lbp to 8. The groove thing is something Renoise has a lot of room for improvement, though there are some workarounds using tools putting values in the delay column of tracks.

You might want to dl other people’s songs where shared, and check different styles of drum programming and learn from it. Relate the note event placement to what you’re hearing and notice the patterns, structures.

haha, no man, i often program 4 patterns of 128 lines with different drum-patterns and copy those around, then go back in and change individual patterns because i hate repetition. so quite the opposite of what you suggest :)

i don’t really have any solid advice other than ‘experiment’. pick drum samples that sound good to you, try and combine them. sometimes to combo does not sound so good. switch samples, try again. try to get away from standard rhythms. for ‘funky’ stuff, you can use the delay-commands.

you have to remember you are working with a piece of software which does not hold your hand as much as Ableton or Reason do. a ‘track groove’ is simply a shortcut for putting delay-effects on samples. Renoise lets you go in deep and place the effects yourself. it is just a different, often more detailed approach.

Coming from a Step Sequencer for drum I would of thought a Tracker would be fairly easy to get your head around, as far as placement goes. As you have mentioned yourself Renoise does not have Groove-Per-Track and the Global Groove it does have can be more than a little confusing to get your head around (personally I’ve used it about twice ever.)

If you like Step Sequencers maybe give Cie’s Tool a try?

Otherwise I believe there is also one for applying Groove to a single track using the Delay column on notes already entered (although I’ve not tried it.)

Otherwise trial and error and I have to admit getting a really good (especially jungle-style) beat in any program is something I have always really struggled with unless “cheating” and cutting up an existing break.

Here’s my modus operandi, voila:

  • 12 lines per beat - for having ability to change style of drumming in different parts of pattern or even sequencing polyrhythms
    [indent]- one line of sequence every 4 lines in track for syncopated beat

  • 4 and 2 every other line per line of sequence for swing

  • one line of sequence per 6 lines in track for straight beat[/indent]

  • many tracks - few different kicks, toms, snares, percussions, hats and crashes

  • layers - about 10 different, finetuned samples per one hit (use sonogram to lay drum tails together in frequency domain and spectrum to lay transients together and use pitch bend to do both simultanously)

  • cuts - some hits come together with cutting tail of previous hits

  • sidechaining - loudness of drums lowers loudness of other tracks

  • equalization - drums equalized to linear levels on logarythmic scale with different slopes
    [indent]- kick and toms - -6dB/oct to -3dB/oct

  • snare and percussion - -4dB/oct - -3dB/oct

  • hats and crashes - -3db/oct - 0dB/oct or more - use classic equalizer to keep or automatic matching filter to filter out partials[/indent]

  • dynamics - drums sorted into two or three velocity layers (aplitudes on spectrum for each drum in each group reaches same level, don’t care about levels on dBmeter)

  • transients - fade in attack and punchy peak few milliseconds later for each hit

  • reverb at threshold of audibility

  • panning
    [indent]- kick and snare in the middle

  • toms, percussion, hats and crashes on sides[/indent]

  • slightly diffferent equalization curves for each channel (LR) to make the sound shaped in panorama on snare and hihats

  • lowpass at 1kHz for first 10ms of snare drum attack to make the springs noise beginning later like in real snare

  • multiband compression
    [indent]- for equalizing decay of snare drum tail

  • for lifting snare tail in some ranges
    [indent]- low range

  • 200Hz - 500Hz

  • 500Hz - 1kHz

  • 1kHz - 1,5 kHz

  • and at the time highrange

  • 1kHz - 5 kHz

  • 2kHz - 4kHz

  • on drum sum track expansion under -18dB with 25% knee on range 1kHz - 5kHz to add kind of rasp

  • expansion on all range on some drums to adjust the tails length

  • a little bit of static flanger (no LFO) on snare with different, sequenced phases for each hit

  • few anharmonic sine oscilators with decaying amplitdues for simulating partials in range 500Hz - 2kHz

  • compensation of reducing amplitudes - when mixing two same loud samples containing noise you loose about 3dB of amplitude because of covering opposite phases; it does not occure when mixing partials that have same phases; in practice - when snare and kick play together it is necessary to boost snare range 3dB louder than level of the kick to compensate reducing partials; otherwise you get silent kick when played with snare.

Wow! Whatta!!! :w00t: :yeah: :drummer: :panic: :D
Have fun!

Listen to exaples here or buy original MP3 (Finetuned Pitch Numbers) here.

Kind Regards.

Thanks allot. I dont understand how you can start with 4 lpb and then set it to 8, doesnt that change the entire feel of the drum pattern? How do you go about adjusting it so that it keeps the same feel?

Also thanks to everyone else I think I will have to just check out some more of peoples renoise files.

he expands every pattern, doubles the size and increases the resolution by setting the lpb to 8. if you just set the lpb to 8 it will play twice as fast, but if you expand the pattern to double the size it will be normal again.

yep, what rhowaldt says :slight_smile: , there’s a tool which I use, that does this automatically for a complete song, it also keeps into account synced samples, doubling the settings so everything sounds the same as before.

