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I'm just a beginner in writing music. and I am learning this just for fun. I had read some books about writing music, but still confused with some questions, this is one of my question.

I had tried to write down some melodies that wandering in my mind for a long time, and now, I am trying to add some drums into it. Facing varies drum patterns, I find it's hard for me to choose the right one.(I am learning Logic pro x these days, there is a drummer library for me to choose.) And in the other hand, I really want to write my own drum notations.

So, if there is any one who can tell me something about this? whether there are any rules to choosing appropriate drum pattern for a melody, or write our own drum notations? How to arrange the it? OR we just need to loop some simple clips of drums over and over again?(maybe this is the easiest way ... )

thank you so much!

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    No, there are no rules. – Todd Wilcox Mar 21 '16 at 11:54
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    Indeed there are no general fixed rules at all in music, but even less for drum patterns. Just use anything that feels right to you, experiment a lot. Best of course experiment with a proper drumset yourself, or find a drummer and jam a little. – leftaroundabout Mar 21 '16 at 16:40
  • Hmm... I see, now I think maybe what I really need is more experience in composing. I have to try again and again, until I have a kind of "feeling" in doing this. – Fankai Zeng Mar 22 '16 at 3:19
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Rhythm is more about feel than rules. Drum patterns are certainly all about rhythm. From your question I get that you are not a drummer. If you know a drummer, they might be able to help you by playing along with your melody.

If you don't have a drummer available, you can select a pattern from your library. While there are no rules per se in choosing a drum pattern, there are some ways to start narrowing down the possibilities.

One place to start in narrowing down potential drum patterns from your library to find drum patterns that will fit you song - is with the songs basic time signature. In other words, if your melody is in 4/4 time (which would be 4 beats per measure) then you will most likely want a drum pattern based on 4 beats per measure. If the melody you create is for 3/4 time, you want a drum pattern that works for 3 beats per measure.

Next you need to choose a tempo (number of beats per minute). One way to decide what tempo you want to record your melody at is to use a basic metronome track or simple click track that matches the meter of your song. Then play around with different tempos until you decide what works best with what you have in mind for your melody. Sing the melody out loud or play it on an instrument as you try different tempos.

The next step now that you have narrowed things down a bit, is simply to go through the patterns in your library with the tempo set appropriately - while singing the melody in your head (or out loud), and write down which patterns you can actually sing the melody to using the meter you had in mind as far as where the accents of the melody fall.

As you go through these patterns at a particular tempo, keep in mind that a given pattern might work at a different tempo than what your metronome test indicated. You can try a faster beat at half speed or a slower beat at double the speed. In other words, if you had decided on 80 beats per minute, you might find a drum pattern that works at 40 BPM or 160 BPM that does not work as well at 80 BPM.

After you narrow it down this way, go back and listen again to each of the patterns that seem like they might work, and narrow it down further. Then try playing your melody or singing your melody to the two or three patterns than are left until you identify one that sounds best to you.

Each pattern will lend a different feel to the song - but only you will know what feels best based on the melody that you conjured up in your mind.

Once you have chosen a basic pattern, you can play around with variations to that pattern or accent beats or fills or intros or transitions - to customize your drum track. If you later choose to notate the drums on your sheet music, you can play the melody over the drum pattern and record both at the same time - and then play back your recording at super slow speed to aid in transcription of the drum notation.

Have fun with your composing.

  • thank you so much, thanks for your nice suggestions, I will give it a try. 😄 – Fankai Zeng Mar 22 '16 at 3:13
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Another important thing to consider when creating a drum beat is counter point. Counter point is used in every writers repertoire to make different sections of the song "pop".

Try mapping the song into a musical form... the most common being intro verse chorus verse chorus breakdown chorus outro. Play with varying the way the down beat occurs in each section. For instance have the verses start on the beat and the choruses start off the beat. Also, make sure the breakdown is dynamically different from the rest of the song if you use one. It's typically used to signal the coming of the climax of the song... for instance an upbeat song that has a slow moody moment and then leaps, headfirst back into the chorus. Sometimes leaving one of these sections out can have just as much effect.

Don't forget drops and turnarounds to add even more dynamic variation to your song.

And most importantly, LESS IS MORE. Unless Carter Beauford is your session drummer, this is concept is gold. The rythm section is meant to hold the foundation of the composition and at times "fill" in the gaps.

These concepts used in conjunction with Rockin Cowboy's suggestions should get you well on your way to great rythmic accompaniment in your compositions.

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If you are talking about musical styles where you have a drum kit — like pop, rock, funk, country — then the general rule is that the drum kit works in combination with the bass part. The bass player and drummer are referred to together as a “rhythm section.” You can sort of think of them as the same instrument, working together to complement your melody.

For example, you will often hear the bass player hitting accents along with the kick drum especially. Certainly, the drum kit shouldn’t stomp all over the melody, but generally speaking, the way that happens is by working in concert with a bass part that complements the melody.

So if you have written a melody and nothing else, one approach you can take to move forward is to then write a bass part that works in counterpoint with the melody, that complements the melody, and then create or choose a drum part that works along with the bass part. Once you have a bass part, a very common use of the Drummer instrument is to set its “follow” feature to follow the bass part, so that the drummer and bass part work together as one.

Another approach you can take is to start with the drum part, before you have written anything. In Logic Pro X you can either browse the built-in drum loops or work interactively with the Drummer instrument until you have a groove that feels good to you. Then you write your melody, bass part, and other parts while listening to that groove, so that what you create will complement that groove. The drums act as a sort of foundation, and you build up layer upon layer over top.

You also have groove templates in Logic Pro X that enable you to apply the subtle timing characteristics of one part to another. You can choose an important part of your melody (say, the chorus) and save it as a groove template. Then apply that groove template to a drum part and/or bass part to get them to more closely match the melody. Or you can go the other way and apply a groove template that is made from the drum part to your melody, to alter it in subtle ways to match the drums.

Ultimately, you want to have your melody, bass part, drums, and harmony parts like guitar or piano or strings all singing together like a choir. Ideally, you could listen to each part in isolation and hear an interesting piece of music, and then listen to them all together and hear something that is even greater than the sum of its parts.

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The drum track should match the feel of the piece, not its notes. Compare the Christmas song "O Come All Ye Faithful" with Twisted Sister's "We're not gonna take it". Same tune, different style. If you're doing O Come in church you're likely to not want to hire Twisted Sister's drummer.

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