My finger drumming covers

Hi, I’m Paul. I joined The Quest for Groove more than a year ago. I took several beginner and intermediate courses here. Now I feel confident enough to focus on identifying drum grooves by ear and playing along at my level.

Here is my first completed drum cover: [Finger drumming] Survivor – Eye of the Tiger - YouTube


Wow, very nice. Thanks for sharing! I commented on Youtube as well, but to go a little more in detail here:

  • You found a good sound for your drums. They match the song very nicely.
  • I love the consistency and the groove. Going in and out of fills, that stuff. I know how hard this is and I also can immediately tell if someone is doing the work or if they want quick results and skipping the fundamentals. You clearly did everything well! (feel free to debunk me if I’m wrong by the way :slight_smile: )
    Would love to hear more!
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Oh and one thing that comes to mind when I hear this song:

If you ever wanted to practice the independent hands method, playing the kick and snare with the non-dominant hand and the hi hat with the dominant hand for the beat, this is a good song to practice with.

It’s not necessary to do it this way, not at all, but since the main groove is so nice and straightforward it could be used for this other way of playing. And then, later on, when you might actually need to do it this way because a specific song demands it (mostly for dynamics reasons in my experience) you already have some of the basics down.

It also strengthens your non-dominant hand. Always a good thing.

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Yeah, even for a song with a such simple beat it takes a lot of time to reach consistency.

This particular song has a variable tempo (slower in the beginning, faster by the end), so I couldn’t use a click for reference. I had to listen to a bass guitar closely. Also I had to extremely adjust hi-hat curves to get dynamics from MPD218 pads.

Here is how I prepared for a finger drumming cover

  1. Listen to a song many times to “internalise” it.
  2. Write a song roadmap
    • understand song structure and divide into sections (intro, verse, chorus, etc.)
    • write basic groove (kick, snare and hi-hat patterns) for each section by ear – slowdown and count
    • understand drum fill placement and length by ear, make notes
    • understand placement of accents and crashes by ear, make notes
    • refer to already transcribed sheet music to understand complex parts (e.g. ghost notes, fills) – this saves time
    • as a result I have one A4 sheet of paper with a song roadmap (see attachment)
  3. Learn the song
    • divide a song into sections for practicing
    • sections should overlap (e.g. fill plus one bar of a chorus) – this will train transitions
    • practice sections slowly, play correctly at least 4 times before advancing a tempo
    • always play correct notes, slow down if you make mistakes (do not let your brain learn wrong patterns)
    • play the whole song, identify weak parts, repeat practicing


You did this so well. Exactly how I would recommend people to do it, with a small twist that makes it work for you personally. Couldn’t be any better!

Okay here is another one [Finger drumming] Green Day – Boulevard of Broken Dreams - YouTube.

This tune has pleasant tempo, so I practiced almost always at 100%.
Speaking about hand independence, I practiced playing accent crashes with a non-dominant hand.
Also I’ve spent a lot of time on tweaking the drum sound.

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Yeah! Great cover! Im very happy to see these results trickling in after a long period of hard work.

This one was tough! I’ve spent two weeks on that and decided to stop with this result. Although it is not perfect, it is decent for my level.

This is a song with 99 bpm played with 16th notes, so it is pretty fast.

During the first week I learned how to play grooves in isolation from 30 to 80 bpm. I had a nice and consistent progress.

During the second week I started playing along with a drumless track and faced several problems.

  1. Although I could play relaxed at 80 bpm, I couldn’t play in time because I did not feel how to sync with other instruments (especially for a ride section). I did not hear the bass at all and the rhythm guitar sound was so flowing that I couldn’t sync with it. I spent a few days trying to grasp the rhythm and nothing helped until I slowed down to boring 70 bpm. I decided to sync with chord changes that happen every bar and after that my timing started sounding perfect.
  2. I played that 32nd note fill with single strokes initially. But I felt that 80 bpm is the limit of playing it comfortably and switched to a three snares in a row. It was much easier to play.
  3. I was approaching 99 bpm asymptotically. I started to loose the motivation at some point so I decided to stop where I am now. I would say that 90 bpm is my level now.
  4. I haven’t spent a lot on mixing but I do not like the sound of a kick.

However there is a lot I’ve learned the hard way :slight_smile:. I would summarise my learnings like that:

  • In any incomprehensible situation – slow down
  • Do not strive for perfection – better spend this time on other song

Hey Vokilam,

Nice work! I think you’ve worked your way around those drum fills very well by using mutiple fingers.
Honestly, the track seems to speed up a bit when I listen to it on spotify. Maybe that’s not correct, but it sure feels like it after the intro.
That will be the kind of stuff messing you up, since you’re solid, playing a solid tempo and then the backing track “runs away”.

Focusing on the slow counts (every bar, or every 2 quarter notes), and then really using your own inner clock and filling in those large gaps will make your drums lock in better in those situations.

I really think you did a great job. It seems to lock in nicely!

Also agreed, move on from this. It’s already great. Keep on developing and come back to this next year for fun to see how much you’ve improved.

