5 Tips for Dynamics in Programmed Drum Performances (+free SD3 preset)

Mike Luke
26 Apr 202018:13

TLDRIn this informative video, the creator discusses various techniques to enhance musical dynamics using both acoustic drumming and MIDI programming. They share their experience with the death and darkness expansion pack for superior drama, and their custom 'maple heaven' preset. The tips include using volume automation, varying drum velocities for a more natural sound, incorporating different articulations, stacking samples for added depth, and adjusting velocity curves for a more human feel in the final mix. The video is a must-watch for musicians seeking to add dynamism to their compositions.


  • 🎢 Utilize volume automation to adjust the drum track's volume throughout the song, ensuring it maintains balance with the rest of the music.
  • πŸ₯ Be mindful of drum velocity; using the maximum value of 127 is not always necessary and can lead to a lack of dynamic range.
  • 🎡 Experiment with different drum velocities and tones to add character and depth to the music, especially during quieter sections like verses and intros.
  • 🎼 Use various articulations in your MIDI programming to create dynamic changes, such as rimshots and off-center hits for added emphasis and excitement.
  • 🎧 Stack additional samples onto your drum sounds to help them cut through the mix, but adjust the velocity settings to prevent over-triggering.
  • πŸ‘€ Consider the natural playing style of an instrument when programming MIDI, as slight variations in velocity and articulation can make the performance feel more human.
  • πŸ”Š Use ghost notes to humanize the performance and add a dynamic, realistic feel to the drum track.
  • 🎹 Make use of software features like velocity curves to quickly adjust the overall dynamic range of a MIDI performance post-production.
  • πŸ”§ Adjust the velocity curve settings to prevent the software from triggering the maximum velocity, allowing for a more controlled and natural sound.
  • πŸ“ˆ Listen to the song as a whole to understand the dynamics and make necessary adjustments to the MIDI programming for a balanced and engaging listening experience.
  • πŸ’‘ Share and discuss your MIDI programming techniques and experiences with others to learn and grow as a musician and producer.

Q & A

  • What is the main topic of the video?

    -The main topic of the video is about creating and maintaining dynamics in music using both acoustic drumming and MIDI programming.

  • What software and expansion pack were used in the video for MIDI programming?

    -The video uses a drum software and the 'Death and Darkness' expansion pack for Superior Drummer.

  • What is the name of the preset created by the speaker?

    -The speaker created a preset called 'Maple Heaven'.

  • How does the speaker ensure the drums maintain their volume level throughout the song?

    -The speaker uses volume automation to adjust the drum track's volume, ensuring it does not get swallowed by the music as the song gets louder.

  • What is the common mistake the speaker mentions regarding drum velocity in MIDI programming?

    -The common mistake is using a velocity of 127 for all drum hits, which can result in a lack of dynamic range and make it difficult for the drums to cut through the mix.

  • How does the speaker recommend adjusting the velocity for more dynamic and natural sounding drum programming?

    -The speaker recommends using a range of velocities between 100-110 for a good balance of body and attack, and adjusting the velocity based on the musical context, such as using lower velocities for verses and higher velocities for choruses.

  • What is the importance of using different articulations in software drum programming?

    -Using different articulations can add excitement to the sound and make it more natural and dynamic. It allows for variations such as rim shots and off-center hits, which can emphasize certain parts of the music.

  • How does the speaker use ghost notes in their MIDI performance?

    -The speaker uses ghost notes to humanize the performance and give it a more realistic feel. They are programmed at lower velocities so they do not trigger the additional stacked samples, which are meant to enhance the sound at higher velocity levels.

  • What is the purpose of the 'velocity curve' feature in drum software like Superior Drummer?

    -The 'velocity curve' feature allows users to set a threshold for when a certain sample or instrument is triggered, preventing the software from always playing the highest velocity hits and making the performance more human and dynamic.

  • How does the speaker suggest using the 'velocity curve' feature in post-production?

    -The speaker suggests using the 'velocity curve' feature to adjust the velocity at which certain samples are triggered, allowing for quick corrections to the entire MIDI performance without having to manually adjust each hit.

  • What is the name of the additional snare sample stacked onto the main snare in the video?

    -The additional snare sample stacked onto the main snare is called 'Snare Number Five' from the 'Death and Darkness' expansion pack.



🎢 Introduction to Dynamics in Music Production

The video begins with the host expressing gratitude for the audience tuning in and introduces the topic of dynamics in music production. The focus is on creating and maintaining dynamics using both acoustic drum recording and MIDI programming. The host shares a personal experience of programming a song using MIDI and the 'death and darkness' expansion pack for superior drama. The host also mentions a custom preset called 'maple heaven' and encourages viewers to find the link in the description box for more resources. The importance of dynamics in music is emphasized, and the host teases upcoming tips on the subject.


