An Efficient Way To Organize Your Drum Samples

 In General Topics, Producer Tips

Music producers are creative, and creative people are often messy. Typical signs include clothes on the floor, guitar picks everywhere, and an un-vacuumed carpet. But this characteristic also extends into the virtual world. A cluttered computer desktop, hundreds of random folders, multiple external hard drives with gigabytes of junk – you get the idea.

As a producer myself, I used to find myself searching 20 different folders and multiple hard drives in search of a single snare or kick sample. But even when I finally decided to organize my sounds, I still felt overwhelmed. I had simply put every snare into a “Snares” folder, every kick into a “Kicks” folder, and so on. Though I no longer had to conduct a nationwide man hunt to locate a sound, I still had to pick one killer out of a lineup of thousands of suspects. At that point, I figured out that I was organizing my drum samples in an inefficient way.

So I decided to try something else. It’s extremely simple, but I’ve noticed that not many producers do it. The idea is to separate each sound by genre or style. The styles are totally up to you, based upon what kind of music you make. Personally, I found it best to use 4 main genres:

Hip Hop: Gritty, raw drum sounds which derived from East Coast hip hop sound, and mostly sampled from old records
Trap: Mostly synthetic samples which derived from keyboards such as the Roland 808, used in much of today’s trap style hip hop
Pop/EDM: Electronic sounds used in dance music and its sub genres. I grouped this with Pop, as a lot of pop sounds are taken from various genres.
Live/Rock: Drum sounds which were recorded from a live drum kit, used primarily in rock and other live music

Because each of these genres generally has a characteristic sound, it was easy to separate them accordingly. If you have a lot of sounds, it is important to note that this process can take a bit of time to complete. But once it is finished, you will find that you will spend less time looking for a specific drum type, and more time using your creativity to finish your beat.

Using Kicks as an example, the folders would look like this:

Kicks – Hip Hop
Kicks – Live/Rock
Kicks – Pop/EDM
Kicks – Trap

I used the same format for Kicks, Snares, Open Hats, and Closed Hats. They should each have a folder for the 4 main genres, or however many genres you choose to create.

But this process isn’t only useful for drum sounds. I’ve actually used it to separate loops, samples, effects, percussion, vocal shots, and many other audio samples. Be creative and specific in choosing how you separate each sound, so that you know exactly which folder to go to whenever you need a sound. For these sounds, I found it best not to separate sounds by genre, but rather by a description, as they are less genre-specific. Here are some examples of how I’ve sorted them:

808’s – With Kick
808’s – Without Kick
808’s – With Pitch Fall/Rise
Claps – Electronic
Claps – Organic
Cymbals – Ride
Cymbals – Crash
Cymbals – Reverse
FX – Impacts
FX – Risers
FX – Fallers
FX – Turntables, Vinyl Cuts
FX – Beeps, Lasers
Percussion – Shakers
Percussion – Congas and Bongos
Percussion – Metal
Percussion – Wood
Percussion – Timpani
Toms – Live
Toms – Electronic
Vocals And Chants

As mentioned, be creative and make folders according to how YOU can most efficiently find your sounds. Once you are finished sorting everything out, you will find that the beat making process is much smoother and more fun. When you relieve the burden of clutter, you will free up your mind and can focus on the the creative aspect of beat production.

And if you need some new drum samples to put into your freshly organized folders, check out our free drum kit here!

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