This song has hi-hat dynamics most noticeable at the beginning. It was hard to get this accents right on MPD 218, so I had to edit the hi-hat curve extremely. I also had to increase a volume of an open hi-hat to match the sound on the recording. Also I played an accented hi-hat with two fingers.

The groove is straight 8th notes with one ghost note exception in chorus. So I first started playing all 8th notes with right hand as usual. Next day I thought that, although the tempo is comfortable, what if I divide notes between two hands and play 4ths with a dominant hand and 8ths with a non-dominant. Now I play twice slower and have more room for focusing on the rhythm. It worked very nice, although I spent a lot of time on two hands coordination.

What I learned

  • I’ve recorded this video from the first take (I liked it!). But I’ve spent extra 1-2 days on practice.
  • Practicing is like going to a gym: a brain should experience a consistent pressure in order to progress efficiently.
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Wonderful, all of these things are exactly the kind of stuff I would like all of my students to do.

  • Pay attention to sound and mess around with velocity curves.
  • Practice and sleep and take some time to not feel like you’re walking on a tightrope before trying to “rock out” and do the real thing.
  • Be creative in how you use your hands. This is a great example of using a technique not because it’s the only option but simply because it works somehow. That’s the right kind of open mind.

Thanks for sharing. This is gonna be a great finger drumming year!

This song has a triplet feel and interesting open hi-hat pattern. It is fast but is played with quarter notes. Fills are 8th triplets. Tambourine is played every other back beat in verse and every back beat in chorus.

  • I practiced playing tambourine with a side stick pad. AD tambourine has a weak sound I would say, so I tried to apply reverb to it and lower pitch slightly.
  • Also spent some time practicing triplets: in the beginning they were either too fast or uneven. But after each sleep I was making a noticeable progress.
  • I really wanted to add a triplet feel to a chorus and play 8th triplets with hi-hat. But I couldn’t get right sound (on studio recording you can hear tambourine triplets in the back) - note velocity was unstable on MPD 218.
  • Also I skipped claps except the re-intro section. AD claps are also too weak, so I distorted them a bit and passed through reverb.

Haha you’re so right about AD claps… I keep using them because I don’t want to look for something else and I always regret sticking with those samples and not just using claps from another library. :slight_smile:

Solid time by the way! The hardest thing with this stuff I found is to play those quarter notes for a long time and then after a long time of that you have to play some triplets for 1 second.

To get those triplets 100% in the pocket is very hard because you sort of need to get into the triplet vibe after playing quarter notes for a long time and you only have one chance. :smiley:

Well, now I know that I can learn a medium complexity song in two weeks.

Learning experience of this song was similar to the Offspring’s “Kids Aren’t Alright”. I approached 100% bpm asymptotically. Last step from 105 to 110 bpm was the longest. The most difficult part was to lock with a backing track. Distortion guitars, screaming vocals are far from crisp metronome clicks.

I learned about in-ear monitoring, when a drummer has his own mix in headphones when performing live. So, I tried to do somewhat similar. I applied EQ

  • to my drums to make kick sound dry and clear
  • to backing track to hear more bass and less vocals

Also I continue shaping my way of practice

  1. Divide drum part into sections
  2. Learn how to play each section (that include transitions from/to neighbour sections) @ 80% bpm
  3. Play a full song and learn how to lock with a drumless track
  4. After you caught the groove, gradually increase to 100%
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Hey Paul,

Great work! A mix that works for drums is always a goof way to go. Sometimes the drums will sound the best in the mix when they’re a little more in the back, with the guitars taking front and center. But… when you’re playing you just want to hear everything well. So making the mix sound a little weird in order to play everything well is a great idea.

I switched to a less intense mode and played 5-15 mins a day.

There are a lot of ghost notes in this song. I just placed them where I thought it would be comfortable for me to play and where it sounded cool.
I played ghost double strokes with a rolling gesture (middle then index finger hitting each its own pad). This was the easiest for me.

To make snare sound quiet-loud I tweaked a pad curve like this:
Screenshot 2023-03-22 at 01.23.48

There is a lot of dynamics on an open hi-hat. I tried different combinations and fingerings and ended up with a single open hi-hat sound for simplicity. I wanted to use a foot pedal to control openness, but my sustain pedal was actually an on-off switch :slight_smile:

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Very nice feel! Man, this brings back some teenage memories :slight_smile: The roll works well; with two fingers. Nice and subtle!

What I like about this song is unusual crashes on 1+ in verse sections. There are other places where crashes are played on 2, 2+.

Ghost notes were not so difficult to play. I played single strokes according to a groove and double strokes randomly on 4a.

Fills were also pretty straightforward. I changed orchestration to what I feel sounds better and to avoid finger crossing when playing descending toms. Overall, Fairfax 1 drums sound dry and I cannot make them sound thicker.

Intro section is an interesting one (share notes are highlighted with blue). It shows a limited dynamics of MPD218. Basically, even with adjusted curves the lightest but reliable touch starts from 64.

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Good job! With that intro I would probably always draw in a nice velocity buildup in the midi file after recording. Ofcourse this cannot be done live, but if you’re recording, working with a small dynamic range, you can always do that to make the drums sound great dynamically.