How To Make Drum Patterns: Your First Basic Beat

Writing a great-feeling drum pattern is not always easy. Sometimes, it can be quite frustrating, especially if you’re not getting the feel and vibe that you want. The drum track sets up your song’s overall rhythmic feel, and much of its tone, so it’s crucial to know how to make drum patterns.

So, for aspiring music producers, learning how to write a basic drum pattern that feels good, is an all-important first step that must be mastered. Let’s learn how to create a basic drum pattern.

  1. Start by adding hi-hats all the way across. By that, we mean constant 8th or 16th notes. 16th notes will create a busier rhythm, so try both 8ths and 16ths to see which one you like. Then, lower the velocity of every other hi-hat, starting with the second one. This will create a subtle bounce in the hi-hat’s lively high-end movement and make it less stiff.
  2. Put a snare on beats 2 and 4. Most songs do this, as it creates what’s known as a “backbeat”, which provides a very satisfying counterpoint to the kick drum. Speaking of Kick…
  3. The kick provides the oh-so-important low end. Here you can really experiment to create a rhythm you like. It’s helpful to think of the kick rhythm as being able to ground or push. When you place a kick note on a beat, it has a grounding effect on the rhythm. And vice versa, kick notes placed between beats, push the feel forward.
  4. Make the drum pattern 2 bars (measures) long. Use the above steps to write bar 1, copy and paste it to bar 2, and then tweak bar 2’s kick rhythm to create some variation. This “phrasing” technique creates a less repetitive feeling track.

The above is a great starting point to help get you on your way to writing a fantastic drum pattern. Feel to experiment and play around with it, especially as you begin to develop a more intuitive sense of how to build a strong drum rhythm.

Try a fully interactive version of this lesson, that includes a video and interactive ear training challenge in our online DAW, as part of Building Blocks. Building Blocks is an online music production and composition training course that will teach you how to write music in a DAW.