Win The God Particle
Enter your email for a chance to win The God Particle plugin — the secret sauce powering mixes for some of today’s biggest artists.
Awesome! We sent you an email to confirm your submission.
Something went wrong. Try again.
The god particle image
Breathing Life into MIDI Drum Tracks: Techniques for a Human Touch
Discover how to create dynamic MIDI drum tracks that resonate deeply with listeners. Features techniques for setting foundations, quantizing rhythms, and adding ghost notes.


The magic of music production often lays in capturing a feeling and translating it into a sound. Especially when working with MIDI drum tracks, it's crucial to infuse life and emotions to capture that human touch which sets apart a good track from a great one.

In this blog post, we will walkthrough various techniques demonstrated in an educational video to create a rich, dynamic sound with MIDI drum tracks. These techniques, once mastered, can significantly enhance your production skills and enable you to create tracks that resonate deeply.

Setting the Foundation

First things first, every impressive track starts with setting a solid foundation. At the beginning of your production process, setting the right tempo is fundamental since this will influence the whole pace of your track. Furthermore, choosing a drum kit that fits your song's genre and style is equally important. It's these fundamental choices that will ultimately shape your creative direction.

After selecting your tempo and drum kit, recording a basic beat comes next. This will serve as groundwork, providing a rhythmic base that you can loop and base your further editing on. Don't worry about getting fancy at this stage; keep it simple and let your creativity flow with the progression of the track.

Quantizing and Fixing Velocities

Once you've recorded a basic beat, it's time to clean it up. Quantizing the rhythms is the first step. By moving notes on the piano roll closer to their supposed pulses, you can ensure a tighter performance. This will help remove any inconsistencies from your initial recording and make your track sound more professional.

To further increase the sonic appeal of your drum track, the next move is fixing the velocities. Midi velocities can be set for each note individually, offering a whole palette of dynamics to play with. However, it's important to not overdo it; completely equal velocities may make your track sound robotic. Therefore, it’s about creating balance between human feel and musical accuracy.

Adding Ghost Notes to Enhance Complexity

Looking to add complexity to your beat? Ghost notes are your answer. These are softer, subtler drum hits that add depth and complexity to your track. Start by re-positioning some notes on the snare drum; these are typically quieter but can make a huge impact on the overall feel of your drum track.

After re-positioning, go on to adjust the velocities of those ghost notes. Remember to keep these relatively low to avoid dominating over your main beats. Further, these elusive notes can be added to the hi-hat rhythm as well. By altering velocities of notes in your hi-hat sequence, you can create juicy nuances and intricate variations in your rhythm.

Applying Ghost Notes to Kick Drum

Your kick drum can also benefit vastly from ghost notes! Just like the snare drum, you can add ghost notes to your kick drum track, making your beat more rhythmic and engaging. However, balancing the velocities here is really important as over-powering kick drum beats can lead to a disruptive sonic experience.

Take your time, experiment with different velocities and placements until you find the balance that works best for your song. Remember, there's no right or wrong in music. It's all about how it feels.

Utilizing the Humanize Feature

One tool that can revolutionize your beats is the 'Humanize' feature. This feature introduces slight randomness in velocity and timing, resulting in a more natural, human feel. Though you want your beats to be precise, a too-perfect dock-locked beat can lack the soul of a human drummer.

Another nifty trick is positioning notes slightly behind the bar line. This creates a sense of delay or "pocket", making the rhythm feel more laid-back. This sense of ease can really add swing and personality to your tracks.

Achieving Subtle Complexity and Human Feel

We've covered a lot of ground here. From selecting the right tempo and drum kit, to quantizing rhythms, fixing velocities, adding ghost notes, and using the Humanize feature, you hold several techniques to give a human touch to your MIDI drum tracks. Incorporating all these elements will add momentum and a resonant syncopation to your compositions.

Keep in mind, as in life, it's all about balancing extremes in music production as well. Balancing the forward feel brought by momentum with the laid-back vibe produced by the pocket will get you that perfect groove you are looking for!


Remember, the primary aim is to make your MIDI drum tracks feel less like a machine and more like a real drummer, and all these tools and techniques can be accessed in most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). Learn to use them, play with them and see how much depth and feel you can introduce to your tracks.

We’ve reached the end of this post and we hope it's been a beneficial read. Have further insights, comments, or suggestions for future topics? We'd love to hear from you! Together, let's continue with the beautiful pursuit of creating extraordinary music.

What you should do now
Store your music with cloud storage for music creators,, and spend more time making music than moving music.

If you’re already with us, here are more production tutorials to give you the edge:
What is Crate?
Crate is the easiest way to store, organize, and share unreleased music. With Crate, your unreleased music syncs across your devices. Available for iOS and desktop.
Rylan Talerico
October 24, 2023
Before founding Crate, Rylan Talerico was signed to Warner Records as a recording artist, producer, and songwriter. These days, Rylan enjoys spending time with his family and working on Crate building tools to empower musicians to be more creative and connected.
This tutorial was inspired by a video posted by:
Tom DuPree III
Watch more
Support them by watching the original video here or checking out other videos on their channel.
Learn from our tutorial library
Crate music productivity tool displayed on a phone and laptop.
Create your Crate in seconds
It only takes a few clicks to put all of your unreleased music in your pocket. Whether you're just getting started or seasoned pro, Crate is the ultimate home for your tracks.
Get started for free
Ready to spend more time making music?
Upload for free today
Spend more time making music
Free forever
Start streaming in minutes

Ella B.

Songwriter, producer, artist

I keep finding songs in my library I forgot about with

Read more from Crate