Tips on Percussion

Percussion lines are very important in giving drive and variance to your song. A good way to start is to listen to inspiring tracks to get ideas for the types of instruments you may want to use in your percussion line.

The trick to good percussion is to have your instruments conversate with each other, to add some interest into the track. This works even better when one is panned slightly to the left and the other slightly to the right.


Adding a shuffle to your percussion it will give a more realistic feel. We all know that drummers are not machines, they can't hit the drum at the exact same time every count, close but not exact, so you'll want to shuffle it ever so slightly. It may take a lot of trial and error, but in the end will add some jump to your percussion.

Varience and Realism

Pitch - Every time a drummer hits a drum it is in a different spot causing a variance of pitch. Slide the pitch slightly off for every note to give your drum some more realism.

Velocity - Real drummers don't hit the drum at the same velocity, every time they hit the drum. For instance when a drummer hits the snare and kick at the same time as the hi-hat, then they will put more force into the hi hat that is being played.

Filter Cut - As similar to the last two theories, by altering the filter cut ever so slightly, will give variance to your drum hits. Its small details like these that set your drums apart from feeling robotic.

Percussion Effects

Try adding a different reverb to each instrument this will give your drums some depth. Adding automated filters and effects on your drums can be very effective for variating your percussion throughout the track. A common effect that is applied to percussion is reverb this creates a virtual atmosphere for your instruments, and gives them some depth or dimension.

Loop Archiving

Once you have created your killer loops, and fills, make sure you have quick access to them. Create a loop archiving system that works for you. If you write your tunes in programs like Fruityloops you can save all of your midi scores, and presets that you create, and set them up for retrieval out of the programs sub-browser. This will save you time when trying write a percussion line for your melody. The more time that you save writing a track the more time you have to experiment and be creative with it.

In this day in age it is getting harder to tell the difference between realistic and programmed percussion. In the days to come when we bridge the gap closer to “realism” live drum will not be forgotten, because there is always a demand for the authentic sound of a real instrument being played.