Admit it. Electronic music is way more convenient and easier to produce than traditional music. Just like electric guitars gained popularity, finger drumming is another trend that is emerging in the music industry. It’s considered a must-have skill for beatmakers that will leave your audience impressed once you get the hang of it.
You practically turn your MIDI pad controller into a professional music instrument by combining performance, rhythm, and composition. You don’t need to manually program your drums using the computer anymore. Finger drumming is much easier and unlocks a whole new range of possibilities that musicians live for. So you’ve got a full range of expressions at your fingertips!
Why Choose Finger Drumming?
Well, isn’t it obvious? Finger drumming is INSANELY fun and more convenient than traditional drumming. It is a quite impressive skill to add to your portfolio that will have your live performances crowded with fans and musicians alike. You also get to turn your MIDI pad controller into a full-fledged instrument rather than programming your sounds and clicking away. You’ll be making fun beats for everyone to dance to!
First Things First
You will need a pad controller because you can’t make your drum compositions using just your mouse. So you will need a great pad controller, either a MIDI pad controller or an entire production controller, for instance, the Maschine+ or the MPC. But for beginners, we will recommend a MIDI pad controller to get started since it is ideal for beginners. If you already have a MIDI pad controller, skip the next step and move forward.
Getting the MIDI Pad Controller
To operate the MIDI controller, you will need the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software on your computer. That’s because a MIDI controller transfers the information to DAW on your computer and then produces the sounds using the plugins and sounds that you have available.
Now buying a MIDI controller for finger drumming is going to be a wise and cost-friendly choice if you have music production software to work with it. You can choose from Novation’s collection of Launchpads, or even the Akai MPD Range.
If you don’t want a MIDI pad controller, you can also get a MIDI keyboard that comes with some pads. Although you won’t get as many pads as there are on a pad controller, a MIDI keyboard gives you versatile options and also lets you play the keys.
Now that you have your hands on music production software (DAW) and a great MIDI controller, it’s time to get started!
So how do you start? Well, a slightly experienced finger drummer would know about the common drum patterns that sound good. But if you are a beginner, you will have no clue where and how to begin. Of course, you may have listened to them in various songs before, but do you ever pay attention to their timing? I bet not!
So the best way to get started is to listen to the songs that have your favorite beats for inspiration. Listen closely to the drum patterns, so you understand the sounds that you have to replicate. This will help you immensely once you start producing your own beats.
Finger Drumming Exercises
Once you have found your inspiration and figured out what you want to replicate, it’s time to start producing your own beats using the pads. Load a preset drum kit on the pads or assign your desired drum samples to the pads.
The best tip we can give you at this point is to start simple. Start at a slow tempo at around 80BPM. Just keep it limited to the kick and snare for now and follow a simple drum pattern using the kick drum on the 1 and 3 and the snare on the 2 and 4. Practice these too, using your metronome until you get the hang of it.
Once you have got the hang of it, it’s time to spice things up in your pattern with a hi-hat. Instead of going 1-2-3-4 like before, think of it now like 1-uh-2-uh-3-uh-4-uh. You will want to play the hats on every instance of “uh” so that the beats sound like kick, hat, snare, hat, kick, hat, snare, hat.
Once you are able to maintain a steady pace and rhythm, keep building and increase the tempo to play it at a faster rate. You may require some more time to get used to it, so don’t push it. Take your time and learn how to accurately place your fingers and figure out which positions you are comfortable with.
Now continue adding more beats to your drum pattern as you learn. You may want to add some extra snares or kick drums into the mix. Or perhaps an open hi-hat towards the end of your loop. You may even want to get more creative and practice with faster hi-hats.
The more you progress, the harder it will get, but it gets easier with practice. You will soon realize how your fingers have got accustomed to the drum patterns.
Finger Drumming Tips
- Be careful about your hand position. It is very important to produce the right beats. You will need your hands and yourself to be positioned a bit diagonal to your controller. This will reduce the chances of hand injuries like carpal tunnel and also help you play easily.
- Instead of moving your arms, you should try to keep your arms still and only move your fingers effortlessly.
- Start small and don’t try to conquer the art of finger drumming in one day. Start at a slow tempo, master it, and only then move forward.
- Make sure that the sounds are linked together so that you can achieve difficult patterns.
We hope these finger drumming exercises will help you get started and become more proficient at finger drumming. Good luck, and don’t forget to give your fingers some rest!