One of the goals with writing epic percussion is to make it sound HUGE! But like anything it takes a certain understanding to write larger then life percussive rhythms. Starting off simple is usually the best way to lay the groundwork for a solid foundation. It’s all about getting the groove right whether you’re trying to find the right tempo on a film score or producing library music.
Laying The Foundation
Here is an example of starting off really basic. You want to have drums accenting down beats giving way for creating the groove. Then start to layer on top more rhythmically complex patterns to create more interest.
Building Rhythmic Interest With Layers
Once you’ve done that you just keep on layering in more rhythmically diverse patterns. You still want to be careful not to go too far! Don’t layer so much to the point that things get muddy, you want each part to have its own identity. In Apocalypse Percussion Ensemble you can load in the megamixer kit which contains each drum laid across the keyboard so when you want to start layering you can do it all within the piano roll on one track.
Spreading Out Your Drums On Multiple Tracks
If you would prefer to have them on multiple tracks for the ability to do independent mixing for each track you have that option. Sometimes doing it this way can give you perspective on the big picture seeing it all laid out across multiple tracks.
Adding Musicality With Accents
This is an example of all the tracks from the image above on one piano roll view so you can see how all these different parts interact. Accents on certain key downbeats can really punch through the mix and give your percussion more musicality. So instead of (DUN,DUN,DUN,DUN,DUN,DUN) Try (DUN,dun,dun,DUN,dun,dun)
Pan Your Tracks For A Greater Depth Of Field
Another thing you can do is to make your epic track sound more wide is through the use of panning. Panning is an age old trick to give your track width by spreading out your drums throughout the sonic field. Also with the use of dynamics this will make your percussion have a bit of contrast and have more energy over all.
To see this in action Craig Peters walks you through his Soundiron Session on how to write an epic tribal track!