πŸ”Š Volume Automation and Drum Velocities

The host delves into the first tip for creating dynamics in music, which is volume automation. This process involves adjusting the volume of a performance during post-production. The host demonstrates how the song's volume increases throughout and how they adjusted the drum track's volume to maintain balance with the music. The second tip discussed is the importance of varying drum velocities instead of always using the maximum velocity of 127. The host explains that different velocities can add depth and character to the drums, making the mix sound more dynamic and natural.


πŸ₯ Utilizing Different Drum Articulations

The third tip focuses on using different drum articulations to enhance dynamics. The host explains that changing between center and rim shots can add excitement and naturalness to the sound. They demonstrate how using center articulations in verses and rim shots for emphasis can create a more dynamic mix. The host also shares a trick of using off-center articulations for flams on the snare drum to create a more realistic and natural sound.


🎡 Stacking Samples and Ghost Notes for Humanization

The fourth tip involves stacking additional samples onto the snare drum to help it cut through the mix. The host shows how they used a preset from the 'death and darkness' pack to add an extra layer to the snare. They also discuss the use of ghost notes for humanizing the performance, which adds a great feeling to the song. The host explains how to use velocity gates to prevent one-shot samples from triggering at maximum velocity, allowing for a more realistic and dynamic sound.

πŸ“ˆ Adjusting Velocity Curves in Post-Production

The final tip provided is about adjusting the velocity curves in post-production to correct overly loud or soft hits without having to manually adjust each MIDI note. The host demonstrates how to set a threshold or limit for velocities in the drum software to prevent triggering at maximum velocity, which can instantly correct the performance and make it sound more human. The host invites viewers to share their experiences and techniques for programming drums and encourages discussion in the comments section.




Dynamics in music refers to the variations in volume and intensity throughout a piece. In the video, the creator emphasizes the importance of dynamics in making a song engaging, starting with a low volume and building up to a louder and more powerful finish.

πŸ’‘MIDI Programming

MIDI programming is the process of creating and editing music using digital instruments and software that respond to MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) signals. In the context of the video, the creator programs a song using MIDI, allowing for precise control over the drum performance.

πŸ’‘Volume Automation

Volume automation is a post-production technique used to adjust the volume levels of individual tracks in a recording. The creator in the video uses volume automation to ensure that the drums maintain their presence and do not get lost in the mix as the song's volume increases.


Velocity in MIDI programming refers to the speed at which a key is pressed or a drum pad is struck, which can affect the dynamics and tone of the sound produced. The video encourages not always using the maximum velocity to allow for more dynamic expression and a more natural sound.


Articulation in music production refers to the specific way a note is played or a sound is produced, such as a rim shot or a center hit on a drum. The video discusses using different articulations to add variety and excitement to the drum performance.

πŸ’‘Ghost Notes

Ghost notes are soft, subtle sounds that are often used in music to add texture and depth without drawing attention away from the main melody or rhythm. In the video, the creator uses ghost notes to humanize the MIDI performance and give it a more realistic feel.

πŸ’‘Expansion Pack

An expansion pack is additional content that enhances or extends a software's capabilities. In the video, the creator uses the 'Death and Darkness' expansion pack for Superior Drummer, which provides new sounds and features to create drama and dynamics in the song.


A preset in music software is a pre-configured set of settings that can be used as a starting point for creating a sound or performance. The video discusses creating and using presets to streamline the process of achieving desired sounds.


Mixing is the process of combining and adjusting the individual tracks of a recording to achieve a balanced and polished final sound. While the video focuses on MIDI programming, it also touches on the importance of mixing in maintaining the dynamics of the song.


Humanize in music production refers to making a performance sound more natural and less mechanical, often by adding subtle variations and imperfections that a human performer would introduce. The video emphasizes the use of ghost notes and dynamic variations to achieve this.


The video discusses the creation and maintenance of dynamics in music using both acoustic drumming and MIDI programming.

The presenter programmed a song using MIDI and the death and darkness expansion pack for superior drama.

A custom preset called 'maple heaven' was created using the DW collectors kit from the death library.

Volume automation is crucial for maintaining the balance between drums and music throughout a song.

Using a variety of drum velocities instead of always using 127 can add more dynamics and realism to a performance.

Different articulations, such as room shots and rim shots, can be used to change the dynamics and character of the sound.

Stacking additional samples onto a drum sound can help it cut through the mix more effectively.

Ghost notes can be used to humanize a performance and add a great feeling to a song.

Adjusting the velocity curve in post-production can correct issues with overly loud or soft hits without manually adjusting each MIDI note.

The video provides tips on MIDI programming, including the use of velocity and articulations for dynamic control.

The presenter shares their experience and recommendations for creating dynamic songs through MIDI programming.

The video is a practical guide for musicians, particularly those who program drums for their songs.

The presenter invites viewers to share their own tips and experiences with drum programming in the comments.

The video demonstrates the importance of dynamics in music and provides techniques to achieve it through MIDI programming.

The use of different drum sounds and samples can add depth and variety to a song's overall sound.

The video emphasizes the importance of balance and level in achieving a good sounding song.

The presenter's approach to MIDI programming is centered around creating a natural and dynamic sound.