Linear drumming is difficult to play well, but with the help of Logic’s Step Editor, fun and stimulating to program. Put simply, linear drumming is an approach to groove playing where no two limbs are playing at the same time. It’s built on the idea of there being no layering of parts; one kit piece at a time is played. They don’t have to be played sequentially; a single kit piece can be repeated before another one is struck. And any note can be played at any volume level. So, combining different dynamic levels with a mixture of repeating notes on one surface and notes played on alternate surfaces (drums, or cymbals) is where the creativity comes in.
In sequencing language, we are talking about programming a monophonic part here, as opposed to a polyphonic part. We are never hearing more than one note at a time.
Logic’s Step Editor works as a big sequencing grid with each kit element having a dedicated lane. The notes are programmed horizontally as steps in each kit piece’s lane. The vertical height of each step represents each note’s velocity.
The Step Editor has the ability to link different consecutive lanes together in a “hi-hat mode” where voice stealing happens if more than one step is entered at the same time on any of the linked lanes. This is designed for hi-hat programming, where open and closed hi-hats can’t physically happen at the same time in the physical world. With linked lanes, this prevents simultaneous open and closed hi-hat notes from happening at the same time.
But interesting things happen when we link the kick and snare into the same linked set of lanes. It opens up the possibility of linear drum programming, where no two kit pieces play at the same time.
In this video, I’ll show you my workflow utilizing linked lanes to generate interesting and dynamic linear style drum grooves. You can use any software drum instrument for this, but I am using Modern & Massive from GetGoodDrums here. They not only sound great, but also offer really fun and flexible mixing options, allowing you to swap out drums, and blend in different combinations of room mics, direct mics, overheads, bleed, etc. And of course, they sound fantastic!
This is a really fun, and not terribly difficult programming technique, that will turn you into a virtuoso drum programmer in no time.