Its hard to predict where A.I is going next – which is a worry in some ways I guess. Meantime it’s certainly making things easier for lots of people in all sorts of areas. My own limited experience of it so far is in music and video production, specifically in creating drum tracks with A.I.

For years I struggled between trying to record actual human drummers and attempting to programme drums. The former is a laborious process involving lots of cables, microphones and trial and error. The latter – especially for a non drummer – is just very difficult. You either try to work out what a drummer would do or settle for very simple beats that don’t even try to sound real. 

Some of the early drum machines came with useable pre-programmed beats and sounds. They still had a kind of wooden, over quantised feel to my ears. We did have a drummer who was great at programming these for a while. But when he and his Alesis SR16 and us parted ways we were back to square one. 

As a late comer to in the box, computer recording (DAWs) my first experience of creating drum tracks with A.I was with the Drummer function added to Garageband around 2020. I later added Ezdrummer (now on version 3) which I prefer. But both work in similar ways and go a long way towards solving the drums dichotomy. 

Creating Drum Tracks With A.I. In DAWS

Apple’s Drummer function for Garageband and Logic

Drummer is a built in (free) function in Apple’s Garageband and Logic Pro X whereas Ezdrummer is a paid, expandable 3rd party plugin. In both cases you choose drum parts from a selection of styles, tempos and drum sounds. Often you’ll find something straight out of the box that fits your song. Other times you’ll need to do a little editing and personalising. Both have lots of tools to make this as painless as possible.  For me Ezdrummer has the edge.

What I liked about Drummer after playing around with it is the way it uses A.I to fill out an entire song arrangement. You create an arrange window in your DAW – intro, verse, chorus etc using a simple beat or click track and then add a drummer track. Drummer uses A.I to analyse the arrangement. It then builds, a complete track with the parts, fills and all the rest that a human drummer would typically do. Pretty cool. 

You can of course edit all this. The A.I component helps you to finesse it by automatically adding fills whenever you chop a part. You can experiment between different virtual drummers, each with their own genre specific approaches. Simple controls allow you to edit things like complex v simple and loud v quiet and to add swing and dynamics. With a little work you can create extremely realistic drum tracks quite quickly. If, like me you don’t particularly like the actual drum sounds, you can switch the track to midi and use it to play any other drum sounds you may have. Ezdrummer for example. 

Apple Drummer V Ezdrummer 3

Speaking of which…. Ezdrummer works in a slightly different way and has an even cleverer use of A.I in it’s latest version. As with Drummer, EZd comes with a wide selection of sampled beats, grooves and single hits. They are arranged by genre and come in midi packs which contain a range of song part grooves you can build a song from. You can buy additional packs and build up a huge library of sounds. The samples and parts themselves are beautifully recorded by top class session drummers and sound amazing. Ezdrummer does have a song creator function that helps you quickly fill an arrangement but doesn’t do it for you. It does have another trick up its sleeve however.

Ezdrummer 3 introduced a function called bandmate which makes creating drum tracks with A.I.

special. All you do is open bandmate, load a snippet of your music – a guitar riff, midi part or bass part say. Bandmate’s A.I analyses the tempo, signature and style of the part (very accurately) and presents you with a perfect beat from your available library. You can then drag this beat into the song creator part of the programme. You are now presented with a selection of song parts with numerous variations to choose from. Very cool. My one niggle with it is that you can’t do this from Logic Pro projects directly. You have to export the clip then drag it in. Protools users can do the direct thing. No biggie. 

Still Need To Edit?

As with Apple’s drummer anything created with EZd can be edited as midi either inside the plugin itself or in the DAW. The parts can be used as a fully mixed stereo pair or as individual drum sounds. The value here is that you add your own compression, reverb etc to further customise the sounds for your song. You can change the individual drums and cymbals, the mics used to record them and the way they are played.  Personally I want to keep drum editing to minimum which is why Ezdrummer has the edge for me. 

Ezdrummer is one of Toontrack’s suite of plugins. These include Ezbass and Ez keys which do the same thing for keys and bass as they do for drums. These aren’t of interest to me but I can see why they would be to some songwriters and producers who don’t play those instruments. 

I’d hate to see things get to the stage where music and songs can be created entirely with A.I but I’m sure it’ll happen. The world has embraced chatgbt after all which uses A.I to produce content including lyrics based on basic ideas or themes. At least with something like Ezdrummer, a human was been involved at some stage.  


I'm Dave Menzies a digital entrepreneur, photographer and guitarist. I live on the Argyll coast of Scotland. My partner and I write, record and produce our own music and videos in our home studio. I love to help individuals discover the lifestyle freedom offered by the digital world and guitarists to develop their own style.

    2 replies to "Creating Drum Tracks With A.I."

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