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Why All Bass Players Should Know How to Program Drums

When people ask me how did I develop my technique and how did I learn to play the way I did, I always give them the same answer: jamming – and lots of it. In fact, it’s one of the ways I prefer to practice in and it’s really the only way I can see myself playing. For me, having something else there with me, whether a guitar lick or a Rhodes piano progression helps me, personally, see my bass lines in a more “realistic” context; the context of what it would sound like with other musicians.

Crossroads of Composition, Production and Bass

Very early in my musical journey, around the same time I began playing bass in high school, music composition was something that was very interesting to me. It was perhaps, along with bass, one of the first real examples of fierce musical self-guided study with a goal of trying to learn as much as I could so I could make the music in my head a reality. Sadly, when high school ended, many of the outlets that I used composition in faded away but less sadly, I took that energy and aimed it at bass playing and delving deep into the craft.

Midway through college, hip hop became of increasing interest and seemed like a logical place to take all my composition tools and re-tool them into hip hop beats. After a short period of research of the common software programs, I chose to begin on the software system called Maschine and never looked back.

What made these tools so much more fun for me than Finale were that I could add drums to my melodies and harmonies that I heard in my head and play along to them.

Hip hop taught be how to study drums on a level deeper than what is simply being played. Hip hop taught me drum programming techniques, how to make drums sound good and how to make them feel right. Put all these skills together, and I began to become my own favorite band.

Program Your Own Drums Today!

If you’re a Mac user, you have access to the program by default called Garageband. With the addition of a MIDI keyboard and this program and the Loops setting, you can make your own drums and songs in, literally, minutes and jam to yourself. If you don’t have Garageband, you have options of free programs such as Mobius and Livid Looper to make some of your own drum loops to jam along to.

The immediate benefit of making your own tracks is that you learn how your instrument fits into the context of other instruments while learning some rudiments of other instruments such as keyboards and drums.

If there is one thing about practice I recommend with all by being, it is this – go out and jam as much as you can. If you can only do it with yourself – do it with yourself and have fun doing it!

And if you want some practice drums to help get you started, get 10 free ones sent right to your Inbox by entering your email address below: