Tips For Making Natural Sounding Breaks And Rolls...

Evening All,

I’m currently working on a Drumfunk Ep and wanting to do all my beat programming in Renoise. I just love the level of control, and native fx that can be done without touching a vst. And, there’s something very comforting about being able to exert so much control over a break with a tracker.

What I’m after are any hints and tips for creating nice grooves and breaks. You know, keeping that human feel and giving things some shuffle and soul. At the moment, I’m cutting up my chosen breaks into a mix of single hits, loops and phrases - then mapping to midi and working on patterns that flow. But, I’d love to hear anymore advice and tips.

Soundwise, Drumfunk gods such as Macc, Seba and Paradox are guru’s here.

Any info and tricks will be much, much appreciated!



i think there isn’t that much complexity behind natural sounding breaks. it depends on the break you intend to use of course, but even simple breaks can be rebuilt to some live as hell sounding choons. listen to “Firefly” by Fracture & Neptune for instance, the sesame street break used in there is very simple but i still can imagine a drummer playing that beat. the key i guess is to not build a repetitive drumm pattern in the short term but rather try to have a unique drum pattern of say 4 bars, with a 2nd 4 bar drum pattern afterwards that is similar to the first, but a different emphasis on say the first/last bar, and you have a basic drum beat.

try to use various hits of the break, the longer the break, the more possibilites you have. try to repeat the drum pattern however every 16 bars or so to maintain an organic feeling, otherwise the drums will go nowhere and plod along if there is a permanent change in the pattern, but you will notice that for yourself very soon if you haven’t already.

one more thing to add variety is break switching… one technique is called “Call and Answer”, when 2 dinguishing breaks alternate each other, whereas the first break is ‘calling’, that is it’s playing for 3 bars and the 2nd breaks is ‘answering’, that is it’s playing the 4th bar in a very contrary manner… similar to this you can use entire 4 bar break switchings or 2 bar vs 2 bar switching… but you know, there are no rules and you’re free to experiment and do totally different, depends on your ideas, your song, etc…

what else can i say, use the humanize feature in Renoise, totally mandatory! about layering… not necesseraly necessary… but if you intend to do it make sure the breaks match in pitch otherwise it will sound dissonant. considering all this i’d say you are half way there. but the most helpful of all advice is: practice, practice, practice! if you ask a pro on this issue he won’t give you a satisfying answer either, but tell you it comes from experience, and that’s totally true :) make your own achievements and mistakes and sometimes listening carefully to tunes and analyzing may help and give you inspiration. or try to recreate a song, it helped me a lot personally…

by the way i also specialized in drumfunk, if you are open minded and curious to collaborate, pm me :D

I think you might find the term Call and Response a little more commonly used but you’re description is well put. Also not only confined to drums/breaks but can be used just as well for bass or leads lines.

I didn’t read any of the replies because of length and my sense of urgency to give you this tip. (I read the replies eventually.)

The tip itself is just about ghorst notes for snares but can be applied to any percussion hit for a more realistic approach to the sound.

Use the Sample Offset (09xx) to start the sample right after the snap of the snare. Depending on the length of your snare sample work with where you want it to start. You can do the same to flam the snare, toms, kicks, cymbals, anything.

Another thing to look at is the pitch up (01xx) and pitch down (02xx) by tiny increments (0101 to 0104 for example) to have more dynamic sounding drums.

Also the delay, panning and volume columns are extremely good friends of your’s.