Making Music

The best way to approach grasping the feel of this type of music is to have complete control over a beat. Memorize the beat in its most complex form.

Before we go into the analysis of each specific beat, take note of these technical points.

For all the previous beats,

  1. They don’t have more than 3 consecutive eighth notes on the ride, bass drum, nor the accented snare drum.
  2. The 16 DnB rudiments we have already seen are interspersed between accented notes on the snare, bass drum, and ride.
  3. There is hardly any poliphony; most of the time, there is only one surface being struck, not two surfaces at once.
  4. If you take away the ghost notes within each of the beats, you will notice that each beat is made up of only eighth and quarter notes. There are no accented snare drum, bass drum, or ride layer hits on the second or fourth 16th note– the “e”s and “ah”s if you are counting “1, e, and, a”.
  5. There are no hand instructions written out; each limb stays on a particular surface for the duration of the beat. There is no switching of a single limb from the ride to the snare drum at all in these beats.

So how can you cop the feel of these beats? What musical guidelines should you keep in mind when playing this type of music?

  1. DnB is a dance-oriented music. So, it is important to not disrupt the groove. The next section will help you develop the techniques to build up or take away tension within the music. These techniques are also essential in maintaining the groove, while giving your limbs a rest. Just because your arms are tired, it doesn’t mean that you have to play half-speed.
  2. The best way to approach grasping the feel of this type of music is to have complete control over a beat. Memorize the beat in its most complex form. Be able to drop particular parts of the beat out for variation (or if you get tired), but at the same time be able to maintain the main rhythms and main accents that the beat dictates. In other words, it is better to have completely mastered a single beat than to only halfway know two different beats. Also, keep in mind that a great way to create new beats is to make variations of beats you already know. We’ll get into this in the next section.
  3. DnB beats are special in that the phrases can be very long. In a lot of music, drum beats are only a measure long and are repeated over and over through the course of a song. But DnB beats can be 4, 6 or 8 measures, or even more. The longer the phrase, the more haphazard and random the beat feels. And this is a good thing.
  4. DnB drum beats do not necessarily have to emulate the sound of drums in a DnB song. The beats within this book more generally duplicate the rhythms that appear within a song, not the particular sounds. As stated earlier, there are infinitely more sounds available to a programmer than there are to a drummer. Keep in mind that any of the three layers of the DnB beats within this book, particularly the ride layer, could be replaced by the sound of short bursts of static, a cow mooing, or whatever.
  5. The offbeat 16th notes, while they are essential to creating the DnB sound, should not be the major point of concentration, and should always be in the background. The ghost notes are always just “filler”. Work to keep them quiet.