There still are some issues with it in the current released version, regarding values in the delay column or pattern commands like speed settings & retrigger, but Mogue is working on correcting those issues.

Get the tool here:

Cool thanks but I dont understand how it works… I just made a simple kick on every beat pattern in a 4 lpb format and then I opened the tool set to 2 and clicked “kick it” and now I have 16 lpb and 253 lines per pattern! Do do you just double what you have?

Also, is there a way for future reference to just loop a portion of the pattern?

I think you need to give more details on what you’ve done, because I don’t get some of the terminology, from;


, doesn’t make any sense. You probably clicked more then one time, or used another multiplier value then 2.

Lets say you put a kick every 4 lines in a 64 length pattern on lbp4, arbitrary bpm rate of 120. Using the tool, and running it with a multiplying factor 2, you’ll get a 128 length pattern, lbp8 with the bpm remaining the same. Playing this newly generated pattern should sound the same as before.

Running the script one more time, you’ll get closer to the results you’re describing, a lbp of 16, but the pattern length will be 256 and not 253! Maybe you didn’t look closely. So you either run the script twice with a factor 2, or once using a factor of 3. Either way, the important thing is that it’ll sound the same as the slower programmed pattern, but now you’ll have more resolution to put shit in between events and get your squarepusher on :wink:


Ok I got it working the problem is for some reason the default setting of 02 causes it to be quadrupled or something, you have to erase it and manually type 2 and then press enter.

I mean is there a way to just loop lines 1- 16 in a 64 lane pattern?

Just copy and paste lines 1-16. I know it’s annoying to copy and paste every time you change something, but I can’t imagine how that would look in the pattern editor if it were to loop it.

Select the first 16 lines with the mouse in the pattern editor, press ctrl+c, than press ctrl+p (= paste continuously), this will repeat the copied selection across the pattern.

You can also copy the first 16 lines and use your keyboards f9-f12 keys to skip to pattern divisions and ctrl+v your selection.

You can also mouse select, hold left mouse button on the selection, till the pointer transforms a bit with a little icon dangling underneath, than press ctrl so the icon changes to a +, than drop it to paste the selection. There are probably more ways, but the ctrl+p thing is pretty sweet for this kind of repeating stuff.

@zardoz: seems to me like you should just go and learn to use Renoise and its various functions, have a little fun, experiment a bit, before trying to make complicated drum patterns. if copy-pasting stuff etc indeed needs to be explained, you might need to consider spending a little more time with the software before trying anything serious.

For Play Looping you want Block Loop.

Keyboard shortcut NumPad Enter.

Or there is Continuous Paste, as mentioned by Jonas, if you want to copy and paste a section across the whole pattern.

… Im not “trying to make complicated drum patterns” I am trying to lay down a simple drum beat like I have been doing in Ableton and Reason for quite some time. I am finding the layout of renoise to be somewhat counter intuitive, especially when compared to using more of a drum machine in the past. It seems that try as I might, I cant create anything very good here and the I open up a different DAW and can get way more work done in way less time. However it has only been a fe weeks, Ill give it a bit longer.

Thanks for the heads up on block loop.

You’re using the word program when you mean something else?

A tracker programs a beat the same way a programer writes code. For all intensive purposes, he/she doesn’t tempo tap in ideas to the text editor. He/she systematically types it in with extreme attention to detail.

This isn’t slow. A programmer can rip through code with dozens of keyboard shortcuts, obscure and fast mouse gestures, cut, paste, compile, rinse, repeat. A programmer uses a plethora of tools to get the job done. The job is to type text into an editor and make it work.

A tracker’s workflow is more or less the same.

How I do a beat.

  • LBP 8

  • 64 Lines

  • Load a breakbeat sample. Over the years I’ve collected over a thousand of these. Basically something like the Amen (most cliche choice of a thousand)

  • Auto slice, then adjust to taste.

  • Program a fun 64 line beat in Track 1.

  • Load up a drumkit. Over the years I’ve collected over a hundred of these. Basically something like an 808 (most cliche choice of a hundred)

  • Put a kick on Line 00 and Line 10, put a snare on Line 4 and Line 12. Repeat 3 times accordingly

  • Put a Send device on Track 01 -> S01

  • Put a Send device on Track 02 -> S01

  • Put a Bus Compressor on S01, Select one of the drums presets.

  • Put a bunch of hihats on Track 03, every 4 lines.

  • Lower the volume of the track in the mixer.

  • Put some effects on there, like delay and reverb.

  • Put a signal follower on Track 01, Connected to the Volume of track 02 to make the hihats sound more natural. (E.g. make shit up, rube goldberg machines are fun.)

Season to taste. Rinse and repeat.

The breakbeat creates the natural sound (it’s a recording after all), the drumkit and hi-hats accentuates and drives, the sends + compressors makes them into a beat sandwich.

From here you can right click and “Render to sample” (known as resampling?) and start again.

Here’s an MP3 that showcases the previous technique.

The first 20 seconds are 3 tracks. On their own each track sound like total crap.

The last 10 are the same 3 tracks played at the same time, with me waving a few automation parameters around and an unhealthy fetish for distortion. (Also total crap?)

Sum of parts, always fun.