Six beat programming tips to generate exciting arrangements
Here are half a dozen ideas to help you take your listeners off the beat’n track
1 Even just basic variations in rhythm can inject life and interest in even the most repetitive of tracks – and they don’t come any more basic than the tried-and-tested technique of kick drum edits. At the end of every eight or 16 bars, simply add or remove kick notes to signify change. 2 Altering the length of drum hits can be subtle, but nonetheless effective. If your track has a clap with a long, reverberant tail, shorten the hit and cut off the reverb at certain sections to alter the drum groove’s flow at key points. 3 As we’ll touch upon later in the feature, filters are great processors for dulling or thinning elements – especially when you need to alter a song’s momentum. Cut bass from a track’s kick at key points, low-pass your hi-hats, or even automate a band-pass filter’s cutoff over the entire drum bus. 4 Want to let the listener know that something’s really about to change? Then it’s time for a drum fill! Either program your current drum groove to speed up or alter at the end of a section; throw in additional percussive elements or loops; or mute all the beats and replace with a premade drum fill sample. 5 Processing effects are great for embellishing rhythmic elements already present within a drum groove. A classic house trick is to send your track’s snare or clap to a cavernous reverb on the last beat of an eight- or 16-bar segment, then allow this to carry over into the next section. 6 The density of a drum groove is another vital arrangement tactic. Silence all of your percussion, and the dancefloor will cool down as the lone kick carries all the rhythmic momentum. Throw in extra rides after 16 bars, and things will step up a notch.