3 finger drumming practices we learned from Melodics

Combining electronic music and performance, finger drumming is an endeavor that has grown increasingly popular over recent years.

One app in particular, Melodics, has led the charge on teaching finger drumming by leveraging technology to provide instant feedback, flexible controller compatibility, and gamification of progress and achievements. Melodics has teamed up with Splice to provide a free course with a collection of top-notch lessons – we gave them a go and walked away with improved chops and three key takeaways regarding finger drumming.

Check out our performance from one of the lessons below:

1. Isolate each component

Although some finger drumming performances may look complex and meticulously coordinated, they can all be broken down into several basic rhythms. Most of these can be derived from popular syncopated patterns such as the clave and tresillo. When you’re first practicing and slowly layering isolated parts, it’s beneficial to practice straight quarter notes, eighth notes, and sixteenth notes at various speeds.

The Melodics course did a great job at breaking down complex rhythms; each beat would be broken down to its simplest components, and the app would make sure you could perform these in order to progress to the final beat. In order to excel in any performing art, it’s crucial to build strong fundamentals.

2. Practice with a metronome

This one may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked or resisted by beginner performers: practicing with a metronome is essential for developing good technique and a consistent sense of rhythm. Aside from providing these benefits, metronomes also help reduce the natural tendency to rush or drag the tempo, and they’re great practice for recording to a click track when it comes time to track your performance. Above all, being able to stay ‘in the pocket’ for extended periods of time is crucial for being a good drummer.

The instant feedback system is undoubtedly one of the strongest features of the Melodics app. It displays properly-timed notes in green, early notes in orange, and missed notes in red. By using longer phrases (sometimes 32 or even 64 measures), the app really tests if you were able to consistently time your notes over longer periods of time.

3. Utilize all of your fingers

A lot of people start finger drumming with their index fingers, as this seems natural and most similar to the feeling of holding drumsticks. However, more complex rhythms begin to necessitate the use of your thumb and your middle, ring, and pinky fingers.

While trying to use all of these fingers at once would be intimidating for most learners, the Melodics lessons were really effective at gradually introducing the different roles for each finger; the thumb would generally play the primary drums like kicks and snares, while the index finger would reach up to play the melodic loops and other harmonic samples like guitar and piano chords. In the long run, being able to use all of your fingers will unlock more possibilities as you develop your chops.

Do you have any go-to finger drumming techniques? Let us know in the comments below.

September 10, 2019

Nick Chen Content Marketing @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer, performer, and educator under the aliases "nickthechen" and "Enix."