I am looking for a comfortable way to create a drums backing track in order to use them in my recordings.

currently I have 2 options (since I am not a drummer)

  1. drum machine - very mechanic and boring. (unless there is a professional drum machine I'm not aware of)
  2. taking midi tracks from known songs, using drum plugins and incorporating it in to the recording software to make the drum track. - This is fine, but it limits me to that song.

I'd like a program that will let me build a drum track by the song structure (chorus, variable beats) without me having to know how to drum.. Band-in-a-box does that for the entire song, is there such a thing for drums only?

  • 1
    You might want to rephrase the title of this question, since "best" is such a subjective term, and those kind of questions are discouraged on SE. From reading your question, perhaps "Tools to help create drum tracks for non-drummer", or "Non-drummer learning to program drum tracks"?
    – morten
    Apr 19, 2012 at 23:08
  • 1
    I listen to MIDI files which I like then copy part/s of the drum tracks into my tracks. This way you can extract four bars from one place then loop them for a verse, then extract four bars from somewhere else (or from another file) and make them the chorus. You can also listen to the drum parts and edit them to what you want - I generally remove notes for an intro. Aug 15, 2016 at 5:12

7 Answers 7


ToonTrack EZ Drummer and Superior Drummer

They have large libraries of acoustic drumming in many different musical styles, played by real human drummers, so you can arrange a complete song structure and generate a drum track to go with it.


Sounds like you are already somewhat familiar with Band in a Box. It will do exactly what you want - and the more up-to-date versions have "RealDrums", which are sampled snippets played by real human drummers on real drums that can be arranged into song tracks. They come in a variety of styles, with more being released every once in a while. Just mute the other tracks (piano, guitar, strings, etc) and you'll have just the drum track you were looking for. And then do the "save to wav" thing and it BiaB will "print" your drums to a WAV file that you can import into any other sequencer as your drum track. I do this all the time, and RealDrums sound pretty good.


I found this website that has backing tracks for lots of popular songs. What's great about it is that you can customize the track by picking which instruments and vocals that you want as part of the track.

The songs are covers.



Cubase, Sonar or any other DAW will let you use drum samples - the better ones will also let you place a basic beat automatically, which you can then edit by dropping in the drum beats you want.

It starts off a bit like hard work, but copying and pasting speeds things up, and the DAW's which have the ability to allow a bit of groove to your beats can sound remarkably good.

Good drum samples are easy to get hold of, with free ones in music magazines etc.

Additionally, some of the newer drum machines are pretty smart - even my electronic metronome is better for writing entire backing tracks on than drum machines of 15 years ago - it handles fills, intros, breakdowns, variable tempo and outros!

  • Will try and find that out - I'm not suggesting you use it for what you want to do, as it would be too fiddly for that, but I have a couple of basic 3 minute tracks programmed into mine to practice accuracy and speed.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Apr 20, 2012 at 16:17

For GNU/Linux there is "Hydrogen", the "advanced drum machine for GNU/Linux". When I needed something nicer than a metronome for practising "Take Five" (for which my arranger does not really offer a suitable hardwired style and it's so bothersome to hand-enter one) which I could persuade to swing the off-beats, that's what I took.

Most distributions have it in their repositories. It does not run through Midi (I think one can export to it, though) but comes with its own drum samples.


Frooty Loops Studio allows point-and-click placing of your own personalized drum patterns on a virtual 'pianola' style sheet, or select a style & pattern from presets. Then copy/paste to extend duration, editing afterwards as required. Footnote: A pro musician recently told me he 'hates' these electronic-generated drumkits, which he calls'Chinese Drums'. Most likely referring to the 'Artificial' electronic synthesis. :)


If you want a generic beat with 'fills' at the turn-rounds, maybe a modified style for the middle 8, a stock ending ... use the drum track from Band-in-a-box or one of the other programs that have been mentioned. If you want a drum track that exactly drives YOUR song, use the Drum Edit page of any sequencer, where you can place drum sounds precisely where you want them.

I often use a combination of the two, especially when turning out utility backing tracks. Set up the structure in BiaB or similar, import the MIDI into my sequencer, edit it. The basic pattern will probably be fine for large stretches of the music. There will be stops, featured rhythms etc. that need to be specific to THIS song - edit them in. The automatic programs are fond of putting a drum fill at the turn-round into a new section - but often there's a vocal pick-up too. Make sure they don't fight each other. Ultimately, if you want the optimum drum part for YOUR song, YOU have to write it, though a program might be able to do some of the grunt work for you.

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