How to Create Drum Patterns & Loops in FL Studio

Drums are one of the key driving forces of modern music as they dictate the groove of the track. They also take up a lot of space in the mix and thus have a huge impact on how your track will sound when completed. Drums can make or break your song. Knowing how to come up with unique, but simple drum patterns is a skill that every music producer should possess.

In this article, I’m going to cover how to create drum patterns and loops in FL Studio that you can use in your everyday productions.

Pick Your Sounds

First, you’ll have to pick the drum sounds you’re going to use in your production. You can select all the sounds you’re going to use before you start creating or choose the sounds as you carry on with your production depending on your workflow.

Step 1: Open the channel rack by pressing F6 or by using its icon in the toolbar.

Channel rack icon FL Studio

This opens the channel rack where we’ll be creating the drum pattern.

channel rack FL Studio

Step 2: Pick the sounds you want to use by previewing them in the browser. To open the browser, click on its icon (shown below) or by pressing F8.

browser icon FL Studio

This opens the browser.

browser FL Studio

Step 3: From the browser, click on sounds to preview them. Once you find a sample you want to use in your project, drag and drop it onto the channel rack.

drag & drop channel rack FL Studio

Step 4: I’ll continue looking for sounds. For drums, I like to start with the main elements which are the kick and snare. I’ve already found a snare so I’ll look for a kick.

channel rack FL Studio

Create a Sequence

After you’ve found your sounds, now it’s on to creating the actual drum pattern. FL Studio’s piano roll and channel rack have made the DAW stand out for drum pattern creation by simplifying the process. It is important to note though, that drum patterns are what mostly determine the genre of the track so choose your drum sounds accordingly.

Step 1: Here, you’ll need to place the pattern you’re going to put the drums in on the playlist. This is not necessary, but is good practice to keep your workflow streamlined and free-flowing. For this, open the playlist by pressing F5 or by using its icon.

playlist icon FL Studio

Step 2: Once open, I’ll drag and drop ‘Pattern 1’ from the picker panel into the playlist. For me, it is ‘Pattern 1’ since I just opened a new project, for you it may be different.

add pattern to playlist FL Studio

Step 3: Now we can start creating our drum pattern. For most genres, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, etc., the snare will be on the 2 and 4 as shown below.

creating drum patterns FL Studio

Step 4: It is also common practice for the kick to be on the 1, so I’ll place my kick there.

drum pattern FL Studio

This is just a starting point for my drum loop, the rest is now up to your inspiration and creativity.

Step 5: To spice it up a bit, I’ll add a few more kick hits to add to the groove.

kicks in drum pattern FL Studio

Step 6: Now that I’ve got my basic kick and snare groove right, I’ll elongate the pattern to avoid it being too repetitive and boring when it’s played over and over again. I’ll do this by clicking in the same sequence on the unused part of the channel rack and add some variations.

longer drum pattern FL Studio

You can repeat this step until you have enough variations.

Adding More Drums & Percussion

Now that we’ve got the kick and snare rhythm, we can start adding more drum and percussion sounds that complement this rhythm.

Step 1: I’ll open my browser again and look for sounds that I can use to complete the drum pattern then add them to the playlist. Here I’ll be looking for closed & open hats, cymbals, toms, congas, bongos, or any other percussion sound that I can fit into the drum pattern.

add sounds to channel rack

Step 2: Once loaded, I’ll add hits to the drum sounds I just added so that they complement the already existing rhythm. Here’s what I came up with.

drum pattern FL Studio

Step 3: Some of the sounds will require a bit of editing. For example, the open hat (808 OH) is playing longer than I’d like so I want to shorten it. To do this, I’ll click on the area shown below to view the its sampler settings.

channel on channel rack FL Studio

Step 4: Once open, I’ll shorten the sample by moving the ‘OUT’ knob until I get my desired result.

sampler settings FL Studio

Here’s the end result. Notice the sample is shorter here.

shorten sample in sample settings FL Studio

Step 5: Now it’s time for the hi hats. Since they are normally a repetitive pattern, there’s a simple way to apply this. You can apply this by right-clicking on the sample and selecting ‘Fill each 2 steps’.

add hi hats FL Studio

Now there’ll be a hi hat hit every 2 steps.

hi hats added FL Studio

Step 6: If you want more a complex hi hat pattern where you have slices, triplets, and rolls, you’ll have to do this in the piano roll. Open it by right-clicking on the sample in the channel rack then go to ‘Piano roll’.

open piano roll FL Studio

Here’s how they look on the piano roll.

piano roll FL Studio

Step 7: On the piano roll, hit Ctrl + L to make the hi hats easier to work with.

piano roll notes legato FL Studio

Step 8: Select the hi hats to chop by clicking on them to highlight them.

highlight notes piano roll FL Studio

Step 9: Press Alt + U to open the chopper. Use the ‘Time mul’ knob to set the amount of chops.

piano roll chopper FL Studio

Here’s my end result.

hi hats chopped FL Studio

Step 10: Now I’m satisfied with my drum loop, however, I want a few more minor variations. Since I’m done creating the loop, I can clone it and add my variations to the cloned pattern. To do this just go to the playlist and click on the icon right next to the pattern’s name.

pattern in playlist FL Studio

Step 11: From the menu, select ‘Make unique’.

make unique pattern FL Studio

The pattern will be cloned for further editing.

pattern cloned FL Studio

Final Thoughts

Creating drum patterns is always fun and exciting for me and I hope through this article it will be the same for you. Just remember for great drum patterns, all you need is high quality samples that fit for your genre, some knowledge on drum patterns and your creativity will do the rest. As always, have fun creating!

Gasgoine K
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