Building a Drum Beat

Michael Fein
[email protected]
Haverford High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments
Music Production


High School


Music Technology


Garage Band or other comparable software, keyboard


90 Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

Ability to read quarter, eighth, and sixteenth note rhythms in 4/4 met= er

NAfME Standards of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standards of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied rep= ertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME Standards of 1994: Improvising melodies, harmonies, and accompa= niments.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidel= ines.
NAfME Standards of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 


Notation for kick drum, snare, hi-hat, crash cymbal, and tom-toms.

Right click to download the drumbeataudio.m4a Audio file


Students will create a standard rock drum beat by recording kick drum,= snare, hi-hat, crash cymbal, and tom-toms on individual tracks. Student= s will mix these tracks using both volume and panning adjustments.


1. Create a new Garage Band file.
2. Create 5 new software instrume= nt tracks.
3. Select a drum kit for each track.
4. Record the bass = drum on beat 1 and 3 of each measure.
5. Quantize the bass drum to the= quarter note.
6. Record the snare drum on beat 2 and 4 of each measur= e.
7. Quantize the snare drum to the quarter note.
8. Record the hi= -hat pattern (eighth notes, 7 on the closed hi-hat and 1 on the open hi-h= at).=92
9. Quantize the hi-hat to the eighth note.
10. Record a cra= sh cymbal on beat 1 of measure 1, 3, 5, etc.
11. Quantize the crash cy= mbal to the whole note.
12. Record the tom-tom fill pattern (whole res= t, half rest, 8 sixteenths). Advise students to improvise so each fill i= s slightly different in terms of note choice.
13. Quantize the tom-tom= fills to the sixteenth note.
14. Adjust the panning of the various tr= acks. Think about the placement of each drum in a standard drum kit. Lo= ok at an image on the internet of a drum kit to see where each drum is pl= aced. I recommend the following pannings: kick drum =96 center, snare dr= um =96 slightly left, hi-hat =96 hard left, crash cymbal =96 hard right, = tom-toms =96 center or add automation to have the various toms at various= panning locations.
15. Adjust the volume of each track to create a go= od blend.


Listen to each student file. Did the student record the correct rhyth= ms using the correct drum? Did the student stay in tempo?

Follow Up:

1. Add additional percussion instruments such as tambourine, cowbell, = clave, etc.
2. Add pitched instruments, using the drum beat as the fou= ndation for your song.

Items to Purchase:

Keyboard or MIDI controller, computer with sequencing software

When budget should be submitted:



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