Analysis and Application – Intro

All of the practice beats in the rudiments section are designed to be musical. Use them in your own DnB beats!

It should be a drummer’s goal, or any musician’s goal, to make music every time you pick up your instrument. If you practice musically, you will sound more musical and interact on a more musical level when you play with other people. If your practice time is sloppy, and devoted only to developing speed or any single aspect, it will be a lot harder to convey musical ideas to other musicians, and to an audience. All of the practice beats in the rudiments section are designed to be musical. Use them in your own DnB beats!

So, how can you use the DnB beats and rudiments to really make music? What is it exactly that DnB drummers can do to “make music” when they don’t even have “notes” to play? The answer is a two-step process, a combination of techniques found in the computing world and the drumming world: analysis and application.

The analysis part comes from the computer world. Here, I will discuss certain vertical and horizontal aspects of each beat that contribute to the beat’s overall character. Each one of the beats that we will analyse has certain concepts or traits that make the beat unique. Knowing where within the beat (like on the “and of beat 2, second measure”) special things happen, is crucial to being able to make music with these beats.

These concepts will be exploited in the application part, the part that comes from the drumming world. Here, I will give you ways to make each example more musical and more versatile in one continuous beat. In other words, you will be able to play a DnB type beat for an entire song – you will be able to mix it up, keep it under control, keep the tempo up, and keep the flow going. This, instead of just throwing a few licks together. I will also apply a few fundamentals of music, ones that are often overlooked, to the beats.

1. Dynamics– This means changing the volume of a particular layer, while trying to keep the other layers at a constant volume. Applying dynamics in this way can really show the listener that different layers (of a single beat) can have very different concepts or feels. But, when all the layers are played together, those opposing feels can melt together into one cohesive beat.

2. Voice Substitution/Reorchestration– This means keeping the rhythms the same on the page, but substituting the voice of one layer for the voice of another. Programmers have an advantage in that they can take a notated beat, and substitute any sound they want for a particular rhythm. That is, at the change of a button, the snare drum will play the pattern the bass drum was playing, and the bass drum will play the pattern the snare drum was playing. With a live drummer, this would involve learning an entirely new set of combinations and independence between limbs. But, hey, that’s half the fun, right?

3. Ornamentation– This means being able to add in or take out any single drum or cymbal (snare/bass drum, ride, or ghost notes) at any given time. For example, you can start out with the snare, then add the bass, then keep adding cymbal notes until you have the entire layer as it appears on the page, and finally add the ghost notes. This really builds tension in a song, and drives the music forward. Plus, you can stretch a single two-measure beat out for 32 measures or more, and keep it interesting the whole time.