EDM drums have and always will play one of the most major roles in creating music. Without drums, your track lacks a sense of movement, groove, and most of all, energy.
Good drums can make your track sound great, but perfect drums can make your track sound AMAZING! So what can you do to make your drums sound so perfect that the track can be flawless?
It all starts with your sample; without a well-structured sample, your drums don’t start off with the aid they need to get your track to that point of amazement.
Today, we’re going to look at how we can structure drum samples to make your track the best that it can be!
The kick drum is the heartbeat of your track. It’s what everything revolves around. A kick drum is hands down, the most vital part of any electronic music track.
Without the kick, you have no guidance, no groove, and more importantly, no energy in your EDM drums.
When I’m working on a kick sample, I’m always looking at 2 parts. The first part to look at is what is the base layer/punch of the kick.
Run through the list of your kick samples, find something that’s within the key of your track. You want the kick to have some character and uniqueness to it. Once you find that kick, move it over to your sampler.
The second part that you should be looking at is the low-end of the kick. Now there are a couple of ways that you can approach getting the low-end for your kick.
The first way is by finding another sample that lacks in punch but holds heavy in the low end.
Layer this sample on the other one, high-cut out the top end and that’ll allow the punch to sit on top of your bass-heavy sample.
The way I like to approach a low-end kick is by synthesizing one through Serum. This allows me to export the exact key that I want and I’m able to completely customize the shape of the low-end sample.
Once you have your low-end sample and it’s layered on top of the punchy kick, start to adjust the volume of these kicks so that they sit on each other perfectly.
Sometimes, I’ll go into my low-end sample in my drum sampler and I’ll adjust the envelope to tighten up the kick just a little bit more. Quick attack, short decay, and almost no release.
The last thing to add to your layer is a very short and abrupt white noise click. This white noise click helps to add an extra transient to the overall layer, it adds just a tiny bit of a top-end spark to that punchy sample.
Once you have this layer finished, you’re done! Export your kick and add it to your sample library for later use!
EDM Drums: Snares
The snare is 2nd in line, behind the kick drum, for being the most important elements in your EDM drums. And the snare drum is layered the exact same way.
Go into your library, find a sample that fits with your track, and the key of the track (if you find a sample that you love, but it’s not in key, you can always tune the sample to the correct key), load that into my sampler, then get a mid sample layer.
Again, I really like to synthesize my low/mid sample for both my kick and my snare so that I have more room to customize the sample to my specific needs.
When you layer both sounds in your drum sampler, pay close attention to how loud the mid sample is, in comparison with the main sample you used. Your mid sample (if synthesized) can make your snare sound too boxy and out of place if it’s too loud.
Once more, use an even shorter white noise click to layer on the snare, giving it that extra snappy punch for the transient.
Once your snare is layered to your taste, you’re done here! Export it and add it to your sample library.
EDM Drums: Hat’s, Cymbals, and Other Percussive Instruments
When focusing on some elements to add groove, or to just keep your track alive and fresh; think more about how you could manipulate the samples, rather than layer.
A lot of percussive elements sit in the higher register.
Since these samples sit so high, they don’t have a lot of body that needs to be worked and tended to.
Their transients are already as loud as they need to be, as most of them are just transient instruments themselves.
Instead, think about how you can add texture to these elements, make them pop through the mix and focus on how you can change the percussive elements up so that they keep your track pure and unique.
Think of ways you can quantize some of these elements, make them swing and move throughout your track. Adjust velocity, pan left to right, or even change up the pattern of your sample.
My go-to tools for percussive instruments are delays, panning, saturation, envelope shapers, and exciters.
You can get extremely creative with some of these elements, and I really insist that you think outside of the box when it comes to these drums, let me know what you come up with!
Drums are extremely important, they can make or break your ENTIRE track. I promise, by following some of these tips and tricks, you’ll be on your way to have bigger, better, and hotter tracks!