How to Write Advanced DRUMS • Music Theory from Royal Blood "Mountains at Midnight" 



How to Write Advanced DRUMS



Step 1. Pattern

Set up two bars of 4|4 with your grid set to 1/16 notes, and your tempo at 136 BPM. Now, instead of starting to make your drum beat with the usual kick on beat 1 and snare on the backbeats (like everyone else does!), you’re gonna start by writing your kick and snare pattern on the hi-hats.

Wait, what?! I know that seems like a really odd thing to do, but this method is gonna result in a far more creative (and therefore “advanced”) drum beat. Okay, so there are many ways to write a creative pattern, but here’s an easy method. Start by playing every 1/8 note. Then, delete a couple of those. This creates variation. And then, move one or two hits over to the next 1/16 note. This creates surprise.



Step 2. Beat

Right, now that you’ve written a creative rhythm, it’s time to turn it into a drum beat. To do that, simply divide up your pattern between the kick and the snare. In other words, move some notes to the kick and others to the snare. But, instead of falling back into the conventional approach of kick on beat 1 and snare on the backbeats, purposefully avoid doing that in the first bar. This unusual approach in your first bar creates a huge amount of interest that grabs the listeners’ attention.

But, if you repeat this approach in your second bar, it won’t sound as interesting any more, as they’ll be expecting it. So, in your second bar, you’re purposefully going to switch to a conventional approach with the kick on beat 1 and snare on the backbeats (i.e. beats 2 and 4). This cycling back and forth between an unconventional bar and a conventional bar keeps your listeners constantly engaged.

And a shoutout to Royal Blood, and especially their drummer Ben Thatcher, as this lesson is based on his beat from their new single “Mountains at Midnight”. Just before we jump into the next step. If there’s an artist you want us to hack, drop us a comment on YouTube.



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Also, are you new to music theory? Or are you experienced, but you want a refresher? Then download our FREE BOOK (link opens in new tab). It only takes 30 minutes to read, then you’ll have a solid theory foundation that you can instantly apply to your songwriting and producing.



Step 3. Pulse

This is the easy part. Just add an 1/8 note pulse on a cymbal. This simple rhythm glues the complex beat together. Ben actually switches the pulse between the hats for the verses, and the crash for the choruses. And if you need more help with your beats, download our Hack Drum Beats PDF (link opens in new tab). It contains everything you need to know for making great beats, all in one PDF.



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