Groove is the effect of changing patterns in a propulsive beat or the sense of “swing” in music. Groove has been defined as “an uncertain but organized sensation of something that is sustained in a distinctive, regular, and attractive fashion, aiming to draw the listener in” from a more general ethnomusicological perspective. In the following tutorial, I’ll show you a few techniques to add a groove to your drums and make your music more enjoyable.

In our SoundBridge: DAW, I have prepared a short sequence that contains rhythmic elements, including a basic hi-hat pattern, without groove, created using RitMix. I will use this to demonstrate groove changes.

Let us listen to the whole mix first, then the hi-hat pattern solo.

This is a screenshot of my mix before applying techniques that add groove to drums and the hi-hat pattern

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat Pattern (Unprocessed)

~Hi-Hat Pattern Solo (Unprocessed)

Using Velocity Changes to Add Groove to Your Drums

This hi-hat pattern obviously is repetitive and lacks any groove; it simply hits every 1/16th note. To help resolve this, I will implement the first technique that adds groove to your drums: Velocity changes. The velocity for each hit in the MIDI editor can be found at the bottom of the SoundBridge MIDI editor, as shown in the images below.

When you select notes, you can see their velocity value in the MIDI editor’s left panel. As you may have noticed, the first four notes have varying velocities, and the pattern then repeats. The first image shows the unaltered velocity for each note, whereas the second image shows the changes in velocity that create a groove.

This is a screenshot of the MIDI editor of the hi-hat pattern before applying velocity change


This is a screenshot of the MIDI editor of the hi-hat pattern with velocity change

Let us hear how the groove change sounds solo and then in the context of the full mix.

~Hi-Hat Pattern Solo (Groove With Velocity)

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat Pattern (Groove With Velocity)

Using Swing in SoundBridge

We will now proceed to the next concept for adding a groove to your drums: Swing. In SoundBridge: DAW, you can set the Swing by clicking on the icon at the bottom of the main interface, which will open a separate swing window. It allows you to adjust the swing amount for 1/8th, 1/16th, and 1/32nd beats.

If you, for example, set the Swing to 30% for 1/16th beat, you can store that setting by clicking the “Add to Snap” button or selecting the notes in the MIDI editor and clicking “Quantize.” The selected pattern will be automatically changed as a result of this.

This is a screenshot of the hi-hat pattern and the swing window with setting applied

The grid in the MIDI editor has changed due to the 30% swing that I applied to the hi-hat pattern. So, when compared to the hi-hat pattern without the Swing, every second note in the MIDI editor is now a little shorter. Let us compare the hi-hat pattern without and with a swing.

This is a screenshot of the hi-hat pattern MIDI editor after using velocity changes to add groove to the drums

~Hi-Hat Pattern Solo (Without Swing)

~Hi-Hat Pattern Solo (With Swing)

Without a doubt, there is a noticeable difference when a swing is added to the hi-hat pattern. These are two simple methods for significantly improving the sound of your drum sequences. Let us hear the whole mix with hi-hat and added Swing at the end.

~Full Mix – Hi-Hat Pattern (Groove With Swing)

If you liked this tutorial, here are some more on the same subject: