We break down a UK drill beat, a genre that rapidly became one of the dominant sounds in the UK.
UK drill is a prominent subgenre of US drill that originated in Chicago. A tougher and darker sound to its distant cousin, UK drill has become one of the most popular and controversial genres in recent years.
From a production point of view, there are notable crossovers with grime, trap and hip hop. Yet drill stands out with its halftime melodies, sparse patterns and gliding 808s with producers such as M1 on the Beat and Ghosty, to name just two, some of the scene’s most popular beat makers.
Beat Dissected is a regular series in which we deconstruct drum patterns, showing you how to program them in any DAW. Just copy our grid in your own software to recreate the loop.
You can download the samples we used here: UK Drill Samples and remember to click any image to enlarge.
Here’s the beat we’re making today.
Load up the kick sample into a Drum Rack. Copy this popular kick pattern below and leave the sound as is. There’s no need to tweak it further as it sounds good as it is. Notice the high velocities as we want the kick drum to pop through.
Grab the snare sample and add it to pad two in our Drum Rack. We reduce the sample length slightly to remove the tail in the one-shot. Copy the pattern below and pay special attention to the last bar with the ghost notes.
You might consider transposing the sample up or down but that’s subjective. Work to your own preference.
Add the hi-hat sample to pad three. Reduce the transient by increasing the Fade In amount to make it smoother. Transpose the sample by -13st and increase the Spread to 64% giving it some movement in the mix. Observe closely the Velocities also and to increase their effectiveness turn the Vol<Vel knob clockwise until the meter shows 79% (or more to taste). This helps make the hi-hat rolls bounce.
Drill hi-hat patterns borrow heavily from grime which (on a 1/16th grid) is two spaces, two spaces and one space repeated. Once that fundamental is in place you can add flourishes with rolls, triplets or removing hits to add space.
Let’s layer the hi-hat in step 3. Grab the one-shot ‘perc 2’ and copy the pattern below. As in Step 3, observe the Velocities while also dialling in 49% on the Vol<Vel knob. We’ve panned it 20L and transposed it -2st.
With the fundamentals locked in, you can now add whatever you wish! This is where you can truly explore your own sonic palette.
Add the shaker and money shot samples onto the next two pads respectively. We’ve programmed the money shot (triangle) on beat 1 and a syncopated shaker rhythm to fill in some spaces in the pattern.
For the final step, add in the crash cymbal, open hi-hat and verb hit. Load the samples in the remaining pads into the Drum Rack.
The key here is to change the trigger on the open hat to GATE. We can then control the length of the sample with the note length so that the first hit cuts off and the second one plays out. It’s a simple trick but it helps makes it tighter alongside everything else.
To wrap things up we added Drum Buss and Beat Repeater to the Drum Rack.
To provide some context, we’ve written an 808 bass line with plenty of glides and a piano played back in halftime. We’ve also added a Limiter to the Master track,
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.