This was a request. I'm gunna go over a few ways to spice up drum loops and make them more interesting. Feel free to throw in your input in the comments if you want.
1 - Hi Hat Patterns
A good way to spice up drum loops is to vary the Hi Hats a little. Throw in an extra open hat in a few places or a shaker. Cut them out in a few places here and there and double them up in a few places. It can add a whole different flair to the pattern. Putting the Hat's a little off can give your pattern a cool shuffle effect also.
2 - Layer Up And Vary Snare Samples
When I lay drums down I layer up at least 3 snares and all the way up to 6 sometimes. This makes the snare in your loop sound fuller and more interesting. Another good thing to do is only use some snares at spots and then use the others on different parts of the song. You can change a few at the hook, or like I do often is at the end of 4 or 8 bars I change out a few of the snares with different ones just to add a a little extra something. You might not notice it, but you do. It's subtle differences like that that keep people listening without knowing it.
3 - Make Longer Patterns
Most of the time just doing 2 bar patterns works. But when the drums are more the focus and you use less samples or synth, you should make the pattern longer. Making your loop 4 or 8 bars long makes you focus on where you can change things to spice it up. By getting a bigger picture, you realize where it gets repetitive and you can almost feel where you should switch it up a little bit to keep it interesting.
4 - Throw In Other Drum Loops
Every 4th or 8th bar add in a pre-made drum loop. I have a link in one of my older posts to download some if you don't have any. It gives a good little change before a hook or just in the middle of a verse. It can help emphasize what the emcee is trying to say or help with a transition. I don't do this as much, but it is pretty cool to try out every once in awhile. Just make sure the loop matches up to the BPM of your track.
5 - Get Pads
I didn't realize until I had a MPC how easy it is to lay out drum patterns with your fingers by hitting the pads. You can get units from a few companies that connect USB or MIDI to your computer to allow you to do the same thing. By playing on the fly and recording you can get a human feel to your loop and you will also vary the pattern more than when you sit and draw it out. If it's too far off you can always quantize to put things closer to where they should be. The Akai MPK49 is a good unit that has 12 pads, 49 semi weighted keys and a transport control built in. The pads really help.
Those were a few ideas. Just listen to your loops and anticipate what it needs. After awhile of making and listening to them you will get a feel for where certain things need to go in order to spice it up.
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