How to Write a Crazy Drum Beat • Music Theory from Blue Lab Beats "Never Doubt"


How to Write a Crazy Drum Beat



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includes MIDI + WAV file examples




Drums nowadays are arguably the most boring element in music! That’s probably due to the widespread use of drum loops. If you listen to the new releases on Spotify every Friday, you’ll hear the same handful of drum patterns over and over again. The best you can hope for is a few variations of those popular patterns.


It would be an interesting experiment to actually count how many different drum patterns are used in the New Music Friday playlist, which usually contains 100 songs. We’re pretty sure it’ll only be a handful of patterns, but that’s some super boring research, so we won’t be volunteering to conduct that experiment. AI can do it!


Having said all that, for us producers, this is actually a blessing in disguise. Why? Because it makes it easier than ever to stand out and grab people’s attention. All you need to do is use an unusual drum beat. Or even better, a crazy drum beat!


This is exactly what happened when the song “Never Doubt” started playing. It’s by the UK duo Blue Lab Beats. Their drums are unlike anything else we heard on that playlist! And after listening to their crazy beats, and then continuing through the remainder of that playlist, the other songs’ drums sounded even more boring.


Drum beats usually consist of three elements: kick, snare, and cymbals. Giving one or two of these an unusual pattern would be enough to make a beat stand out, but Blue Lab Beats have made the patterns of all three elements unusual. That’s crazy!


So, inspired by “Never Doubt”, here’s our 4-step method for writing crazy beats. But first… Tea!




Step 1. Snare


Set your tempo to 75 BPM and your time signature to 7|8.


And yes, that’s a crazy time signature! It’s the foundation of crazy upon which they build their standout beats. Why is 7|8 a crazy time signature? Because it sounds like 4|4 on a broken drum machine, as the last 1/8 note of each bar is cut off. This makes it sound like the record (or CD) is skipping. Ah, remember those days?


Next, create a two-bar loop on your drum track, with the grid set to 1/32 notes.


So, when it comes to a snare pattern in 7|8, the most common one is to play the snare on beats 3 and 7. That’s because in 4|4 the snare is almost always played on beats 2 and 4, which is called a regular backbeat. And if you count 4|4 in 1/8 note beats, then the snare hits of that regular backbeat fall on beats 3 and 7.



Standard 7|8 drum pattern with regular backbeat snare (highlighted) on beats 3 and 7




As you can hear (and see in the MIDI above), the bar is cut short by an 1/8 note.


And to be clear, while that’s the snare pattern you’ll most usually hear in 7|8, that definitely doesn’t make it sound normal. It still sounds crazy! That fact will give you an idea of exactly how crazy the snare patterns are in this Blue Lab Beats song.


And without further ado. Here’s their snare pattern: beat 6. Yep, that’s all they play on the snare. That’s way more space than you’d usually hear in a 7|8 beat. But, spoiler alert: they’re not done with the snare yet. It’ll be revisited in Step 4 below.


Lastly, to give your beat 6 snare a reference point, draw in a kick drum on beat 1.


Also, there’s so much space in this snare pattern that you’ll need to hear the 1/8 note pulse to put the snare in context. So, turn on the metronome when listening.



Kick on beat 1, snare (highlighted) on beat 6




Step 2. Kick


With hardly any snares in this beat (currently), all that space can be filled with kicks. And that’s precisely what Blue Lab Beats do. They play a kick on beat 1 and a super syncopated kick on the fourth 1/32 note. If you’re new to the concept of syncopation, it’s simply when an off-beat is accented. Their kick on the fourth 1/32 note is the perfect example of syncopation. And obviously when you accent a 1/32 note off-beat, it sounds a lot more syncopated than a 1/16 note off-beat.



Kick added on fourth 1/32 note (highlighted)




For the rest of the tutorial, please buy the PDF. Supporting our work helps us to keep teaching. Thank you :)




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Lastly, 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. Enjoy!



Ray Harmony
Multi award-winning college lecturer