If I were able to go back in time and teach myself one single concept that I think would help me the most on day 1 of my producer journey, it would probably be this.
There are various drum patterns and bpms associated with specific genres, and while you don't necessarily have to copy these directly, having a knowledge of them and how they work is extremely important as a producer. It's fairly basic stuff, and I imagine most reading may know a handful of different beat patterns or concepts associated with the genre they like, but there are tons out there and I find myself learning new beat patterns and bpms for new genres even still, 7 years into it. The best thing you can do to use this information to grow as a producer is to get in the DAW and try out new beats / rhythms whenever you can, especially ones that are staples of a whole genre of music. Let's dive into a few!
This is probably the most straightforward beat pattern there is. The kick is four on the floor, once on every beat. Every other kick is layered with a snare, and then the hi hat is in between. In house genres, typically you'll be using this pattern at around 125-130 bpm. However, like pretty much any beat, this beat can be used in various circumstances and you don't have to tie yourself to a genre or bpm, you just need to know the vibe of the song and if this would fit.
It's an extremely danceable beat and makes songs sound bouncy. The main way you can make this beat interesting and unique is by changing up the hi hats, you can alternate between open and closed hats, you can apply grooves using Ableton's groove pool, which swings the pattern slightly to give it a bit of groove, or you can add more layers of percussion hits, the possibilities are endless and they all change the vibe of the beat!
I labeled this one trap, but really it's a pretty versatile beat that sits in a lot of different genres, such as trap, hip hop, future bass, dubstep, and more. There are also loads of ways to make this type of beat unique, it is incredibly versatile. In this genre, around 140-160 bpm is typical (you can also measure bpm by halving these numbers, for example, 80 bpm is the same thing as 160 bpm). Also, the snare landing on the upbeat is the standard here (1.3, 2.3, and so on in this example at 150 bpm, but if you were at 75 bpm, you'd be measuring it as 1.2, 1.4, 2.2, 2.4, and so on).
The kick is typically going to be on the first downbeat when the beat comes in, but after that you can be pretty creative with the kick placement. Anything that grooves well works here, the above kick placement is a popular one that grooves well. As for the hats, they're even more open for creative adjustment, filling in the gaps between the kick and snare is pretty typical but you can also make little breaks where you add fast hat rolls, play with the velocity, alternate between open and closed hats, or come up with all sorts of unique patterns to play the hats in this beat.
This is an interesting one, a drill beat is typically around 130-140 bpm (65-70 bpm) and it has a pretty unique groove to it. The kick hits on the first downbeat, and then will typically leave a lot of open space before hitting a few times near the end of the measure. In the genre of drill, usually you have an 808 that will be closely related to the kick and how you want to arrange the kick will depend on the 808 placement and vice versa.
Now the snare you'll notice has an uneven spacing, in this example it hits on 1.3 and then again on 2.4 and repeats, but you could also do it the other way and have it hit on 1.4 and then 2.3, it's just about getting that spacing between the snares that has a long then short then long pattern. The hats are going to give this beat most of its groove, they basically play in sections of three (in the above example the hat is removed where it would have hit at the same time as the snare). Every fourth hat plays with only half the space in between it and the previous one as the previous three. That fourth one should land on the upbeats and downbeats, also acting as the first of the next three in the sequence. If that explanation was confusing, just look at the above example, (imagine there are also hats on 1.3 and 3.3).
Of course, there's room for creativity here too, largely with the kick placement, as well as with the hats. You can add extra hats and percussion hits, but to have that really drill type groove, you want to emphasize the notes played above by the hats in some way.
Drum and Bass
Drum and bass patterns like the one above are typically played at 170-175 bpm. It is also extremely versatile, however typically you have the snare hitting on the 1.2, 1.4, 2.2, 2.4 and so on, and the kicks hit on the first of each bar and the second time the kick hits in that bar, it is usually moved over to land in between the 1.3 and 1.4. This isn't universal, it's just the basic groove, but the kick has a lot of room to maneuver in these types of beats and you can make it interesting by making variations from bar to bar, just remember to also have enough repetition as well in your full beat/song.
The hats play typically in the middle, and as you may notice with the above example, on the upbeats the hats are shuffled a little bit to give it a groove, this is common in the drum and bass style where you have a straight groove and on the upbeat interrupt it with a swung groove. In the above example I alternated between just swinging the hats a 16th note over and adding an extra lower velocity hat as well as swinging the following note over. There are many methods you can try to give this beat some flavor, and you can also experiment with adding more percussion, adding tom fills, and just about anything you can think of, this is probably one of the most versatile beats along with the trap beat from above.
As you can see there are many styles of beats with various grooves that you can experiment with, and tons that aren't even listed here! The cool thing is, once you understand these deeply and thoroughly, you can make music more freely by incorporating elements of different styles however you want to make something completely unique! Without a basic understanding of how each beat and groove works in it's own context, it would prove quite difficult to do this effectively and would likely not turn out very well. So it is very useful to study as many beats as you can and play around with them as much as possible! If you want to hear how I use these in my own productions, you can hear my dance music at Ryahu and my Lo-Fi music at philip j loaf-eye.
Until Next Time!