Hey Mark, I already posted this reply to the same question you posted at the Drum Machine 4.0 tribe at tribe.net but I thought the answer might be efficacious for other drum machine programmers here at L.D. So sorry for the redundancy. ******************************* From the drum machine programs I heard you perform, Mark it sounded like you were trying to compose with drum sounds as opposed to writing things that an actual drummer would play. I thought your programming was really interesting and your sound choice excellent for what it's worth. I think this is a very valid approach, aesthetically but it is not really groove oriented or necessarily what an acoustic trapset drummer would play. No judgement either way. Some of my favorite drum machine programmers purposefully eschew sounding like a real drummer. Groove oriented drummers think very simply and for good reason: their job (when they are good enough that people will pay them a lot of money for what they do) is to serve the song and provide a minimalistic enough foundation so that the composer/songwriter has a lot of room to move over the top of it; both melodically, harmonically and timbrally. How I think as a drummer is to come up with a simple and distinctive drum groove that I try to play. Frequently that may be a one bar groove but a lot of times I may compose a two or four bar groove that has slight variations in it. I consider any single variation from a repeated pattern, whether an AAAA form or a more complicated ABAC ABAD form to be a 'fill' and I tend to only use fills in a ration of 1/8 or more frequently 1/16 when I'm playing (especially if I'm recording a record for someone). Frequently , I will even take the 'linear rhythm' which is the combined syncopative quality of all the parts played in a piece and I will make the fill play that exact rhythm-----this creates what I call a 'groove fill' or a fill that pushes the forward momentum of the piece. A wild fill that radically differs from the "linear rhythm' of the piece will be distracting frequently. I also think very seriously about whether a drummer would actually be able to play a fill that I program. As an example, if you are playing 16th notes on a hihat with a backbeat on snare on beats 2 and 4, DON"T put a hihat note on 2 and 4. It's not physically possible for a drummer to play a hi hat on beats 2 and 4 at a higher speed. Towards this end, go out and watch a good 'pocket' funk or soul drummer play and watch what they do physically. You don't want to be doing melodic tom fills that are physically impossible to play by a human being. We unconciously 'hear' this when people program ineffectively. I always use very simple song forms when providing variation in a drum groove: AAAB, AABA, ABAC, ABCB, for example, if I am writing a four bar groove. This comes from a very Afro-centric orientation which is the basis of most trapset groove playing (pre Drum and Bass and Glitch styles). The Afro-centric approach is very call and response or response and call oriented. Because drum machines lack 'energy' or a human feel, programmers frequently feel the need to make their patterns more complicated so that 'something happens'. Oddly enough, I have found that the opposite approach is more effective...............I think it is much stronger to make the groove as simple as effective in conveyng the kind of feel you want to get across and then build the 'human' qualities into the upper voices (or bass voice). In many pop groups this is what the drummer does anyway. Also, because drum machines lack 'energy' frequently mixers pull them down in the mix. I, again, have found the opposite approach works better. I actually will mix a drum machine in a piece louder than I would as a compensation for lack of energy. I'd say in general, don't be afraid to use the machine as a trance element..............extremeley minimalistic with really nice choice of sounds (also beware of huge kick drum sounds that mask, timbrally with big subsonic bass guitar or synth tones). Let me know if any of this is helpful or it you'd like more suggestions. Also, for what it is worth, I teach a four hour (spread over four weeks, one hour a week) course called the Rhythm Instensive that is designed for instrumentalists to understand how rhythm works effectively in arrangement. This course is tailor made for people who want to program drum machines and program bass lines for their pieces. good luck, R.