Building drum tracks

I want to start building my own drum tracks to go with my riffs/songs/pieces, but I don’t know where to start. Not just in terms of software but especially in terms of “drum theory”. The more I look into it, the more I get lost.

Do you have any tips on reading/watching material for this endeavour?


I feel you.
Remember me needing drum tracks for my practice website?

I had the same problem.

I would go the same way as with other instruments: Look up existing drum beats, create very simple ones on my own and then find a combination I like. Just because it’s “just” drums I don’t think there’s a reason to not take existing things for inspiration.


Software wise I would recommend virtual instruments in your DAW. Unless you are using something extremely limited like Audacity, your DAW should support virtual instrument plugins. There’s a lot of drum kit VSTi’s out there. GarageBand/Logic is the easiest here, tons of “drummer” audio plugin units just to download. But the other major DAWs all have good support here too. I use it VSTi’s heavily in Reaper, for example.

Another option is to get a dedicated drum machine. I like having one because (a) I am old school that way and (b) I think they are nice, tactile, fun instruments on their own. But for someone starting out now I would instead recommend just using virtual drum kits in your DAW - it’s easier and more flexible.

As for where to start pattern-wise, four-on-the-floor! I’m not even joking, it should absolutely be the first pattern you learn to program because it will teach you how to use the drum/MIDI sequencer in your DAW. (VST’s use MIDI to program the virtual instruments.)

As for learning drum theory, if you find a good site online for this that is focused on MIDI drum programming I would love to see it too. I just figured it out on my own back in college (it was one of the things I did for our band) and that is definitely not the best approach :slight_smile:

Using the MIDI step sequencer to program drums is not rocket science, though. You should be able to come up with interesting kick/snare patterns on your own. What gets much more interesting is good use of things like syncopation, fills, and the cymbals. And a course on programming those would be a good find.


It was before my time, I believe. But I crossed with that conversation, yes :stuck_out_tongue:

That is what I’m currently doing with my BeatBuddy default tracks. But it’s a clutch more than anything.


Thank you @howard!

I will definitely do more research around the web and let you know if I find anything timeworthy.


Please do. I am also really interested.

I just want to throw something in here: In most cases we just can’t and even should not expect to be able to write as good drum beats as a drummer could. The same as a drummer in most cases would not be able to write as good bass lines as a bassist does.

Of course there are some (me included) here that have the goal to be able to completely compose a song with all that it entails but I guess my point is: Each instrument, including drums, has enough options and details to study and practice it a whole lifetime - we can’t expect to just pick it up in two weeks even with putting in a lot of work.

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Yep. For most of us, replacing a real drummer isn’t going to happen, basically ever, with programmed drums.

That said, getting to where you can write drum tracks good enough for a giggable/recordable song will take less time than you think. There’s a whole lot of music that’s been recorded with relatively simple programmed drum tracks.

There’s a very wide gulf between “sounds good” and “as good as a real drummer”.


In a perfect world I would love to dedicate myself to the drums as much as I did with the bass, but that won’t happen. Although learning other instruments are in my bucket list, I’m more inclined to strings and keys. But I’m secretly hoping my future kids want to play the drums.

Anyway, more than having a high end professional quality drum track, my goal is to showcase my vision of a given riff/song.

There’s hope!